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April 8, 2022

Install the Quadra firmware on an Android TV box

You can flash the Quadra firmware to a few Android TV boxes. Read on to find out how.

You can install the Quadra firmware on an Android TV box, although only a few models are supported, primarily the T95 Mini or Max (Allwinner H6 SoC) and H96 Max (rockchip RK3318 SoC).

Replacing the TV box firmware is fairly straighforward if you are a bit technical and adventurous! First, you will make a Quadra firmware SD card. Next, you will put the SD card into the TV box, plug in the power adapter, and it will automatically flash itself to the internal ROM.

Important Note: Don't contact Armbian if you run into any issues with this. Flashing onto TV boxes is an unsupported feature that we make available as a service for people who already have a supported TV box and would like to try. But if you do this, you are on your own!

However, Armbian now has Community level support for TV Boxes based on the RK33x8. You might want to start there if you have a TV Box based on the Rockchip rk3318 or rk3328 SoC as there is far more information available!

Items you will need:

1.  A compatible TV box (currently one of these on Amazon: T95 Mini, T95 max, Q+ or H96 MAX V11. We suggest using these links to buy as these are known to work*.
2. A computer (Windows/Mac/Linux) with an SD or micro-SD slot or USB adapter.
3. A 16GB or larger SD or micro SD card. Ideally a micro SD card with adapter so it can be used in standard or micro slots.


Extra step for H96 MAX TV box:

TV boxes based upon the RK33x8 SoC can't boot from the SD card slot if there is Android installed, so we have to erase it first. Download the MultiTool utility to do this here then flash it to your SD card following the same Step 1 steps below except replace the Quadra firmware with the Multitool firmware. Then insert the SD card into your TV box SD card slot and boot it. After a few moments, you'll see a license agreement. Click Exit and a menu of options will appear. Select Erase flash then hit enter. After a few moments, this will complete. Remove the SD card (you can reuse it for the following steps) and unplug the TV box. This only has to be done if the already flashed firmware is Android, so you shouldn't need to do this again, even if you restore your Quadra firmware from a backup.


Step 1:

1. Download and install Balena Etcher
2. Download Quadra firmware for your device. For H96 Max, it will be found under "experimental". For all others, it is called "quadra-hwh6-current.img.gz".
3. Insert the SD card into your computer's SD slot
4. Launch Balena Etcher
5. Select "Flash from file". Select the quadra firmware you downloaded above
6. Select the drive containing the SD card (its size should match your SD card size) under "Select drive"
7. Click "Flash"

This will take several minutes and will create your Quadra installer & recovery SD.

Step 2:

Plug the SD card into the TV box and plug in the power adapter. Unplug or don't connect a monitor at this point as the installation is automatic if one is not connected.

For the T95 mini/max and H96 Max models, the front panel LED (light) will turn red while booting and flashing the internal ROM. This will take about 7-30 minutes. When it is done, the LED will turn blue.

For the Q+, the LED ring will stay white. Wait at least 10 minutes since there is no LED indication as to completion. This LED ring is not currently supported in the Quadra firmware.

At this point, unplug the TV box, remove the SD card, connect the monitor, keyboard and mouse to the TV box and reconnect it to power. After a few seconds you will see an "Armbian" logo and after a few seconds more, the LED will turn blue indicating Linux has started. A few moments later, you will see a login screen. The default password is "1n0v@t0" (the "0"s are zeros). Then you will see the full desktop appear.

If you won't need the SD card for other things, keeping it as your recovery SD is helpful as you won't have to create it again, making recovery fast and easy.

* The reason for giving links that are known to work is that TV box manufacturers like to reuse their brand names over many models. They can have huge differences, including the WiFi and/or Bluetooth chips used, amount of memory and ROM and even the CPU type. As our firmware requires very specific hardware, if you get something different, it likely won't work completely or at all. Feel free to experiment as sometimes the differences are cosmetic so only the front lights won't work. But remember that just because the model is the same, don't assume the hardware is!