More FrankenKindle progress

[Glenn] sent us an update on his FrankenKindle project. You might remember this hack from back in July. [Glenn] is modding the device to make it easier for his sister, who has Cerebral Palsy, to use.

The latest revision adds a case for the hardware. The silver button pad is what remains of the V.Reader (a children’s toy), having had the screen portion hacked off. The case provides a stable base for the reader and buttons, holding them at a nice angle for easy use. There’s just a bit of cable routing that needs to be finished to protect some fragile connections. The picture above does show the circuit board to the side, but there is a place for it around back.

In the video after the break [Glenn] mentions that the response to keypresses is a little sluggish. Sure, some of this is Kindle’s own delay when refreshing the ePaper display. But we can’t help but think the code running on the Teensy could also be optimized. We’ve asked him to post his code if he wants some tips, so check back and help out if you can.

We do have one feature suggestion for him. The Kindle keyboard no longer functions because that flat cable coming out the side is what connects to it. It’s quite easy to add a PS/2 keyboard port to a microcontroller. That would be a nice addition to the FrankenKindle as it would make things like shopping for books a bit easier.

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FrankenKindle: building an alternate Kindle keyboard

If you’ve ever thought the Kindle keyboard was a bit cramped you’re not alone. [Glenn's] been working on developing an external keyboard for the Kindle for quite some time. It may not make easier for everyone to use, but he’s motivated to improve usability for his sister who has Cerebral Palsy.

We see a lot of keyboard hacks that solder straight to the pads under the buttons, but for a compact device like the Kindle this would really mess things up. Instead of going that route, [Glenn] sourced a 20-pin Flexible Flat Cable and breakout board that match the internal Kindle connector. The prototype seen above uses a TS3A5017 serial multiplexer chip to simulate the keyboard button presses. That multiplexer is driven by a Teensy++ microcontroller board which is monitoring a larger set of buttons on the V.Reader seen above. Check out the video after the break for a brief demonstration, then look around at the rest of [Glenn's] blog posts to view different steps of the development cycle.

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Run Kindle 3 firmware on Kindle 2 hardware

After about six weeks of testing [Yifanlu] has released a stable version of the Kindle 3 firmware for use with Kindle 2 hardware. Everything seems to be working just fine with the patched firmware. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that the upgrade must run pretty slow on the older hardware. [Yifanlu] addresses that assumption in his post. The Kindle 2 hardware is not as fast as the Kindle 3, but it sounds like the upgraded firmware is no slower than the stock firmware was on the older units.

Since the firmware is proprietary, the upgrade method requires that you own both Kindle 2 and Kindle 3. Three scripts will pull the firmware image from the older hardware, copy it over to the new hardware and patch it at the same time, then copy the fully patched package back to the old hardware for use.

After the break you can see a video of a Kindle DX running 3.1 firmware. There’s also a link to the Reddit post where commenters have linked to pre-compiled versions of the patched package.

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Kindle 3.1 Jailbreak

kindle_3_1_jailbreak

In the constant battle of manufacturers vs. jailbreakers, the turnaround time between a new software release and a new jailbreak seems to be getting shorter and shorter. [Yifan] noticed that a recent Kindle update broke a previous method of running unsigned code and started the search for a new workaround.

He eventually found a way to force the Kindle to run unsigned code based upon how the software update checked for digitally signed files. With that knowledge in hand, he discovered that he could trick the updater to run any file he wanted by exploiting the standard functionality found in the Unix ‘cat’ command.

On his site, [Yifan] provides more details, source code, and a compiled update file that performs the jailbreak for you. Much like the previous jailbreaks we have featured, it is perfectly legal to do, but you do risk voiding your warranty during the process.

[Picture via Amazon.com]

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