FBI tracking device found; disassembled

[ifixit] has apparently grown tired of tearing apart Apple’s latest gizmos, and their latest display of un-engineering has a decidedly more federal flair. You may have heard about Yasir Afifi’s discovery of a FBI-installed tracking device on his car back in October of last year. Apparently, the feds abandoned a similar device with activist Kathy Thomas. Wired magazine managed to get their hands on it, and gave it to ifixit to take apart. There’ve even posted a video.

The hardware itself isn’t that remarkable, it’s essentially a GPS receiver designed before the turn of the century paired with a short range wireless transceiver. The whole device is powered by a set of D-sized lithium-thionyl chloride batteries which should be enough juice to run the whole setup for another few decades–long enough to outlast any reasonable expectations of privacy, with freedom and justice for all.

Spy Video TRAKR: the teardown

Last Friday we looked at Wild Planet’s Spy Video TRAKR programmable RC vehicle mostly from an end user perspective. Much of our weekend was spent dismantling and photographing the device’s internal works, and poring over code and documentation, in order to better gauge the TRAKR’s true hackability. Our prior review included some erroneous speculation…we can clarify a number of details now, and forge ahead with entirely new erroneous speculation!

Continue reading “Spy Video TRAKR: the teardown”

iPhone 4 teardown

iFixit traveled all the way to Japan to bring you this iPhone 4 teardown, only to be shipped the device unexpectedly two days early!

We were surprised that the A4 processor (its naked body displayed for the world this past April) contained within the iPhone 4 had 512MB of ram, compared to the 256MB of the iPad. Other features include the 1420mAh battery (201mAh more than the 3Gs), 5MP rear camera and front VGA camera, and the use of micro-sim.

Frankly, we don’t see ourselves getting the device immediately, but how excited are you for the iPhone 4?

Report from ESC Silicon Valley 2010

Ah, the heady aroma of damp engineers! It’s raining in Silicon Valley, where the 2010 Embedded Systems Conference is getting off the ground at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center.

ESC is primarily an industry event. In the past there’s been some lighter fare such as Parallax, Inc. representing the hobbyist market and giant robot giraffes walking the expo. With the economy now turned sour, the show floor lately is just a bit smaller and the focus more businesslike. Still, nestled between components intended to sell by the millions and oscilloscopes costing more than some cars, one can still find a few nifty technology products well within the budget of most Hack a Day readers, along with a few good classic hacks and tech demos…

Continue reading “Report from ESC Silicon Valley 2010″

iPad teardown

Its been quite a while since we’ve featured something from iFixit. But when we saw they had torn apart the next greatest Apple product, the iPadreleased today, and how everyone on our team loves it, we thought why not also let our user base enjoy the destruction informative teardown as well.

In both the original and the FCC teardown, we see some awesome features and tricks Apple implemented. Most notably the two separate 3.75V lithium polymer cells, not soldered to the motherboard, allowing users to easily replace the battery if need be. However, in the opposite respect, more components than ever are being epoxied to the board, making the iPad much more rugged.

We’re left wondering, with everyone able to see the beautiful insides, does it change anyone’s mind on getting an iPad? Or would you rather make your own?

Magic Mouse and MacBook teardowns

magicmouse

The folks at iFixit must hold some kind of record for fastest-voided warranty. It’s been less than 48 hours since Apple unleashed a torrent of new computers and peripherals, and they’ve already set upon the new wares like a pack of ravenous, spudger-wielding Velociraptors, photoblogging the splayed entrails for our edutainment.

The refreshed MacBook holds few surprises, resembling a Star Trek teleportation mix-up between the prior 13″ white MacBook and the current 13″ MacBook Pro. It retains a white polycarbonate case much like its predecessor while adopting a subset of the Pro’s components — CPU and GPU, glass trackpad, Mini DisplayPort, and the long-lived but sealed battery. Internally the system is still a maze of different-sized Torx, Phillips and tri-wing screws, but they do report this latest revision to be easier to dismantle for repair.

More novel inside and out is the new Magic Mouse, which early reports suggest may finally redeem Apple’s eleven year train wreck of mice. There’s not much to see on the bottom half — it’s a typical wireless mouse consisting of batteries, laser tracker and a Bluetooth chip. The top is something to behold though, with nearly the entire surface encrusted in capacitive sensors capable of gestural input. It resembles a miniature version of this electrostatic interface we saw in April.

No teardowns of the new iMacs, Mac mini or Time Capsule have taken place yet, but it’s surely just a matter of time. Even Velociraptors need to eat and sleep.

Update: 27″ iMac teardown added. Rawr!

Nikon Coolpix S1000pj (teardown)

HAD_NCP

Earlier this year, Nikon released the Coolpix S1000pj, a 12 megapixel point and shoot with the usual features, including image stabilization, face recognition, etc. However, the S1000pj features a built in projector into the usual diminutive point and shoot footprint, and also comes with a remote for controlling the projector in display mode, or for remote shooting. iFixit has gotten a hold of the unit, and detailed the difficult teardown process, which included component desoldering to get the extremely compact system completely apart. It is also interesting to compare this setup to other stand alone pico-projectors we have covered.