Detailed Unlock Steps

Please Note

There will be some small changes due to contractual or legal requirements. Review these changes before proceeding:

  • It will not be possible to go back to a production robot. The unlock process is permanent.
  • Amazon Alexa mode is disabled. Due to contractual requirements we are unable to include Alexa on Vectors where users can modify the system without review by Amazon.
  • The first step in unlocking your Vector is delivering the QSN to Digital Dream Labs so we can make your custom unlock image. This is a serial number that is included internally on the unit that is different from the ESN which you see printed on the bottom of the robot.

    To get the QSN:

    1. Using the Chrome web browser go to Vector Setup (You must have a Bluetooth-enabled PC/device).

    2. Follow the instructions to pair with Vector and log in.

    3. Click the Download Logs link located at the top right corner of the page.

    4. Open the downloaded archive which should extract the contents of several logs on to your hard drive.

    5. Open the file factory/log1. It should look like this:

      total 13 dr--r----- 3 888 888 1024 Jan 1 1970 . drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 1024 Jan 1 00:00 .. dr--r----- 2 888 888 1024 Jan 1 1970 007084d8 -r--r----- 1 888 888 1472 Jan 1 1970 AnkiRobotDeviceCert.pem -r--r----- 1 888 888 1704 Jan 1 1970 AnkiRobotDeviceKeys.pem -r--r----- 1 888 888 792 Jan 1 1970 Info007084d8.json QSN=324416252 # ESN=007084d8

    6. Deliver the QSN and ESN from the last line of the file to Digital Dream Labs.

    If you have trouble extracting the archive you can send the entire .tar.bz2 file to Digital Dream Labs.

    Step 2: Doing a Test Upgrade

    It is strongly recommended that you do a test upgrade with a safe upgrade file before unlocking your robot. If the process is confusing the first time it's recommended you do a test upgrade again and again until you feel comfortable with the process.

    Remember that modifying the ABOOT and recovery filesystems are dangerous operations. If the process is interrupted somehow while system files are installing it will make it impossible to boot Vector. Some potential points of failure in a normal OTA upgrade are:

    • Vector loses power in the middle of the upgrade.

    • Your wifi modem breaks or is unplugged in the process.

    • Your service providers connection dies in the middle of the OTA file download.

    • Some random part of the internet has issues preventing the OTA from
      downloading completely.

    This doesn't matter for normal OTA installs because the process is designed to be safe and we can always fall back to the recovery software. But when unlocking we are REWRITING the recovery software. An interruption like this can be disastrous.

    To minimize chances of network problems interfering with the update process the recommended procedure is serve your unlock image from your computer to Vector locally. This eliminates any possibility of Wide Area Network issues affecting the outcome.

    The process is not particularly complex if you follow the steps as written but it can be confusing the first time you do it, particularly if you don't have much experience with networking. Luckily you can practice by uploading a normal system upgrade manually. This is safe and can be repeated safely.

    Hosting the OTA locally

    We need to host the OTA locally on your computer we're using to update since there will be no access to anything else at that point in time.

    1. Download a local copy of the latest production firmware from

    2. Create a simple webserver to serve up the files. Here we use python because it is installed on many systems and has a lightweight webserver built in. However there is nothing special about python here so you may substitute with a webserver you're more familiar with.

      Assuming you saved the file in a Downloads folder:

      cd ~/Downloads # or other directory python3 -m http.server

      Or if you don't have python3 installed:

      cd ~/Downloads # or other directory python -m SimpleHTTPServer

    3. Determine the LAN IP of your computer. This is different from the external address and will generally start with 192.168, or 10.0. If
      you don't know how to find the address this LifeHacker article might help.

    4. Open the Chrome Browser and verify that you can get to the file. If your computer's IP address is, the link is

    <code>You should see a basic index page listing files including latest.ota.
    1. Click on the latest.ota file and verify that the link works and your browser asks you to download the file.

    Prepping the robot

    First, fully charge your Vector. Keep him on the charging dock. Next wipe the user data from Vector and enter into Recovery Mode.

    Erasing User Data

    First wipe the user data from Vector. This will erase the entire contents of the /data partition. It will also give the Vector a new identity and name later.

    To do so:

    1. Place Vector on its charging station.

    2. Press his backpack button twice. The normal BLE Pairing screen should appear on its screen.

    3. Lift Vector's forklift up and down. A administration menu should appear on its screen.

    4. Remove Vector from its charging station and spin one of the tank treads. This will move the > arrow pointing at an option.

    5. Select CLEAR USER DATA. Lift the forklift up and down to proceed. A confirmation screen should appear.

    6. Spin the tank treads to select CONFIRM. Lift the forklift up and down. Vector should reboot and start at the initial setup screen.

    7. You will now need to re-attach Vector to your account via the Phone App or other means and re-download the newly generated SSH key if you wish to SSH in to Vector.

    Recovery Mode (aka Factory Reset)

    Next perform Recovery Mode reboot (Factory Reset) of your Vector. This will cause Vector to reboot and run using the the initial factory recovery

    To do so:

    1. Place Vector on its charging station.

    2. Hold its backpack button down until it powers down completely and
      keep holding down until the white light at the back of the backpack
      comes on.

    3. Vector will reboot and start at the initial setup screen just like new.

    Connecting to the advanced console interface in Vector Web Setup

    We will use the simulated terminal interface in Vector Web Setup to access advanced options that aren't available in the normal interface.

    1. Open a new tab in Chrome and go to

    2. Place Vector in its charging station and press the backpack button
      twice to enter pairing mode.

    3. Click "Pair with Vector" and select Vector from the popup.

    4. You're now on the screen to enter the pairing code. Uncheck the box
      for Enable auto-setup flow. Enter the pin and click Enter PIN.

    5. You will now be in an emulated terminal session in chrome. Type
      help to verify it's working.

    Keep this console open throughout the process.

    1. In the emulated terminal session, wifi-scan to check that Vector can see your wifi

    2. Have Vector connect to your wifi with wifi-connect followed by your Wifi SSID and password

    Starting the deploy

    This is the critical step. We want to do this correctly.

    1. Go back to your tab with the file directory listing. Since Vector will be requesting the file DO NOT use links with localhost in them or it won't be able to find the files.

    2. Copy the full link for latest.ota to your clipboard.

    3. Return to the Chrome window with the Terminal session and run ota-start

    If all goes well you should see a status bar update, the file should upload, Vector will reboot, and you'll have the new version of the firmware.

    If it doesn't go well you may get an error status code in the window. Some of the more common status codes are:

    • 203 Vector couldn't find the file. You either had the wrong link, such as using localhost or you don't have a webserver running.

    • 216 Downgrade not allowed. You didn't do a factory reset.

    Step 3: Installing the unlock image

    This is the critical step. We want to do this correctly.

    Now we follow the same procedure with the custom generated image for your Vector. If you skipped ahead to here please go through the test run with a safe file. Assuming you know what you're doing:

    1. Start from an updated vector with updated software. The 0.9.0 recovery software does not support updating the appropriate partitions and it will fail to try to install the unlock image.

      Don't worry, it does this safely and you will not damage your Vector if you forget to do so.

    2. Put a book or heavy block in front of Vector to keep him from driving off the charging station while updating.

    3. Use the link to the custom image provided by Digital Dream Labs instead of the normal OTA file. Note that each custom image only works on ONE Vector. If you have multiple Vectors each will need its own image. Vector's face probably won't show any indication that an update is in process -- he will show his eyes rather than a cloud with a spinner.

    After installation is complete Vector should reboot and you should now see an introductory screen that says OSKR. This means that your Vector is working and has the new security keys needed for OSKR development.

    We're out of danger now.

    Step 4: Installing the latest OSKR image

    Next we need to install an up-to-date software image to bring back all the expected functionality. This is a safe update again. If there are problems the Vector will continue to run. No need to be paranoid on this update.

    Get the file and apply it to Vector the same way you applied the test upgrade. Please Note: This is NOT the same "latest.ota" you downloaded earlier! Please download this new file and either rename it or store it elsewhere to differentiate the OSKR image from the production image you downloaded earlier.

    Sign in to Vector

    You may use either the normal phone app or to add your account to the newly imaged Vector.

    Step 5: Getting your SSH key

    Now that Vector is up and running and back to his normal self you'll want to get the newly created SSH key. Although this isn't strictly part of the unlock process this key is needed to access Vector's internals and begin your OSKR adventure! So lets grab it now.

    To get the SSH Key:

    1. Using the Chrome web browser go to

    2. Follow the instructions to pair with Vector and log in.

    3. Click the Download Logs link located at the top right corner of the page.

    4. Open the downloaded archive which should extract the contents of several logs on to your hard drive.

    5. The file data/ssh/id_rsa is your security key. It should be installed so it can be used by your system. On Linux and OSX:
      bash cp data/ssh/id_rsa_Victor-X1Y1 ~/.ssh chmod 700 ~/.ssh/id_rsa_Victor-(Vector Name)

      For Windows 10 users, you can either use a program like PuTTY or insert it into your standard keyring: 
      bash Set-Service -Name ssh-agent -StartupType Manual Start-Service ssh-agent ssh-add id_rsa_Vector-whatever ssh root@192.168.whatever

    6. Load the key in to your keyring: ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa_Victor-(Vector Name)

    7. Obtain the IP of the robot from the diagnostics screen.

      • put Vector in charger.
      • double click the backpack button.
      • raise the forklift up and down

      You should now see the diagnostics screen which has the IP.

    8. Connect! Open Command Prompt and issue:
      ssh root@(IP)

    9. Type the command exit to leave the SSH session.

    Congratulations! Vector is unlocked!

    Advanced Network Configuration: Enabling AP mode

    If you have a particularly bad router or wifi connection it's best to find a better connection to kick off the upgrade. However it is possible to eliminate your router as a dependency and talk directly to Vector by turning it in to an Access Point. The downside to this is that you will lose all normal internet access and only be able to talk to Vector until the process is complete.

    This usually provides a better more reliable connection but some computers' network cards may have more trouble than not connecting to Vector's 2.4 Ghz network. Once again it is strongly recommended that you test an AP style deploy with the safe upgrade image as listed in Step 2 above.

    Follow the process until bring up the simulated command terminal. From there:

    1. Issue the command wifi-ap true. This will display new credentials for the new wifi connection.

      [v5] P7Z4$ wifi-ap true ssid: Vector P7Z4 password: 20809135

    2. Connect your computer to this access point with this password.

    3. Test that you can access the file index at which will be your new Local IP while connected to Vector.

    4. Resume the existing process while still on the access point.

    If all goes well Vector will install and reboot, and your computer will automatically go back to its normal network.


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