This digital picture frame runs Linux better than you might think

Ah, the beauty of spreading the guts of some hackable hardware across your workbench. This happens to be the circuit board and LCD screen from a Parrot DF3120 digital picture frame. The device is pretty powerful, considering you can still find them available for around $25. You’ll get a 3.5″ screen, ARM9 processor with 8MB or RAM, Bluetooth, a tilt sensor, and more. It seem that [BusError], [Sprite_tm], [Claude], and few others really went to town and spilled all of the secrets this device has to offer.

Their goal of the hack was to get their own Linux kernel running. It is possible to reprogram the processor using its JTAG interface. And if you really want to drill down to the good stuff, there’s access to all of the BGA pins on the bottom of the board thanks to a grid of micro vias. But the device can be tricked into flashing your own firmware just by altering a stock upgrade image.

You can get a pretty good idea of what there is to do once you’ve replaced the firmware from the video after the break. A RAM upgrade (using a chip from an old PC133 stick) lets the video run smoothly as it’s controlled via a Wii remote.

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RAM upgrade for WRT300N router

[Heli] had a WRT300N wireless router sitting around collecting dust. He decided to squeeze at bit more entertainment value out of it by seeing if he could pull off a RAM upgrade. He managed to double the router’s RAM and posted a walk through (translated) to help you do the same.

Swapping out surface mount RAM chips isn’t the easiest thing in the world and you must wondering what prompted this. It seems he wanted to run the LuCI package on the router but it was slow (or even incapable) of booting with the stock hardware’s 16 Mb. He first sourced some pin-compatible replacement chips from an old Pentium III computer. While his soldering iron was hot, he also wired up a JTAG header, which connects via the red wires just visible to the left. When he first fired up the unit he was happy that it was able to boot, but it still only detected 16 Mb.

It turns out you’re going to need to roll your own kernel to get it to take advantage of the upgrade. Source code for OpenWRT is easy to find and there’s plenty of guides for compiling it. If you try this, make sure to read [Heli’s] post carefully as he’s got some important configuration information that will help you to avoid bricking your router.

Keyboard concept uses magic trackpad

This is a keyboard alternative that [Sebastian] is building from two Apple Magic Trackpads. The multitouch devices are a good platform for this because they’re designed to pick up several events at the same time. To prototype the locations of the keys he’s using printable transparency sheets. He gives you a sense of where the home row is with a dab of clear fingernail polish that you can feel with your digits.

He may laser etch these pads once the key location is just right. This should give a bit of texture in itself and do away with the need for nail polish but we still like the ingenuity of that solution. The device is being developed in Linux, with some kernel hacking to handle the devices. We asked about source code and [Sebastian] is hesitant to post it because he’s been getting a lot of kernel panics. It sounds like once he cleans things up a bit he’ll share his work.

Don’t forget, there’s an easy hack to do away with the batteries in these things.

Adding RAM to the Nexus One without soldering

Want 21 megabytes more ram in your Nexus One? [Coolbho3000] worked out a way to tweak the kernel and remap memory usage to free up some resources. That means this comes as a custom kernel image requiring no hardware alteration. Try it out and share your experiences in the comments. But if you don’t need more ram you can just upgrade to the most recent kernel.

[Thanks Juan]

Running bleeding edge on Nexus One

We like to run the newest software available. We often encounter problems and things that don’t work because of this, but with open source that just give you the opportunity to contribute and make the package better. Now you can take the fun and daring of bleeding edge to your phone by installing the latest Linux kernel on the Nexus One. [Jon Lech Johansen] wrote up that eight step process to install 2.6.32, which should take you just minutes if you already have the Android SDK installed. If you don’t what are you waiting for?

Color correction patch for PS3 eye

ps3-eye-color-correction

[Max] was happy to see that the PlayStation 3 Eye has support in the newer Linux kernels. Having sat in his closet for quite some time, this would give the camera another chance at usefulness. Unfortunately, the driver doesn’t include framerate selection and color correction so he set about writing a patch to control the color settings. As you can see above, his success greatly improves the image quality you get from the device.

We get the feeling that the camera peripherals for Sony’s gaming devices seem like a good idea but don’t have much staying power as a realistic gaming interface. With contributions like [Max’s], they can be re-purposed. The PS2 had its own, the EyeToy, which has long enjoyed driver support for Linux. The NUI Group does a lot of work with multi-touch and recommends the PS3 Eye for use with their projects because they’re inexpensive with high frame rates and decent picture quality.

Great work [Max]. It looks like he’s sent this patch upstream to be considered for incorporation into the kernel’s webcam module.

KernelCheck kernel compiler

kernelcheck

If you’ve ever tried compile a linux kernel yourself you know the headache of configuring and taking care of dependencies. KernelCheck makes this a point and click process for debian based linux distributions such as Ubuntu. You can use it to compile and install any 2.6.* stable kernel as well as the bleeding edge. KernelCheck even offers custom compilation options such as including kernel patches or rolling in proprietary video drivers. A tutorial (PDF) is also provided so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.

[via Web Upd8]