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Hacking the Insta360 ONE RS

The Insta360 ONE RS with the 4K Boost lens Just two years after purchasing the SJCAM SJ8 Pro, in June 2023 I decided to replace my action camera with a new Insta360 ONE RS. The SJCAM was quite good (but only after heavily customizing the firmware, both in terms of color balance and video codec parameters). The real sore point of the SJCAM is that it is impossible to use it without looking at the screen: if you press the REC button without looking you will never know if you have activated recording, if you have stopped it or if you have simply exited stand-by.

The Insta360 seems quite promising: it uses the same Ambarella H22 processor so it should allow the same level of hacking as the SJCAM, it seems to offer better support (firmware updates) and has different hardware modules (4K lens or dual 360° lens).

The best result I have achieved is to have reverse engineered the WiFi protocol, so that I can control the camera with open source programs (Python scripts) instead of the crap Android app that comes with it.

Hardware Specifications
Hardware 00A
Firmware shipped v2.0.0.4
Firmware upgraded (2023-06-15) v2.0.8.4
Hardware SoC Ambarella H22EVK K2 Board (DT)
CPU AArch64 Processor, 4 cores
RAM 90 Mb
NAND memory Toshiba TC58NVG1S3H 256 MiB
Specifications with Boost 4K lens
Sensor size 1/2“ 8000×6000 pixels
Image resolution 48 Mpixels JPEG
Focal length 16mm (35 mm equiv.)
Aperture F2.4
Weight 125.3 g
Size 70.1 x 49.1 x 32.6 mm
Video resolution 4K @60 fps

Defects and Problems

  • Cannot activate the camera for first use without the app
  • Cannot set date and time without the app
  • WiFi open to the world with known password

Start and stop recording

The camera plays different sounds on power-on, power-off, start recording and stop recording, so you can somewhat operate the camera without looking at its screen. Unfortunately the sounds are not too so loud.

Power button When the camera is off, press it shortly once to power-on the camera.
When the camera is on, press it shortly once to toggle the screen on/off.
When the camera is on, press it for ~2 seconds to power-off the camera.
For all the operations there is a different acoustic feedback.
Record button When the camera is on, press it shortly once to start or stop recording.
If the camera has the screen turned off, it will turn on again and start recroding, all with a single press.
If the camera is off and QuickCapture is enabled, press it once to power-on the camera and start recording.
If you started a QuickCapture, press it once to stop recording and power-off the camera.

Start recording reaction times

Normal Recording Start recording pressing the REC button: less than one second.
QuickCapture Start recording from camera turned off, pressing the REC button with QuickCapture mode enabled: less than 6 seconds.

Video Files Produced

Resolution Bitrate Format GOP Audio
4k 60fps 100.0 Mb/s AVC Main@L5.2 M=1, N=15 AAC LC 192 kb/s
1080 60fps 60.0 Mb/s AVC Main@L5.2 M=1, N=15 AAC LC 192 kb/s

Horizon lock and stabilization

The Insta360 ONE RS provides the horizon lock feature, but only in software post-processing.

To enable it:

  • Tap the video parameters at the bottom of the screen to open the adjust video mode menu.
  • Select Post instead of FlowState. This means that video stabilization will be performed in software post-production (out of the camera). FlowState means instead that stabilization is performed in-camera (videos saved on the SD card are already stabilized).
  • Select a 4K video mode with 30 fps or lower.
  • Swipe left from the right side to open the shooting parameters menu, you will find the Horizon Lock option that can be enabled or disabled.

Like any other videos captured with Post FlowState stabilization, you will find unstabilized videos on the SD card. The footage will have un-cropped frames and embedded metadata about angular velocity, accelerometer and exposure time. For each clip, both the low resolution video and the full resolution video have the same metadata.

It is possible to extract such metadata e.g. with the exiftool command line tool:

exiftool -api RequestAll=3 -api largefilesupport=1 -extractEmbedded "video.mp4"

It seems that there are about 1000 samples per second for angular velocity and accelerometer and one exposure time for each frame.

The Android app

Android app minimal requirements

  • Android 64-bit system
  • 4 Gb RAM
  • 3 Gb storage space
  • CPU minimal:
    • Kirin 980
    • Snapdragon 845
    • Exynos 9810

Android app not working

The Insta360 Android App is an huge monster of 676 Mb to download (version 1.40.1, June 2023). Once installed it occupies 1.06 Gb for the app and 128 Mb for the cache. The app requires WiFi and Bluetooth to be activated, it finds the camera and connect to it using the WiFi access point provided by the Insta360 camera.

Pairing the camera with the app is required to “activate” the camera. At the first activation you need to enable Bluetooth and WiFi on the Android device, probably the Bluetooth channel is used to broadcast the presence of the camera to the device and to pass the WiFi credentials (SSID and password) to then connect the phone to the camera's WiFi access point. It is required to accept the pairing on the screen of the Insta360.

Insta360 Android App Size
Insta360 WiFi SSID

I have a problem with the app, when I try to open the live view to use it as a camera remote control, the app crashes:

Instal360 Has Stopped

WiFi Communications

When the camera starts with the WiFi enabled, is turns on the access point mode, the SSID is composed by the serial number and the password is 88888888. If something goes wrong the WiFi configuration could be reset and the password will be 1234567890. The IP address of the camera is and it accepts max 5 clients.

Using nmap I got the list of the opened ports on the camera:

23/tcp    open  telnet
53/tcp    open  domain
80/tcp    open  http
111/tcp   open  rpcbind
2049/tcp  open  nfs
6666/tcp  open  irc
7878/tcp  open  owms
8787/tcp  open  msgsrvr
9888/tcp  open  cyborg-systems
35215/tcp open  unknown
39585/tcp open  unknown
45223/tcp open  unknown
56769/tcp open  unknown
57041/tcp open  unknown

You can access the GNU/Linux operating system running on the camera using telnet, login root without password.

It seems that the control commands are sent over port TCP/6666, but they are not in cleartext. Instead it seems that data transfer (e.g. retrieving videos an phots) happen over port TCP/80 using plain HTTP protocol and URLs.

Port TCP/7878 is open and it seems to accept Ambarella API commands like the ones accepted by the SJCAM SJ8 Pro camera, but I was not able to start a communication because I always receive an error when I send the AMBA_START_SESSION command.

WiFi Configuration

The WiFi access point service is started by the script /usr/local/share/script/

In normal conditions the starting is demanded to /usr/local/share/script/, which uses the values found in /pref/wifi.conf. Is something goes wrong, the configuration is reset using the content of /usr/local/share/script/wifi.conf, where the AP_PASSWD is 1234567890.

If the file /proc/ambarella/wifi.conf exists (it is something called “Fast boot”) the starting is demanded to /usr/local/share/script/ using the wifi.conf content to pass the command line parameters: [SSID] [PSK] [CHANNEL]

The directory /pref/ is actually stored into an ambafs partition named a: bind-mounted from /tmp/FL0/pref/. The ambafs (Ambarella Filesystem?) is managed by a proprietary kernel module. The ambafs is also used to mount the SD Card under /tmp/SD0, reading the the device named c:.

Customize WiFi Configuration

How to change at least the WiFi password? FIXME

It turned out that changing the WiFi password into the file /pref/wifi.conf does not work: when you power cycle the camera that file will be overwritten with the default values.

Firmware Upgrades

In App Upgrade

It is possibile to upgrade the firmware using the Android app: the app will check if an upgrade is available from the internet, then it downloads and copies it to the camera.

SD Card Upgrade

Insta360 Firmware Upgrade It is also possibile to manually download a new firmware from the download site, copy the file Insta360OneRFW.bin into the root directory of the SD card and power-on the camera. Once the firmware is flashed, the file is automatically removed from the SD card.

Firmware file anatomy

The anatomy of a firmare file is as follow (analyzed with some problems using ambarella-h22-firmware-unpack):

Ambarella Firmware Sections found by Magic 90EB24A3
Sect. Header Section Len CRC32 Note
#1 0x00000230 0x00000330 27358092 0xD173F88F OK Real Time Operating System (RTOS) image
#2 0x01A176BC 0x01A177BC 3852288 0x7A2024CB OK ROMFS with RTOS microcode: default_binary.bin, orccode.bin and orcme.bin
#3 0x01DC3FBC 0x01DC40BC 10676224 0x889668C0 OK ROMFS with files for color profiles, LUTs, sounds, etc.
#4 0x027F28BC 0x027F29BC 7919624 0x9D4BC0E3 OK Linux kernel ARM64 boot executable Image.
#5 0x02F801C4 0x02F802C4 14458880 0xDCD5AFC8 OK Linux root filesystem (Squashfs).
#6 0x03D4A2C4 0x03D4A3C4 25138 0x97606C13 OK Device Tree Blob.


The Insta360 ONE RS camera does run two operating systems at once: RTOS and GNU/Linux. RTOS is dedicated to operate the camera (buttons operations, touch screen, video recording, etc.), GNU/Linux is dedicated e.g. to WiFi operations, etc.

Here it is an overview of the partitions used:

Partition Size (kb) Label Content From firmware file
mtdblock0 128 VENDOR_DATA :?: None
mtdblock1 32768 SYS_SW Real Time Operating System (RTOS) image Section #1 at offset 0x00000330
mtdblock2 6144 DSP_uCode ROMFS: RTOS microcode binary files Section #2 at offset 0x01A177BC
mtdblock3 40960 SYS_DATA ROMFS: RTOS data files (color tables, etc.) Section #3 at offset 0x01DC40BC
mtdblock4 16384 LINUX_Kernel Linux Kernel at offset 0x00000000
Device Tree at offset 0x00fe0000
Section #4 at offset 0x027F29BC
Section #6 at offset 0x03D4A3C4
mtdblock5 16384 LINUX_RFS Linux root filesystem Section #5 at offset 0x02F802C4
mtdblock6 19968 VIDEO_REC_IDX Index of files stored into the SD card None
mtdblock7 4608 CALIB :?: None
mtdblock8 3584 USER_SETTING User settings None
mtdblock9 100992 DRIVE_A Storage a: mounted into /tmp/FL0/ None

During normal camera usage only mtdblock6, mtdblock8 and mtdblock9 are changed.

USB Modes

The Instal360 ONE RS has four different USB modes that you can choose from the settings menu. A GNU/Linux host will detect the different modes with different VendorID and ProductID, except the Quick Reader mode, which is not detected at all.

Mode Vendor:Product Linux Kernel Label Usage
U-Disk Mode 070a:4026 Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd A9 Platform Allow access to media on the SD card using the USB storage protocol.
WebCam 2e1a:00c0 Amba Insta360 One RS Get the video stream to the attached PC, e.g. using guvcview in GNU/Linux.
Quick Reader Enable the the Quick Reader accessory.
Android 2e1a:0002 Arashi Vision Insta360 ONERS Should be used to operate the camera through the USB cable from an Android (or other OS) host. See CameraSDK.

WARNING: Streaming the WebCam video into a GNU/Linux computer using guvcview, resulted into a greenish image. Start the guvcview program with the --format=bgr3 option (formats bgr3 and rgb3 seem to work). The overall reliability with this setting is poor: starting and stopping guvcview results in a non-working device; I had to unplug/plug the USB cable and powercycle the camera to get the video stream again.

Useful GNU/Linux Commands

Extract JPEG and GIF files from a binary image:

binwalk --dd 'jpeg image:jpeg' mtdblock1.bin
binwalk --dd 'gif image:gif' mtdblock1.bin 

Mount a Linux Squashfs image:

mount -o loop,ro mtdblock5.bin /mnt

Extract the kernel image and the device tree blob from the partition #4 image:

# Extract the Kernel Image
dd if=mtdblock4.bin of=part4-a.kernel-image.bin bs=1 count=7919624
# Extract the Device Tree Blob, offset is 0x00fe0000
dd if=mtdblock4.bin of=part4-b.device-tree.bin bs=1 skip=16646144 count=25138

Shooting modes with Boost 4K lens

Night Shot
FlowState (in-camera stabilization)
Post FlowState (app stabilization)
Active HDR
Slow Motion
Loop Recording
6K Widescreen Mode

Web References

doc/appunti/hardware/insta360_one_rs.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/15 08:26 by niccolo