VMDG280 Modem Teardown

Recently Virgin Media has started supplying these "all-in-one" modems/switch/wifi style units manufactured by Netgear. Since Virgin are no fun they have locked down the hardware and software and you are stuck running their shitty software (It doesn't even have DDNS...)

This prevents you from doing the common hack that is possible on some other, better, hardware, where you can install other community created software to your modem/router, giving it much more features and uses. Such as DD-WRT or Tomato for routers or Haxorware for your modem.

As I use my Asus RT-N16 (which can run DD-WRT) as the Wifi access point in my house, I decided to void whatever warranty was on this PoS.
To my surprise they opted for a opted for a separate WLAN card PCI express mini card, the same type that is used in many laptops. This is pretty easy to remove and now with a little modding you can upgrade the old 802.11g card in your laptop to this newer 802.11n card (driver support willing of course)

This also had the unintended consequence of saving however many watts are drawn by the (unused) card in the modem. Since the modem will (hopefully) be having uptimes in the monthly regions, this could add up to saving a bit of power over a while.

virgin virgin

Pop off the rubber feet and Unscrew the four torx screws on the bottom

virgin virgin

Possible Serial connection?

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By soldering in a 4 pin header into connection J304, you can connect it up to a max232 to convert these signals up and get a serial connection into the modem.

  • Pin 1: VCC (3.3v)
  • Pin 2: Data TX
  • Pin 3: Data RX
  • Pin 4: GND
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The wifi card, uses two UFL connectors for the antennas.

virgin

The text reads: UPWL 6025 REV:1.01, a bit of searching Id's this as a Pegatron UPWL6025 and uses the Broadcom BCM43225 chip.

Specs

  • Model: VMDG280
  • WLAN card: Pegatron UPWL6025
  • Chipset: Broadcom BCM43225

To test the card, I installed it into my Asus EEE running Debian Squeeze i386 (Linux Kernel 2.6.2.32-5-686) it didn't work out the box on my machine, but with a bit of help from Linux Wireless, I'm sure you can get it working.

#~: lspci -v
02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM43225 802.11b/g/n (rev 01)
	Subsystem: Broadcom Corporation Device 04da
	Flags: fast devsel, IRQ 17
	Memory at fbffc000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
	Capabilities: [40] Power Management version 3
	Capabilities: [58] Vendor Specific Information: Len=78 
	Capabilities: [48] MSI: Enable- Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit+
	Capabilities: [d0] Express Endpoint, MSI 00
	Capabilities: [100] Advanced Error Reporting
	Capabilities: [13c] Virtual Channel
	Capabilities: [160] Device Serial Number (MAC #)
	Capabilities: [16c] Power Budgeting 

This hack is also applicable to the newer VMDG480 modem that replaced this.