ODB-II hacking using an Android tablet

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What a strange message to read on the digital dashboard display of your car. This is proof that [Kristoffer Smith] was able to control the ODB-II bus on his Eagle Grand Cherokee.

He’s not just doing this for the heck of it. It stems from his goal of adding an Android tablet on the dashboard which has been a popular hack as of late. This left [Kristoffer] with steering wheel controls that did nothing. They originally operated the radio, so he set out to make them control the tablet.

He had seen an Arduino used to control the CAN bus, but decided to go a different route. He grabbed a USB CAN bus interface for around $25. The first order of business was to use it with his computer to sniff the data available. From there he was able to decode the traffic and figure out the commands he needed to monitor. The last piece of the puzzle was to write his own Android code to watch for and react to the steering wheel buttons. You can check out the code at his repository and see the demo after the break.

[Read more...]

Stellaris Launchpad shield shows good fabrication technique

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Here’s an LED and Button shield for the Stellaris Launchpad (translated) which you can fabricate at home. It gives you access to a 5×5 matrix of LEDs, and adds four more buttons. In order to cut down on the number of I/O pins required to operate the lights [Cosimo] is using the concept of Charlieplexing. This lets him get away with just six driver pins and four button pins.

It’s not just the finished product that interests us here. The fabrication itself is worth clicking through to his project post. What initially caught our eye is the use of Kapton tape as an insulator so that clipped off LEDs could be used as jumpers flat against the top side of the board before populating the LEDs themselves. After those are soldered in place he masks them off, as well as the button footprints, and uses spray paint to protect the top side of the board. The final look is more polished than most at-home project boards.

Update: Androcade 2.0

[Chris] has been going about his business, letting his interest guide him as it will. But always in the back of his mind is his Androcade project, and he’s spent the last year making improvements. It’s an arcade controller for playing games on an Android tablet. It connects to the device via Bluetooth, and includes a built-in stand.

His original version was featured here last year. It was made from wood (with a nice Android green finish) and included three buttons and a joystick. This time around he moved to some black laser-cut acrylic for the case, and has doubled up on the buttons. It also now enumerates as an HID Bluetooth device, whereas before it was pushing serial data over the BT connection.

He’s had enough interest from his friends to also create an iPad version all in white. It connects and works just the same as the Android flavor. Check out a bit of Donkey Kong gameplay after the break.

[Read more...]

Arcade controller will give you button envy

[Aaron's] arcade controller really makes us want to put in a button order. There aren’t any secrets hidden in his design or fabrication, but he did a remarkably clean job of putting it together.

The housing is a writing box he bought at the hardware store (but he also shows off an emtpy Xbox 360 case hosting the same control layout). It has a hinged cover which is perfect for getting at the components inside, and is also at a nice angle for your wrists during long gaming session.

An Xbox 360 controller provides the connectivity for the device. Obviously it will work with the Microsoft hardware, but all modern operating systems have methods available for interfacing with these controllers as well. In the video after the break you can see [Aaron] gut the controller, soldering wires to all of the button pads and connecting those to some terminal strips. This makes the wire organization inside quite clean. He uses crimp connectors to jumper the buttons and joy stick to the other side of the terminals. Add  a nice paint job and you’ve got a controller that will look right at home in your living room.

[Read more...]

Parts: 4×4 RGB button pad controller SPI

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We covered SparkFun’s new RGB button pad controller a few weeks ago. This is a full-color clone of the monome interface; a 4×4 grid of buttons with tri-color LEDs underneath. Each LED has 24bits of color control, for more than 16million color combinations. Up to 10 panels can be chained together to create huge button grids, like SparkFun’s Tetris table. We previously used a smaller version in our RGB combination lock.

We asked SparkFun to send us the SPI version of the button controller to test. This is a new product developed in-house at SparkFun, with open source hardware and software. Read about our experience interfacing this board below.

[Read more...]

Parts: Tactile switches for your next project

Electronics parts can be a pain to choose. It’s often hard to tell from manufacturers’ datasheets if a part will fit your design. We auditioned six different tactile switches to find a cheap button to use in upcoming projects. A tactile switch, also called a momentary button or push-to-make switch, is commonly used for input and microcontroller resets. This type of button creates a temporary electrical connection when pressed.

Footprints for most of these buttons are available in the Cadsoft Eagle library switch-tac, or in the Sparkfun parts library under TAC_SWITCH. Buttons in the image above are discussed from left to right. [Read more...]

Xbox 360 controller remixed for optimized FPS play


[F00 f00] of Acidmods was not satisfied with his first-person shooter gaming experience, so he modded an Xbox 360 controller so that A, B, X and Y buttons are on the underside of the controller, on the inside edges of the wings where the player’s fingertips usually go. He also moved the right thumbstick up a bit so that it would be level with the left one. He designed it to improve his ability to play first person shooters, but the advantages go beyond one genre of game. The right thumb is free to remain on the right thumbstick, and the colored buttons can be pressed by four fingers instead of just the right thumb. We love this mod for it’s simplicity and effectiveness, and we’re eagerly awaiting the internal photos he promised.

[via BB Gadgets]

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