Android devices have grown up so quickly. We've seen them evolve from roughly put together android tablets and phones to the modern day devices that give Microsoft and Apple a run for their money.

One of the great things about android, is that it is so easily hacked and customized. From simple things like customizing your android phone's layout to rooting an android device like the nook color. The android family is still growing so fat that we are seeing new uses and mods every day. Not only are people tweaking their android devices, they're using them for things we never imagined, such as this example of cracking wifi passwords with an android device.

Even if you're not into modding your android device, we even have a tutorial series on writing android apps to get you started. Jump in and get that android phone kicking ass!

Self-Balancing Robot Uses Android and Lego NXT

LEGO NXT + Android = Self Balancing Robot

Self-balancing robots are pretty cool, but sometimes a bit too complex to make. [HippoDevices] shows us that it’s really not that hard, and you can even do it with Lego NXT and an Android device!

First step is to build your two-wheeled robot – go nuts! As long as the Lego NXT motors are strong enough you’ll be able to make most different shaped robots easy to balance. You’re going to need an Android ADK board to provide communication between the Lego motors and your Android device. [HippoDevices] is using their own design, called the Hippo-ADK which is on Kickstarter currently.

This allows your Android device to read the status and control the Lego Motors — from there it’s just a matter of programming it to balance according to the device’s gyroscope.

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The Future Of Distraction, Right In Front Of Your Face

Bird

Say you’re meeting someone new, and instead of communicating like a normal person that wasn’t born in a barn, they play with their phone the entire time. How about a cashier or sales person who is so insufferably distracted with the Facebooks you’d guess they had a side job in the QA department of some developer? All these things will soon be a distant, horrible memory, because now you can play Flappy Bird on Google Glass.

[Rich] has had his Glass for a while now, and has been meaning to write an app for it. It took a little bit of inspiration, but when the idea of using the eye sensor to control everyone’s favorite 8-bit bird, everything fell into place. It ended up being an interesting use for the Glass, and something we actually wouldn’t mind trying out.

The bird is controlled by a double blink. In the video below, you can see there might be a little bit of latency depending on how [Rich] put the video together. Better grab that .APK while there’s still time. [Rich] says it’s a free download for anyone who’s already overpaid for a Google Glass.

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The Bluetooth iPod Controller For Android

iDuinoid

By now, just about everyone in the industrialized world has a broken iPod with a cracked screen, a battery that won’t charge, or one that’s simply sitting in a drawer somewhere. The iPod is still a great way to store music, though, and [Trevor] came up with a way to control its playback with an Android device, showing the song name, playlists, and everything else with an Arduino and a cheap Bluetooth adapter

With the right resistance on a specific pin on the 30-pin dock connector, iPods will send the track name, and playlists over a serial connection, as well as respond to play, pause, skip, and volume commands. There hasn’t been much work towards implementing the copious amount of documentation of this iPod accessory mode in small microcontroller projects, but with a little bit of work, [Trevor] managed to replicate the usual iPod dock commands with an Arduino.

Using an HC-05 Bluetooth module, it’s possible to get this iPod-connected Arduino to relay data to and from an Android device with a small app. The circuit is simple, the app is free, and if you have an iPod with an old battery or cracked screen, it can still work as a music storage device. Not bad, [Trevor].

A Head Unit Docking Station

dock

[Ivan] had a simple idea: being able to control his Android device from the small keypad on his car’s steering column. This would allow him to cycle through apps, navigation, and audio tracks while never taking his hands off the wheel. Feature creep then set in and [Ivan] asked himself how he could charge his phone through the same interface. What he ended up with is a head unit that’s also a dock.

While [Ivan]‘s steering wheel doesn’t have the nice integrated remote control buttons found in newer cars, he does have a Blaupunkt remote, a small, clip-on controller that has a an IR transmitter on it. The IR receiver was connected to a PIC microcontroller, sending commands to the phone for up, down, left, right, menu, and home. Audio output from the phone is handled by a small USB sound card connected to a USB hub, sending the audio signals directly into the head unit’s amplifier.

Having the phone charge while it’s still in USB host mode is the crucial part of this build; not being able to charge on a long car ride would quickly drain the battery and make a car dock kind of pointless. To accomplish this, [Ivan] simulated a Galaxy S4 dock with a few resistors in the USB port, allowing the phone to control the USB sound card, listen to the emulated keyboard and mouse, and charge at the same time.

It’s not a pretty build, but it is extraordinarily useful. In the videos you can see that [Ivan] pretty much pulled this build together from stuff he had sitting around – a great reuse of junk, and a great addition to his car at the same time.

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E-reader Becomes Sailplane And Paraglider Computer

sail [Tweepy] flies unpowered aircraft, and he’d like to use the XCSoar flight computer app for gliders, sailplanes, and paragliders, but couldn’t find any hardware. XCSoar is an amazing app that can keep track of terrain, route, thermals, and a whole bunch of other variables that make flying more enjoyable, but running it on a device useful for a hang glider pilot is a challenge.

He eventually found a nearly perfect device in the Kobo mini e-reader. It’s e-ink, so it’s sunlight readable, uses a glove-compatible resistive touchscreen, runs Android, and is dirt cheap. The only thing lacking was a GPS receiver. What was [Tweepy] to do? Mod an e-reader, of course.

The electronic portion of the mod was simple enough; serial GPS units can be found just about everywhere, and the Kobo has a serial headers on the board. The case, however, required a bit of thingiverseing, and the completed case mod looks fairly professional.

With a few software updates, new maps, and of course the phenomenal XCSoar app, [Tweepy] had an awesome flight computer for under 100 Euro. The only thing missing is an integrated variometer, but a Game Boy will work in a pinch.

Arduino Zero Hardware is Not Just for Beginners

 

We stopped by the Atmel booth at Maker Faire to gawk at the pre-production Arduino Zero boards they were showing off. [Bob] gave us a rundown of everything the new board offers, and it’s better than we imagined when we heard about it last week.

I may be an odd egg in that I don’t like to use an IDE when developing uC firmware. Generally I rock the text editor and a makefile for 8-bit, adding OpenOCD and GDB when working with ARM. I probably shouldn’t be surprised that there is already OpenOCD support (and by extension GDB support) for the Arduino Zero. In fact, that’s how the Arduino IDE flashes the board. This should have been obvious since the board is really just a breakout for the SAM D21 chip which is already supported.

Riffing on the thought of this being a breakout board, we think they did a pretty good job. There are two USB connectors; one let you access the board as a device or a host while the other connects the debugging hardware. If you’ve never used an On Chip Debugger before it’ll change your life so do give it a try. When you do move past the initial prototyping phase of your project you can still use the Zero as a debugging tool. There’s an unpopulated 10-pin header (not sure if the small pitch header comes with it or not) which can be used to interface with a target board. [Bob] also spent some time talking about the configurable 6-pin header which allows you to choose from a range of hardware protocols (SPI, TWI, etc.).

Unfortunately we still don’t have info on the availability timeframe or pricing information. There was one hiccup with this pre-production run (two signals were swapped on the PCB) and they need to spin another board, populate, and QA before they can green-light the final product.

Editorial Note: Atmel advertises on Hackaday but this video and post are not a product of that relationship. Hackaday doesn’t post paid content.

The Mobile Phone PixelSWaLL

mobile pixel wall

As much as we hate to admit it, smart phones have become somewhat of a disposable item in today’s society. People upgrade their phones constantly and simply chuck their old ones. Of course, there’s plenty of things you can do with slightly out of date phones… Here’s one we haven’t seen before — a wireless multi-phone display!

It’s called the PixelSWaLL, and according to the author,  his software can control up to 240 Android devices! To run this demo with just 9 phones, he’s using an old Apple Macbook running Windows 7 bootcamp, which sends the display info using an old Telmex router. Each phone or tablet runs the Android terminal application  using Eclipse ADT which renders OpenGL in real-time. The server application was made with Delphi 7 and uses the DSPack library to read video files in order to send them over UDP via Indy 10. It’s a bit of a mouthful to explain, but the resulting display array is pretty cool!

Time to start collecting phones…

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