[Scott] wrote in to share a project he is currently working on, a home automation system that relies on Power over Ethernet. While he’s not completely finished, he’s made some great progress, and the work he has done so far definitely piqued our interest.
Part of [Scott’s] design relies on some reverse engineered Blackberry screens we showed you a while back. He has constructed a small control panel for his apartment, which incorporates one of the aforementioned Blackberry screens, along with 10 tactile switches and a PIR sensor. The panel is built to be mounted in a wall or as a standalone unit, allowing him to control various lights and appliances throughout his home.
[Scott] spent a lot of time working on the communications protocol and UI for his control panel. As it sits now, the panel takes advantage of a VNC-like protocol he designed, which allows him to interact with a Java application residing on his desktop computer.
Things are looking awesome so far, and [Scott] already has a handful of improvements planned for the near future. We can’t wait to check it out when it’s finished.
[Scott] was looking to source some LCD screens for an upcoming project, and was considering buying them from SparkFun. While the Nokia panels they sell are not expensive, they aren’t necessarily the cheapest option either – especially when building in volume.
He searched around for something he could use instead, and settled on Blackberry screens. Old Blackberry models were even more durable than the current offerings, plus companies are trying to get rid of old handsets by the truckload. The only problem was that he could not find any information online that would show him how to write to the screens.
It took a bit of digging, but he eventually determined which ICs were used to drive the LCD screen. He had no luck finding screen pinout information online, so after spending a few hours testing things with his multimeter, he came up with a full listing on his own.
He wired up a connector so that he could use the screen on a breadboard, then got busy writing code to display some text on the screen. Everything came together nicely as you can see in the video below, and he has released his code in case anyone else is looking to repurpose some old Blackberry screens.
All we want to know is what sort of project all these screens are going to be used in.
Continue reading “Blackberry LCD reverse engineering”
If you never got the chance to build one as a kid [JoOngle] takes you through the steps to build your own radio receiver. Details are a bit scarce but it’s nothing your friend Google can’t help you out with.
Fixing a Blackberry trackball
If your Blackberry trackball stops working well you can try this non-technical fix. Remember when mice used to have a ball in them and you would need to clean out the gunk from time to time? Forcefully skidding your Blackberry across a piece of paper does a similar service.
Linux time lapse
Open source can be a great help to small businesses. Here’s a way to use a Linux machine to make time-lapse movies from surveillance camera feeds. We especially enjoy the use of a desktop wallpaper that has the terminal commands necessary to start recording.
Host a webpage with Dropbox
Here’s a way to host a simple webpage using Dropbox. It’s one of those easy ideas that you wouldn’t come up with yourself. When you place an HTML file in your Dropbox you can get a public URL which will be built as a webpage when visited with a browser.
To round out the weekend here’s [Osgeld’s] tips on inline wire splicing. We laughed as he recounted spearing himself with stray strands. This is pretty simple stuff but he’s explained it well and who’s to pass up a good tip?
[Eric] just told us about the watch he developed that displays info from a BlackBerry via Bluetooth. The watch displays updates, message alerts, incoming call information, and… tells time. Setup and control is handled with the BlackBerry keypad. The device is charged with a micro-USB connection and will last for about four days without a recharge. We’d chalk up the rather long battery life to the use of an OLED display, which will use less energy when a portion of the display is left black.
So why is it here? Well, he’s got a couple of blog posts that detail two of the final prototypes that you might find interesting. What else? Oh yeah, his original prototype used an Arduino with a Nokia 3310 LCD display. For those of you who continually call the Arduino a worthless toy, looks like it’s good enough to use when taking a product to market.
On the standard Blackberry Web Browser, there is a fixed file download limit of 2.3MB. Many users avoid this by installing a 3rd party browser (such as Opera Mini, for example), but there is still that bitter taste for having an extra web browser around just to download decently sized files. This limit seems to be imposed by a certain WAP port that the Blackberry is set to use by default, which blocks any file greater than this. Fortunately, [0mie] has found a way to reconfigure the default Blackberry Browser to use a different port without this restriction. Step by step walk through, links to the file required, and screen shots of large file downloads are provided. [0mie] claims that this hack works on a number of different phones and OS versions, and we are sure he would appreciate a wider audience to test this with.
[Note: This hack seems to use a Chinese provider as a proxy, so there may be privacy issues, etc. As always, hack at your own risk.]
Photos of the BlackBerry Storm 2, both inside and out, have been leaked. Engadget provides us with the specifics, going into detail about the four large piezoelectric pressure sensors that sit underneath the screen. It looks as though the screen will still function as a button, just without the physical movement of the previous model that received mixed reviews. For a better explanation of the technology behind the phone’s innovative screen, here’s a video describing it in more detail and a writeup over at the CrackBerry forums.
RIM has decided to venture into the touchscreen phone market with the new BlackBerry Storm. Unlike other companies’ offerings, the Storm has a touchscreen that clicks when you press it. phoneWreck disassembled the Storm to see what magic was involved in the device. There’s not much too it, it’s just a big button. pW notes that the entire phone board is very compact mostly due to RIM using Qualcomm’s latest MSM7600 chip. Items like bluetooth, GPS, and USB are all included in the processor instead of appearing on the board as discrete components.
phoneWreck recently launched and promises many future teardowns. They’ll be adding to their archive which already includes the Motorola Krave and the venerable Nokia N95. We’ll definitely be watching for their future releases.