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Problem

I hate having to copy what I want from my PC to a flash or external drive and then stick it in the smart TV (which already has the ability to browse files on a flash drive) every time. I want the smart TV to always have access to a shared drive on my LAN.

Possible Solution

Is it possible to build (or assemble) a device or a contraption that masquerades as a USB flash drive for the TV, but it's actually relaying data from another place?

It could draw power from the TV's USB, and it's essentially a mini PC that makes the TV think it's a flash drive and I can browse files on the TV as normal, but on the other end of it I can remote into it via LAN (whatever OS that can easily handle this stuff), so I can tell it what to relay to the TV.

Is that at all feasible? I don't think it's impossible, but is it doable at minimal cost? Does it actually require hardware manipulation or building, or can it be done/achieved with a mini PC and software?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You need something that can act as a USB device, which rules out most mini PCs and things like the raspberry pi. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you looked for an app for your smart TV that will give the TV the ability to browse files on your LAN attached drive? \$\endgroup\$
    – user80875
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is it that your smart TV cannot access your LAN already? my smart TV has an ethernet port and an option for plugging in USB wifi. out of the box it can access my MythTV server and "public" CIFS network shares. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 5:16

2 Answers 2

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Although product recommendations are technically not meant for this forum, this is what you want: https://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Connect-Wireless-Stick-Flash/dp/B00ZCFYT5K

You could try looking around for cheaper alternatives, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Airdisk-WiFi-External-Storage-Android/dp/B082M5CGLS/

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not quite... I already HAVE the drive or my own storage capacity... I want to connect this existing storage unit to the TV via its USB port... I don't want another drive; then I would have to copy to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – BeemerGuy
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 2:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not quite sure I understand. Assuming cost wasn't an issue, and you could get larger versions of what I posted, would it solve your problem? You would need to push files to it from your lan, presumably with whatever is controlling the shared folder \$\endgroup\$
    – BeB00
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 2:35
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Is it possible to build (or assemble) a device or a contraption that masquerades as a USB flash drive for the TV, but it's actually relaying data from another place?

Possible yes, but tricky. The issue with doing this is that USB MSC devices just present a raw block interface to storage, and it expect the host to have absolute control over the (passive) storage device. The device emulating the local storage using a remote server thus has to do more than just show a list of files and copy them over, it actually has to fake at the block level an entire FAT32 file system that doesn't really exist and then populate it with files. At the same time, the host has unrestricted access to the storage and can try to do things like write blocks on the (nonexistent) storage which have to be handled well enough to keep fooling the host (at least well enough that it doesn't decide the storage is corrupt). All of this could be done, but it wouldn't be easy or necessarily work as well as you'd like.

I've never used those Sandisk wireless USB sticks linked, but I suspect that the way they deal with this complexity is by not letting you access the device by Wifi and by USB at the same time. This way there is a real FAT32 file system sitting on a real block device (the NAND storage) which is only accessed by one host at a time. Could be wrong, but I would be surprised if it works otherwise.

Does it actually require hardware manipulation or building, or can it be done/achieved with a mini PC and software?

It wouldn't necessarily require hardware manipulation (lots of hardware exists out there with a storage device, a USB interface and a network connection - basically all smartphones for example), but it would require a lot of software. I'm not sure how much of what you would need to do this already exists, you might have to write a lot of it yourself.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Most cell phones no-longer expose FAT32 over USB (they use MTP instead of block access) and those that did expose FAT32 would not allow the phone to access the storage at the same time as USB was doing it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 5:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jasen No sane operating system will allow you to access block storage that is mounted by a different device (since you are not supposed to do that), but nothing actually stops you from writing your own USB MSC driver that allows it (provided you are very careful to not corrupt things). If you are writing your own drivers, what USB classes the vendor ships doesn't matter too much. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 6:07

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