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Thread: Xmod: A guide for the 2012 User

  1. #1
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    Xmod: A guide for the 2012 User

    This guide may be edited for content and clarification.

    Foreword:
    This guide is a brief summary of my experiences after the purchase of an xmod loader in April of 2012. I would like to thank all of those anonymous users who have attempted to help me; it is great to be part of a community that can offer so much without asking anything in return.

    If you are not interested in the history and backstory of Xmod I do Highly suggest you scroll down to THE EXPERIENCE and SOURCES

    History:
    Xmod is a software update developed by Lornecash and a small team of dedicated AGD enthusiasts. Xmod gives the E/Xmag extended options not regularly available for the Electronic Mag. It offers features such as ramping, full auto, ace configuration, psp/millennium shooting modes, etc. and is considered to be the premier software upgrade for an electronic AGD Marker.

    The Xmod software itself represents hours of insight and assistance from a multitude of big names such as KyleAGD, BigEvil, and a host of other people that sadly, I do not recognize (Bit-Wizard, Miscue, Sig11, Majinebz, Z-man, cabldawg). And hundreds of programming and development hours by for an independent study during his last semester of college at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Lornecash offered the Xmod beta software to the AGD community for FREE, and sold the Programmers and cabling to users for an additional charge. There was formerly an informal donations list to help fund the project that was used to support things like programming time, and the special wire crimper that attaches the molex connectors to ribbon cable for the board interface. I know for a fact that these crimpers are by no means cheap, and can be more expensive than buying a brand new marker.


    The Story

    In July of 2008 Lornecash was in full swing of sales of the Xmod loader and respectfully updated what he had seen as the vision of his software but it did not take long for users to purchase the Xmod programmers and begin programming boards for other players for their own profit, with members profiting on his intellectual property Lornecash put a not so subtle reminder out about license restrictions and a how to guide to dealing with xmod guns:

    Buying/Acquiring a Gun with XMOD already loaded • If you're buying a gun that has XMOD on it it should come with a programmer or you should make me a $50 donation. (Paypal: pniedfeldt@gmail.com) Just because someone else is trying to screw me you can still do the right thing.
    • If you buy more than one gun with XMOD on it you only need to make one donation of $50. I am selling it per person not per gun.

    Bought a programmer and Selling Your Gun - You must either...
    • Include the programmer with it and remove XMOD from all other guns you own, if you sell the gun with XMOD on it.
    • Remove XMOD from the gun, if you want to sell the gun and keep the programmer. (I will provide you with an AGD 3.2 flash via email if you don't have one saved)


    Programmer Owners
    • You can flash all the guns you own. I am selling it per person not per gun.
    • If you buy more than one gun that comes with a programmer you are free to sell the second programmer for a profit
    • You are not allowed to sell the programmer and keep XMOD on any gun you own.
    • When you sell the programmer you are completely giving up your rights to use XMOD

    Paid for Flash

    • You are not expected to remove the flash from your gun when you sell it as you have no way of doing so
    • Any future flashes for YOU are free
    • If you choose to sell your gun either you add $50 to the price and send me that on the sale of the gun or inform then next person they they are to pay for that Right to own that flash
    • the exception would be if that was the only gun you owned then your rights to the free flash would be transferred to the new owner providing you did pay for them in the first place

    To be honest I wouldn't care if someone else flashes your gun and you just paypal me the $50 to save yourself shipping. The problem is that I have never received $50 from a single person.


    Jump Foreword 2011:
    I’m not sure of the specifics, but Tunaman of Tunamart acquired the sole distributorship rights of Xmod. The links have been removed from Lornecash’s website. In essence, Lornecash invoked disclaimer #6; revocation of all rights to all users of xmod software. All xmod software upgrades from that point forward were/are pirate copies of stolen intellectual property.

    The Experience:

    I hope you’re still with me now that I’ve butchered the story to death. I wanted to set a preface for the rest of the 2012 xmod experience which is now to follow:
    Required Bits:
    (1) Xmod Loader- This is actually a AVR Programmer. The AVR Programmer has a USB connection on one side (the square printer style) and the molex connection to board on the other.
    (2) Xmod Cable- This cable is the most important part of the Xmod experience IMO; it connects the Loader to the board.
    (3) AVR Studio 4.0 for windows: This is the program interface that will allow you to load Xmod onto the board.
    (4) Xmod: Xmod comes in many flavors, I didn’t know this. There’s Beta 1.7 which does not support ramping, and then there’s 1.8 that does. 1.8 comes in multiple files typically labeled Xmod 4bps, 5bps, etc. where the BPS is the pull speed required to start the ramping, apparently this was done because it was not possible to alter the code to adjust the starting rof.
    (5) AVR Drivers: This is the driver that allows you to connect the Xmod Loader to your computer; it is specific to the loader board and not the AVR studio.

    I run a Windows 7 computer, at this point in its life it’s up to date but windows 7 has been around for quite some time and is due to replacement for windows 8 in October, this will be important later. Xmod was programmed roughly 2006, and uses software designed for Windows NT, 98, 2000, Millennium, and XP (See where I’m going with this?)
    I purchased XMOD from a reputable dealer without being aware of any of the history of xmod (I will return to this). It came as a board and a ribbon cable with no other software. Although disgruntled I turned to the AGD community to help bail me out, software couldn’t be that hard to obtain, could it?

    With a little bit of help and many questions I secured my copy of AVR studio 4.0 and AVR drivers, excitedly I installed both, and ended up with the following problem: the USB bridge drivers were not compatible with windows 7! After some exhaustive searching and a message sent out to the guys from AVR the reply was “that system is so old we never updated it and do not intend to, please try one of our newer programs”. In that respect, I am an idiot. I have no idea how to use this thing outside of Lornecash’s manual, this was not an option. Turning back to the forums I requested more assistance which found me in multitude, but still no firm answers. As it turns out the AVR studio and drivers required to load XMOD have a service life that ends with Windows XP, which means, if you don’t have a XP machine your SOL. There are other options, however, such as a Windows XP virtual environment available such as what comes included with the Windows 7 professional edition. As this would tag on a $70 anytime upgrade to my tab I was not that interested in trying it out. Apparently for some people installation in safe mode for windows 7 is an option for the AVR Studio, this made no difference on my windows 7 pc, even with the most up to date drivers and packages I could find.

    Luckily for me I purchased my loader from a reputable location and can get a return. As I write this my loader is happily shipping itself through the mail with a thumb drive that includes the AVR Drivers and AVR studio and I will likely not be out my moderate chunk of change I spent on the loader itself.

    Looking back on things, and the hours of frustration and headache I went through trying to get this updated I would much rather have contacted the great and powerful Tuna and at least investigated his multi-gun pricing structure. According to Lornecash the license for Xmod was only applicable per user, and my interpretation was that I could flash all my guns for the same $50 which is a fantastic deal, I would have even settled for a 10-15 dollar cover for each additional gun past the original to not deal with the driver headache.

    Although I will not be affecting Lornecash financially and will be rocking out the AGD 3.2 for a while longer I am disappointed that such a great guy who offered such a great product was ripped over the coals by a select few who may have ruined opportunities for us as a community in the future. The goal of this post is to give people the understanding that when they attempt to buy a loader they are on dubious grounds at best and may not be received well in the community for looking for support assuming they receive any at all. They should also know that xmod is available through trusted sources for a fair price (www.tunamart.com/feedback.php) and the hardware itself at this point may be obsolete and no longer compatible with your computer. Please, use Xmod responsibly. If you have any questions or would like clarification I by no means consider myself an expert but feel free to send a PM.

    Sources:
    Xmod Beta 1.8 User’s Guide- Available at www.niedtech.com
    Automags.org:
    Xmod programming thread:
    http://www.automags.org/forums/showthread.php?t=185314
    Xmod Sale Thread:
    http://www.automags.org/forums/showthread.php?t=219652
    Amended Xmod Disclaimer:

    http://www.automags.org/forums/showthread.php?t=232437
    http://www.automags.org/forums/showthread.php?p=2539273
    Xmod Programmer Piracy example

    http://www.automags.org/forums/showthread.php?t=256156
    Last edited by Drix; 04-25-2012 at 02:53 PM. Reason: updating 4-26-12

  2. #2
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    I had my Xmag flashed when the Xmod first became available, and I paid $50.

    I did not know I was doing anything wrong by offering you the chance to have at the various versions of Xmod that I have on my markers (for personal use), and for that I apologize. I also wasn't aware that I was supposed to send Lornecash $50 every time I bought a marker with Xmod software loaded, but I suppose that is more the fault of the sellers than myself.

    With that in mind, the legality behind the forced donation aspect is sketchy at best. Software is a big part of what I "do" and it's difficult to license a piece of software to an individual without a written user agreement - generally when you purchase software as a download you are purchasing a limited right to use, which can be retracted at any time, and the creator/seller can deny service but not physically remove the software (just the service). When you purchase a hard copy you own the software but often must comply with the creator/sellers terms of use, and while they can stop support they cannot take it from you.

    I would argue that since Xmod effectively replaces the firmware of the Emag board, an emag board flashed with Xmod is entirely transferable from one party to another without and dues owed to the developer, since firmware is integral to the operation of the device. Were Xmod a patch or software add-on to the standard AGD firmware it would be a different case (and even then would need a disclaimer), but as it stand it is effectively both a software update and a firmware flash to the *limited* BIOS of the Emag board. The transfer of Xmod from one board to another would be a different story.

    That said, anybody out there distributing Xmod without permission needs to cut the crap. Piracy isn't funny, and it's an especially scumbag move in such a small community where everyone is looking out for each other and product support and development is so limited. If you're going to have your board flashed pay your dues and go to the rightful owner of the Xmod license.

  3. #3
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    Well theres other questionable things here too, I'm pretty confident my programmer was a legit programmer, and as such I would have had rights to Xmod, and the prior owner should have removed xmod from their marker, which I would guarantee never happened. In that case you've not done anything wrong, the only wrong doing would be if I were flashing for other people for profit. The programmer as I purchased it should have come with a full copy of the XMOD file which it did not, hence the reach out for support.

    I wanted to put this out there for people to know where the lines of ethics sit with xmod. You did nothing wrong, nor did a stack of other people who offered xmod software for my particular case, I'm pretty confident that I could have e-mailed Lornecash himself and gotten permission fairly easily.

    I should also take the chance to touch on the "Forced Donation" this was a change to the EULA for Xmod as found in the beginning of the users guide. While I agree with you on the legal aspects, I feel theres a large case here of no good deed going unpunished on Lornecash's end.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drix View Post
    I feel theres a large case here of no good deed going unpunished on Lornecash's end.
    I 100% agree, but I think innocent buyers who snagged an emag with Xmod shouldn't be punished for ignorance of the subject. Again, piracy blows.

  5. #5
    so what do i do with my programmer/cable?

  6. #6
    put it in storage, or sell it like I did.

  7. #7
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    I'm a bit confused regarding the donation idea. If I send a marker to be flashed to Tuna and pay him for itt and then I sell it to someone, they are supposed to make another donation for it? If I buy a computer from HP and sell it to someone, they don't have to pay Microsoft again for the software....

    I'm all for people getting paid for thier work, I just don't get this part of it. So technically if this marker changes hands 10x each person is supposed to continue making donations? What happens if my board fries, and I have made a donation? If I buy another board, do I get a free flash?

  8. #8
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    These ethical issues about the xmod have been known for a long time. I'm just to lazy to search ATM. In the beginning the real issue was Lornecash did not charge accordingly. The community was too cheap to pay what it was worth, so he offered it at a low price so it would move forward. After a while it became obvious that people treated it as free software, and Lornecash saw it as his baby being passed around and other people profiting from it. IMO there is nothing wrong with having a programmer (I do not, nor do I have xmod) as long as you only use it for yourself.
    As far as operating systems, I use leopard / lion, but I dont see why one wouldn't keep an old $50 pc with xp for this purpose.

  9. #9
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    FYI - im running my programmer on W7 with no issues. It works, you just need to find updated drivers and adjust the settings accordingly.

    This whole thing in regards to buying programers and not the software was a catch-22. It relieved Paul of much of the liability, but also left him open to piracy. Before Paul offered to sell the programmer with the appropriate cables, it was almost impossible to get them otherwise. There were only a handful of people who had them.

    Before Xmod came out, RRFireblade had developed his own emag software called "Fireware" or something like that. His intention was to flash customers guns for them for a price. IIRC, AGD or someone had some kind of objection to him doing it and it never was made widely public.

    TAG was also developing an Emag Predator board, which ended up being a fiasco. No one knew, but they had gotten a C&D letter from Smart Parts which pretty much killed the whole thing. They were never straight forward with us about it for whatever reason, but a couple of different industry people who were involved with aftermarket boards told me the same thing.

    In the end, we made out better with Xmod anyhow.

    "I'm not happy unless you're not happy"

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Drix View Post
    ...
    The Experience:

    I hope you’re still with me now that I’ve butchered the story to death. I wanted to set a preface for the rest of the 2012 xmod experience which is now to follow:
    Required Bits:
    (1) Xmod Loader- This is actually a circuit board with another name but we’ll forego that. It has a USB connection on one side (the square printer style) and the molex connection to board on the other.
    This is actually called an AVR Programmer. What Lorne recommends in his guide is the ICProg-AVR programmer. There has since been released an ICProg-AVR II programmer, which I have used successfully on Win7.
    (2) Xmod Cable- This cable is the most important part of the Xmod experience IMO; it connects the Loader to the board.
    (3) AVR Studio 4.0 for windows: This is the program interface that will allow you to load Xmod onto the board.
    (4) Xmod: Xmod comes in many flavors, I didn’t know this. There’s Beta 1.7 which does not support ramping, and then there’s 1.8 that does. 1.8 comes in multiple files typically labeled Xmod 4bps, 5bps, etc. where the BPS is the ramping ROF cap, apparently this was done because it was not possible to alter the code to adjust the ramping rof.
    This is incorrect. The different rates (4bps, 5bps, etc.) denote at what speed you must be physically pulling the trigger to maintain ramping at the ROF cap, which is set as a variable in the firmware settings menu. This also only applies to PSP mode ramping.
    (5) AVR Drivers: This is the driver that allows you to connect the Xmod Loader to your computer; it is specific to the loader board and not the AVR studio.

    I run a Windows 7 computer, at this point in its life it’s up to date but windows 7 has been around for quite some time and is due to replacement for windows 8 in October, this will be important later. Xmod was programmed roughly 2006, and uses software designed for Windows NT, 98, 2000, Millennium, and XP (See where I’m going with this?)
    I purchased XMOD from a reputable dealer without being aware of any of the history of xmod (I will return to this). It came as a board and a ribbon cable with no other software. Although disgruntled I turned to the AGD community to help bail me out, software couldn’t be that hard to obtain, could it?

    With a little bit of help and many questions I secured my copy of AVR studio 4.0 and AVR drivers, excitedly I installed both, and ended up with the following problem: the USB bridge drivers were not compatible with windows 7! After some exhaustive searching and a message sent out to the guys from AVR the reply was “that system is so old we never updated it and do not intend to, please try one of our newer programs”. In that respect, I am an idiot. I have no idea how to use this thing outside of Lornecash’s manual, this was not an option. Turning back to the forums I requested more assistance which found me in multitude, but still no firm answers. As it turns out the AVR studio and drivers required to load XMOD have a service life that ends with Windows XP, which means, if you don’t have a XP machine your SOL.

    Not entirely true. If you use the ICProg-AVR II programmer, and you are able to install the last available build of AVR Studio 4 which includes a USB Programmer driver (I forget the name of it), then you are able to use the programmer. I had to go into Safe Mode to get AVR Studio 4 to install on my Win7 machine.

    Luckily for me I purchased my loader from a reputable location and can get a return. As I write this my loader is happily shipping itself through the mail with a thumb drive that includes the AVR Drivers and AVR studio and I will likely not be out my moderate chunk of change I spent on the loader itself.
    ...
    I just wanted to comment specifically about being able to use a Win7 machine. Admittedly I haven't tested using the programmer from my Win7 machine, but everything looks a go. When I tested my programmer I originally used a WinXP machine, so I know that works. But I did that because I couldn't get AVR Studio 4 to load without using a virtual "XP Environment" in Win7, and then couldn't get the programmer on the right Comm port. That issue has since been solved with the ability to install AVR Studio 4 under Safe Mode.

    Also, to take this story a little bit further in time, Lorne still has some programmers left for sale based upon the original Xmod agreement. He has posted a couple of times that when he sells his last programmer in stock, he won't be getting any more, and at that point he will post the commented source code for the firmware and make it open source. I don't know how many programmers he has left or how close he is to selling them out, and I don't know if he still intends to post the source code once they're all sold since he now has made an undisclosed deal with Tuna for exclusive commercial flash rights.

    Only time will tell I suppose. Until then, the programmers will be useless for flashing Xmod except in certain cases, and only good for someone wanting to tinker around and/or possibly develop their own firmware. Assembly language for the Atmel AT90S2313 anyone?

  11. #11
    Here is how you install it for those with legal whatever based on the latest changes to the EULA...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deLJxhO7UQI

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by UThomas View Post
    Here is how you install it for those with legal whatever based on the latest changes to the EULA...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deLJxhO7UQI
    That's just a video showing exactly what you would do if you followed the directions from the Xmod guide. I think the point of this thread has been that you can't download the Xmod software from Lorne's site anymore, having been that way since mid-2011. That video was made and uploaded in 2010. It's outdated.

    Also, the guy in the video says to buy a programmer on eBay (not from Lorne), and the one he shows doesn't look like it's Lorne's cable. That's part of the problem.

  13. #13
    Yea - I get that. Again - half the original post was "The Experience." That is the experience - or "was." For those wondering how many people installed it - that is how. That was a Vista machine btw.

    "the guy in the video says to buy a programmer on eBay (not from Lorne),"

    Quick recap for you: Lorne sold on ebay and recommended people buy there at one point.

    " and the one he shows doesn't look like it's Lorne's cable. That's part of the problem."

    It is the same. There were a lot of parts to the problem - some of which included trying to move from a free "donation" system to a "pay me retroactively" system as well as attempting to change/add the EULA on the fly and expecting people to comply. I won't get into that further as you can do a search and see all the details...

    Thomas

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by OPBN View Post
    I'm a bit confused regarding the donation idea. If I send a marker to be flashed to Tuna and pay him for itt and then I sell it to someone, they are supposed to make another donation for it? If I buy a computer from HP and sell it to someone, they don't have to pay Microsoft again for the software....

    I'm all for people getting paid for thier work, I just don't get this part of it. So technically if this marker changes hands 10x each person is supposed to continue making donations? What happens if my board fries, and I have made a donation? If I buy another board, do I get a free flash?
    My overall interpretation was if I had the gun flashed through lorne, it was my only gun, and I sold it, the next user could gain the rights of xmod. If I had multiple guns flashed by lorne, and released some but retained a minimum of 1 the guns sold should have a donation to lorn per gun. If I owned a loader and gun with xmod I should sell the pair together. if I had multiple guns and a single loader I should unload the guns to 3.2 before sale.

    Either way we all know it's not happening, but it should be looked at as a learning experience for board developers in the future.

    My point of the post however was to put together a single page of knowledge about xmod for future users to learn about before a purchase and to save searching across the internet.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by UThomas View Post
    Yea - I get that. Again - half the original post was "The Experience." That is the experience - or "was." For those wondering how many people installed it - that is how. That was a Vista machine btw.
    That's cool. When you posted that the video was for the latest version of the EULA, though, I took it to mean that you were posting how to get Xmod on your marker pursuant to the latest version of the EULA. As several people have come into Xmod threads lately and said "just download it from Lorne's site", I thought maybe you didn't know it had been removed from his site last year. It wasn't clear that you were posting the video as what "The Experience" was back in 2010.

    Quote Originally Posted by UThomas View Post
    ... I won't get into that further as you can do a search and see all the details...
    Don't worry, I've read all the details. I agree that the way Lorne went about changing the terms of use caused quite a bit of an uproar. Some think that he might have saved himself all that hassle by just offering the service of flashing to the new firmware instead of selling the programmers that allowed anyone to do it. But I don't think that would have even stopped anyone - after all, Lorne wasn't the first to re-flash the microcontroller, so it likely would have been done at an even higher profit for others offering the service without permission. At least by disseminating the knowledge and hardware, Lorne made it easy enough to DIY that the people offering to flash Xmod as a fee-service weren't able to collect a ransom.
    Last edited by Justus; 04-25-2012 at 07:03 PM.

  16. #16
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    1. Drivers for the for windows 7 are available from windows update you just have to go to the device manager and manually search for drivers. They don't install automatically like most USB devices for some reason.

    2. You actually don't need AVR Studio at all. All you need is AvrProg.exe (221KB)

    3. I was cleaning out a closet and I found about 10 more programmers so yes they're still for sale from me. After that I still do intend to make the software open source. If you just want a flash you can send your gun to Tuna he is the ONLY person/entity authorized by me to flash XMOD

    4. I posted the official change log here

    5. The whole license agreement is more of a guideline than a rule since let's be honest I'm not a lawyer and no matter what I'm not going to try and take anyone to court over any of it. I just want to be paid for my work and want honest people to know that I never intended the software to be "Free". On the other hand I have no way to stop anyone from doing anything. I put the download on my website because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of DRM or any of that crap.

    6. COME TO TUNABALL 7 I'd love to meet anyone using my software no matter how you got it. I'll never ask and at this point don't really care.

  17. #17
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    Is it safe to assume that honest folks like me will be able to purchase XMOD at Tunaball?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by emcl29 View Post
    Is it safe to assume that honest folks like me will be able to purchase XMOD at Tunaball?
    Yes... Paul and Tuna will both be there.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigEvil View Post
    Yes... Paul and Tuna will both be there.
    What he said.

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