Last month we featured an interesting project from Hackaday.io that was essentially trying to recreate the iconic Blackberry form factor for use with Adafruit’s line of Feather development boards. This would let you drop in modules for everything from LTE to packet radio, opening up a nearly limitless possibilities for handheld hacking. The only problem was, it didn’t actually exist yet.
But recently creator [arturo182] wrote in to tell us that not only had all the parts arrived, but that he’d completed assembly of the first prototype. He even put together a video about the current status of the device, which you can see after the break. The short version is: it works, and it looks fantastic.
For those who might not have seen this project the first time around, the front features a 2.6 inch 320×240 touch screen display, four general purpose buttons, a RGB NeoPixel LED for visual status display, a five way joystick, and what’s arguably the star of the show, a QWERTY keyboard originally designed for the Blackberry Q10. Around the back it has an SD card slot, a socket for the Feather module of your choice, and some handy GPIO expansion pads you can attach your own hardware onto.
[arturo182] says he’s looking at a couple cosmetic changes, but on the whole, everything works and he considers the PCB essentially done. He’ll soon be sending out a handful of test units to individuals who’ve expressed interest in helping him develop the project and then…well, he’s not really sure what’s going to happen then. Some kind of commercial release seems like the logical conclusion given the interest he’s already seen in the project, but he hasn’t quite worked out whether that will be a kit or as assembled devices.
Until then, anyone who’s looking for a pocket sized device that will let them bang out some Python with a physical keyboard will have to stick with their TI-83s.
Continue reading “The Feather “FAUXBERRY” Is Now A Real Thing”
Here at Hackaday we’re big fans of device-reuse, and what [arturo182] has done with the Blackberry Q10’s keyboard is a fantastic example. Sometimes you’re working on a portable device and think to yourself “what this could really use is a QWERTY keyboard”. What project doesn’t need a keyboard?
Typically this descends into a cost benefit analysis of the horrors of soldering 60ish SMD tact switches to a board, which is no fun. With more resources you can use Snaptron snap domes like the [NextThingCo’s] PocketCHIP, but those are complex to source for a one off project and the key feel can be hard to really perfect. Instead of choosing one of those routes, [arturo182] reverse engineered the keyboard from a Blackberry Q10.
When you think of good, small keyboards, there has always been one standout: Blackberry. For decades Blackberry has been known for absolutely nailing the sweet tactile feel of a tiny key under your thumb. The Q10 is one example, originally becoming avalible in 2013 as one of the launch devices for their then-new Blackberry OS 10. Like most of Blackberry’s business the OS and the phone are long out of date, but that doesn’t mean the keyboard has aged.
[Arturo182] says he can find them from the usual Chinese sources for around $3 each, which is too cheap to not explore. Building on the work of [WooDWorkeR] (on Hackaday.io) and [JoeN] to reverse engineer the matrix and to find the correct connector, he integrated the keyboard into an easy to use breakout board that exposes the key matrix, per-row backlight controls, and even the MEMS mic! More excitingly, he has built a small portable device with all the trappings of the original Q10; a color LCD, joystick, function buttons, and more in a very small footprint.
KiCAD sources, including 3D models, for the keyboard and for the breakout board are available.
Now if only someone can find a way to salvage the unusual square, high-DPI displays from the Q10, we’d be in portable device nirvana.
Continue reading “Regrowing A Blackberry From The Keyboard Out”
[Reuters] reports that BlackBerry is working with at least two car manufacturers to develop a remote malware scanner for vehicles, On finding something wrong the program would then tell drivers to pull over if they were in critical danger.
The service would be able to install over-the-air patches to idle cars and is in testing phase by Aston Martin and Range Rover. The service could be active as early as next year, making BlackBerry around $10 a month per vehicle.
Since the demise of BlackBerry in the mobile phone sector, they’ve been hard at work refocusing their attention on new emerging markets. Cars are already rolling computers, and now they’re becoming more and more networked with Bluetooth and Internet connections. This obviously leaves cars open to new types of attacks as demonstrated by [Charlie Miller] and [Chris Valasek]’s hack that uncovered vulnerabilities in Jeeps and led to a U.S. recall of 1.4 million cars.
BlackBerry seem to be hedging their bets on becoming the Kingpin of vehicle anti-virus. But do our cars really belong on the Internet in the first place?
[Scott] wrote in to share a project he is currently working on, a home automation system that relies on Power over Ethernet. While he’s not completely finished, he’s made some great progress, and the work he has done so far definitely piqued our interest.
Part of [Scott’s] design relies on some reverse engineered Blackberry screens we showed you a while back. He has constructed a small control panel for his apartment, which incorporates one of the aforementioned Blackberry screens, along with 10 tactile switches and a PIR sensor. The panel is built to be mounted in a wall or as a standalone unit, allowing him to control various lights and appliances throughout his home.
[Scott] spent a lot of time working on the communications protocol and UI for his control panel. As it sits now, the panel takes advantage of a VNC-like protocol he designed, which allows him to interact with a Java application residing on his desktop computer.
Things are looking awesome so far, and [Scott] already has a handful of improvements planned for the near future. We can’t wait to check it out when it’s finished.
[Scott] was looking to source some LCD screens for an upcoming project, and was considering buying them from SparkFun. While the Nokia panels they sell are not expensive, they aren’t necessarily the cheapest option either – especially when building in volume.
He searched around for something he could use instead, and settled on Blackberry screens. Old Blackberry models were even more durable than the current offerings, plus companies are trying to get rid of old handsets by the truckload. The only problem was that he could not find any information online that would show him how to write to the screens.
It took a bit of digging, but he eventually determined which ICs were used to drive the LCD screen. He had no luck finding screen pinout information online, so after spending a few hours testing things with his multimeter, he came up with a full listing on his own.
He wired up a connector so that he could use the screen on a breadboard, then got busy writing code to display some text on the screen. Everything came together nicely as you can see in the video below, and he has released his code in case anyone else is looking to repurpose some old Blackberry screens.
All we want to know is what sort of project all these screens are going to be used in.
Continue reading “Blackberry LCD Reverse Engineering”
If you never got the chance to build one as a kid [JoOngle] takes you through the steps to build your own radio receiver. Details are a bit scarce but it’s nothing your friend Google can’t help you out with.
Fixing a Blackberry trackball
If your Blackberry trackball stops working well you can try this non-technical fix. Remember when mice used to have a ball in them and you would need to clean out the gunk from time to time? Forcefully skidding your Blackberry across a piece of paper does a similar service.
Linux time lapse
Open source can be a great help to small businesses. Here’s a way to use a Linux machine to make time-lapse movies from surveillance camera feeds. We especially enjoy the use of a desktop wallpaper that has the terminal commands necessary to start recording.
Host a webpage with Dropbox
Here’s a way to host a simple webpage using Dropbox. It’s one of those easy ideas that you wouldn’t come up with yourself. When you place an HTML file in your Dropbox you can get a public URL which will be built as a webpage when visited with a browser.
To round out the weekend here’s [Osgeld’s] tips on inline wire splicing. We laughed as he recounted spearing himself with stray strands. This is pretty simple stuff but he’s explained it well and who’s to pass up a good tip?
[Eric] just told us about the watch he developed that displays info from a BlackBerry via Bluetooth. The watch displays updates, message alerts, incoming call information, and… tells time. Setup and control is handled with the BlackBerry keypad. The device is charged with a micro-USB connection and will last for about four days without a recharge. We’d chalk up the rather long battery life to the use of an OLED display, which will use less energy when a portion of the display is left black.
So why is it here? Well, he’s got a couple of blog posts that detail two of the final prototypes that you might find interesting. What else? Oh yeah, his original prototype used an Arduino with a Nokia 3310 LCD display. For those of you who continually call the Arduino a worthless toy, looks like it’s good enough to use when taking a product to market.