Controlling Chromecast: AirCast APK released

aircast

[Koush] is at it again, this time releasing AirCast, an Android app that’ll push videos to the Chromecast from Dropbox, Google Drive, and your phone’s Gallery. Astute Hackaday readers will recall that AirCast has been around for a few weeks now, but limited to only his whitelisted Chromecast. As [Koush] explains it, he had to reverse engineer the protocols and now he simply avoids the Chromecast SDK entirely. If you’re lucky enough to have a Chromecast, you’ll want to hurry and grab the APK (direct download link) and have some fun with it before it self-destructs. [Koush] isn’t ready to release it for more than a 48 hour period, but we encourage you to take advantage of AirCast and contribute to his call for feedback, bugs, and crash reports. You have a little under a day left.

See “AllCast” work its magic in the video below. No, that’s not a typo. Apparently [Koush] has been struggling with available names for the app, and you’ll hear him call it “AllCast” in the Youtube video. That name was taken for some other product, though, and “AirCast” has now replaced it. If you suddenly regret not immediately ordering a Chromecast and are sitting this one out, go read [Mike's] rant and get psyched up for when they’re back in stock.

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Rant: Why I love what the Chromecast stands for

chromecast-and-box

I’ve had my hands on this Chromecast for almost a week now and I love it. Years ago I hacked my first Xbox after seeing [Kevin Rose] do it on The Screensavers (I did the hardware mod but that’s inconsequential). Why did I do this? So that I could run Xbox Media Center, the predecessor of XBMC. Since then I’ve dreamed of a device which can be hung on the back of the TV with Velcro and run XBMC. We basically got there with the Raspberry Pi, but the Chromecast is the form-factor that I had always envisioned. This lets me watch Netflix, while the RPi runs XBMC. The two are match made in heaven for under a hundred bucks.

That’s why I love the Chromecast device itself, but the bigger picture is that I love what it stands for. Keep reading to see what i mean.

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HackIt: Sony invites you to hack its SmartWatch firmware

sony-smartwatch-hacking

This is Sony’s smart watch, which has been around for a while now. It’s designed for use with your Android phone, and has always included an SDK that allows app developers to interact with it. But now Sony is taking it one big step further. They’ve published everything you need to know to hack your own firmware for the SmartWatch.

The navigation scheme for that articles includes five menu items at the bottom which you’ll want to dig through. The most interesting to us was the one labeled “SmartWatch hacker guide”. It lays bare the hardware used in the watch and how it’s peripheral component connect to each other. This starts with the STM32 (ARM) microcontroller that drives the watch. It goes on to document how the screen is addressed (SPI1) including the pin to turn it on and off. The same goes for the Bluetooth, accelerometer, buzzer, and touch sensors.

Firmware is updated via USB using Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) mode. We don’t don’t see any way to connect an on-chip debugger. We searched to see if there is a JTAG port on the circuit board and it sounds like getting the watch apart without breaking it is pretty tough.

Now that you don’t need to stick to what Sony had planned for the device, what do you want to do with your strapless wristwatch?

[Thanks Brian]

Giant pencil used as an Etch a Sketch stylus

The gang over at Waterloo Labs decided to add a team-building aspect to a plain old Etch a Sketch. Instead of just twisting the two knobs with your own mitts, they’re converting this giant pencil’s movements into Etch a Sketch art.

The challenge here is figuring out a reliable way to track the tip of the pencil as it moves through the air. You may have already guess that they are using a Microsoft Kinect depth camera for this task. The Windows SDK for the device actually has a wrapper that helps it to play nicely with LabView, where the data is converted to position commands for the display.

On the Etch a Sketch side of things they’ve chosen the time-tested technique of adding gears and stepper motors to each of the toy’s knobs. As you can see from the video after the break, the results are mixed. We’d say from the CNC ‘W’ demo that is shown there’s room for improvement when it comes to the motor driver. We can’t really tell if the Kinect data translation is working as intended or not. But we say load it up and bring to a conference. We’re sure it’ll attract a lot of attention just like this giant version did.

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DyIO is a huge robotics development board

[Kevin] wrote in to tell us about the robotics development platform he’s been working on for the last few years. He calls his device the DyIO, and looks like an extremely easy way to get a robot up and running quickly.

Because the DyIO stands for Dynamic Input & Output, [Kevin] thought it was important to put 24 separate IO pins in his build. These pins can serve as 24 digital inputs or outputs, a few analog inputs and PWM outs, or even DC motor controls.

What’s really interesting is the SDK that [Kevin] and his team chose to build. With this SDK, you can program the DyIO in Java or just about any other language you would want. Already, [Kevin] and his team have built a few interesting projects around the DyIO, like a hexapod robot and animatronic pokemon. While we’re sure something awesome beyond imagination is waiting to be built with the DyIO platform, you can check out these already-completed builds after the break.

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iPhone to Arduino communications sans jailbreak

iphone_to_arduino

When Google released their ADK allowing Android smart phones to interact with Arduino-based devices, we’re sure there were at least one or two iPhone users who felt left out. Thanks to the folks over at Redpark, those people can now interact with an Arduino without having to jailbreak their phone.

For anyone looking to do any sort of iPhone/Arduino interaction, this is a good thing – except for the price. The 30-pin to serial cable is currently available over at Make for $59, which honestly seems pretty steep to us. When we first saw this announced, our initial thoughts were that we would see an open-source version in no time.

Unfortunately, that idea was short-lived, as we were quickly reminded of Apple’s MFI program. If you are not familiar, MFI (aka Made for iStuff) program limits what can be connected to an iDevice via licensing fees and a boatload of legal agreements. While we won’t be picking up this dongle any time soon, we’re all ears if someone has done any reverse-engineering of those pesky MFI chips.

Android oscilloscope

Here’s a 2-channel Oscilloscope for your Android phone. It uses a base module driven by a dsPIC for signal processing. From there, an LMX9838 Bluetooth module broadcasts the data to the phone so that the waveform can be displayed. [Yus] ported some Python code he had been using over to a set of Java and XML files in order to get it working on Android. This was actually the first time he worked with the SDK… we’d say he’s a quick learner. See it in action after the break.

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