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This is one of many devices on eBay sold as buddhist meditation aids.
They generally have a large number of well-compressed audio files that loop to provide an ambience that will help achieve the state of ultimate-shamoo whereby they may drink holy-beer and party. (My understanding of religion may not be accurate.)
When I took another more glorious solar powered unit apart in a different video I was asked if I could dump the flash memory chip to see if it could be repurposed with alternative music files.
Keep in mind that the memory is just 16 Mbit, equating to 2 Megabytes of 8 bit memory, which is only enough for 2 minutes of decent quality MP3 music. That's just enough for random fart noises or a Rickroll.
The unit may possibly use an ordinary MP3 player chip like a gpd2856a or it may have a microcontroller with proprietary software and some form of file protection for the music on the chip.
Here's a link to a dump of the flash contents if you wish to try and solve the puzzle of the data format.
If you enjoy these videos you can help support the channel with a dollar for coffee, cookies and random gadgets for disassembly at:-
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Another ebay, special, it's a buddha lamp. Let me show you what this looks like when it's running and then i'll. Let you hear what it sounds like i've featured these before very interesting uh. I shall turn it on and i shall take the exposure off.

I shall zoom down onto around about there and we'll see if it just swamps out. Oh, that's not bad, not bad. It's basically sweeping through random colors um. When that switch is turned on.

That's all it does. It doesn't play any music. It just creates this nice visual effect, that's quite attractive. Watch your eyes.

The light is coming back. The light is back so, let's zoom out and i'll. Let you hear this thing now, because this is when it gets a bit weird. I don't think these music songs are actually covered by copyright, but who knows, let's try it see if it gets blacklisted, you turn it up and it play plays buddha chanting mantras, you click a button and another and you can click through.

I shall turn this down because it gets a bit annoying after a while. You can click through and it basically has 39 different tunes. Some of them are just literally old guys going ba just over and over, and it's supposed to put you into a meditative mood. I did not find it put me into the meditative mood, but let's open this: let's take it a bit, so i'm just going to tame that down a bit so pop the batteries out.

Oh, it's actually uh! Maybe should have spotted this before. Oh, it's got a list of the songs in the back, but they're, not in english, so that doesn't really help much. I shall pop the batteries out. I shall use this to get the batteries out and we'll take a look at the circuitry.

These things are sometimes called buddha machines or buddha boxes and i think they're just based on an mp3, clear module inside, but not really sure. There's three screws one here, one here and one here. Oh, i forgot to show you something it doesn't really matter. I will show you there's the base off there's the circuit board does most of the work.

If you unclip this bit here and look down into the end, i shall zoom in for this. You can see the led module, which basically consists of six leds, two red two green, two blue and a little sort of blob microcontroller thing to control them. That's all! That's in there! So under here we have this little circuit board. Let's pop that circuit board out - and we got a tiny little speaker in here that says xy 0.5 watt very flat - it's venting out these holes here i shall zoom out because i zoomed in and forgot i'd zoomed in the pcb is different to what it was.

Last time last time the pcb um it had an actual act of chipping. It is this a memory chip. Where is a where's, a magnifying glass there's a magnifying glass. I could just take a picture of this and then we could explore it, but there's really not an awful lot on it, but we'll do nonetheless fm25.

I think that's a memory chip, a serial memory chip. Okay, one moment: please i'm just going to take a picture of this, and then we shall explore it together right. Let's explore i'm not going to attempt to draw the circuit diagram down for this, because, ultimately, the circuit diagram is going to be blob, chip and memory chip for it. That's all there is to it, but it divides into two distinct sections of circuitry.

There's the switched feed up to the the color changing leds and then there's the audio circuitry. The battery supply comes on here, negative here positive here. It goes on to a connection on a jack so that, if you plug a jack connector into this an external source, theoretically, it should disconnect that i didn't check that. I'm not sure i've got a jack that size handy.

The negative uh goes up here and it goes to one side of the switch that's built into the volume control. It also goes to one of the pins on the slide switch for the leds. The positive comes through this diode for polarity protection. In case you put the batteries in their own way round or use the wrong type of power supply, and it uh goes up to the led, positive and the led negative is simply switched between the actual sliding switch pin.

You can see the tang of the sliding switch here and it just switches the one pin down to negative this there's no extra pad for that. All they did was put the wire for the leds directly onto the switch pad. The negative is switched to the chip via the built-in switch in the volume control. This little bit of red plastic simply pushes that up to open it.

You can see the break there, but when you turn the volume round, it clicks down and uh that closes the circuit and the light blue here is then feeding over to the chip and the audio circuitry in the memory. It's basically the whole negative for this area. The positive is just fed directly to the chip all the time, and we've got a button here that connects go to the positive rail. I should mention as well lots of decoding capacitors if you like on them: decoupling capacitors, that's a controversially wrapped missed a little bit here.

I shall do including this little decoupling capacitor here, but it's worth mentioning that this chip has a 3.3 volt voltage reference in it. So it actually puts out its own 34.3 volt rail for its own internal uh circuitry and for the memory chip. So that's why this button is pulling up to that positive rail and it will have an internal weak pull down this chip. Here is the memory chip that stores all the music and it's an fm25q168 16 megabit uh memory chip, and that equates to two megabytes of music data now in mp3 terms, if it was like proper quality, that would be just two minutes, but in this case the Quality is not really great, it can be a bit harsh, so they've obviously compressed that to allow them to introduce other musical items into it, and some of the files are very very short.

Literally. The files are like three seconds long before it loops the chance uh or they could be for very short, music bits. It's a five second loop. If someone just basically smashing, i was going to say a smash, a cowbell, more cowbell, but uh.

It's like little chimes. This buddha chanters have and they're just basically smashing that repeatedly while they're chanting, it doesn't sound, very relaxing and this basically puts out the amplified audio and it does it to the variable. The potentiometer and the speaker is simply connected between one of those outputs and via the potentiometer to the middle wiper arm that, as you rotate it round, it gets louder. So i'm guessing.

That means that rotates around that way from the quiet side to the loud side and the volume is very abrupt. Let me bring this back in so virtually nothing slightly louder and then suddenly very loud at the end, it's not exactly what you call a nice smooth transition. So last time i took a look at one of these uh. I was chastised for not removing the chip and taking a memory dump from it.

I did with this one i removed the chip, took a dump of the memory, uh, not sure what format it's in uh then i actually experimentally. I tried loading an mp3 file onto the chip. I didn't have any success there, largely because i completely forgot that uh, the i think, there's more information on it, but i'll. Let the experts judge that, because the file can be downloaded from a link down below in the description but uh the i was going to put a mp3 file into it to try that out.

But i'd simply just at the time. I didn't have a small enough. Mp3 file, the only one i had was about three or four minutes long, and this would not hold that it just overwrote the memory, so it was too much so i ended up having to uh, delete and uh and uh just reprogram the original buddha music back Into that from that file, so the va file, the file has been confirmed as being valid because uh this chip has been deleted and then it's been reprogrammed, the original data that was in it anything else to say about this. There's nothing to say about this: it's just a mass-produced, little chanting, buddha box.

So if you go into the description down below you will find that music file. I don't know what format it's in. I don't know what other information i don't know if they've got security on it, to try and stop people copying the music from their chips and putting in other products um but i'll. Let the experts do that because i'm sure that some of you have all the tools required to just basically load that file and then scan it looking for known file formats within that, but there we go.

That is another of these multitude of buddha boxes. That is available on ebay for making ambient chanting noises.

9 thoughts on “Buddha machine teardown with flash dump”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Andromeda Turnbull says:

    I have a hunch that the audio data in that dump is pulse density modulation (PDM) rather than PCM or a compression codec; it is a digital representation of an analog signal rather than a true digital encoding. The reason for PDM is the low cost and simplicity of the playback circuitry – converting to analog is as simple as sending the raw encoded data as serial output (at the right clock speed) directly to a low pass filter and then an amplifier. This was used in a lot of toys in the 2000s like the HitClips, Furby, etc and still appears in various greetings card type devices. I might try my hand to see if decoding it in the same way as the HitClips data might work.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ryan Lee says:

    Not all of the songs on there are meant to be for meditation or relaxation – some are looping chants and prayers to be played near the coffin at funerals to "help" the deceased's spirit find its way to heaven. There are also tracks for various religious ceremonies. It's a great invention for those of us who can't afford to pay (or technically, donate) for monks to perform 3-day long live prayers at funerals.

    Anyhow, great teardown vids from a longtime fan. Hope that explains some of the weird music on this device!

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars coondogtheman1234 says:

    Hey Clive I tried the file in various pieces of software like GoldWave audio editor and some programs such as MFAudio that I use for converting audio files from console video games. All I got was static. I loaded the file in a hex editor but I'm not good at that hex editing type of stuff. Bunch of random characters on the right. I know many chip devices use a programmer that converts the audio to a proprietary format. I have a paper jamz microphone that does this. Songs are converted to an internal format then loaded on the device.
    If it was possible to reprogram these then I would buy one just to do this. Maybe put some smells like teen spirit on it, and maybe some of my farts.

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Kakureru D says:

    I bet people are giving this toy way too much credit. to my ear it sounds like 1 bit audio where its structured to feed the bit stream directly into a speaker which acts like a low budget digital amp. You can confirm this by capturing the audio from output directly as data and comparing to the dump itself. I would do this if I had one of those toys to confirm this.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Alexander Thomas says:

    I still don't know what the format is, but it is not:
    1. 8-bit PCM data: opening it as any variant of 8-bit audio results in pure steady noise. This is typical for compressed data. Try opening a ZIP or MP3 file as 8-bit PCM and you'll get the same kind of noise.
    2. Chinese text. When opening any random file and forcing it to be interpreted as UTF 16, you are likely to get a bunch of random Chinese characters. Also, why would they bother stuffing song names in this chip? It would be a waste of effort and space.
    3. Standard MP3: Audacity does want to open it as MP3 if I chop off the first chunk up to position 0x9700 that ends with a stream of 0xFF characters, but the result is only 0.1s of what sounds like a steam whistle. It does open it as mono 11025Hz, which would seem about right for something like this, so perhaps it is MP3 after all but the data is chopped up into blocks with markers in between them that prevent a normal MP3 decoder from reading it as one continuous stream.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Daniel Brown says:

    From what I can hear, the chanting sounds like Chinese Chan Buddhist chants. It's a sect of Mahayana Buddhism. Mostly, as is usual for the sect, the chanting focuses on Amitabha. It's kind of the laziest form of Buddhist chanting. The belief is that the chanting or calling out the name of this aspect/incarnation/avatar of Buddha can grant you or others good karma, if not safe passage to an in-between place/realm where the avatar allows the faithful to slowly reach enlightenment under its good graces. This particular light is often used next to shrines or columbariums for a deceased relative or several deceased individuals. It's played on loop to slowly gain the deceased person(s) good karma.
    I don't imagine anyone has the music copyrighted, as it's often given for free on CDs or DVDs by temples, monks, devotee elderly folk looking to gain good karma in their twilight years, etc… Plus, the sutras from which the prayers come are cultural heritage and freely available, and monks chant them in temples multiple times a day for anyone to record. Seems very un-Buddhist to remain attached to the mortal monetary gains one might be able to gain from controlling such a transient thing.

    I should probably be transparent that I'm a lay Theravada buddhist living in a Chinese Mahayana buddhist majority county. I studied this stuff as part of two of my minors while in university. So, I'm not an expert, but, I'd like to think, I'm not some random crackpot either.

    Cheers for the breakdown review, by the way!

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars AlexGuo1998 says:

    Some observation: look at 0x0000-0x0580, assume this is some 32-byte headers, we can infer that offset is at byte 4-8, that is:
    1F 3E 7A F8

    1F 3E 02 F8

    1F 3E F2 F8

    1F 3E EB F8

    1F 38 5A BC

    and so on.

    Assume the first file begins at 0x00000600, we should XOR those with "1F 3E 7C F8". Then we get a nice offset table:
    # some 3 unknown files

    0x00000600, 0x00007E00, 0x00008E00,

    # 39 tracks

    0x00009700, 0x00062644, 0x00071944, 0x0007E5BE,

    0x0008EA95, 0x00094E50, 0x000C3E60, 0x000E3D16,

    0x000EBC86, 0x0010521F, 0x0010958D, 0x001105B9,

    0x001124AA, 0x00116C5D, 0x0011F6A1, 0x00128D16,

    0x00133083, 0x0013AFCA, 0x001530B6, 0x0015F689,

    0x00177364, 0x001814CF, 0x0018BFBF, 0x00192B9F,

    0x0019AD58, 0x001A694F, 0x001A85BA, 0x001AE47F,

    0x001B7935, 0x001C2E36, 0x001CAA37, 0x001CD6AB,

    0x001D023D, 0x001D1901, 0x001D947E, 0x001DED1B,

    0x001E4D8E, 0x001E5793, 0x001E7145,

    # the last unknown file


    Maybe I'll work on this later…

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars roninpawn says:

    As a Zen Buddhist who spent 3 years in monastary training to be a monk, I can assure you….
    The lyrics for one of those songs, in their entirety, will no doubt by:
    "Namu ami tabul."
    ,,,repeated at least a thousand times.

    [Below the wrap text]
    If you're curious about the nature of the universe, try chanting "Namu ami tabul" a thousand times on loop.
    You WILL find it 'enlightening.'

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars jak p says:

    There is a chip called the isd1100 which RadioShack used to sell in the 90s. Needed no external memory and little support components. This could be a similar type of device with a longer play time then the seconds the 90s version had.

    The chip could be bit banging the audio where it’s reading the info from the memory and reproducing it to the speaker. The chip does not know what it’s doing, just as instructed. The chip is not a specific audio chip

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