Photo of a smartphone with the ATTiny85 inserted into it, with a screen unlock pattern being drawn on the screen

ATtiny85 Automates Your Smartphone

It might not seem too impressive these days, but when microcontrollers with hardware USB support were more expensive and rare, the VUSB library was often used to create USB devices with an ATtiny85. It became so popular that the ATtiny85 even got packaged into USB dongle formfactors, like the DigiSpark boards. Well, you might not know this, but your Android smartphones can also work with USB mice and touchscreens in lieu of the built-in touchscreen display. [ErfanSn] combined these two ideas, creating a library to automate smartphone touchscreen events and keyboard input with an ATtiny85 — open for all of us to use, and with examples to spare.

The library is called DigiCombo, and it comes with plenty of examples for any screen touch event emulation that you might want. For instance, check out the README — it has video examples for Instagram page scrolling, unlock screen brute-forcing with random coordinates, playing the Stack rhythm game, and pinch zoom — all the building blocks for your smartphone touch emulation needs are covered pretty well! Of course, all of these have example code corresponding to them, that you can download and base your own ideas on. What’s more, the library is available in current Arduino IDE under the DigiCombo name. So if you need to, say, make a quick autoclicker for your phone, the library is a few steps away!

If your smartphone project was stalled because you needed to emulate touchscreen input, this library is your chance to get it done! We appreciate projects that let us get more from smartphones — there’s a lot of those laying around, they’re pretty functional and self-sufficient devices, so it makes sense that some projects of ours could do with a phone instead of a Raspberry Pi. Some manufacturers let us get a bit more of our phones, but this hasn’t really caught on, which means we have to make do with help of libraries like these. Or, perhaps, you rely on your phone day-to-day, and you’d like to add a touchpad to its back?

Open Firmware For PinePhone LTE Modem – What’s Up With That?

In their monthly announcement, among all the cool things Pine64, they talked about the open firmware for PinePhone’s LTE modem. The firmware isn’t fully open – a few parts remain closed. And Pine emphasizes that they neither pre-install nor officially endorse this firmware, and PinePhones will keep shipping with the vendor-supplied modem firmware image instead.

That said, the new firmware is way more featureful – it has less bugs, more features, decreased power consumption, and its proprietary parts are few and far between. I’d like to note that, with a special build of this firmware, the PinePhone’s modem can run Doom – because, well, of course.

And with all that, it’s become way easier to install this firmware – there’s fwupd hooks now! You can think of fwupd as the equivalent of Windows Update for firmware, except not abusive, and aimed at Linux. A perfect fit for keeping your open-source devices as functional as they can be, in other words.

What’s the deal? If open firmware is that much cooler, why don’t more of our phones have open firmware options available? Continue reading “Open Firmware For PinePhone LTE Modem – What’s Up With That?”

Two Nokia 1860 phones side by side - a Notkia-modded phone on the right, and an unmodified Nokia phone on the left

Notkia: Building An Open And Linux-Powered Numpad Phone

Many of us hackers have a longing for numpad-adorned mobile phones. We also have a shared understanding that, nowadays, such a phone has to be open and Linux-powered. Today’s project, Notkia, is the most promising and realistic effort at building a keypad phone that fits our requirements. Notkia is a replacement board for Nokia 168x series phones, equipped with an improved display, USB-C, WiFi, Bluetooth, and LoRa — and [Reimu NotMoe] of [SudoMaker] tells us this project’s extensive story.

The Notkia effort started over two years ago, because of [Reimu]’s increasing dislike for modern smartphones — something every hacker is familiar with. Her first-hand experience with privacy violations and hackability limitations on Android phones is recounted in detail, leading to a strong belief that there are fundamental problems with phones available nowadays. Building new hardware from the ground up seems to be the way forward. Two years later, this is exactly what we got!

Continue reading “Notkia: Building An Open And Linux-Powered Numpad Phone”