A zoom lens for your webcam

We need to find the kind of friends that [Dino] has. They seem to drop off all of their older, yet totally awesome, electronics with him once they’re through with the devices. One example of this is the Sony Handycam that came into his possession. He decided to crack it open and repurpose the 20x optical zoom lens for use with a webcam.

We always like [Dino's] style. You can tell that he has no idea if he’s going to be able to pull off his goal, but at the same time he has an intuitive sense that he’ll make it happen. In the video after the break he starts off investigating what components are in the camera. At first the lens is passing no light at all, but he just strips down parts until he can see through it.

There are a couple of servo motors which control zoom and focus. He removes those before attaching the CCD from a Logitech webcam. At the end of his video he shows a demo of the functionality, which is pretty finicky when focusing by hand. But we think this hack would make a fantastic camera for soldering projects, it just needs a custom controller so the motors can be once again used to adjust focus.

[Read more...]

Sony Google TV devices running unsigned kernels

The proud cry of “I am root” rings true once again, this time on Sony Google TV devices. Although a low-level exploit was found on previous firmware versions, a downgrade process lets you run unsigned kernels on updated TV or Bluray models of the Internet streaming devices.

These systems are Android-based, which currently run version 3.1 Honeycomb. This version patches the previous exploit, but with three different USB sticks you can downgrade, exploit, and upgrade to an altered and unsigned hack of the most recent kernel. This gives you the root access you may have been longing for, but other than the features discussed in the forum thread there’s not a whole lot of changes rolled into the exploit yet.

We’re always looking out for open source projects running on living-room devices and hope that someday we’ll see a branch of XBMC for the GTV. Until then we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed for the viability of a RaspberryPI XBMC.

Fill in the bass on your PSP

[Michael Chen] felt the sound his PSP was putting out needed more dimension. Some would have grabbed themselves a nice set of headphones, but he grabbed his soldering iron instead and found some space where he could add a bigger speaker.

Mobile devices tend to cram as much into the small form factor as possible so we’re surprised he managed make room. But apparently if you cut away a bit from the inside of the case there is space beneath the memory card. [Michael] cautions that you need to choose a speaker rated for 8 ohms or greater  in order to use it as a drop-in replacement for one of the two original speakers. But he also touches on a method to use both stock speakers as well as the new one. He suggests grabbing an LM386 op-amp and a capacitor and hooking them up. Yep, there’s room for that too if you mount it dead-bug-style. We wonder how the battery life will be affected by this hack?

Combine 2 Non-Working Sony TVs into One That Works

Have you ever wondered if you could fix your two broken LCD TVs by combining them? Neither had we, but [Redion] did, and the answer is yes, it can be done.  Although it may sound like a serious kludge, the finished product actually looks quite nice from the view provided.  On the other hand, we don’t know how the internals will hold up, but it apparently works well now.

For this hack, the working internals from a  32 inch Sony LCD TV with a broken display were combined with a 40 inch Sony LCD TV that had an undamaged display but fried internals.  Although this would most likely not work for every TV out there, it’s still a pretty neat experiment. Many people would simply assume something like this would not work, and trash both TVs.  We would suggest the new TV be named “Nomad”, just avoid wearing a red shirt around it.

Keep in mind with any TV hack, taking one apart can expose you to large capacitors that may or may not be charged and can be quite dangerous (they can stay charged for a long time).  We don’t necessarily recommend duplicating anything here, but use extreme caution if attempting anything like this.

Rooting Sony PRS-T1 lets you get at the Android goodies

Cries of “I am root!” abound once again with the rooting of Sony’s PRS-T1 eBook reader. The eBook Reader Blog took the original rooting directions and then looked at some of the things you can do with root access.

This hardware is based around an ePaper display, but we must say that the performance seems to be fantastic. There may be a few missing features from the original user interface (like how pages are turned) that can be fixed with root access, but we think it’s the added Android access that makes this worth it. In the video after the break you’ll see that you can drop through to the Android 2.2 desktop and install any application you’re interested in using. This is a multi-touch display so it’s well suited for navigation although applications don’t work well yet because of excessive screen refreshing. But we’re sure that will improve with time. Of note is the ability to play music through apps like Pandora, and the ability to load content from other providers like Amazon books via the Kindle app.

Every time we write one of these rooted features we can’t help but think back to this I’m a Mac spoof video…. you’ll see why in the last few seconds.

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Bypassing manufacturer-imposed battery lockouts

sony_battery_cell_swapping

When [Barret] went to use his camera the other day it kept shutting down on him, and upon inspecting the battery, he found that it was a bit swollen. Knowing that he needed a replacement, he turned to an aftermarket battery he had sitting around, but grew pretty annoyed when his Sony Cybershot camera would not accept it.

Apparently a recent firmware update causes his camera to reject non-Sony batteries, a situation he describes as “battery DRM”. There was no way he was going to pony up another $50 to Sony instead of using the perfectly good $10 battery he already had, so he decided to rectify the issue himself.

He stripped both batteries of their plastic coatings, revealing the lithium cells and their charging circuits. He desoldered the PCB from his Sony battery, transplanting it to his aftermarket battery after a little bit of trimming. He wrapped everything up with some tape and gave his franken-battery a spin. It worked a treat, and he was so satisfied with it that he did a similar swap in his aging Logitech mouse.

As more and more companies lock competitors out of the user-replaceable consumables market, these sorts of hacks are certain to become more and more prevalent.

A look at Sony’s ongoing war against hackers

phillip_torrone_aibo

[Phillip Torrone] recently wrote an article over at Make regarding Sony and their “War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators“. In the article, he traces Sony’s history as a well-liked hardware company that once produced innovative products, to its current state as an enemy to all who would dare wield a screwdriver and soldering iron. He took quite a bit of time scouring the Internet to dig up very specific examples of Sony’s perceived assault on the hacking community. That’s not to say he simply lambasts the company and leaves it at that. Rather, he reflects on their past as a staple in nearly every American home, how they have changed since venturing into the content business, as well as what we might be able to do as hackers to change the way Sony treats its customers.

One specific example he mentions is the lawsuits that plagued the Sony Aibo modding scene, a case very near and dear to his heart. This scenario is one where the voice of the people was eventually heard, though too late to make a difference. He laments the loss of interest in the platform by the modding community as a clear cut example of the disastrous nature of Sony’s litigious nature.

You should definitely take a moment to read the article if you have the time. [Phillip] brings up some very good points, giving you plenty to consider the next time you make an electronics purchase, large or small.

We’d love to hear your take on the matter as well.

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