Reverse Engineering an LCD Display

ipod

The current marketplace allows hobbyists to easily find inexpensive, well-documented displays, but what if you wanted to interface with something more complicated, such as the screen on an iPod Nano 6? [Mike] has given us a detailed and insightful video showing his process for reverse engineering a device with little-to-no documentation. Here he covers the initial investigation, where one scours the web in search of any available information. In [Mike's] example, the display uses an MIPI D-PHY interface, which he has never worked with. He learns that the MIPI Alliance will provide design specs in exchange for a signed NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and a modest $8000 fee. Nice.

[Mike] shows off some serious hardware hackery, tackling some extremely difficult soldering in order to set up a proper test platform. He then demonstrates how to use a rather awesome oscilloscope to better understand the display protocol. We found it fascinating to see the video signals displayed as waveforms, especially when he shows how it is possible to count the individual binary values. The amount of information he uncovers with the oscilloscope is nothing short of amazing, proving these little devices are more complex than they seem.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

[Read more...]

AuPod, the solid gold iPod nano watch

aupod

 

The 6th generation iPod nano makes a wonderful watch, but something milled out of aluminum doesn’t lend itself to more formal events. [Ted] liked the idea of an iPod nano watch, but wanted to kick things up a notch and fabricate an 18k gold iPod nano. It took 500 hours and $2500 in materials, but we’d say it’s worth it.

The new 18k gold enclosure for the watch was fabricated using the lost wax casting method. First, all the electronics and buttons were removed from the iPod, then a negative mold was made in silicone rubber. A positive wax mold was made with the silicon mold, and finally another negative mold – this time in plaster – was made by vaporizing the positive wax mold in a furnace.

[Ted] used two one-ounce coins as the source of gold for his nano enclosure, spun into the plaster mold. From there, it’s just a simple but tedious matter of cutting the sprues off, shaping, filing, buffing, and polishing. With a new leather strap, the iPod is reassembled in its new enclosure.

Wonderful work, and amazingly impressive from someone who doesn’t consider himself a jeweler.

Pinoccio Web Rover

web-rover

Before assuming that the title should be “web crawler,” just shush your shussins’ and check out the video after the break. The Pinoccio, as previously noted, is a board in development as a sort of web-enabled by default Arduino. This makes it perfect for a project like this one where a little rover is controlled from 10,000 Kilometers away, or around 6000 Miles for those of us that dwell in the US.

This setup uses a cell-phone accelerometer in Brazil to allow control of this robot in Nevada. Although close, the control isn’t quite real time, so that has to be accounted for. Something like this could be easily used for a telepresence ‘bot.

If you want to build your own, the assembly time is estimated at 1 hour. Instructions, as well as source code can be found on their page after the video. Although the Pinoccio board won’t be available until at least this summer, maybe this will give someone inspiration to try something similar in the mean time! [Read more...]

Adding charging back to old apple accessories

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.

Giving the iPod Nano a home on a Honda dashboard

[Hyeinkali's] iPod Nano looks right at home on the dashboard of his 2001 Honda Accord. He got rid of the simple LCD clock and the buttons that were used to set it. The hack holds the iPod securely in place, but it remains easy to remove and take with you.

He started by popping out the bezel that holds the clock module and hazard light button in place. The original display was about the same width as the Nano, but he wasn’t interested in mounting the mp3 player under the dash. Since he needed to be able to take it with him to sync his music library he made a space near the bottom of the bezel to accept the connector end of the USB cable while keeping the device accessible. After connecting the other end to power he covered the hole in the bezel with mesh and put everything back together. We’re not sure if audio is piped into the car stereo via a cable or through Bluetooth, but it does feed to the head unit.

[via Reddit]

Heads up controls for your iPod

[Cmonaco3's] girlfriend wanted a better way to control her iPod when driving. She didn’t want to take her eyes of the road and asked him if he could help. He ended up building a heads up display which reads out track information and offers a few simple buttons for control.

The display includes controls for track forward, track back, and play/pause. Those buttons, along with the LCD screen, mount on the windshield using a suction cup. This way the driver doesn’t have to completely remove focus from the road to control the iPod which is sitting in the passenger’s seat.

To accomplish this [Cmonaco] used a dock connector breakout board for communication between an Arduino and the iPod. The Arduino pulls song information to be displayed on the graphic LCD screen, and sends commands to the iPod when it detects a button push. See a quick demo of the setup after the break.

[Read more...]

A “Jukebox” In a Bell Jar

jukebox in bell jar

[Tim] wrote in to tell us about his Mark III hard drive in a bell jar, and we were quite impressed! The principle of using a bell jar to protect the hard drive inside so the world can see it spinning is really a cool idea, but his execution of this project is excellent. It was reportedly so good that an unnamed college actually asked him to build one of his drive displays for them.

The Mark III is an excellent build, and the little hard drive has been swapped to the front of it for better visualisation. The disadvantage of the iPod Mini used for the Mark III build is that it actually buffers enough so that the read head doesn’t have to spin during the entire song.  Because of this, we thought that his first build, nicknamed [pink], was even more interesting, if ever so slightly less refined. By many of our hacking standards though, both are incredibly finished works of art!

Both these builds feature a plethora of LEDs to keep you entertained, and can be seen demonstrated after the break! [Read more...]