One Kindle launcher to rule them

kindle-launcher

Ask around and chances are you can find a friend or family member that still has their early generation Kindle but doesn’t use it anymore. There are quite a number of different things you can do with them, and now there’s a single Launcher that works for all models of hacked Kindles. KUAL is the Kindle Unified Application Launcher.

Loading the launcher on your device does require that it be Jailbroken/Rooted, but that’s really the entire point, right? Once on your device the system is easy to configure. Menus themselves can be customized by editing the XML and JSON pair for each list. The screenshot on the left illustrates some of the applications you might want to run. We could see a VNC viewer being useful, and everyone likes to have games — like Doom II or the entire Z-machine library — on hand when they unexpectedly get stuck somewhere. But MPlayer? Does anyone actually use their ePaper device to watch videos?

Turning a Kindle into a weather display

Since the first time [Matt] saw an e-paper display, the idea of using it as a regularly updated, non real-time display consumed him. It really is the perfect platform for very readable calendars, agendas or, as [Matt] found out, a weather display.

[Matt]’s build uses a server to fetch and parse weather data and forecasts from NOAA. This data is then inserted into an SVG file, rendered, converted into a PNG, and finally converted into a grayscale, no transparency image required by the Kindle.

After the image is crafted by [Matt]’s server, a small script running on the Kindle fetches the image, clears the screen, and displays the image. This entire process happens twice a day, often enough for [Matt] to get a good idea of the weather outside without having to look out a window.

The really striking feature of [Matt]’s build is how good his weather display looks. The wonderful iconography of this weather display comes partly from graphics found on The Noun Project, with a few weather conditions drawn by [Matt] himself. It looks great, and is an awesome example of an excellent use of e-paper.

An e-paper information panel

With all the Kindles and Nooks we’re bound to find at yard sales and thrift shops in the coming years, this might be useful. [Chris] made a door-mounted e-paper display to keep himself up to date on recent events.

The hardware comes from an e-paper development kit [Chris] and his friend [Deian] were given a few years back. The dev kit sat in a dusty drawer until [Chris] decided to do something with it. With his door looking like a suitable palette, [Chris] decided to make an information panel that displays the date, his calendar, the weather, and a few RSS feeds.

There was already a Gumstix single board computer attached to the e-paper display, so [Chris] wrote a few scripts on his server and upload information to the paper display. The server renders the display as a PNG image at 800×600 resolution, converts it to PGM and compresses it for the Gumstix. There is a script running on the Gumstix to download the image from the server every five minutes and put it up on the display.

With the awesome readability and low power consumption of e-paper, we’re surprised we haven’t seen a project like this before. Guess we’ll have to wait until Kindles start showing up at flea markets.

Time Twister is an ingenious Lego clock

Here’s an interesting take on a Lego clock, it uses rotating squares to change the orientation of the black and white tiles to display the needed number. As we see one of the digits cycling to the next number in the video after the break, a couple of different things pop into mind. This seems very much like a 1-dimensional Rubik’s Cube, and it also has a hint of a very large ePaper display. Those use magnetic fields to swivel microspheres that are black on one side and white on the other.

The timepiece, which was built by [Hans Andersson], is limited to displaying numbers only. If you think about it, each row is three pixels but you don’t need to have every combination of those pixels available in order to display the digits. Four sides provide enough room for the necessary combinations. This would not be true if you were trying to scale it up to include all alpha-numeric characters.

The tick of this thing certainly sounds interesting, huh?

Continue reading “Time Twister is an ingenious Lego clock”

Doom II on epaper display

We love to see Doom ported to new hardware because it usually means that someone has found a way around the manufacturer’s security measures. But the most exciting thing for us to see this time is that Doom II is played on an epaper display. These are notorious for slow refresh rates, but as you can see in the video after the break, this one achieves an admirably fast page redraw.

According to a translation of the original forum post, the PocketBook 360° Plus boasts a 5″ E Ink Pearl screen, 533 MHz Freescale i.MX35 ARM11 processor, 128 Mb of RAM, 2 gigs of storage, and WiFi. No word on price for one of these babies as it seems they’ve not yet been release. Remind anyone of the green monochrome goodness from the original Game Boy?

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Kindle 3 powers this diy LED light

ePaper displays are easy on the eyes because there’s no flickering backlight to put strain on them. This is great until you’re trying to read in a dim environment. Of course Amazon will sell you a backlight that’s powered from the reader itself if you’re willing to pay. [Txoof] thought the price was a bit too high so he built his own version.

There are two pockets in the top of the Kindle reader for hooks to grab onto. Each has an electrical contact in it and together they provide about 4V of power. To patch into that source [Txoof] cut his own hooks from brass stock and mounted them onto a piece of basswood. He then cut and bent a hood from more of the brass stock to house the LEDs. A series of three of the white diodes draw their power from the hooks and shine onto to the display. As you can see this works just fine, but could benefit from just the right diffuser.

How-to: Make an e-paper clock from Esquire magazine

If you’ve never heard about electronic paper, crawl out from under that rock and read up on the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. E-paper is a flexible display made of color-changing beads that mimic ink-on-paper for easy daylight reading. The revolutionary thing about e-paper is that after it’s set, it stays that way without additional power.

This sounds great in theory, but Esquire’s cover is the first time everybody can afford to hack an e-paper display. We took the cover into the Hack a Day lab to document, test, and hack. In the end, we recycled it into something useful that anyone can build. We’ve got all the details on how the display works and what it takes to use it in your own projects. Read about our e-paper clock hack below. Continue reading “How-to: Make an e-paper clock from Esquire magazine”