If you’re just getting into hobby electronics chances are there are lots of tools you’d like to get you hands on but can’t yet justify the purchases. Why not build some of the simpler ones? Here’s a great example of a 4-channel logic analyzer that can be your next project and will add to your arsenal for future endeavors.
As you can see, [Vassilis’] creation uses a cellphone-sized LCD screen as the output. It is powered by four rechargeable batteries and driven by an ATmega8 microcontroller. He’s designed the tool without power regulation, relying on the ATmega’s rather wide range of operating voltages, and a few diodes to step down that voltage for the LCD screen.
As you can see in the clip after the break, alligator leads can be used to connect the test circuit to the inputs (don’t forget the ground reference!). Thee buttons at the bottom let you navigate the captured data by panning and zooming. Perhaps the best design feature is the single-sided circuit board which should be quite easy to reproduce at home.
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[Andrzej] loves his Nokia N900, noting that it makes a great portable gaming device. Since it supports a wide array of emulators, it’s perfect for indulging his gaming nostalgia on the go. He says that the one downside to the N900 is that its keyboard doesn’t make gaming easy, nor comfortable.
To make gaming a big more fun, he built himself an add-on gamepad that fits perfectly over the phone’s keyboard. Connected via the phone’s USB port, it features 8 push buttons along with a PSP joystick. He used an ATmega8A as the brains of the controller, communicating with the phone as a USB keyboard. He says that this sort of configuration makes it extremely easy to do all sorts of custom button mapping on a per-game basis.
As you can see in the picture above the controller is currently lacking a case, but we think that with a bit of clever packaging, it could look as nice as a retail add-on.
Check out the short video below to see his gamepad in action.
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Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph’s] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”
[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things. However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!
[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.
It’s been a while since we checked in on [Travis Goodspeed]. His latest post makes RF sniffing with the Next HOPE badge more portable by ditching the need to display data on a computer. He’s built on the work he did at the beginning of the year, replacing the FTDI chip on the badge with a Bluetooth module. Now he can use his Nokia N900 as a GoodFET terminal to not only display the packets pulled from the air, but the control the badge as well.
Previously, the client running on the computer was communicating with the badge via a serial connection. To get it working on the N900 [Travis] transitioned from using py-serial over to using py-bluez. All of the code changes are available from the GoodFET repository.
He’s got a few other tricks planned for this concept. He put in a parts order to add Bluetooth to the Girltech IM-ME. The pretty pink pager has the same radio chip on board, so adding Bluetooth connectivity will allow it to be used in the same way. There are also plans in the works to add a couple other packet sniffing protocols to the bag of tricks, including ZigBee.
[JB’s] driving a Nokia 6100 LCD using an MSP430 with input from a Wii Nunchuck. He’s using the G2211 microprocessor that came with the Launchpad, and developing his code with MSP-GCC. As you can see in the video after the break, this works but there’s some room for improvement. That’s being said, he is bumping up against the code memory limit, with just around 500 bytes left to work with. The LCD screen is SPI and currently it’s hogging the pins that are used for the hardware i2c. Since he needs an i2c bus to talk to the nunchuck he had to go with software i2c which explains part of his program memory troubles.
We’re in no way experts on this, but it seems like he could save space (and improve the input responsiveness) by rewriting his LCD drivers in order to remap the pins. Then again, it might just be better to move up to a larger MSP430. If you’ve got some advice, make sure to share it by leaving a comment.
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[Maurizio] was having some reception issues with his wireless internet and set out to add an external antenna to the USB dongle (translated). He had previously poked around inside of the Nokia internet key to find that the internal antenna was a flexible circuit substrate wrapped around a plastic box that made contact with main circuit board via a spring connector. This plastic frame is just right for mounting an SMA connector in just the right place for it to stick out the end of the case as seen in the picture above. It gives him better range, but since speed depends on how much traffic the wireless node is under, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a snappier connection after this hack.
Gone are the days when a phone would last you a lifetime and enter the days of glass covered mobile phones built to be sexy and sophisticated. With these new phones come new testing methods. Companies like Nokia are still dedicated to making the best phones possible and making them durable through vigorous testing. The example shown in the article, is simulating a phone dropping from a shirt pocket onto the floor. Nokia claims to use 200 endurance tests encompassing temperature, extreme usage (use this button pusher for you own test), physical drops, and exposure to humidity on each new model in their product line. Makes one wonder what other companies are using for their endurance tests. There’s video of the Nokia N8 Drop Test is after the break, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you know about other interesting test methods.
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