Old Kindle Upcycled to Emailable Fridge Messageboard

We’ve all got a pile of old devices lying around somewhere that are waiting to be torn down for parts, or turned into something useful. [Peter Voljek] decided to do the latter with an old Kindle eBook reader, turning it into a neat message board that can be stuck onto a fridge. With the addition of some server-side Ruby code, you can send messages to this by email, and it automatically displays the last message received. Throw on some magnetic sticky tape and you have a neat fridge door noticeboard.

[Peter] runs his Ruby web server on a Raspberry Pi, but it should run on any platform that supports Ruby, so you could run it on a NAS device, or pretty much anything that has a web server built in. The Kindle side of the hack exploits some secret commands to disable the screensaver, then uses AJAX and JavaScript to automatically refresh the webpage the RPi is serving.

Hey, why not combine this with the Kindle weather station hack to create a noticeboard that tells you what you need from the store, and reminds you why you shouldn’t leave the house at the same time?

Unlock Your Demo Kindle Paperwhite

If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your kindle, this project might inspire you to finally bite the bullet. [WarriorRocker] recently saved quite a few dollars on his Kindle upgrade by using a demo unit. Of course, it’s not as simple as just finding a demo unit and booting it up. There’s some hacking involved.

[WarriorRocker] found his Kindle Paperwhite demo unit on an online auction site for just $20. Kindles are great for reading but also make popular displays for your own projects. This used display model was much less expensive than a new unit, which makes sense considering it had probably received its share of abuse from the consumers of some retail store. The problem with a demo unit is that the firmware that comes with it is very limited, and can’t be used to sync up with your Amazon account. That’s where the hacking comes in.

pwdu-01The first step was to crack open the case and locate the serial port. [WarriorRocker] soldered a small three pin header to the pads to make it easier to work on his device as needed. He then connected the Kindle to his PC using a small serial to USB adapter. Pulling up the command prompt was as simple as running Putty and connecting to the correct COM port. If the wires are hooked up correctly, then it just takes a press of the enter key to pull up the login prompt.

The next step requires root access. The root password for each unit is related to the unit’s serial number. [WarriorRocker] obtained the serial number by rebooting the Kindle while the Serial connection was still open. The boot sequence will spit out the number. This number can then be entered in to an online tool to generate possible root passwords. The tool is available on [WarriorRocker’s] project page linked above.

Next, the Kindle needs to be rebooted into diagnostic mode. This is because root logins are not allowed while the device is booted to the system partition. To enter diagnostic mode, [WarriorRocker] had to press enter over and over during the boot sequence in order to kill the automatic boot process. Then he checked some environment variables to locate the memory address where the diagnostic mode is stored. One more command tells the system to boot to that address and into diagnostic mode.

The last step of the process begins by mounting the Kindle as a USB storage device and copying over the stock Kindle firmware image. Next [WarriorRocker] had to exit the diagnostic menu and return to a root command prompt. Finally, he used the dd command to copy the image to the Kindle’s partition bit by bit. Fifteen minutes and one reboot later and the Kindle was working just as it should. [WarriorRocker] even notes that the 3G connection still works. Not bad for $20 and an hour or two of work.

Kindle Gets Downgraded to an Expensive Thermostat

Kindle thermometer

E-readers are awesome, don’t get us wrong — but if you have an old one collecting dust, why not use it for something? [John] decided to hack his old Kindle  to act like a thermometer!

The Kindle’s Linux OS is re-purposed to use the Freescale CPU’s internal temperature sensor as a thermometer — since it’s not doing anything most the time, it should be relatively accurate of the ambient temperature.

Unlike some of [John’s] earlier hacks, this one is completely self-contained and reversible. In fact, it’s just a few scripts that check the temperature every minute and then display it in large digits on the screen. The buttons allow you to convert units or reverse boot to the original Kindle software. It can even graph the recent temperature! It makes for a very easy to read outdoor thermometer.

And not to waste all of its hardware features, [John] also set it up to act as a web server, sending the temperature data via port 8014.

You could also take it a step further and have a full weather station, in a nice wooden frame.

3D printed Kindle page turner


The slim page turn buttons on a Kindle may serve as an elegant, out-of-the-way design for a generation raised with and saturated by technology. For older folks and the disabled, however, those buttons can be a pain. [XenonJohn] fired up his 3D printer to find a solution, building this Kindle page turner. The Kindle slides in from the top while two flappy paddles offer a larger, unmissable target to replace the usual thin page-turn buttons. [XenonJohn] designed the levers to function with only a light touch, and included “bump stops” underneath the levers to absorb excess force from any harsh, accidental smacks.

Construction is simple and straightforward: print pieces, clean pieces, put pieces together. The levers attach via 3D printed hinges, which [XenonJohn] glued to keep in place. The relevant 3D files are available at the link above, and stick around after the break for a quick video of the paddles flipping some pages. [XenonJohn] is no stranger to Hackaday; take a look at his Google Glass alternative, “Beady-i.” Also check out the Frankenkindle, one of the inspirations for [XenonJohn’s] project which required a much more invasive process for getting at the page turning buttons.

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Kindle hack adds value to the wallpaper

What if your Kindle displayed useful information as the “screensaver”? Now it can thanks to this extension of the Kindle weather display hack we covered a year ago. [Pablo Jiménez Mateo] figured out how to display time, date, weather, and tasks as his Kindle wallpaper while retaining the original functionality of the device as an ePaper reader.

The hack isn’t strictly standalone. Like the Kindle weather station hack on which it is based, you need a computer to act as the server. We see this as a good thing. The server generates a vector graphic which is used as the Kindle screensaver. This process of scraping and packaging the data is just too much for the computing power of the Kindle alone.

Now that [Pablo] got this working without disrupting the normal function of the device, you can remix the hack with your own information sources by working with the server-side code. For those that aren’t familiar with the Linux commands needed to get the Kindle ready, don’t worry. This is reasonably non-invasive. You do need to Jailbreak your device. But once you do, the steps used simply load a small script to grab the images.

Kindle weather and recycling display


We’ve seen a fair number of hacks like this one that reuse a Kindle basically just for its ePaper display. [HaHaBird] has this device hanging on his refrigerator to display the weather and remind him about recycling day. It kind of make us wonder why we’re not seeing cheap ePaper modules on the hobby market?

The concept isn’t new, but [HaHaBird] does move it along just a little bit. He started by following the guide which [Matt] wrote after pulling off the original Kindle weather display hack. It uses a separate computer running a script that polls the Internet for weather data and generates a vector graphic like the one seen above. The Kindle then loads the image once every five minutes thanks to a cron job on the rooted device. But why stop there? [HaHaBird] tweaked the script to include a reminder about his municipality’s irregular recycling schedule.

Don’t overlook the quality of the hardware side of this hack. With its prominent place in the kitchen he wanted a nicely finished look. This was achieved by building a frame out of cherry and routing passages on the back to make room for the extension cable (so it could hang in landscape orientation) and a toggle to hold the Kindle firmly in place. Additional information on the build is available here.

One Kindle launcher to rule them


Ask around and chances are you can find a friend or family member that still has their early generation Kindle but doesn’t use it anymore. There are quite a number of different things you can do with them, and now there’s a single Launcher that works for all models of hacked Kindles. KUAL is the Kindle Unified Application Launcher.

Loading the launcher on your device does require that it be Jailbroken/Rooted, but that’s really the entire point, right? Once on your device the system is easy to configure. Menus themselves can be customized by editing the XML and JSON pair for each list. The screenshot on the left illustrates some of the applications you might want to run. We could see a VNC viewer being useful, and everyone likes to have games — like Doom II or the entire Z-machine library — on hand when they unexpectedly get stuck somewhere. But MPlayer? Does anyone actually use their ePaper device to watch videos?