Bringing an iWallet back to life

iwallet_bluetooth_hack

The iWallet is a slick little device if you’ve got a big wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket. The $600 price tag was a little much for [cmw] to swallow, so he bought a water damaged iWallet on eBay with hopes of repairing it. Once took a close look, he knew that repairing it was a lost cause, so he decided to hack it instead.

He pulled out most of the wallet’s electronics save for the motor that opens the device, and replaced the damaged parts with his own. He installed an Arduino pro as well as a Bluetooth module, powering the pair with a small rechargeable LiPo battery. The iWallet’s fingerprint reader was then replaced with a series of LEDs that show the device’s Bluetooth connectivity status.

[cmw] can now connect his wallet to his phone, issuing unlock commands via Bluetooth. If you don’t want to fork out the cash, his version is nearly as good as the real thing.

Continue reading to see a quick video of [cmw’s] iWallet hack in action.

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Building a computer around a TTL CPU

[Bill's] worked on his homebrew computer for almost a decade. He didn’t start with a Z80 processor like a lot of the projects we’ve seen, but instead build the CPU itself from 74-series TTL chips and a ridiculous amount of wire wrapping to connect it all.

The video after the break shows off the functionality. We love the front panel, which is packed with information but manages to remain organized and offers many convenient features. Our favorite is the ability to pause execution and scroll through the registers by spinning the dial. The clock signal has a variable speed which is selected by an internal DIP switch package that can be changed during a pause. It runs MINIX and has a library of programs, but perhaps most surprising is its ability to serve webpages.

Lately we’ve been interested in drilling down through program language abstractions to understand what is going on inside the silicon. This has given us new respect for those building processors from scratch. Think of it this way, if you actually need to build each instruction out of gates, you’ll be able to understand how those instructions work at the most fundamental level.

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iPhone to Arduino communications sans jailbreak

iphone_to_arduino

When Google released their ADK allowing Android smart phones to interact with Arduino-based devices, we’re sure there were at least one or two iPhone users who felt left out. Thanks to the folks over at Redpark, those people can now interact with an Arduino without having to jailbreak their phone.

For anyone looking to do any sort of iPhone/Arduino interaction, this is a good thing – except for the price. The 30-pin to serial cable is currently available over at Make for $59, which honestly seems pretty steep to us. When we first saw this announced, our initial thoughts were that we would see an open-source version in no time.

Unfortunately, that idea was short-lived, as we were quickly reminded of Apple’s MFI program. If you are not familiar, MFI (aka Made for iStuff) program limits what can be connected to an iDevice via licensing fees and a boatload of legal agreements. While we won’t be picking up this dongle any time soon, we’re all ears if someone has done any reverse-engineering of those pesky MFI chips.

DIY book scanner processes 600 pages/hour

Like any learned individual, [Justin] has a whole mess of books. Not being tied to the dead-tree format of bound paper, and with e-readers popping up everywhere, he decided to build a low-cost book scanner so an entire library can be carried in a his pocket. If that’s not enough, there’s also a complementary book image processor to assemble the individual pictures into a paginated tome.

The build is pretty simple – just a little bit of black craft board for the camera mount and adjustable book cradle. [Justin] ended up using the CHDK software for the Cannon PowerShot camera to hack in a remote trigger. The scanner can manage to photograph 600 pages an hour, although that would massively increase if he ever moves up to a 2-camera setup.

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Getting more information from your battery charger

echo_6_battery_charger_serial_hacking

[Dane] bought a reasonably cheap ($17) Hobbyking Echo-6 battery charger and wanted to see what sort of information he could pull from the unit. Since the charger is designed for a variety of battery chemistries and sports an LCD screen, he figured that it contained a fairly decent microcontroller which he could tap into for some useful data.

He disassembled the unit and started looking around for any useful items. He discovered that it used an ATMega32 microcontroller and had quite a few unpopulated areas on the PCB, which led [Dane] to believe that the Echo-6 shared its main board with a more robust charger. He tapped into the ATMega’s UART and began seeing data immediately. Once he figured out what was coming over the serial line, he piped the data into LogView, resulting in some nice graphs showing off the charge/discharge processes in detail.

Tapping into the Echo-6 seems easy enough for any skill level, and we assume that just about anyone would benefit from getting kind of information out of their battery charger.

Robot band covers [Marilyn Manson]

[James] built himself a robotic band from obsolete computer parts. The band needed something to play, and [Marilyn Manson]‘s Beautiful People fit the bill. While it’s not the Rock-fire Explosion, having the [James]‘ band cover [Marilyn Manson] is nearly as terrifying.

[James]‘ original plan was to cover Mad World, but the stepper motors were drowning out the music for that song. While trying fix the cello problem the servos started acting up and reminded him of a certain song. While it’s not faithful to the original, we really like the arrangement on this version.

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DIY robot remote control

[Patrick] wanted a remote control to control some of the robots he’s built. He also wanted to get some data back from his robots, so an inexpensive off-the-shelf solution wouldn’t be up to the task. Like all good geeks, [Patrick] decided to build what he needed.

For analog control, [Patrick] decided to use a Wiimote nunchuck. This turned out to be a very good choice – the nunchuck has a 2-axis joystick and 3-axis accelerometer in one small, easy to interface package . The wireless radio is taken care of with an XBee module. For the microcontroller, custom “lcd backpack” was created that provides an I2C port for the nunchuck, inputs for the buttons and the single pot, and 2 serial ports for the FTDI and XBee.

[Read more...]

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