IPhone To Arduino Communications Sans Jailbreak


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.

13 thoughts on “IPhone To Arduino Communications Sans Jailbreak

  1. Someone’s already “hacked” the MFI chips by chopping up an Apple USB cable and desoldering the chip. There was an article on here a while back about it. I think it was a clock radio or something.

  2. We used buspirate, python and an ipad via serial port (you can see some photos here http://tiny.cc/lvd2p).

    I think the Redpark Breakout Pack is a little bit expensive whether you can buy a Logic Level Converter board for 2$ and an iPod Connector Male for 4$, if you want to used then with arduino board.

  3. FaultyWarrior,

    That is true, we have seen someone hack apart a dongle purchased at DealExtreme and wire it to his dock, which you can read more about here: http://hackaday.com/2010/01/13/tricking-an-ipod-into-trusting-your-dock/

    My comment was geared more towards developing a native MFI solution, but I do not have any personal experience with any sort of iDongle, so all I can do is speculate.

    The article you mentioned shows the MFI chip in question, though it’s completely unlabeled as you might expect. It could be a simple as sniffing the the bus of an authorized device as it is connected to an iPhone and replaying that data with your own microcontroller, but I suspect it’s a bit more complex than that.

  4. This is only expensive for those non hardware engineers. As they don’t realize the investment required to produce 1,000,000 units to make it retail for $5. So unless you have actually developed a product on a large scale and made your risky investment, i’d think twice about complaining. Ebay & China have made electronics really cheap, and I really feel sorry those guys that get slammed for selling a product which will probably not make enough to actually break-even.

    You guys should be greatfull that non made-in-china products are actually available to buy.

  5. Wasn’t the official android breakout development kit $400 to begin with? I think a $60 cable is fine compared to $400… At least people are strangely civil about this even being here. It’s nice to see an actual universal serial cable, I want to know if it can interact with routers, since Redpark was the only company that made a legit cable to program “cisco” gear. ( I remember people talking about it working with other routers but they all had a cisco iOS backbone right?)
    To anyone who buys one, please try it out with a router, let the hacking world know what it will work with cause I’m sick of using my microphone pseudo-serial port…

  6. The good news is that Redpark is releasing this thing now without a $2500 or so dev agreement to their SDK.

    I have one of these widgets, haven’t gotten around to playing with it. When the iphone came out I was hoping for an easy bluetooth link for it, but alas, the MFI program…

    It seems that Apple is interested in having people do stuff with wifi and discouraging the other forms of communication. Get a wifly or wishield for the arduino- the former is cheaper than this serial connector, and kiss the wires goodbye.

    Still, it is nice to see this as an option for wired serial, which doesn’t seem to want to die any time soon.

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