Excuse me, my pinky is ringing

We get a lot of email challenging us to hack things. Sometimes we ignore them, other times we send some words of encouragement. But this time around we thought [Tait] had really come up with a great hack; to build a Bluetooth handset into his prosthetic finger. He hasn’t done much hacking in the past and was wondering if we could put out a challenge to our readers to make this happen. After a bit of back-and-forth brainstorming he decided to take on the challenge himself and was met with great success.

Like other Bluetooth handset hacks [Tait] started with a simple ear-mounted module. He extended the volume button with a piece of plastic and placed it under the battery. A couple of wooden matchsticks space the battery just enough so that it can be squeezed to adjust the volume level. He then extended the speaker with some wire. Next, he used the Oogoo recipe from our previous post to mold a false-finger and a thumb-ring. The PCB and battery fit in the finger, which places the microphone near a hole in the pad of the plastic pinky. The thumb ring houses the speaker to finish the look. Don’t miss the photos [Tait] sent in after the break.

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Your mobile phone, now with 100% more RFID

More and more today, it is becoming harder to avoid having some sort of RFID tag in your wallet. [bunnie], of bunnie:studios decided to ease the clutter (and wireless interference) in his wallet by transplanting the RFID chip from one of his subway cards into his mobile phone. Rather than the tedious and possibly impossible task of yanking out the whole antenna, he instead pulled the antenna of a much more accessible wristband with an RFID chip of similar frequency instead. Nothing too technical in this hack, just a great idea and some steady handiwork. We recommend you try this out on a card you haven’t filled yet, just in case.

Twilio adds touch tone telephone control for Arduino

An Arduino with an Ethernet shield, nothing new right? Not quite, [Chris] is showing us how to use Twilio to control an Arduino via a touch tone telephone. We saw Twilio used before in a cellphone video game but this time around an audio menu system comes into play. You can make your own menus whose options will be read by the WOPR (see the demo after the break) when you call the Twilio number. This application just turns an LED on and off but once you’ve got access to the Arduino the sky’s the limit. Most immediately this is an easy implementation for all those cellphone door lock systems we’ve seen. We also envision some classic home automation such as feed the cats or turn on the lights.

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Lower productivity by using a rotary num pad

[Maximilian Ernestus] sent us a quick little demo that shows him using a rotary phone dial as a num pad. We’re often frustrated when notebooks and netbooks prohibit us from using our mad 10-key skills (alternate key mapping doesn’t count). This makes coding and using GnuCash undesirable on small form factor portables.

Instead of fixing the problem, [Maximilian] made it worse by interfacing a rotary phone as a num pad. An Arduino counts the pulses and feeds them to the computer via a serial connection.  From there it’s just a bit of software handling to issue a keypress.  He mentions that a future version should register as a USB keyboard. This is a great opportunity to ditch the Arduino and use the V-USB library.

Want to dig a bit deeper into this old technology? Don’t miss out on the information available from the Magic Phone hack.

Powering a switch via PoE

[Kajer] was doing some work with IP phones that use Power over Ethernet. While trying to get this to work with a network switch he decided to use PoE to power the switch itself. The best thing about this is he managed to shoehorn all of the necessary bits into the stock case. Those bits include a bridge rectifier, transistor, resistor, and a 5v power supply. Along the way he discovered he can now power the switch off of USB if he wishes.

SheevaPlug PBX

[Greg] has been working on a version of Debian/ FreePBX/ Asterisk for people to be able to drop onto a SheevaPlug. If you haven’t seen it, the SheevaPlug is a tiny computer housed in a wall plug. They made some waves when they were announced last year, and we’ve spoken of them several times. [Greg] is offering up the operating system in a pre configured format for SD cards so you can just download it and drop it in your SheevaPlug. Yeah, there’s a little bit of work to do before it will boot, which you can see in the video above.  Thanks for sending this in [Greg], keep up the good work.

GSM car starter

It’s just starting to warm up around here but it was very cold for a long time. We’re not fond of going anywhere when it’s way below freezing but those professional hermit opportunities never panned out so we’re stuck freezing our butts off. Fed up with his frigid auto, [Aaron] installed a remote starter to warm the car up before he got to it. This didn’t help at work because of the distance from his office to the sizable parking lot is too far for the key fob’s signal to carry. He decided to make his starter work with GSM so he could start the car with a phone call.

The first attempt involved a pre-paid cell phone for $30. The problem is that anyone who called the phone would end up starting the car. After a bit of looking he found a GSM switch that just needs an activated SIM to work. When called, it reads the incoming phone number for authentication but never picks up the phone so there’s no minutes used. He cracked open an extra key-fob and wired up the lock and start buttons to the relays in the GSM switch. Bam! A phone call starts (and locks) his car.

Maybe this isn’t as hardcore as body implants but it’s a fairly clean solution. He uses the car’s 12v system to power the switch and pays $10 every three months to keep the SIM card active. There’s an underwhelming demonstration video after the break showing a cellphone call and a car starting. Continue reading “GSM car starter”