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Author Topic: Unlocking all PIC microcontrollers - scam or reality?  (Read 3051 times)
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yahoo
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« on: January 19, 2008, 01:19:21 01:19 »

Hi,
I found in the net several web sites claiming that they can unlock any PIC microcontroller for $850.
Can somebody confirm this as true or it is scam. I need to have unlocked one pic16f684 but I don't like to take risk.
Thanks
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mylogin
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2008, 06:58:20 06:58 »

A lot of chinese company in Shenzhen China are doing the PIC, AVR,   etc., MCU code reverse engineering service. They open the chip and do some patch on the fuse of the MCU then readout the program code.  It is legal if you just want to study other people's code and not to copy it.   Several big company in USA are doing the same thing, they open the chip, reverse engineering the chip layer by layer, to learn the competitor's design, and to  see if other people violate their patent or software copyrights.    Some times they are using the name of fault-analysis. 

Also there are a lot of PCB layout reverse engineering service in China too. they even developed the software to automatically translate the physical PCB trace image to the EDA gerber file.  and they even give you the direct copy  pirate-PCB.  multi-layer PCB  too.   It is illegal of course. 

There are also a lot of scam in the reverse engineering/code unlock service.  Once you paid the front fee and give they the chip, they are gone. or they just tell you it is not working. the front fee is not refundable. since you have to pay the engineering fee to open the chip first and it is  provided by another company specialized in open the chip.

   Taiwan government funded research institute ITRI used to do the chip opening service(chip de-cap) for local Taiwan IC company. (I don't know if they are still doing it).  There are several company in Silicon Valley USA  also provide this kind of service too. (US$50 each chip).  several company also selling the automatically chip de-cap machine.  Some Japanese company are also selling chemical to melt the epoxy packaging of IC and they are saying it is not poison. just dip the chemical on the chip and that's it.    Of course if you are designing the IC chip, you need to open the chip(de-cap) in order to debug the chip if they are not working correctly.   But if you now how to patch the fuse bit of the MCU, you can read the code out too.
   Some times it is better to pay someone to write the software from scratch, instead of paying the money to unlock the other people's chip.   There are a lot of legal issues if you don't handle it correctly (if you are doing business).   
    You need to provide some copy protection on your own  design too,   too many copy-cat there now-a-days.

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planet69
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2008, 07:52:32 07:52 »

You need to provide some copy protection on your own  design too,   too many copy-cat there now-a-days.
copy-protection? how do we go about that?
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