In our drawers, there’s gonna be quite a few old devices that we’ve forgotten about, and perhaps we ought to make them work for us instead. [Jonatron] found a Nook Simple Touch in his drawer – with its E-ink screen, wireless connectivity and a workable Android version, this e-reader from 2011 has the guts for always-on display duty. Sadly, the soft touch covering on the back disintegrated into a sticky mess, as soft touch does, the LiIon battery has gone flat, and the software support’s lackluster. Both of these are likely to happen for a lot of tablets, which is why we’re happy [Jonatron] has shared his story about this e-reader’s revival.
The soft touch layer on the back didn’t go away with help of alcohol, but by sheer luck, an acetone bottle was nearby, and an acetone scrub helped get rid of the unpleasant stickiness. The tablet’s charging circuitry turned out to be unsophisticated – the tablet wouldn’t boot from MicroUSB input, and [Jonathan] wired up 5 volts from a USB cable straight into the battery input. Mind you, this might not be advised, as Lithium-Ion battery range is from 3 volts to 4.2 volts and a regulator would be called for, but [Jonatron] says it’s been working just fine.
Usually, you could just put a webserver on your local network and serve a page with useful information, adding code to refresh the page periodically – but the Nook’s browser didn’t support automatic refreshes. Not to be stopped, [Jonatron] wrote an app for the Nook’s Android install instead; rooting was required but went seamlessly. The Android install is old, and Android Studio for it is no longer downloadable, so he used an older development toolkit somehow still available online. There’s still a small Python-written webserver running on a spare Pi, conditioning the data for the app to fetch. Following best hacker traditions, both the app and the server are open-sourced! With help of a 3D printed stand, this tablet now displays train departure schedules – perfect application for an old e-reader like this.
Got a Nook Simple Touch in a drawer? Now you know you can easily convert it into a hackable E-ink display! We’ve seen numerous tablet restorations before, replacing charger ICs and eMMC drives, turning them into videophones to chat with our relatives and smart home controllers, and there’s even repair databases to help you in your revival efforts. We’ve been getting quite a few projects like these in our last Hackaday Prize installment, Hack It Back, and we hope to see more such rebuilds for our Wildcard round!
If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your kindle, this project might inspire you to finally bite the bullet. [WarriorRocker] recently saved quite a few dollars on his Kindle upgrade by using a demo unit. Of course, it’s not as simple as just finding a demo unit and booting it up. There’s some hacking involved.
[WarriorRocker] found his Kindle Paperwhite demo unit on an online auction site for just $20. Kindles are great for reading but also make popular displays for your own projects. This used display model was much less expensive than a new unit, which makes sense considering it had probably received its share of abuse from the consumers of some retail store. The problem with a demo unit is that the firmware that comes with it is very limited, and can’t be used to sync up with your Amazon account. That’s where the hacking comes in.
The first step was to crack open the case and locate the serial port. [WarriorRocker] soldered a small three pin header to the pads to make it easier to work on his device as needed. He then connected the Kindle to his PC using a small serial to USB adapter. Pulling up the command prompt was as simple as running Putty and connecting to the correct COM port. If the wires are hooked up correctly, then it just takes a press of the enter key to pull up the login prompt.
The next step requires root access. The root password for each unit is related to the unit’s serial number. [WarriorRocker] obtained the serial number by rebooting the Kindle while the Serial connection was still open. The boot sequence will spit out the number. This number can then be entered in to an online tool to generate possible root passwords. The tool is available on [WarriorRocker’s] project page linked above.
Next, the Kindle needs to be rebooted into diagnostic mode. This is because root logins are not allowed while the device is booted to the system partition. To enter diagnostic mode, [WarriorRocker] had to press enter over and over during the boot sequence in order to kill the automatic boot process. Then he checked some environment variables to locate the memory address where the diagnostic mode is stored. One more command tells the system to boot to that address and into diagnostic mode.
The last step of the process begins by mounting the Kindle as a USB storage device and copying over the stock Kindle firmware image. Next [WarriorRocker] had to exit the diagnostic menu and return to a root command prompt. Finally, he used the dd command to copy the image to the Kindle’s partition bit by bit. Fifteen minutes and one reboot later and the Kindle was working just as it should. [WarriorRocker] even notes that the 3G connection still works. Not bad for $20 and an hour or two of work.
Many technologies that come about for one type of product make us want to extend it to other things. For instance, we’d like the ability to remotely unlock our front door when it’s raining or our hands are full. Once [MS3FGX] experienced Qi wireless charging with his Nexus 5, he wanted the ability to wirelessly charge all the things. The first gadget on the list was his Nook Simple Touch eReader, which he successfully retrofit with a Qi receiver.
Space is at a premium inside of most modern technology. As it turns out, there is a burgeoning market for shoving inductive charging receivers into things. [MS3FGX] decided to try a Qi receiver meant for a Samsung S3, and it actually fits very well behind the battery. He glued it down and then cut a channel in the battery tray for the wires.
[MS3FGX] went full hack with this one and wired it to the Nook’s USB port on the inside. He would have preferred a thinner wire, but used some from a 40-pin IDE cable with little trouble. After the operation was complete, he put it on the Qi pad and it started charging right away. To his delight, the battery increased 20% after an hour. And yes, he can still charge the Nook the traditional way without any issues.
If you want to add wireless charging to any phone cheaply and easily, we’ve got you covered.
Look at the beautiful screen on that Nook Simple Touch. It has a lot of advantages over other hardware when used as a glider computer running the open source XCSoar software. The contrast of the display is excellent when compared to an LCD or AOMLED. That’s quite important as gliding through the wild blue yonder often includes intense sunlight. The display is also larger than many of the Android devices that have been used for this purpose. There are a few drawbacks though. One is that unlike other Android devices, this doesn’t have a GPS module built into it. But the price point makes up for the fact that you need to source an external module yourself.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the device used as a navigational display. This other hack put a simple touch on a sailboat for the same direct-sunlight-readability reason. For $100, and with the ability to root the system for use as an Android device, we expect to see this to keep popping up all over the place as a simple interface for a multitude of projects.
After the break you can see a video comparing the software running on a Nook display to one on a Dell Streak 5 LCD tablet.
Continue reading “Nook Simple Touch As A Glider Computer”
[Mike Holden] has been on the hunt for a display that is easy to read in bright sunlight. He wants to use it to read out navigational data on his sail boat. The best option is an ePaper display. He managed to build a system that will feed updating NMEA 0183 data to a Nook Simple Touch.
NMEA 0183 is a protocol that governs data from marine navigational equipment. The most obvious is GPS, but there are a lot of possibilities like sonar, a gyrocompass, and an autopilot. To get things rolling he wrote an Arduino sketch which generates dummy packets using the standard. This let him develop and test the system without being near any of the real equipment. The heart of the build is a WiFi router. It pulls in the data over a USB port using an RS232 to USB converter cable. A Python script parses the data and generates a webpage which refreshes the data every second. This is loaded using Opera browser on the Nook
Check out the video after the break to see a demo of the system.
Continue reading “Adding EPaper Navigation Data To A Sailboat”
Improvements in processing power really hit home when you see an eBook reader playing PlayStation games. Sure, we’re talking about a system which launched more than 15 years ago (the original PlayStation launched way back in 1995), but this is a $99 device which seems to be playing the games at full speed!
[Sean] wrote in to share the project with us. After rooting the device he installed System 7 (aka Mac OS 7) using Mini vMac for Android. He uses Free PlayStation Emulator (FPSE) to run the games. There is an Android version which provides the touch-screen controls you see above. We figured the graphics would be awful, but the video after the break proves us wrong. Other than being in black and white we think the graphics are fantastic. Just one hack was necessary to make this happen. [Sean] uses NoRefresh to keep the Nook from refreshing the screen which is what causes the film-negative type of flashing after several page turns.
Continue reading “PlayStation Gaming On A NOOK Simple Touch”
Over on the 68kmla forums, a website dedicated to old Macs built before 1994, [zydeco] released his Android port of Mini vMac, a Macintosh Plus emulator that puts the power of a Motorola MC68000 processor and System 7 on any computer.
Unlike the original Macintosh, or the subsequent revision that bumped the RAM up to 512 kilobytes, the Mac Plus was actually useful. With the addition of a SCSI port and support for 4 Megabytes of RAM, it’s not only possible to browse the Internet, but also act as a server. There’s a reason [Sprite_tm] chose to rebuild one of these classic, all-in-one machines to act as a home server; they really do epitomize the elegant computers from a more civilized age.
68kmla user [FlyingToaster] even went so far as to put a Mac Plus in his nook touch. With this, he’s got a full-blown installation of System 7 running on an e-ink screen, complete with Lemmings, Gauntlet, and Tetris.
It should be possible to plug this emulated box into the Internet. Unfortunately, experience tells us it won’t be a very pleasant browsing experience outside Hackaday’s retro edition.