Sony BDP-S185

       The Sony BDP-S185 is a sub-$100 Blu-ray disc player that I picked up after my first BD player (a Sony PlayStation 3) was stolen. As I used my PS3 for playing movies much more than I ever did playing games on it, this seemed like a fair enough trade considering it was roughly 1/4th the cost.

But there was one thing that really annoyed me about it. I knew when I bought it that the BDP-S185 lacked internal storage, which meant that if I wanted to use functions on certain Blu-ray discs that required saving content to your player, I would have to provide my own USB storage device. I was fine with that, until I found out there is only one USB port on the BDP-S185...and it's on the front.

So if I wanted to use the local storage option on my Blu-ray movies, I either had to leave a USB flash drive hanging out of the front of the player 24/7 like some obscene appendage, or keep removing and reinserting the thing all the time. Neither of these options sounded very appealing to me, and after a few months I decided it was time to crack the thing open and improve the situation.

Opening it up

       Opening the BDP-S185 doesn't actually require any special tools. Don't be fooled by those two screws on the back panel, they are just reinforcements for the connectors so it takes some strain off the PCB.

While the player is still plugged in, press the eject button so the tray comes out and then pull the plug. With the disc tray out, flip the player upside down and pry up the 4 tabs along the face. With the tabs pulled up, slide the plastic shell forward.

BDP-S185

The shell won't move very much, only an inch or so. Once it has stopped moving forward, look on the left and right sides of the player for the arrows stamped into the metal (underlined in red in the image above). These two arrows are pointing to clips which are holding the plastic shell in place. You might be able to get these with your fingers, but I had to use a long screw driver. With the two clips pushed in, you can slide the shell all the way off.

Internal Modifications

       Once it was opened up, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much internal space there was inside of the player. If you were feeling industrious, you could easily fit a USB hub in there or perhaps even a laptop HDD with connected USB converter. For my purposes however, I just wanted to pull the USB port off the front of the player and relocate it internally, so I could leave a USB drive plugged into it all the time.

The front panel (controls, IR, LED, USB port) board is held in with a single screw, and easily comes off its ribbon cable. With the panel removed, I went to work desoldering the USB connector so I could connect up the new wires.

Front panel board

With the USB port removed, I rummaged around in my parts boxes until I found a scrap piece of PCB with a female USB connector attached that I pulled out of some device. I soldered a 5 inch piece of CAT5 network cable to it, and wrapped the whole thing up in Kapton tape. The other end of the CAT5 went into the front panel board.

USB jumper

Reassembly

       Putting it back together was very simple, I just had to route the new USB line through the player's body (made easy, as the internal shielding uses clever removable clips) and reattach the front panel ribbon cable. A quick test to make sure no magic smoke escaped (I have a terrible tendency to forget which wire color I've chosen for a particular pin), and everything was ready to get closed back up.

Flash drive installed

But isn't there a...

The more astute readers out there may have realized that there is now a big hole in the front of my Blu-ray player. I thought about how to cover this up for some time, everything from cutting a black LEGO brick down to size (perfect color and finish) to filling it in with Bondo.

But in the end, I noticed that a piece of black shrink tubing cut down to the appropriate size perfectly fit into the hole the USB port used to fill. While it certainly isn't perfect, the color is close enough that you really need to be right up on the player to notice something isn't right. Unless you were actually looking for it, you would never notice.

Improvements

       After completing this little modification, I realized that while I had fixed the lack of internal storage on the BD player, I had removed the convenience of having an external storage connector. While I could only remember a handful of times I used the function, it was nice to be able to just plug a flash drive right into the faceplate and load up some videos.

Because of this, I am entertaining the idea of putting a USB hub inside of the player, routed to another female USB connector mounted into the back panel of the player. This would let me keep the internal storage I was after for so long, but also give me a way to quickly and easily plug in additional storage.