How to Fix Low Speaker Volume on the Nexus 5

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The much-anticipated Nexus 5 starting shipping out a few weeks ago, and like many new products, some people have received phones with manufacturer defects. This is always unfortunate, but [Adam Outler] over at the XDA Developer forums thinks he’s found a solution to one of the ailments – a low speaker volume fix!

[Adam] noticed that his phone wasn’t quite as loud as he was used to, so he decided to take it apart and see if there was something causing the muffled sound quality. He assumes glue seeped into part of the speaker where it’s not suppose to during assembly, and what he discovered was, you can increase the audio output by opening up the speaker chamber. He found you can easily port the speaker chamber by popping a few holes in it using a hot needle, which helps increase the volume of the phone. It’s not exactly a confirmed hack, but he will be featuring it on XDA-TV in a few weeks, and hopefully a few more cases pop up in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the hack — it might even help users whose phone isn’t unusually quiet!

Now, most people will just return the phone under warranty, which makes sense. But this is Hackaday and XDA we’re talking about. It’s probably less effort to just suck it up, and fix it ourselves. Who cares about warranties?

[via XDA Developers]

Heirloom Chemistry Set

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We try not to share too many crowd funding projects, but when a tipster sent us to this Heirloom Chemistry Set we knew some would-be chemistry hackers might just want to see it!

[John Farrell Kuhns] runs a small science store with his wife in Kansas City called the H.M.S. Beagle, where young scientists (and adults!) can buy professional lab supplies, equipment, and the resources to study all things from chemistry to physics!

It all started when [John] was a child in the 1950′s and he received the classic Gilbert Chemistry Set as a Christmas present, which help set him on the course of becoming a professional research chemist. Now, wanting to share his love of chemistry with his children, he realized there just isn’t the same kind of chemistry sets available commercially!

Since the opening of his store he has made many custom chemistry sets very similar to the originals, but these were almost all one-off’s and very time consuming to make. So recently he decided to try making a set that he can produce in fair numbers to meet the demand, and so he started this Kickstarter to help it get off the ground. It’s already surpassed its goal by two times!

We wish we had one when we were growing up!

[Thanks Jeremy!]

DIY Bluetooth Home Automation

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Interested in a bit of home automation? Don’t know where to start? We just found a great Instructable on making your own bluetooth controlled relay module!

[Kyle's] been working on this for a while, and finally at his 5th iteration he’s ready to share it with the public. It’s a project you can make from scratch, and each unit will cost approximately ~$25 in components — which can control up to two outputs. He’s included an inkscape PCB layout which you can easily etch on your own using the toner transfer method. The heart of the build is an Atmega328, which helps keep the costs down — after all, it is only controlling two outputs! Then it’s just a matter of adding the components, a bit of soldering, and uploading the firmware! 

The entire design is open source, and [Kyle] would love some feedback to continue improving upon it. The write-up is quite thorough, so if you’re interested, take a look and leave him a comment!

Building a More Nyan Planet

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In an effort to give salespeople something impressive to hand out, IBM recently had a bunch of very cool promotional materials printed up. It’s basically a greeting card-sized cardboard folder with a bit of text, an LCD screen, buttons, battery and display controller. This video in print device is meant to display how IBM is building a smarter planet, but [Cookie] and [Stitch] over at the Hack42 hackerspace in The Netherlands decided Nyan Cat would be a much better use of this free, portable video player. (Google translationUPDATE: Site has gone down. Here’s the Google Cache but you’ll need a browser like Chrome that can do the translation for you (we can’t figure out how to link a translation of cache).

This video card uses tech licensed from Americhip, a company that has been putting video in magazines for a few years now. By connecting the USB charging port up to his computer, the guys were able to switch the device over to USB mode where the actual video files could be read and rewritten.

By encoding a few videos to match the format of what was on the card – including some old IBM promotional material by [Jim Henson] - the team were able to get videos playing on a hackable flyer. Very cool, and if you can get your hands on some sales brochures, a free source of tiny displays.

Hackaday Links: November 17, 2013

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If you purchased a knock-off FM transmitter and were unhappy with its broadcast range [Thiagohersan] shows how to double the range with a simple transistor amplifier circuit. He also hacked it for used without the 12V car socket.

[Patrick Herd] had a project that required him to strip about twenty Mindstorm batteries from their plastic enclosures. It’s not too tough getting into them but it does require drilling out the plastic rivets. He made a jig and used a CNC mill to automate the process.

Speaking of CNC, [Bertho] added some abstraction to distance himself from what he calls the “50+ years archaic syntax and grammar that G-code programs have”. The project is a meta-compiler for G-Code.

If you need a cold one and don’t have a HaDuino on hand you’ll thank yourself for hacking together this five-cent workbench bottle opener.

Just make sure you do all the lathe work for a custom speaker enclosure before you start pounding back those brewskis. Not only does [Shaun's] creation look modern and stylish, but it boasts more than enough power to bump some tunes.

Here’s a project that adds LED feedback to your XBMC installation. It uses a Raspberry Pi to run the media center software, and a script to monitor it and actuate the lights on an Adafruit add-on board. At first glance you may not think much of it, but this is all the logic control you need to automate your viewing room. Who doesn’t want a home theater that automatically dims once you’ve made your viewing selection?

And finally, [08milluz] snagged some reactive electronics in the form of Disney’s Mickey Mouse ears. Apparently they glow different colors at live shows and based on where they are worn within the park. He did a complete teardown to show off the hardware within. It turns out to be controlled by an MSP430 which are known for their low power consumption. [Thanks Spikeo55]

Retropie Gaming Table

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[Jody] just finished the write up on this awesome coffee table he’s been working on. It’s an all-in-one gaming table that makes use of Retropie.

When they finally got rid of the kids’ train-play-set table, they needed something to replace it. Eager to use his new collection of tools (including a 3D printer and a laser cutter!), [Jody] decided to build this thing from scratch. He admits he isn’t a very skilled woodworker, but we think he did an excellent job!

The screen is an old laptop LCD that [Jody] took apart and refitted into the nice wood frame you see above. He’s added speakers with 3D printed grills, and the whole thing turns on and off when the screen is lifted, all thanks to a pantry door switch he installed. In the side compartments he has wireless keyboards, mice, and xBox 360 controllers to play the games with. He and his son have already put many hours into the classic Cave Story, first released back in 2004.

There’s a great build log on his site, so if you’re interested in making your own, check it out!

Arduino-Based Power Failure Alert System

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When the power went out at his parents’ shop and ruined the contents of their fridge, [Lauters Mehdi] got to work building a custom power failure alert system to prevent future disasters. Although some commercial products address this problem, [Lauters] decided that he could build his own for the same cost while integrating a specific alert feature: one that fires off an SMS to predefined contacts upon mains power failure.

The first step was to enable communication between an Arduino Micro and a Nokia cell phone. His Nokia 3310 uses FBus protocol, but [Lauters] couldn’t find an Arduino library to make the job easier. Instead, he prototyped basic communication by running an Arduino Uno as a simple serial repeater to issue commands from the computer directly to the phone, and eventually worked out how to send an SMS from the ‘duino. [Lauters] then took the phone apart and tapped into the power button to control on/off states. He also disconnected the phone’s battery and plugged it into an attached PCB. The system operates off mains power but swaps to a 1000mAH 9V backup battery during a power outage, logging the time and sending out the SMS alerts. A second message informs the contacts when power has been restored.

Head over to [Lauters's] project blog for schematics and photos, then see his GitHub for the source code. If you want to see other SMS hacking projects, check out the similar build that keeps a remote-location cabin warm, or the portable power strip activated by SMS.