Resurrecting a cellphone with blown USB circuitry

[Script] is pretty lucky. One of the engineers who designed his cellphone included over-voltage protection in the circuit. Of course you probably wouldn’t know about this if there wasn’t a service schematic available. But a bit of searching around let him resurrect the fried USB segment of his Nokia N900.

Now [Script] has been experimenting with portable solar power like the system featured at 25C3 a few years back. Unfortunately he made an error which routed 12V into the USB connector’s 5V rail. After this unfortunate mistake the phone would not longer connect via USB, or charge the battery. Luickly the N900 is a favorite with the hacker community (you can see all kinds of N900 related projects here at Hackaday) and [Script] found his way to their N900 Schematic page. Digging into page four he found part F5300 which is labeled 2.0A. He removed the PCB and shielding, and tested the part with a multimeter to confirm it was blown. A quick wire bridge got the phone charging again, but [Script] plans to position a new fuse as soon as he can source the part.

Who says these devices aren’t user serviceable? If we could just get our hands on more service schematics perhaps our gear would last longer.

Minestation – An external weather display for your Minecraft world

minestation

If you’re a big Minecraft fan, the folks at [radikaldesign] have something that might be of interest to you. (Translation) Inspired by some of their Minecraft-loving friends, they have developed Minestation – a weather station for your Minecraft game.

The concept is simple. Here in the real world we have the ability to look out the window and see what it is like outside, but many of us turn to digital weather stations, the Weather Channel, or the local news to get the real scoop. They decided that the world of Minecraft should be no different, so they constructed an Arduino shield that allows players to see weather conditions as they play.

The shield contains a Nokia 6100 LCD screen which displays all sorts of useful information. It features a clock and calendar that reflect in-game time, making it easy to know when night is going to fall. It also continually displays the player’s coordinates as well as what the weather looks like in that region. Having this information at hand when you’ve been slogging away in the mines (losing track of time and weather) seems like it could be pretty useful at times.

You can buy one of the devices at Minestation.me, but the design is completely open, so you can easily construct one of your own without too much hassle.

Continue reading to see a video of the Minestation in action.

[Via HackedGadgets]

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Wardriving for Zigbee

Wardriving started out as a search for unprotected WiFi access points before hot spots were prevalent. And so this ZigBee protocol wardriving hardware which [Travis Goodspeed] put together really gives us a sense of nostalgia for that time. Don’t get us wrong, we love our pervasive WiFi access and don’t wish to go back to simpler times. But if the radio signals your looking for are scarce, locating them provides a challenge.

Regular readers will recognize that [Travis] is interested in all things RF. One of his projects included sniffing wireless keyboard packets out of thin air and displaying them on the screen of his Nokia N900. This is right along those lines but he’s upgraded to an N9 phone for the display hardware. He switched up the RF hardware, using a TelosB (a board he’s already familiar with) to get on the 802.15.4 ZigBee spectrum. This dev board has an expansion port which let him use an RN42 module for wireless communications with the phone. This means the sniffing hardware can be hidden away in a backpack or jacket. After all, nobody will question someone walking around staring at a smart phone.

Build your own 4-channel logic analyzer

If you’re just getting into hobby electronics chances are there are lots of tools you’d like to get you hands on but can’t yet justify the purchases. Why not build some of the simpler ones? Here’s a great example of a 4-channel logic analyzer that can be your next project and will add to your arsenal for future endeavors.

As you can see, [Vassilis’] creation uses a cellphone-sized LCD screen as the output. It is powered by four rechargeable batteries and driven by an ATmega8 microcontroller. He’s designed the tool without power regulation, relying on the ATmega’s rather wide range of operating voltages, and a few diodes to step down that voltage for the LCD screen.

As you can see in the clip after the break, alligator leads can be used to connect the test circuit to the inputs (don’t forget the ground reference!). Thee buttons at the bottom let you navigate the captured data by panning and zooming. Perhaps the best design feature is the single-sided circuit board which should be quite easy to reproduce at home.

Continue reading “Build your own 4-channel logic analyzer”

Nokia N900 control pad is perfect for gaming on the go

nokia-n900-gamepad

[Andrzej] loves his Nokia N900, noting that it makes a great portable gaming device. Since it supports a wide array of emulators, it’s perfect for indulging his gaming nostalgia on the go. He says that the one downside to the N900 is that its keyboard doesn’t make gaming easy, nor comfortable.

To make gaming a big more fun, he built himself an add-on gamepad that fits perfectly over the phone’s keyboard. Connected via the phone’s USB port, it features 8 push buttons along with a PSP joystick. He used an ATmega8A as the brains of the controller, communicating with the phone as a USB keyboard. He says that this sort of configuration makes it extremely easy to do all sorts of custom button mapping on a per-game basis.

As you can see in the picture above the controller is currently lacking a case, but we think that with a bit of clever packaging, it could look as nice as a retail add-on.

Check out the short video below to see his gamepad in action.

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A Smartphone Dock for your Arm? Why Not?

Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph’s] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”

[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things.  However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!

[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.

via [reghardware.com]

RF sniffing on-the-go

It’s been a while since we checked in on [Travis Goodspeed]. His latest post makes RF sniffing with the Next HOPE badge more portable by ditching the need to display data on a computer. He’s built on the work he did at the beginning of the year, replacing the FTDI chip on the badge with a Bluetooth module. Now he can use his Nokia N900 as a GoodFET terminal to not only display the packets pulled from the air, but the control the badge as well.

Previously, the client running on the computer was communicating with the badge via a serial connection. To get it working on the N900 [Travis] transitioned from using py-serial over to using py-bluez. All of the code changes are available from the GoodFET repository.

He’s got a few other tricks planned for this concept. He put in a parts order to add Bluetooth to the Girltech IM-ME. The pretty pink pager has the same radio chip on board, so adding Bluetooth connectivity will allow it to be used in the same way. There are also plans in the works to add a couple other packet sniffing protocols to the bag of tricks, including ZigBee.