After getting his hands on the Philips Hue smart lightbulb [Brandon Evans] cracked open some of the hardware to see what is inside. He also spent time working out the software tricks necessary to use Siri to control light bulbs from iOS.
If you haven’t heard of the Hue product before it’s an LED bulb that fits in a standard medium base whose color and intensity can be controlled wirelessly. Included in each unit is Zigbee compatible hardware that lets the bulbs form their own mesh network. [Brandon] didn’t crack open the bulb since these things cost a pretty penny and disassembly requires cutting. But he did point us to this post where [Michael Herf] shows what the bulb’s case is hiding. We do get to see the other piece of the puzzle as [Brandon] exposes the internals on the base unit that bridges the mesh network to your home network via Ethernet. An STM32 chip is responsible for controlling the base unit.
Aside from a look at the guts [Brandon] hacked Siri (Apple’s voice activated virtual assistant) to control the system. You can see a demonstration of that in the clip after the break. The details are found in the second half of his post which is linked at the top. The code is found in his siriproxy-hue repository.
Continue reading “Giving Siri control of some smart bulbs”
From time-to-time we’ve been frustrated by the lack of backwards compatibility for Apple accessories. We have a great Monster FM transmitter that used the screen of the original iPod to select a channel. That was a feature we just loved which it never worked with any future hardware. We may not be able to get that back, but perhaps this hack can help us implement the ability to charge newer Apple devices using older accessories.
Seen above is the mounting dock from the iPod Hi-Fi speakers released back in 2006. Apparently the sound out of this set of speakers is just great, but you won’t be able to charge your modern device while it’s playing music. That is unless you’re not afraid to solder on a few simple components and roll in a switching regulator which can source at least one Amp of current. As we’ve seen in the past, Apple uses a couple of voltage dividers to identify modern chargers. These are installed on the D+ and D- lines of the USB connector and are pretty easy to recreate if you know the voltage levels the device is looking for. In this case a 39K, two 51k, and one 75k surface mount resistors are free-formed right next to the connector on the Hi-Fi’s dock PCB. The regulator on the right supplies the juice for charging. It’ll charge modern devices now, and even work with the iPhone five if you use a simple dock connector adapter.
Just the other day we were reading a Reddit thread asking about how to control a television with a smartphone. The conversation started by talking about adding an IR LED to the phone. Then it was suggested that there should be standalone Bluetooth devices that convert commands to IR, and came around to the ideas that TV’s should ship with native Bluetooth hardware. We couldn’t agree more but we’re also not about to replace our TV just for this option. That’s why we were delighted to find this project waiting on our tip line. It’s a method of controlling a camera shutter from a smartphone using Bluetooth. But the technique will work for any device which uses an infrared remote control.
The video after the break shows two different devices controlling the camera shutter. As you can see in the diagram above, the iPhone is the master controller, connecting to a Bluetooth headset mounted on the camera. That headset was altered to feed the speaker connections into an IR LED pointed at the camera’s receiver. The iPhone plays an encoded audio track matching the IR remote command, resulting in the properly formatted message flashing on the LED. The watch doesn’t have the ability to playback audio, but it can send a message to the phone, which then plays the proper audio track through the headset.
Continue reading “Bluetooth control for your DSLR or just about any other IR operated device”
[Becky] wrote in to tell us about her latest hack for Adafruit Industries. This hack will allow you to light up the Apple symbol on the back of your phone, and as she notes, it will definitely void your warranty. From the looks of the video, it requires some extremely good soldering skills, and optionally mid-level tape skills. If you’re up to the challenge, and have the stomach to see your iPhone on the operating table, the results are quite good.
One other challenge of doing this hack is that it uses a kit that Adafruit isn’t going to sell since it uses knock-off Apple parts. They exist somewhere, but where to source them would be a challenge. On the other hand, from a purely experimental/engineering point of view, the video after the break is quite interesting. Many of us would be very hesitant to take apart a several hundred dollar phone, much less solder to a power supply on it!
Continue reading “iPhone hack isn’t sold by adafruit”
This super quick hack will be fun to do with the kids. Remember the days of View-Masters? You’d put a disk of small slides into a little plastic viewer and a stereoscopic image would jump out at you in 3D! Now you can not only view stereoscopic images on your smartphone, but make your own too!
To shoot the images just hold your phone in portrait orientation and take a snapshot of your subject, then move the camera six inches to the right and take a second image. The two pics need to be displayed on the screen at the same time and for this [Plarky] uses a free iPhone app called Pic Stitch. We’re sure you can find an Android equivalent in no time if you do a bit of searching.
To view the stereoscope it helps to make a divider out of cardboard like the one seen above. You’ll need to cross your eyes and focus on a point to bring the two images together. We don’t remember having to do this with the View-Master so we’re hoping someone will take the idea and improve upon it. We’ve already seen a digital View-Master. Now we want to see those dual screens replaced with an iPhone cradle.
The Raspberry Pi foundation is in a somewhat unique position. They always test the units that get returned to them in hopes that they can improve the design. They often request that the power supply also be sent back with the RPi unit, as we know the board will not work well if the PSU can’t source enough current. And so they’ve been able to get a look at several counterfeit iPhone chargers. This is not one of the recommended ways to power the RPi, but their ability to collect failed hardware means that they have identified three different fakes on the market.
Seen here is a genuine Apple product on the left. The others are fake, with the easiest way of spotting them being the shiny chrome plug connectors. The genuine part has a matte finish on the connectors. There is also a difference in the chamfering, and even a variation on the orientation of the USB port on some of them. Unfortunately we don’t get a look inside, which is what we really wanted. But you can see in the video after the break that weighing the adapter will also give it away as a fake, showing that the components within probably vary quite a bit. This reminds us of some other fake PSUs that have been exposed.
Continue reading “Raspberry Pi foundation looks at counterfeit Apple power supplies”
This is a simple iOS debugging tool that will take no time to solder together. There’s even a chance that you already have everything you need on hand. The hack simply connects an RS232-to-USB converter to a breakout board for an iPod connector.
The hardware is aimed not at stock iOS systems, but as an aid to those who wish to run alternative operating systems on them. When the OpeniBoot package is run on an iPod Touch or iPhone it enables a serial terminal on pins 12 and 13. The FTDI breakout board takes these as RX and TX and makes them available to your terminal program of choice via USB. Speaking of USB, you may already have noticed the black cable leaving the right side of the image. Using the terminal doesn’t limit your ability to use the device’s USB functions.