Anyone here ever hack a Memento Smart Frame?

Hi everyone. Hoping to get some guidance from this community of experts re/ my very expensive and now totally worthless Memento Smart Picture Frame. Permit me a moment to lay out my little saga:

Memento was a successful Kickstarter launch back in 2016. When it came out, it was the ONLY large, high res (4K) display that had a 3:2 aspect ratio— exactly the shape needed to display photos taken with a fulll frame DSLR camera. I bought one around late 2018 with the plan of using it to display my photos in an exhibit I’m giving this summer.

Photos looked eye-popping on the Memento with its 35" screen, but to load those pictures into the frame, you had to use the manufacturer’s app to first upload the pictures to the company server, which would then dole them to the frame’s internal memory. A little inconvenient, but it worked. That is, it worked until the company went out of business just a few months after I bought the frame. One day they quietly shut down operations, including their server. Killing the server made it impossible to load pictures onto the frame, effectively killing the device.

There are other large displays on the market---- Meural is one of them— but as best I can tell, there are NO other displays that have a 3:2 aspect ratio. Putting a DSLR photo on a typical 16:9 monitor/TV panel(including Meural) is either going to crop my picture, or put ugly black spacer bars on either side. This was not a problem with the Memento.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, and probably hundreds of others who bought a Memento screen watched their purchase instantly die when the company shut down their servers. As I looked at my dead Memento, I thought---- there’s got to be a way to resurrect this, somehow cripple it’s current controller and load in a new controller to change the device back from a $900 paperweight into a beautiful object of art again. And if I can find a way---- I bet lots of other Memento owners would be immensely grateful if I could tell them how to do it also.

So I’m wondering and hoping someone here might have some firsthand knowledge about doing a brain transplant on the Memento. I have never done any hacking before and so am totally green. Any advice?

I’ll be taking the back off the Memento this weekend just to see what kind of circuitry is hidden inside. There are only two ivisible external inputs— a USB 2.0 jack, and a USB 3.0 jack. One has a nubbin-sized Wi-fi transmitter plugged into it, the other is empty.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m betting that the 3:2 aspect ratio is just a trick---- I suspect the display panel probably is a 16:9 TV module which has been framed with an artist’s matte so that the visible portion of the 16:9 panel is compressed down to 3:2. We’ll see!

In the meantime, thanks mightily to anyone who can offer and help in this rescue mission.

—Kerry

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Hi Kerry,

Welcome and thanks for reaching out in the Openframe forum.

I’m very sorry to hear about your Memento frame and very well understand your frustration. I don’t own a Memento nor do I know anyone else who owns one but I would like to help you making use of it again. It’s a shame when these devices just become unusable due to corporate decisions.

To think about ideas, could you please provide as much information as you can, like:

  • Send pictures from the outside ports and the inside of the device including technical components and wires and ports you can see
  • Do you know what technology the controller is based on? Eg. Android
  • What are the current errors you are seeing? On your device and app. Ideally, send screenshots or photos, maybe that gives a hint of what the underlying system is.
  • Do you have any manual to the device or more information by the manufacturer?
    Watch out for the display connector inside the case. If it’s HDMI, you are lucky and can simply hook up a Raspberry Pi running Openframe.

I hope this was helpful and looking forward to seeing what you are going to get back with.

Jerry

@kgivens thanks for keeping me updated on your progress. Please share your findings and photos of the inside of your Memento here so others can benefit from them as well. Then we can all work on a solution together. Thanks.

In this post on hacking the EO frame 30-pin to HDMI adaptors came up. Maybe this could be a solution for the Memento too?

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4 posts were split to a new topic: How to edit posts?

IMPORTANT EDIT 4/19/2020: I was able to get my Memento working. My suspicion (see below) was correct—the entire problem turned out to be old firmware. After communicating with a small handful of people who claimed that their Memento frames still worked fine, I deduced that most (if not all) of the still-functional frames had newer firmware (v. 6.02) than mine (v. 3.04) But finding the necessary firmware was incredibly difficult. Remember, the company that made this product went out of business and the owners did not leave much evidence of their existence behind. After weeks of dredging the internet looking for that firmware, a Good Samaritan from France replied to one of my posts on a camera forum just this morning. He shared a document (see link below if you want to update your own Memento frame’s firmware) containing a working download link to the v 6.02 firmware plus simple instructions on how to install it. Whole update process took me maybe 15 minutes and I watched with joy as my frame absorbed the new firmware via a USB thumb drive, rebooted itself… and worked normally! Can’t get over how great my photos look on this thing. Caution: I think this firmware is intended only for the larger, 35" Memento frame. Smaller Memento frame owners, beware.

Here is the link (NOTE: this update may be for the 35" version of the frame only):

Google drive link to v 6.02 Memento firmware update for 35" frame

At the suggestion of your kindly moderator Jeremias, in a separate reply to this thread, I’ll post some photos of the Memento’s circuitry and also some miscellaneous facts I uncovered while trying dredging the internet for a solution to my problem.

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Things I learned while trying to make my Memento work.

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The Memento screen was made in Korea by a firm called Innotech, who manufacturers a variety of specialty/commercial displays. But at the moment, they don’t list any 3:2 products in their product lineup on their website. I did speak with someone at Innotech’s North American office, hoping to learn more about the electronics that drive this screen and thereby figure out a way to replace the existing control apparatus with a Raspberry Pi or something similar. They said one of their senior sales guys would call me to discuss my problem. Haven’t heard from him yet, don’t really need his help now.

With the brain transplant/Raspberry Pi idea in mind, at one point I disassembled the Memento, hoping to find a hidden HDMI jack inside. This required removal of about 25-30 screws to free the back cover. Alas, no HDMI jack inside. These photos illustrate the existing circuitry however, including two USB jacks (a 2.0 jack containing a small wireless-n nubbin, and a 3.0 jack left empty. As I learned later, the 3.0 jack is the one you use for the all-important firmware update.!

Picture 8 circuits and CPU under silver plate 3 NOTE broken thermal paste|666x500

Hopefully this info will be useful to someone in the future who seeks to seriously modify or repair a grossly defective Memento frame.

Good luck all—

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Thanks so much for sharing all of your insights @kgivens. :pray: I’m sure someone will be pleased to find this.

Now, enjoy your fixed frame. I have to say, the 3:2 ratio sounds intriguing.

Truly my pleasure, Jerry. I hope someone with a non-functioning Memento screen sees my post and is able to resurrect their frame like I did. Thanks again for all your help and support.

Hi Kerry,

I was so glad to find this post.
I was having the same issue. Couldn’t download pictures to the app.
I have a v 6.02 with a 35” frame.

My phone is an iPhone 8plus. Every time I select pictures to download and hit “done” the screen goes blank.

So than I tried it with an older version iPhone and its working fine.

Would you have any insight how I can get it to work from my phone?

I’d hate to have to hold on to an old phone just for this. Besides, it’s a pain to send pics to that phone.

Thanks in advance!
Saul

Hi Saulr. I’m no expert on fixing Memento problems, with the exception of the problem I had, namely, old firmware. Obviously you’re in a different boat, since you have the same firmware I now possess, namely, version 6.02. So I don’t think we can blame it on old firmware in your case.

Here is what I can tell you. In the year or so I spent dredging the internet looking for an explanation as to why my frame would not work, I exchanged messages with two types of Memento owners: people whose frames continue to work just fine, and a much larger number who complained that their frames at some point stopped accepting photo downloads altogether. A couple of those people observed that the Memento app for iOS was especially problematic. Some of them said they had better luck if they made sure they were using the latest version of the iOS Memento app (which I believe is 6.x on all platforms). If your app doesn’t indicate that it’s version 6.0 or higher, better update that. Pretty sure the version at the Apple App Store is 6.x. One or two other frame owners said they gave up on trying to get the iOS app to work once they discovered that the Windows 10 version of the app worked just fine. Any chance you have a Windows laptop, or maybe a Chromebook so you could see if the windows version (or the Android version) works on your frame?

Yes, it would be a bit irksome if you had to keep your old iPhone just to retain control of your Memento, especially if you had your heart set on selling/trading the phone for something meaningful. But, hey, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Think of it as the remote control to the old TV in your basement. You’d love to sell that TV and put the bucks towards a new ultra-high def, OLED set. But when you sell that old set, you know the new buyer is going to really, REALLY want the matching remote as part of the deal. So that old phone really should remain together with the old TV, just as you should keep the old iPhone as long as its able to communicate with your frame. You don’t need to maintain a cell contract on the old phone— you’re only going to use it as a free wifi appliance to talk to the frame.

But here’s a personal example: I intentionally bought a slightly older Nokia Windows phone just to take advantage of the phone’s ridiculously high-resolution (40 megapixels!) digital camera in my ophthalmology practice, to photograph various pathologies of the eye and eyelids. We have no cell contract on the phone, and we don’t need one — all we need is a wifi connection so whatever picture we take with the Nokia can be quickly uploaded to Dropbox or someplace similar for later review and eventual download into the patient’s electronic medical record.

Anyway, those are all the “easy” fixes that I have heard of. Let me know if you succeed with this. Thanks for reaching out, and stay healthy!

Kerry Givens, MD

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My first post on this board… I signed up because I found this thread. My Memento (35") is working fine. That said, in the wonderful world of lockdown, I’ve found myself wishing I could stream video to it from time to time. We listen to a lot of live music, and it would be nice to have the AppleTV UI up there, or to have the video of a live-streamed music event, etc. It is a gorgeous display, and it just looks right on the wall.

So… wondering if I could find any photos of the innards online, I found your post. The photos in this thread are an excellent start, and I can think of a couple of ways to skin this cat.

The boards inside ‘box 1’ are where the action is. By the part numbers, boards 2 and 3 are standard TV parts, made by Innolux, and used in a number of conventional TV sets. ‘2’ is the backlight inverter, and ‘3’ is the “T-Con” board, that actually drives the rows and columns of the display.

Referring to picture 1, we see the ambient light sensor wiring going down from box 1, and the WiFi antenna going up.

Inside box 1, there are two boards, the power supply on the right, and the mainboard on the left. From the UI, this board is clearly running Android. Unzipping that firmware image confirms this: that’s an Android filesystem. I’ve looked no further yet, but loading an alternate application there could be one route in. It’s a bit risky, though, it’s not that hard to brick a device like that if you don’t know how the firmware loader works. I’ll look at the build.prop file in a bit and see what I can see.

The other route that seems likely is that large white ribbon cable from box 1 to box 3. That is almost certainly LVDS, and it may be possible to find an HDMI driver board that will support this display. Were I to start down that road, I think the first thing I might try is an input board from one of the TVs that uses that T-Con board. Searching for the large ASIC in the middle (IN8906A) suggests that the relevant part number on the board is 4AMDJ1S51, and that’s used in the HiSense LTDN40K321. So if we can find the input board for that TV (Seems to be a UK model?) It might well just work. Otherwise we’re looking at the random eBay HDMI to LVDS boards, and figuring out how to get them to do 3:2.

Thanks for the head start without taking my Memento off the wall… I’d love to come up with a way to get a little more out of this display. (My plan B is to buy a TV and make a frame for it, but…I’d prefer to make use of what I have)

-Zandr

PS: Now I’m off to go read up on Openframe. :smiley:

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Hi Zandr, and thanks for contributing some really valuable observations to this thread.

I’m so relieved to have my Memento working with the firmware update that I’ve dropped any idea of doing a processor board transplant on it. And yet I wonder if that might one day be necessary. As you know, the Memento was originally programmed to handshake with a server as part of the photo upload process. When the company went under, frames with older firmware choked on the server handshake, which strongly suggested those servers were disabled (which would only make sense if the company tanked and had to turn them off). But what is now obvious is that a handful of frames with newer firmware (specifically v. 6.02) still worked. Why is that? Does the newer firmware cut out the server from the photo upload process? Unanswered question at this point.

Here’s my concern—even with the firmware update, my frame is still interacting with some server---- there is a brief message on boot-up, saying that it’s synching its clock to the server. As for the photo uploading process, I can’t tell if there’s a server participating in that part, or not. So what will happen if that server gets switched off someday? We may be back to square one, staring at an error message on our Memento that it cannot connect to the server, unable to upload any photos once again. And this time it may affect all Memento frames. I hope I’m wrong about that, but if THAT ugly scenario happens, we may have to replace the hardware to resuscitate our frames.

So I look forward to your brave explorations with the guts of this thing. Good luck, and keep us all posted.

Unanswered questions, but hardly unanswerable. I’ll pull some network dumps and see what servers the frame is trying to talk to, and I should be able to do the same for at least the windows app. Most modern phones are doing so much at this point it’s hard to sort out traffic.

The time thing in particular is probably not an issue, that’s almost certainly talking to pool.ntp.org or some other public NTP server, not something specific to Memento.

From a quick look at build.prop, it’s running Kit Kat (Android 4.4.2) on an Arm7 chip.

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I did a quick tcpdump, and I can see it talking to a server still running on pictureshare.mementosmartframe.com, as well as some google servers. I’ll actually capture that traffic later and see if I can tell what it’s doing, and what happens if I blackhole the memento server.

BUT: This is a smart TV board with a custom firmware load and a bunch of non-stuffed parts. Look closely at picture 6. Along the left edge, there are footprints for HDMI connectors, labelled CONNH1, CONNH2 and CONNH3. I’m reasonably sure that there’s a part number on the other side of that board that we’ll be able to find on eBay or AliExpress. I’ll look tonight. :slight_smile:

[Edit: referenced the wrong picture]

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Fascinating. I would like to know what’s happening on those servers. Are copies of my photos being kept on the servers? I would object to that. Also, when I upload photos, there is a message onscreen that says something like “converting photos”---- converting them to what? Is it to adjust photos that are not quite 3:2 to the correct proportions? And where is this conversion happening— within the app, at the server, or is the frame’s firmware/hardware handling that, as the last step prior to displaying the image?

I had my brother, who is an electronics connector specialist for a big connector manufacturer known as Samtec, look at the control boards on the Memento. Like you, he also pointed out the traces for HDMI, although we did not see any easy way to turn those into actual working HDMI jacks.

So, that was a lot of screws. :slight_smile:

I opened it up to get a look at the other side of the main controller board. No definitive hits yet, though the useful strings seem to be LD.A868.A (on the silkscreen) and LG-RE01-151123-SA01 (on two of the stickers).

As to the network traffic… There isn’t nearly enough traffic for pictureshare.memento… to be hosting photos without your knowledge. I think this was the feature that they introduced late in the game to allow you to upload pictures whether you were home or not. I think it’s just checking in to see if there is anything to fetch. I’m slightly puzzled that there’s no NTP traffic happening, but maybe that’s the traffic to 1e100.com (which was not encrypted, so time sync would be plausible).

“Converting Photos” is probably scaling images, and it’s likely on the phone or on the frame itself. There’s plenty of compute power in either to do the conversion, and sending it to the cloud would just slow things down.

I agree that reworking this board to add the HDMI inputs isn’t realistic… we don’t know what they didn’t stuff, and that’s a significant chunk of software to work out to enable them.

I continue to think there are two strategies here:

  1. Create an open-source “upgrade” that uses the existing hardware to display pictures in a server-independent way.
  2. Replace the controller board with something that has HDMI in.
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Bottom of the board, for posterity:

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Let me know if I should stop, but I’m just going to toss stuff up here as I figure it out…

The panel itself is an InnoLux V400DK1-KE7. Panelook tells me that 51-pin ribbon is a “V-by-One 8 lane” interface. Translator chips exist, looking for a finished board using one.

http://www.panelook.com/V400DK1-KE7_Innolux_40_LCM_overview_22942.html
http://www.ite.com.tw/en/product/view?mid=134

A likely suspect for the interface:

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:+1: This is great. Thanks a lot for your work. There is a lot the community can learn from your and others approaches and information posted here. Even users without a Memento can apply this to other devices. Please keep on going.

Agreed, don’t stop! This is pioneering information on the Memento’s design and construction. Keep it coming.

Is there any significance to PanelLook repeatedly describing this as a 40" diagonal panel when in fact it’s actually 35"?