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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Don’t Just Go Sticking That Anywhere: Protect the Precious With a USB Wrapper

Oooh, look, a public charging station. Should you trust it? You might get juice jacked. Oh wait, you’ve got a USB Wrapper designed by [Scasagrande] to deny access to your datas.

This project was inspired by the USB Condom, but the problem with those is that they completely cut out the data lines and limit the charge rate to USB 2.0 (500mA). The data lines are used to communicate information about the charger’s power sourcing capabilities to the device. Many manufacturers short D+ and D- together, but Apple applies specific voltages to those lines.

[Scasagrande]’s USB Wrapper gives you options. You can set it to Dedicated Charging Port, Sony, Open Circuit, or Apple. The super-cool part of this hack is for you Apple fanboys. The bottom slider lets you emulate any Apple charger and use any USB cube (including one you may have made) as long as you have that funny cable in your messenger bag.  The hardware is open source and available at [Scasagrande]’s repo.

Make the jump to see [Scasagrande]’s nicely detailed video about the project.

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NFC Ring Unlocks Your Phone

NFC Ring

This little ring packs the guts of an NFC keyfob, allowing [Joe] to unlock his phone with a touch of his finger.

The NFC Ring was inspired by a Kickstarter project for a similar device. [Joe] backed that project, but then decided to build his own version. He took apart an NFC keyfob and desoldered the coil used for communication and power. Next, he wrapped a new coil around a tube that was matched to his ring size. With this assembly completed, epoxy was used to cast the ring shape.

After cutting the ring to size, and quite a bit of polishing, [Joe] ended up with a geeky piece of jewelry that’s actually functional. To take care of NFC unlocking, he installed NFC LockScreenOff. It uses Xposed, so a rooted Android device is required.

We’ll have to wait to see how [Joe]’s homemade solution compares to his Kickstarter ring. Until then, you can watch a quick video of unlocking a phone with the ring after the break.

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A Cocktail Shaker With Android And Arduino

drinks

The most rewarding part of any project must be sitting down to see the fruits of your labors set in action for the first time and relaxing with a nice drink. [Tony DiCola] is really showing off his ability to think ahead, because his smart cocktail shaker takes care of the post-build celebration, measuring out drinks with exacting precision.

The build measures out precise amounts of any liquid with the help of a small electronic scale [Tony] picked up from Harbor Freight. Instead of trying to interface with the electronics in the scale, he instead connected a INA125 instrument amplifier to the load cell. An Arduino micro measures the weight on the load cell, and with the known densities of gin, vermouth, and Kahlua, [Tony] can get a very good idea of how much liquid is in the cocktail shaker.

The really neat part of this build is the interface: [Tony] wrote an Android app for his tablet that talks to the Arduino with an Adafruit Bluefruit Bluetooth adapter. The app receives the current weight on the load cell, displays the current amount of liquor in the cocktail shaker, and provides step-by-step instructions for making any cocktail.

It’s a handy little device to keep around the liquor cabinet, and with an absurd amount of pumps and valves could easily become the basis for a very cool cocktail bot.

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