Alternative server test: Working!

Yesterday I setup an alternative server that replaces the Worldstation server. For now this server was hosted on a pc within my local network. The radio found the server without any problems and loaded the “Worldstation” lists as usual. It did not have a clue about the fact that the lists were hosted at an alternative location. Of course I changed some of the lists to include my personal favorite stations that are not on the Penbex server (including vtuner links). The radio had no problem with playing any of the channels including the additional ones from the lists that I hosted. I discovered that the additional stations that I added to the radio’s internal “favorites” list also stayed available after switching back to the official Worldstation server. From this test we learn that it is possible to have stations in favorites that are not on the Penbex server and that we can use alternative servers. Good news I think.

For the local server I used a simple Windows XP notebook with additionally SimpleDNS and WampServer software. I used Wireshark to check the network traffic and verify the requests from the radio. The only change I had to make on the radio was the DNS server address in the network settings menu. I simply changed this to point to my local server.

It appears that the “favorites” list is saved inside the Radio’s memory. Possibly in the small 24c64 EEPROM which for sure limits the number of possible entries. The other “Worldstation” lists are loaded from the server each time you navigate through these lists. The structure of these lists is fairly simple and it is possible to extend them. You could for example add a “My Favorites” section to the regions selection screen. You can even sort this list..

What’s next? That depends a bit on who is willing to invest time in this. I think we are just at the beginning of exploring the hardware and I don’t have time to setup a public server right now. However, with some combined forces we could do that. It might even be possible to detect the origin (mac address?) of the device and based on that add a personal favorites section for all users.
 

 

8 thoughts on “Alternative server test: Working!

  1. Bob L

    The MAC address is written on the back of the unit (the wired one), and in the case of the wireless adapter, you should be able to get it from your router’s logs.

    How did you manage to redirect the call out for Penbex’s server? I’m not that familiar with intercepting DNS requests (or managing DNS servers for that matter).

    I’m still exploring the Centios unit I bought earlier today, but so far it is much more than what I expected! I reconfigured my linux server to be able to use uPNP (with Mediatomb) and it works very well – so well in fact, my wife asked me to buy another one for the kitchen.. 🙂

    Thanks alot for your blog, it provides very useful information!

    Reply
  2. penbex Post author

    The Worldstation process of accepting new radio station url’s is fairly long. Also, their server seems to have at least two different entrypoints (from the radio’s viewpoint) and only one of these is being updated. Since I am at the ‘wrong’ entrypoint I see them adding new stations on their website but they do not show up on my selection screen.
    Another thing is that they do not offer any means to put your own private / favorite url’s. Other services, like the VTuner service do offer such kind of service. At VTuner you have to provide your radio’s mac address and then you can add your own URL’s that will only show up on your radio.
    We already know that we can setup an alternative server. If we add mac address detection at the server side, we could also provide this service. That is what I meant with “detect mac address”.
    This means we can create our own “worldstation” alike server on the net and can even do better by having our own community take care of the URL’s on that list and offer “personal/favorite” station lists.

    I will look into setting up a public server later on. For now there is so much more to explore. I am currently looking at firmware patches and recompilation of the GPL code. I’m sure we can have more and better features than what we have sofar. If anyone else reading this is interested in setting up a server then you can count on my support.

    The redirection is fairly simple. I installed “SimpleDNS” on my windows PC. On the radio, under DNS settings, I put my local PC’s IP address. (no other changes are needed on the radio’s side) In the SimpleDNS software I put the Worldstation domain name and the IP address of my local PC. What happens is that the radio sends the Penbex URL to the DNS Server (SimpleDNS) and it then receives the IP address from my local PC. The radio thinks it is talking to Penbex, it does not know that it is being redirected.

    I then installed Wampserver which is a simple Website server for windows. Wampserver serves the station lists just like the Penbex server does. However, I have no need for fancy structures, regions etc. I just have a list with my favorite stations.

    While being redirected to my server, I added the stations to the radio’s favorite list. After adding them, I changed the DNS address back to the original value. The radio then goes back to whatever stations Penbex is offering. However, the favorites list is stored locally and still contains the favorite stations that I put there using my own served lists. Most of these have URL’s that are not hosted on the Penbex server. The radio has no problem with playing these additional URL’s.

    For now this is a work around solution that lets you add your own stations without Penbex approval. When I have a bit of time I will post the needed steps and files.

    Btw, I also have two of them and have two Freecom Musicpal radio’s.
    I have a Maxtor Shared Storage, Zyxel 220 and IOMega storcenter NAS. They all have embedded support for upnp and the radio finds the mp3’s on them without any problem. No need for additional software.

    Reply
  3. Tom

    WOW! I was going to return my radio because the sites I wanted were not listed. Can you please provide me the steps and files to replace the worldstation server? This is incredible! I already have a server at home handling DNS and acting as a webserver, with the correct files this should be very easy for me to accomplish!

    Reply
  4. Gabi

    Hi,
    this is very interesting. How did you “emulate” the penbex server? on which path and in which format is the station list?
    BTW: I tried to search for an open service on the device with nmap, but it seems that nothing is open, no way to teltet or to ftp into the device. This would be interesting in order to manipulate the favorites list inside.

    Thx, GatuRatz

    Reply
  5. Andre

    I have tried it but could not create a list. I wonder how the list must be set up. Further great job, just waiting for a example.

    Gr,

    Andre

    Reply

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