How to activate the USB feature menu on an LG TV

Hi everyone, welcome again to a new post on my weird site. Today was an awesome day. I unleashed the power of the “service only” USB port in the rear of my mother’s TV set, an LG 26LD330-MB. She bought it several months ago, and well, albeit it’s not Full HD or something, I pretty like it, it’s crisp, it’s sharp, and it’s just really good.

I never got to play with it, I seldom use it. So, yesterday, while trying to hook my laptop to the TV to see if it worked, I took a look in the rear and what did I see: An RS-232 port, a “service only” USB port, two HDMI inputs, VGA, RCA, compo… WAIT… RS-232? USB? I don’t remember they touted that on the box when I installed it! And I remember I had a GOOD look over the manual and they didn’t say anything about it.

Well, I frenzied like hell and rushed to the beauties of Internet (sponsored by Google), and I found the answers I needed: LG makes their newest line of TV sets based on Linux. AWESOME! They actually use busybox there! The drivers are provided by them, drivers to run the screen, to run the audio, show the OSD, drive the USB and the RS-232, everything, and everything is deeply commented. I downloaded the source of the firmware of that TV, and it’s just delicious to look to all that code. No wonder TVs nowadays do everything they do.

Back to activating the USB features, I just got stuck: I needed a Service Only LG remote control to access the option to activate USB support. Where am I going to get that? Internet: 60 USD. NOPE!

Next thing: Get a Symbian or Android phone with an IR port. My Android cellphone doesn’t has IR, neither my mother’s Symbian or my father’s Samsung… DAMMIT!

Last try: Get an universal/programmable remote control. There’s a list of those controls that are able to deliver those service codes… All Radio Shackey, Logitechy, pricey devices. I wanted something fast and quick!

So, I was screwed, until I saw a small tiny bitey remark on one of the pages I was following ( “How to make a simple homebrew IR transmitter”. My eyes widened. I swallowed really hard. And that’s what I did.

I bought some cheapo headphones and cut the plug off, leaving some 10 cms of wire. I took only one part from the two that those headphones wires have and stripped the plastic coating from it. I stripped the enamel from the wires, and connected it to an old remote control IR LED. I tested it by pointing my cellphone camera to the IR LED, and it blinked. Hurray! (for more details on this, see this post I wrote in a related forum:

I played the IN_START sound file described in the page I linked from my cellphone music player and lo and behold… It worked wonders! I could open the IN_START menu and activate the USB menu! I tested it, I was able to see my pictures, hear my music and even watch a chapter of a DivX encoded anime from some time ago: Kimi no Nozomu Eien (The Paradise you Deserve) all from my USB drive.

Why wasn’t it activated from the start? To make us buy a more expensive TV set? Or to buy additional accessories like a USB equipped DVD drive or something? Well, LG, you’re some geniuses by working with Linux, we love you, but we got ahead of you. What’s even better, if for some reason I need to send this TV back to warranty (and I’m still able to see something on the screen), I can deactivate the USB option again, and clip-clap, like new from the factory.

Next, in this series of LG TV related notes, if I take my time to write it: How to use the RS-232 port to actually control your TV. I’ve done it, and it’s magnificent!

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