Cellphone controlled retro-radio stores and plays your digital library

[Autuin] was worried about having desirable electronics stolen while on the road with his band. He didn’t want to take a laptop along on tour, but he didn’t want to be without his music either. To solve this problem, he built a music player inside of a cheap-looking radio. His write-up covers two different portable MP3 solutions, but it’s the second rendition that catches our attention.

After hollowing out the old radio he filled the void with an Asus WL-HDD 2.5. That hardware is meant to be an easy way to add network storage; it houses a laptop hard drive and has WiFi and Ethernet connectivity. But it also has one USB port, and can be hacked to add a second. [Autuin] did just that, using the two USB connections to add a Bluetooth dongle and a USB sound card. Music is synced with the hard drive via some cat-5 cable that’s hidden in the battery compartment of the vintage box. The NAS runs Linux, and the audio playback software is controlled though a Mobile Java application running on a somewhat broken cellphone. That’s an idea that might find its way into our next project.

One-click unbrick for Samsung phones

[Adam Outler] has been pretty heavy into mobile device hacking lately. The biggest problem with that field is recovering from back flashes or development firmware glitches. In many cases you can use a JTAG programmer to reflash stock firmware to resurrect a handset. Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find a phone that comes with a JTAG header, and soldering to the microelectronic boards is not for the faint of heart.

But a solution is here, [Adam] pulled together a wide set of resources to create a package to unbrick Samsung phones. Now we’re sure that there’s more than a handful of people who would argue that a bad firmware flash that can be fixed this way means that the phone wasn’t actually “bricked” in the first place. But what we see is one more barrier torn down between being a hardware user and becoming a hardware hacker. You’re much more likely to get in there and get your hands dirty if you know that you’ll be able to undo your mistakes and reclaim you precious pocket hardware. See just how easy it is in the video after the break.

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External text display for Nexus One

Nexus One External Display

[follower] prototyped a 2-line external display for his Nexus One using an Arduino with a USB Host Shield, and the Android Open Accessory Protocol. There are two basic software pieces at work: an Arduino sketch that handles displaying data sent from the phone, and a lightweight android app to detect the presence of the external screen and send data to it. As shown here, it diplays the time and the beginning of the most recently received SMS message.

This project coalesced from several other things [follower] had been working on with regards to USB accessories, background services, interfacing with the Arduino and handling SMS messages, so it’s modular and open-source.  If you’re interested in mashing up microcontroller projects and your android phone, there’s plenty of stuff in this project to help you get off the ground.

As hacks go, this is very much a “because you can” sort of deal that’s designed to tie a bunch of cool things together. You’re unlikely to catch us carrying an LCD and breadboard around in our pockets any time soon, but it paves the way for some potentially fun phone accessories.

You can keep your mints safe; we have the technology

After having his mints disappear for quite some time [Quinn Dunki] came up with an idea to get back a the fresh-breath thieves. A bit of circuit design, parts scavenging, and free-form construction led to the creation of his mint-tin burglar system.

Here’s how it works. Flip the on/off switch in the base of the mint tin before you head off for lunch or a coffee break. When the foul-mouthed pilferer hits up your stash they’ll get what they were looking for at first. But by opening the tin they tripped a timer circuit that will send the mints vibrating across the table soon after having been opened.

The breadboard above holds the prototype timer circuit, built around or friend the 555 timer. The vibration motor from a cellphone is a perfect choice for this hack as it’s very small and is just waiting to run from a low-voltage source. We especially liked the use of the cells from inside a 9V battery as a power source and the compact assembly that manages to fit inside the mint container.

GPS without GPS

Open Electronics just released a neat little board that can place you on a map without using GPS.

The board works on the basic principles of a cellphone network – the ‘cell’ network is a series of towers that are placed more or less equidistant to each other. Save for the most desolate parts of the country, a cell tower usually communicates with a phone one or two miles away. Usually, several cell towers can be seen, so the position of a cellphone can be pinpointed to within 200-350 feet. Translating cell towers to latitude and longitude is easily done by querying a Google database that was created for the mobile version of Google Maps.

The board itself is a PIC18 microcontroller and a SIM900 GSM module. The firmware available at Open Electronics is pretty impressive – all communication to the board is handled through SMS and the phone can report it’s location to 8 other phones.

It’s pretty impressive to think the same technology that caught [Kevin Mitnick] is now available to the masses. We’re wondering what Hack a Day readers would use this for, so if you have an idea leave a comment.

Cellphone battery mouse modification

Ever wanted to increase the battery performance in your wireless mouse? [Davetech] shows you the way with this guide for converting a mouse from AA to lithium batteries. We were delighted by his hack-tacular approach that seems to have a nice little work-around at each step in the process. He grinds down the plastic battery housing that is molded into the original mouse body, then uses an old Compact Flash card connector as a set of spring terminals for a Nokia cellphone battery. This battery has more capacity and recharges faster than non-Lithium AA cells. But unfortunately the spring terminals didn’t quite reach the recessed batter contact. No problem, he just builds up solder on the battery to bridge the gap.

[Davetech] manages to fit the entire battery inside the mouse and the pointing-device still works. Your mileage may vary by model (both battery and mouse). It is necessary to take the battery out of the mouse for recharging, but since this only happen about every couple of weeks thanks to the extended capacity it’s not too much of a hassle. Perhaps someone could carry this to the next level by adding a USB port and the necessary charging circuitry?

Cellphone crowd-pleasers

When you start to think about the cellphone waste our society produces it can be quite daunting. How many cell phones have you had in recent years? Now multiply that by five billion cellphone subscribers. [Anthony Goh] and [Neil Mendoza] found something to do with a very minuscule portion of those left-overs; building interactive birds out of the old parts. You’ll have to check out their accomplishments in the video after the break as the image above doesn’t do them justice. Interactivity for the exhibit is provided by an Arduino, which communicates with one working phone via a serial connection. The phone can still make and receive calls, and controls parts from other, less functional cellphones. They can call each other, or receive calls from the audience.

Yes, there is art in garbage. But there’s also a lot of hacks waiting to happen. Take a look at the Nokia cellphone LCD feature and then start scavenging.

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