Adding a little polish to your cellphone charging setup

Cable management can really be an eyesore, but a little creative camouflage and you can have a cellphone charging station that also serves as decoration.

[Kitesurfer] wanted to use one of the cubbyholes in his new Ikea book shelf for charging but wasn’t keen on the rat’s nest of wires that would go along with it. Also not wanting to take on the challenge of wireless charging he hit the As-Is section of the home furnishing giant and grabbed a leftover board that matched the same finish as the cabinetry. It now serves as a false-back for the charging center behind which a power strip and wall-warts hide.

This covers up the problem, but a blank white box filled with the business end of the charging wires isn’t a whole to better. As with a magic show, the trick is in redirection. [Kitesurfer] cut a hole in the false-back and added the guts of a digital picture frame. Right now he’s got it scrolling through different charging icons, but it’s easy enough to change up the slide-show if he gets tired of them. We’d love to see a subsequent hack that lets the picture frame access the photos on your phone via Bluetooth.

Wifi sniffing digital picture frame

[AUTUIN] sent in a tip for his wifi sniffing digital picture frame.

A soon-to-be-trashed Pentium II laptop was rescued from Free Geek Vancouver. A lot of coffee shops around Vancouver feature local art and free wifi, so [AUTUIN] decided to combine the two. The project is designed to hang on the wall of a cafe and sniff images transmitted on the wireless network – an invasion of privacy, but as [AUTUIN] says, “that’s kind of the point.”

After gutting the laptop and putting it in a custom picture frame, Driftnet, a program that listens network traffic and picks out images from TCP streams, was installed. [AUTUIN] tested his build with an open wireless connection in his building. The results provided a wonderful narrative that started with pictures from news sites than slowly devolved to pictures from a hot-or-not style website, an online dating site and finally pictures from the inevitable conclusion of that browsing session.

[AUTUIN] is now looking for either a brave or foolish local coffee shop in Vancouver to feature his wifi sniffing picture frame. We think this would be very amusing if we weren’t using that network, not that we have something to hide or anything.

LCD: Replacing CCFL with LEDs

[Fileark] had the backlight on his digital picture frame go out one day. These are generally Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps which require an inverter to source the voltage necessary for proper operation. When they stop working, the inverter is usually to blame. Since that circuit is made up of pretty small surface mount circuitry, he decided to replace the backlight with LEDs rather than repair the inverter.

In the video after the break [Fileark] will walk through the entire project. After snooping around inside the picture frame he sizes up a strip of LEDs on a flexible substrate. The metal retaining bracket that hosts the LCD must be altered to fit the new light source and for that, he’s included a hacking montage in his video. The final result looks stock and he estimates the screen is around 97% as bright as with the original backlight.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an LED edge-lit upgrade. The last one we saw even used a custom PCB to host the LEDs.

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Is that some type of new Kindle?

[Mr C Camacho] picked up an inexpensive digital picture frame hoping to hack into it. He hasn’t had the time to crack open the hardware so that it will do his bidding but he did find a creative way to make it an ebook reader. Using a python script he processes books, creating images of the pages.

The python script, available after the break, takes free books from Project Gutenburg and spits out JPG images. Page turning and bookmarking are not what they ought to be but the process does work. The thought of someone staring at a picture frame on the subway is a bit amusing but we’re sure that sooner or later someone will ask if it’s a new version of the Kindle.

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Chumby digital picture frame teardown

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At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Chumby unveiled their latest prototype. It’s a network connected digital picture frame that runs Flash widgets. Just like the current Chumby model, they’re publishing the software and hardware under a license designed to let you hack it. They let us borrow one of their open chassis evaluation kits to teardown and photograph. We’ve got more pictures, full specs, and the schematics below.

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How-to: Prepare your Eagle designs for manufacture

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Cadsoft Eagle is a multi-platform freeware circuit layout program. Lots of open source hardware is designed in Eagle, and it’s become a hobbyist favorite. We use it for all of our hardware designs.

There are several ways to turn an Eagle design into an actual printed circuit board (PCB). We’ll show you how to save Eagle designs as industry-standard gerber files that are accepted by any PCB manufacturer. You can use the gerbers to order a single prototype, or a full panel.

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How-to: Digital picture frame, 100% DIY

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There are a ton of digital picture frame tutorials out there. Most are old laptops with crafty case reconfigurations that fit a photo frame profile.

We set out to build a 100% DIY, scratch-built digital picture frame. Our frame has a 12bit color LCD, gigabytes of storage on common, FAT-formatted microSD cards, and you can build it at home. We’ve got the details below.

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