Quick hack disables iPod dock auto-standby


[Aaron] wrote in to share with us a quick hack that has made his life a little easier. He bought a Rocketfish RF-HV3 portable iPod dock to listen to his music, but he wanted to utilize it as an alarm clock as well. He also found that the speakers worked quite well when he hooked up his Yaesu handheld transmitter to the dock.

The only problem he had with it was that the dock would automatically power down when there was no input for 5 minutes. That’s fine when the dock is running on batteries, but if [Aaron] was going to use it as an alarm clock or to listen to his HAM radio, that simply wouldn’t do.

He pulled the dock apart and started poking around with his DSO Nano scope. He found that if pin 16 stays low for 5 minutes, it turns off the dock even if there is a signal coming through. His fix for the problem was actually quite simple – all he did was solder the VDD pin to the pin in question, and the 5-minute timeout was disabled.

We’re glad that [Aaron] was able to solve his problem in such an easy manner – it just goes to show what you can do with a scope and a few minutes’ time.

Breathing new life into a broken iPod


[Craig] had a busted 2nd Gen iPod Nano that was well out of warranty. The play/pause button no longer worked, leaving him unable to play or pause music, nor power off the device. He didn’t want to scrap the iPod, so he figured out a way to add an external play/pause button instead.

He ordered an iPod dock connector from SparkFun and found that it had just enough space inside for the electronic components he would be adding. He consulted some online references for pinout information, then got busy cramming an ATiny13 and a pushbutton into the dock connector.

To minimize the drain on the iPod’s battery, he puts the ATiny into sleep mode when it is not being used. When the button is pressed, it wakes up the microcontroller and sends the proper signal to the iPod. Based on his estimations, it would take nearly 250 years for the ATiny to drain the iPod’s battery completely, so he’s pretty comfortable leaving the dongle attached at all times.

If you have an iPod with similar issues, he has made his source code available so you can save yours from the trash heap as well.

Pitch shifter makes your band sing higher

[Markus Gritsch] tipped us off about this little module he built to shift the pitch of audio playback. It uses a PIC 24FJ along with a couple of LM386 amplifier chips to manage the input and output signals. At the push of a button, audio being fed through the device can be modulated to a different key without changing the playback rate. Here it’s being used with a iPod but because this device just sits between an audio source and a signal input we wonder if you can have some fun on the cellphone with this circuit?

Check out the video after the break to hear it in action. We must compliment [Markus] on his layout. We haven’t seen the underside of that protoboard but he’s done a great job of fitting everything into a small area. You can find the schematic for the circuit by following the link at the top of this feature. He took a picture of his hand-drawn plans which saves him time from laying it out with something like KiCAD but still gives us the details that we love to see with your projects.

Continue reading “Pitch shifter makes your band sing higher”

Cellphone charger has a USB port forced upon it

We still can’t figure out why a standard charging scheme hasn’t been developed for handheld devices (other than greed). Certainly we understand that many devices have different electrical needs as far as voltage and current are concerned, but we still long for the ability to use one charger for many different doodads. [Rupin] is trying to narrow down the number of dedicated chargers he uses by adding a USB charging port to his Nokia cellphone charger. Since the USB standard calls for regulated 5V a hack like this can often be done just by patching into the power output coming off of the voltage regulator in the plug housing of the device. [Rupin’s] charger had 5V printed on the case, but when he probed the output he found well over 8 volts. He added a 7805 linear regulator to get the stable output he needed, then cut a hole in the case to house the connector.

Since [Rupin] wants to use this as an iPod charger he couldn’t just let the two data lines float. Apple uses a specific charger verification scheme which requires some voltage dividers to get the device to start charging.

Repair stuck iPod Nano buttons

A system is only as strong as its weakest link and [Roberto Barrios] found that on the sixth generation iPod nano the buttons are the problem. It makes sense that the buttons would be exposed to wear since they’re movable parts. The issue isn’t one of contacts or springs wearing out, but how the buttons are assembled. Each consist of a couple of parts; the tactile piece that you see and press, the electrical switch which converts that force into an electrical signal, and a shim that bridges the gap between the two.

After two months of use the iPod [Roberto] was fixing had stopped responding to presses of the Power button. It turns out that the shims are attached with double-sided tape. Inspection of the internals revealed that the shim had slid to one side and no longer made contact with the electrical system. His solution was to remove the tape and clean off the goo, then reattach the shims using “two-part metal cement”.

With the shim back in place all is well but he made sure to execute this fix on all of the buttons before reassembly.

Update: microtouch the 8-bit ipod touch

It looks like [rossum] and [Ladyada] have teamed up and been busy working on the microtouch. Since we covered it last year its had a few minor improvements like an upgrade to the ATmega32u4 microprocessor and some new software. The new and improved microtouch also features an accelerometer as well as some software to go along with it. Plus its now for sale on adafruit for about a quarter the price of an ipod touch (just in case you don’t feel like making your own).

For the unaware the microtouch is a lightweight AVR based ipod touch. It comes with a bootloader which allows you to download your “apps” to the microtouch without the need for an AVR programmer. While it may lack some of the computing power and features of the ipod touch (like music), the microtouch is definitely appealing for its open hardware/software and easy to use touch screen.

CES: Where are they now? CES of course!

CES is a time for showcasing the latest and greatest innovative products. While the crowd milled around the iLounge there was one company who stood out amongst the rest. [Mike] from CableJive is making his debut on the biggest stage for innovation this year. Many of you will remember [Mike] from a post back in 2006, where he was fed up of with all of the good docks being for the apple products exclusively. He set out to fix this and, when talking with him, attributes his success to the coverage Hack a Day did on his project. CableJive has become so popular that he has hired staff that help him produce his products. All detailed information for their products can be found at their website.  The finished product is displayed after the break.

Continue reading “CES: Where are they now? CES of course!”