POE home automation control panel

poe_home_automation_control_panel

[Scott] wrote in to share a project he is currently working on, a home automation system that relies on Power over Ethernet. While he’s not completely finished, he’s made some great progress, and the work he has done so far definitely piqued our interest.

Part of [Scott’s] design relies on some reverse engineered Blackberry screens we showed you a while back. He has constructed a small control panel for his apartment, which incorporates one of the aforementioned Blackberry screens, along with 10 tactile switches and a PIR sensor. The panel is built to be mounted in a wall or as a standalone unit, allowing him to control various lights and appliances throughout his home.

[Scott] spent a lot of time working on the communications protocol and UI for his control panel. As it sits now, the panel takes advantage of a VNC-like protocol he designed, which allows him to interact with a Java application residing on his desktop computer.

Things are looking awesome so far, and [Scott] already has a handful of improvements planned for the near future. We can’t wait to check it out when it’s finished.

Blackberry LCD reverse engineering

blackberry_lcd

[Scott] was looking to source some LCD screens for an upcoming project, and was considering buying them from SparkFun. While the Nokia panels they sell are not expensive, they aren’t necessarily the cheapest option either – especially when building in volume.

He searched around for something he could use instead, and settled on Blackberry screens. Old Blackberry models were even more durable than the current offerings, plus companies are trying to get rid of old handsets by the truckload. The only problem was that he could not find any information online that would show him how to write to the screens.

It took a bit of digging, but he eventually determined which ICs were used to drive the LCD screen. He had no luck finding screen pinout information online, so after spending a few hours testing things with his multimeter, he came up with a full listing on his own.

He wired up a connector so that he could use the screen on a breadboard, then got busy writing code to display some text on the screen. Everything came together nicely as you can see in the video below, and he has released his code in case anyone else is looking to repurpose some old Blackberry screens.

All we want to know is what sort of project all these screens are going to be used in.

[Read more...]

Blackberry download limit remover

sqmk4k

On the standard Blackberry Web Browser, there is a fixed file download limit of 2.3MB. Many users avoid this by installing a 3rd party browser (such as Opera Mini, for example), but there is still that bitter taste for having an extra web browser around just to download decently sized files. This limit seems to be imposed by a certain WAP port that the Blackberry is set to use by default, which blocks any file greater than this. Fortunately, [0mie] has found a way to reconfigure the default Blackberry Browser to use a different port without this restriction. Step by step walk through, links to the file required, and screen shots of large file downloads are provided. [0mie] claims that this hack works on a number of different phones and OS versions, and we are sure he would appreciate a wider audience to test this with.

[Note: This hack seems to use a Chinese provider as a proxy, so there may be privacy issues, etc. As always, hack at your own risk.]

BlackBerry Storm 2 teardown

blackberry_storm_2

Photos of the BlackBerry Storm 2, both inside and out, have been leaked. Engadget provides us with the specifics, going into detail about the four large piezoelectric pressure sensors that sit underneath the screen. It looks as though the screen will still function as a button, just without the physical movement of the previous model that received mixed reviews. For a better explanation of the technology behind the phone’s innovative screen, here’s a video describing it in more detail and a writeup over at the CrackBerry forums.

BlackBerry Storm click screen teardown

clickscreen

RIM has decided to venture into the touchscreen phone market with the new BlackBerry Storm. Unlike other companies’ offerings, the Storm has a touchscreen that clicks when you press it. phoneWreck disassembled the Storm to see what magic was involved in the device. There’s not much too it, it’s just a big button. pW notes that the entire phone board is very compact mostly due to RIM using Qualcomm’s latest MSM7600 chip. Items like bluetooth, GPS, and USB are all included in the processor instead of appearing on the board as discrete components.

phoneWreck recently launched and promises many future teardowns. They’ll be adding to their archive which already includes the Motorola Krave and the venerable Nokia N95. We’ll definitely be watching for their future releases.

[via Engadget]

Gizmodo’s guide to smartphone OSes

Gizmodo’s in-depth look at smartphone OSes provides you with the pros and cons of each, allowing you to make an educated decision, if you’re in the market for a phone that also has email, a web browser, a calendar, and a decent contacts manager. If you’re attracted to the open source Linux-based Android by Google, you’ll also have to keep in mind that there aren’t that many business features. Other contenders include the Blackberry by RIM, which is great for email, but is completely closed and proprietary. The Apple iPhone is very pretty but lacks some basic features. They cover Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm Garnet too. It’s certainly a handy guide since most people haven’t used all six.

44% of used phones contain sensitive data

In a recent study, researchers were able to garnish all kinds of sensitive data from second hand mobile devices.  Of the units tested, 44% contained information such as salary details, bank account information, business plans, personal medical details, personal insults, and address book data.  Next time you get a used device, take a good look around. You never know what you may find.

[via Zero Day]

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