Amazon Dash: Hack It to Run Your Own Code

The Amazon Dash is a $5 push-to-buy-cat-litter button which has excellent potential for repurposing, but you need to know what is going on inside first. [Tony Dicola] has the details in this excellent bare metal guide to the Dash. In this, he covers how to get inside the Dash and reprogram it to do something more interesting than buying cat litter.

He first cracks the device open, connecting a programmer, then building a toolchain to compile programs to run on. This isn’t for the faint-hearted because you are programming directly for a device that wasn’t really built for it, but [Tony] has posted examples and there are few tools to hold your hand on the way. There is a safety net, [Tony] provided details on how to reset the Amazon Dash Button if you manage to brick it.

We have seen some interesting hacks that repurpose the Dash to capture your child’s bowel movements by intercepting the device connecting to WiFi, but this guide takes it a step further. It allows you to run your own code, which turns this into a really low-cost and well-engineered all-in-one WiFi device. The missing piece is proof-of-concept code to run the WiFi module inside. If you’re working on that we’d love to hear about it!

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Hacking the Amazon Dash Button to Record Whatever You Want

We’re still not too sure if the Amazon Dash button is a brilliant marketing and advertising ploy, or is just downright stupid. But what we do know, is for $5, it’s a lot of hackable tech that could be used for more… useful purposes. The big A sells these dash buttons for one purpose — you push the button and whichever product is assigned to it shows up on your doorstep in a few days. [Ted Benson] wanted them to do more than that so he turned a few dash buttons into a way of tracking his baby’s health!

Apparently, data acquisition of your baby’s wake-up times and poops is useful to identify health patterns. [Ted] tried using some phone apps to keep track of this stuff, but found it would be a lot easier if there was just a big button on the wall or something… which is where he got the idea to make use of the Amazon Dash button.

It’s actually really simple to do. Buy the dash button, do the setup with Amazon… but don’t do the final step: selecting the product you want to order. If you don’t select anything, you won’t order anything…

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DIY iPhone Mount for a Volvo

[Seandavid010] recently purchased a 2004 Volvo. He really liked the car except for the fact that it was missing some more modern features. He didn’t come stock with any navigation system or Bluetooth capabilities. After adding Bluetooth functionality to the stock stereo himself, he realized he would need a secure location to place his iPhone. This would allow him to control the stereo or use the navigation functions with ease. He ended up building a custom iPhone mount in just a single afternoon.

The key to this project is that the Volvo has an empty pocket on the left side of the stereo. It’s an oddly shaped vertical pocket that doesn’t seem to have any real use. [Seandavid010] decided this would be the perfect place to mount his phone. The only problem was that he didn’t want to make any permanent changes to his car. This meant no drilling into the dash and no gluing.

[Seandavid010] started by lining the pocket with blue masking tape. He then added an additional lining of plastic wrap. All of this was to protect the dashboard from what was to come next. He filled about half of the pocket with epoxy putty. We’ve seen this stuff used before in a similar project. He left a small opening in the middle with a thick washer mounted perpendicular to the ground. The washer would provide a place for an off-the-shelf iPhone holder to mount onto. [Seandavid010] also placed a flat, wooden paint stirrer underneath the putty. This created a pocket that would allow him to route cables and adapters underneath this new mount.

After letting the epoxy putty cure for an hour, he removed the block from the pocket. The stick was then removed, and any gaps were filled in with putty. The whole block was trimmed and smooth down for a more streamlined look. Finally, it was painted over with some flat black spray paint to match the color of the dashboard. An aftermarket iPhone holder allows [Seandavid010] to mount his cell phone to this new bracket. The cell phone holder allows him to rotate the phone into portrait or landscape mode, and even is adjustable to accommodate different sized phones.

A very dash-ing iPad mini

iPad-mini-dash-install

The work which [Mark] did to mount this iPad mini in the dashboard of his Ford truck is commendable. It looks like it came from the factory this way, and the functionality matches that illusion.

He actually started the project before he had the iPad mini on hand. A PDF that mapped out the exact dimensions was used as a template for the layout and alteration. He took the stereo controls out of the original faceplate. That opening was made to fit the screen by cutting, adding putty, then sanding and finishing.

Since the bezel won’t let [Mark] get at any of the buttons on the iPad itself he picked up an external home button on eBay and mounted it just to the left of the screen. Inside the dashboard a docking connector is responsible for powering the tablet and connecting it to the sound system. There’s even a WiFi connection thanks to the MiFi system he mounted in the overhead console.

Jeep-uter adds push button control to your vehicle

[Ed Zarick] built a module to control his vehicle which he calls the Jeeputer. The name’s a mash-up of Jeep and Computer; the device itself is a combination of Arduino, character LCD, and a collection of shift registers and relays for interfacing. Watch the video after the break to see what this can do. We were surprised in the beginning when he says that all he has left to do is remove the steering wheel lock and he’ll be able to drive using the interface, but we think he means type in a code to unlock the ignition, not remote control for his car. He then goes on to demonstrate garage door control, power cycling for CB radio, GPS, 110V power inverter, vehicle light control, and much more. This must be the most feature packed car computer we’ve seen so far.

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AIDA the dashboard bot

In an attempt to create more interaction with our vehicles, researchers have created AIDA. AIDA is basically a car computer and GPS that has some well designed personification. That cute little face will learn your daily habits and schedules and make recommendations to keep you out of traffic. We really like the idea, and the little bit we see of AIDA already has us falling in love, but won’t the placement be a distraction? We already know some people who give their car a name and treat it like a person, we don’t want to imagine what would happen if their car actually had some interactive personality. AIDA’s motion and emotive display are worthy of the crabfu challenge for sure, but do we want AIDA on our dashboard? Yes, most emphatically. She can sit right by the little hula girl.

 

[via BotJunkie]

 

 

Hacking the radio controls in your steering wheel

[Gabe Graham] sent us this step by step process of building a dock for his Zune and hacking is steering wheel controls to work with it. Like many of us, he was not happy with the performance of those little radio transmitters that hook to your mp3 player. He remedied the situation by mounting a dock for his Zune onto the console and patching into his stereo. The sound quality was great, but controlling it was a pain.

He had one button left on his steering wheel that was not needed for anything.  He created a custom controller for the Zune that would issue different commands based on how long he held the button on the steering wheel. If the button was held for less than half a second, it would skip tracks, any longer and it would pause. Though he could possibly clean up the look of the LED sticking out of the console, the over all effect is quite well done.