This digital picture frame runs Linux better than you might think

Ah, the beauty of spreading the guts of some hackable hardware across your workbench. This happens to be the circuit board and LCD screen from a Parrot DF3120 digital picture frame. The device is pretty powerful, considering you can still find them available for around $25. You’ll get a 3.5″ screen, ARM9 processor with 8MB or RAM, Bluetooth, a tilt sensor, and more. It seem that [BusError], [Sprite_tm], [Claude], and few others really went to town and spilled all of the secrets this device has to offer.

Their goal of the hack was to get their own Linux kernel running. It is possible to reprogram the processor using its JTAG interface. And if you really want to drill down to the good stuff, there’s access to all of the BGA pins on the bottom of the board thanks to a grid of micro vias. But the device can be tricked into flashing your own firmware just by altering a stock upgrade image.

You can get a pretty good idea of what there is to do once you’ve replaced the firmware from the video after the break. A RAM upgrade (using a chip from an old PC133 stick) lets the video run smoothly as it’s controlled via a Wii remote.

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Unshredding Paper

[Roel] had read that people won the DARPA shredder challenge, but that their technology was kept a secret, interested in this concept he also remembered an episode of the X-Files where they had reconstructed shredded paper using a computer system. Unlike most computer based TV show BS this did not seem to be too far fetched so he went about trying it himself.

First a note is written, and then cut up into strips, the strips are then scanned into a computer where the magic happens. Next each strip outlined in polygons and then the software is to follow the polygon outline looking for a change in color at the pixel level. The software then goes into a pattern matching mode and reassembles the paper based on a scoring system.

While not many people use old fashioned strip shredders anymore, the basic idea works and if you really wanted to expand it could be applied to cross cut or particle shredders.

Using a touch screen with an STM32 microcontroller

[Andy Brown] has been working on a series of tutorials revolving around the STM32 processor family. He’s using the STM32plus development board, with an STM32F1 ARM Cortex M3 processor to drive a couple of different full color graphic LCD screens. His latest installment shows how to read from the touch screen included with both displays.

After the break we’ve embedded the video from which this screenshot was taken. As an example, [Andy] has programmed a painting program to show off what the touchscreen overlay is capable of. It starts off with the calibration routine we’re all familiar with, then drops to this screen with a virtual control panel and blank canvas.

This hardware uses the Texas Instruments ADS7843 controller, which [Andy] says is extremely common and that several other manufacturers use the same communications protocols. He discusses how to communicate with the controller, and how to incorporate the data into your program. Included is an open source library which you can use in your own projects.

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Hackaday Links: January 10, 2012

They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t put a man in LEO

Yeah, we’re enraged by that headline. Anyway, NASA put up a whole bunch of projects and made them open source. From the looks of it, there’s plenty of cool stuff: genetic algorithm libs, toolkits for astrodynamics simulations (on the Goddard site), and this cool thing.

Nyan all the disks!

[brainsmoke], a hacker over at revspace, made an assembler version of nyan cat that can be placed on the bootloader of any disk. Just a reminder that you shouldn’t mount everything out there. We learned that lesson the week we discovered a penicillin allergy.

It’ll replace the Buffy poster.

[Anthony Clay] has been working on a set of EE posters that he’s putting up as a Kickstarter. They’re Ohm’s Law, resistor calculator, capacitance, and inductance posters that would look great above any workbench. He’s looking for ideas for other posters, so drop him a line and vote for the 7400 logic poster. All of them.

Ooooohhhh MIDI sampler

A while ago, we saw this neat MIDI Arduino shield. The Kickstarter reached its funding goal (there’s still time left!), but now [Keith] writes in to tell us that the AvecSynth library is platform independent. You could use this to record and play back MIDI messages. MIDI tape delay, anyone?

Open mind, not mouth.

With the success of the Stanford AI class last year, it looks like MIT is really getting their head into the game. Think of it this way: it’s MIT opencourseware that can lead to credentials. Now the only question is, ‘how do you prank a virtual campus?’

Crank out the jams with [Dino]‘s Fuzz Face

Weekly Hack a Day feature [Dino] is back again, this time with his very own guitar pedal. It’s modeled on a three-transistor Fuzz Face clone and sounds very good in our humble opinion.

Fuzz pedals were some of the first guitar pedals on the market, and for good reason. Their easy construction and simple theory of operation (just amplify sound until the transistor saturates) made them an economical and available pedal for the legends of rock in the 60s. [Dino]‘s build follows this tradition of simplicity with a common 2N3904 transistor and a pair of BC547 Silicon transistors. We’re guessing [Dino] couldn’t find any cred-worthy and mojo-giving Germanium transistors, but the result sounds just as good as we could imagine.

To test out his pedal, [Dino] hooked up a [Jack White] style single string lap steel and turned everything up to 12*. The result is rock. Check out the build vid after the break.

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Help [Chris] boot his Cray-1 supercomputer

[Chris Fenton] needs your help. After constructing a 1/10th scale, cycle accurate Cray-1 supercomputer and finding a disk with Cray software on it, he’s ready to start loading the OS. There’s a small problem, though: no one knows how to boot the thing.

[Chris] posted a disk image for a Cray-1/X-MP with the help of the people at Now he needs your help – if you think you can reverse engineer the file system, [Chris] will pay handsomely with a miniature model of a Cray printed on his MakerBot. In any case, it seems like a fun challenge.

From our quick glance at the disk image with a HEX editor, it looks like [Chris] has something special on his hands. We see a few references to “Cray memory and registers,” as well as “IOP-0 Kernel, Version 4.2.2″ in the header along with a few dates referencing July of 1989.  This is consistent with the history of the source disk pack. If you think you’ve got what it takes to reverse engineer the file system of a Cray-1, this is your chance.