Nokia internet key external antenna

[Maurizio] was having some reception issues with his wireless internet and set out to add an external antenna to the USB dongle (translated). He had previously poked around inside of the Nokia internet key to find that the internal antenna was a flexible circuit substrate wrapped around a plastic box that made contact with main circuit board via a spring connector. This plastic frame is just right for mounting an SMA connector in just the right place for it to stick out the end of the case as seen in the picture above. It gives him better range, but since speed depends on how much traffic the wireless node is under, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a snappier connection after this hack.

Cell Phone Endurance Tests

Gone are the days when a phone would last you a lifetime and enter the days of glass covered mobile phones built to be sexy and sophisticated. With these new phones come new testing methods. Companies like Nokia are still dedicated to making the best phones possible and making them durable through vigorous testing. The example shown in the article, is simulating a phone dropping from a shirt pocket onto the floor. Nokia claims to use 200 endurance tests encompassing temperature, extreme usage (use this button pusher for you own test), physical drops, and exposure to humidity on each new model in their product line. Makes one wonder what other companies are using for their endurance tests. There’s video of the Nokia N8 Drop Test is after the break, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you know about other interesting test methods.

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FM bug using salvaged SMD parts

If you’re a soldering ninja this FM transmitter bug is for you. It’s quite similar to the one we looked at yesterday, but this uses 100% salvaged parts. Two phones donated components; a Nokia 3210 for its voltage-controlled oscillator and a Nokia 1611 for the rest of the parts. The bad news is that mobile technology like cellphones use some of the smallest surface mount packages known to man. That’s where the soldering skill come into play. The good news is that if you’ve been scavenging for discarded phones in order to reuse their LCD screens you already have these parts on hand.

[Thanks George]

Touring the available Nokia LCD screens

[Rossum's] taking a look at the Nokia LCD screens that are both plentiful and begging to be bent to your will. For quite some time the Nokia 6100 screens have been used in a lot hacks, but he wanted to see what else is out there. He digs into his junk box of cell phones and comes up with a couple to test; the Nokia 6101 and Nokia 2760. The screens use a 3-wire SPI interface, which he sniffs out with a logic analyzer. At power-up the cellphone polls the screen to determine which type of LCD controller is connected. [Rossum] grabs these commands from the logic analyzer and uses it to determine the hardware in use with each screen.

He made himself a nice breakout board which has connectors for several different screens. The firmware he’s using detects when a screen is attached and switches to the applicable protocol for that display. Take a look at the video after the break.

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Connecting a Nokia 3310 LCD using an AVR

In this instructible, [wkter] takes us through the process of running a Nokia 3310 LCD display using an ATmega8.  This instructible isn’t a beginners project as he assumes you already have a strong understanding of how to work with these components and their programming languages. He is very thorough with information though, providing datasheets, pinout diagrams, and source code. Once you get this down, you could go a little further and make  Conway’s game of life.

Nokia USB cable is USB-to-Serial in disguise

[Jethomson] worked out a way to use a Nokia USB cable at a USB to Serial cable. He was able to pick up one of these cables for less than $3 delivered. A little probing worked out which conductors go with the appropriate signals and from there he developed a way to protect the 3.3v signal levels with a voltage divider.

It’s not surprising that this works, having seen [Will O'Brien's] post covering serial communications on Nokia phones. In that post we learned that the Nokia phones are using TTL communications. Once you’ve completed [Jethomson's] modifications to the cable you can follow his examples for using this in conjunction with an Arduino.

Spectrum analyzer wedged into a cellphone

[Miguel A. Vallejo] wanted a portable spectrum analyzer for the 2.4GHz ISM band. No problem, there’s modules for that are easy to interface with a microcontroller and LCD screen. But carrying around a black project box doesn’t exactly scream ‘cool’ so he fit his spectrum analyzer inside of a cell phone. This made a lot of things easier for him; he already had a few old phones, he was able to use both the original battery and the original LCD screen, and a lot of the mounting work is already done for you. The only challenge was to fit his custom circuitry inside. By hacking off part of the CYWM6935 module and cutting some protoboard in the same shape as the original PCB he managed to get everything into this tiny portable package. Now he’s looking for a way to incorporate a charger, and an on/off switch.

If you don’t have an old cell phone sitting around you can try building a spectrum analyzer that uses a character display. But we’d suggest hitting up your friends for their old cellphones.  The screens are used in all kinds of fun projects.