Posts Tagged ‘hack’

ArduBoy Arduino Compatible Portable Game Console Sells for $39

September 9th, 2016 1 comment

Ardubox feels like the little brother of PocketCHIP portable & hackable game console with its transparent case, but instead of running Linux on a 32-bit ARM processor, Ardubox is based on the same Atmel ATmega32u4 MCU used in Arduino Leonardo & Micro boards.

arduboyArduboy specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel ATmega32u4 AVR MCU with 32KB flash, 2.5KB RAM, and 1KB EEPROM
  • Display – 128×64 1-bit OLED display
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 port for power and programming
  • User Inputs – 6x momentary tactile buttons
  • Audio – 2 channel Piezo Speaker
  • Misc – 1x LED
  • Battery – 180 mAh Thin-Film Li-Po battery good for over 8 hours

Beside the Arduino IDE, The board can also be programmed with Codebender, GCC & AVRDude. There’s also a fairly long list of games to play with, and it can be hacked as a virtual business card, a USB mouse and keyboard, a synthesizer, and more.

The Arduino game console was first launched via Kickstarter last year, raised $433,038 out of 7,221 backers, and has been shipped to all backers in August. However, it’s now available for pre-order on Arduboy website for $39, and SeeedStudio is organizing a crowdbuy where it can be had for $37.95. More details can be found on Arduboy website which features a community forum, and a getting started guide.

Categories: Atmel AVR, Hardware, Video Tags: arduino, battery, games, hack, oled

USB Fun – Tiny USB WiFi and Hub Boards and micro USB Hub

September 1st, 2016 10 comments

I’ve come across a few interesting tiny USB boards and hubs in the last few days, so instead of writing a post for each, I’ve gathered all info into a single article.

Small ESP8285 USB Board

A couple of weeks ago, CNLohr released his first ESPUSB virtual USB implementation for ESP8266 allowing to use USB with external hardware, barring a resistor, and only two GPIOs. He has now made a tiny board based on ESP8285 with a USB interface leveraging ESPUSB.

ESP8285_USB_BoardHardware files can be found on github. So what can you do with it? CNLohr leveraged the work of the community in order to emulate a keyboard and mouse using a smartphone.

The only bit of bad news in the video is that finally USB full speed (12 Mbps) can’t be supported.

NanoUSB Hub Board

Mux wanted to add more USB devices to its tablets, but there was none free, so he decided to create a USB hub board small enough to fit inside tablets and called it NanoUSB measuring just 12x12x1.5mm, and provides two USB ports from one USB host port in the target hardware.

Tiny_USB_Hub_PortHe could use it to add a Bluetooth USB dongle inside Cube i7 Stylus tablet as shown in the video below.

You can find documentation on Muxtronics, and purchase the board on Tindie for $8.90 + shipping.

Micro USB hub

Smartphones usually only have one micro USB OTG port or USB-C port, but for example if you want re-purpose your smartphone for other tasks, or want to use a USB device while charging your phone, you’d need a hub connected via a USB OTG adapter. Another solution is to directly use a micro USB hub with 3 USB ports and one micro USB port which I found on DealExtreme for $4.71 including shipping.


micro-USB-hub-smartphoneIt could also be useful for Raspberry Pi Zero board for example. If you have a more recent device with a USB-C connector you might consider a USB-C to USB hub instead. DX sells one for $5.12.

Categories: Espressif, Hardware, Video Tags: esp8285, hack, hardware, usb

ESP8266 Gets USB Support Thanks to ESPUSB Software Stack

August 8th, 2016 5 comments

Neither ESP8266 nor ESP32 support USB, so what am I babbling about? No, ESP8622 did not suddenly grow a USB PHY, but cnlohr decided to implement virtual USB support using two GPIOs (12 & 13) for the D+/D- USB signals, meaning you can connect any ESP8266 module through USB, or even update the firmware through USB without external hardware, apart from a single extra resistor.

ESP8266_USB_Firmware_UpdateThe source code is available on espusb repo on github. Please note that the code is currently work in progress, and USB implementation currently only works at 1.5 Mbit/s, with potentially future support for 12 Mbit/s.

That’s the demo, and an explanation about the design process.

Categories: Espressif, Hardware, Video Tags: esp8266, hack, usb

DIY Wireless Window/Glass Mounted Camera Based on Raspberry Pi Zero Board

June 22nd, 2016 2 comments

A few weeks ago, the Raspberry Pi foundation announced a new version of the Raspberry Pi Zero with a CSI camera connector. Since the solution is quite lightweight, Steven Cassidy had the idea to make a WiFi enabled window camera by soldering a USB WiFi module and fitting the hardware to a plastic part with two suction cups.

Raspberry_Zero_Camera_Suction_CupsOnce the assembly is done, you can stuck the hardware to a window or glass of your choice in your home, car, aquarium, etc…

Pi_Zero_Camera_WindowIf you like the concept but would like to have something working out of the box instead of making your own, the Pi Hut has design ZeroView on the same principle, and which will sell for 7 GBP (~$10.3).

Pebble 2 & Time 2 Smartwatches, and Pebble Core for Runners and Hackers Launched on Kickstarter

May 25th, 2016 No comments

Pebble launched one of the first smartwatches in 2012, and is now one of the most famous name for wearables. The company has now launched another crowdfunding campaign for three wearables: Pebble 2 & Time 2 watches, and Pebble Core which can be either be used as a fitness tracker for runner, or by hardware hacker to play with IoT apps.

Pebble 2 and Time 2 can receive notifications from your Android or iOS smartphone, include a built-in HRM for activity tracking, and a microphone for voice record and SMS, and are waterproof of up to 30 meters. To me the two key features of Pebble wearables are always-on displays, and long battery life, and the two new watches have a black & white (Pebble 2) or color (Time 2) always-on display, and up to one week of battery life for Pebble 2, and 10 days for Time 2.

Pebble_CorePebble Core is a completely new device for the company and available in two versions: one for runners, one for hackers. Core is lightweight, 3G, Bluetooth, and WiFi connected clip that can replace your phone while running, or other activities where you don’t really want to take your phone with you. It can stream music from Spotify or play music from the 4GB built-in storage, track your pace, distance and location with GPS, and even send an emergency SMS. A microphone will also allow you to take voice notes. The battery is good enough for 9 hours of GPS tracking or offline music playing, and Bluetooth connectivity make it possible to pair it with your Pebble watch to control music playback and monitor activity tracking.

Core for Hackers has many of the same features with GPS, 3G, WiFI and Bluetooth, and is said to run Android 5.0. The device features two buttons that can be programmed to unlock your car, turn on/off your lights, record voice notes, etc..  Voice recording would require a Bluetooth or wired headset. The Core is normally charged vi USB cable, but it can be optionally charged with a $20 wireless pad.

Pebble Core goes for as low as $69, Pebble 2 for $99 and up, and Time 2 for $179 (All $169 early bird rewards are gone). Shipping is not included and adds $10 to $15, with delivery scheduled for September – October 2016 for the two smartwatches, and January 2017 for the Core.

AAduino Arduino Compatible Board Fits Neatly into an AA Battery Holder

April 19th, 2016 2 comments

Johan Kanflo has been using Arduino compatible boards based on Tiny328 MCU with an ISM radio module (wireless Arduino clone), but he found that finding a case was not easy, and was quite not ready to to design its own and print it with a 3D printer. So instead he shrank the board to fit into an AA battery case bought on Ebay with two AA batteries taking the remaining slots. That’s the result.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

AAduino board specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel ATMega328p clocked at 8 MHz to save power
  • Radio – RFM69C ISM transceiver module
  • Sensors – Two DS18B20 temperature sensors
  • Misc – Indicator LED
  • Keystone battery terminals rotated 180° to act as positive and negative terminals.
  • Power – 2x AA batteries
Triple AA Battery Case Closed

Triple AA Battery Case Closed

The project is also open source hardware, with all hardware files released under the MIT license on Github, where you’ll also find a demo sketch for the board.

Via Free Electrons Tweet

Categories: Atmel AVR, Hardware Tags: arduino, battery, hack

Eny EM95 Amlogic S905 TV Box Review

February 26th, 2016 20 comments

CNXSoft has already taken some pictures of Eny EM95 Amlogic S905 TV box, so I’ll take over from here as I received my ENY EM95 today and I was excited. I have not got a new Android device in a while.

First Impressions

I opened it up to find a tiny box that has a display on it. Seems interesting. While booting it says boot and the rest of the time it shows the time in 24 hour format and a few other indicators that I didn’t find particularly useful. In the retail box is the device remote and HDMI cable and power supply. I noticed no micro or mini USB port to flash firmware. I don’t have a type A to type A cable so will need to pick one up. I was working from home today so I was able to open immediately and play with it for a few hours. I have only had the stick form factor up until now other than my NVIDIA SHIELD so it was kind of nice to get a remote….I thought. But I immediately put it to the side and connected my Logitech K400. No keyboard layout files so only basic functions with my keyboards right now. I’ll add later at least it got me by. Definitely need an air mouse or touchpad with Android.

Fired up Kodi 15.2 that was preloaded (not sure at this point if it is standard or some special build) but immediately bombarded with a ton of add-on updates so I went and worked for 30 min on my day job. I went in and added my collection on my NAS drive. It went off without a hitch and played all my files. Ohh and I only have it hooked up to a monitor with a DVI in so only get video (720p). I pulled out a Jabra Link 510 Bluetooth speakerphone and worked as expected.  All my normal 1080p test vids played without a problem.  I even added my videos from my video camera which up until now only my Shield would play stutter free. (On a side note I went back and tested on s805 device and videos from my HD camera play now) Even my Tvheadend recordings played well.  They are uncompressed mpeg2. About 6 gig an hour. I was using wireless delivered from an AP about 2 feet away. I decided to test by connecting to my AP in the living room about 35’ away and it wasn’t able to maintain these higher bitrate movies. I went back and checked my video camera videos as well and wireless wasn’t able to keep up. Regular H.264 streams at 1 gig an hour played fine. Only thing that I couldn’t get working was live TV with Tvheadend on built in Kodi. I will try again later after I clear Kodi back to a clean slate. (I went back and Tvheadend is broke in the built in Kodi.)

One thing I noticed is that it is super aggressive on killing background processes. Just to go from Kodi to settings and change Wi-Fi settings, Kodi would restart.

It is rooted (yay)


Eny EM95 specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with quad core Mali-450MP GPU up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 (Option: 2GB)
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash (Option: 16GB) + SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for CEC and HDCP 2.2 , AV output
  • Video Codecs – H.264, H.265, HD AVC/VC-1, HD MPEG1/2/4, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX 3/4/5/6, RealVideo 8/9/10 up to 4K resolutions
  • Audio – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet (Optional Gigabit Ethernet), Wi-Fi @ 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc- Power LED, LED display on front panel
  • Power Supply –  DC 5V/2A

Updating and Testing

I updated to SD card version that is labeled EM95_20160121.rar. I struggled to update following the instructions provided. When you update by SD card you copy a few files to an SD card. One of them tells recovery what to do. I had to remove this and do it by hand just a few menu options and a few minutes later it was updated.

I ended up making a Type A to Type A cable to flash img firmware. I sacrificed 2 USB cables, cut them and connected the corresponding colors. I did leave the red power disconnected which was fine at first. Later I ended up making a mistake and bricking the device. I disconnected power in the middle of a flash. Ugh…. but after several hours and using different methods with SD cards I took the cable apart and connected the red and I was able to flash again with Amlogic’s img burning tool. The familiar windows notification was a blessing when I heard it. I would call this box unbrickable. Even with a homemade cable I had no problems flashing and had no corruption.

To flash load the img in the burning tool and press start. Connect the USB cable which will power the box on then immediately connect the supplied power adapter.


This thing plays everything that I tried that I had trouble with initially on previous boxes. My testing was done from a NAS drive. Not a very good one it doesn’t give massive throughput. I max out at 17 MB/s to a PC over wire. When trying to super high bitrate movies Wi-Fi wasn’t sufficient. I had to connect at gig speeds to play. After initial buffer Tears of Steel played without a hitch.

I ended up removing the Kodi that came on the box and installing 16.0 from the play store.

Kodi 16.0 MX Player
big_buck_bunny_1080p_H264_AAC_25fps_7200K_short.MP4 ok ok
big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG2_MP2_25fps_6600K_short.MPG ok ok
big_buck_bunny_1080p_MPEG4_MP3_25fps_7600K_short.AVI ok ok
big_buck_bunny_1080p_VC1_WMA3_25fps_8600K_short.WMV ok ok
big_buck_bunny_1080p_VP8_VORBIS_25fps_7800K_short.WebM ok Stutters
Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv Doesn’t play

OK but network can’t keep up stutters

jellyfish-120-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit.mkv almost plays

Almost Perfect. Perfect from external SD

Samsung_UHD_Dubai.ts ok

Locks up after a few seconds ok

Locks up after a few seconds ok ok
140626_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg Doesn’t play ok
140803_4k_hm130_4s_sao_dbf_qp27.265.mpeg Doesn’t play ok

**Movies delivered from NAS Drive via Gig network.

Audio pass-through and S/PDIF were difficult for me to test. I had never really played with it so I had to do a lot of research. I had to look up manuals for my TV and receiver and it should work. I had relatively good luck with S/PDIF directly to my receiver. I was able to get DTS working with a tick/thump periodically coming out the speakers while using Kodi. In MX player it works. But I really wanted to connect my TV to my receiver via S/PDIF then plug HDMI from the box so all i have to do is turn on my receiver and don’t have to go into settings.  The only thing that works is 2 channel audio, DTS gives me static out the speakers.  I am OK with prologic but I know a lot of people want DTS.


My Logitech webcam worked as expected, as well as a USB thumb drive, and all my keyboards: K400, RII knockoff, C120 (not pictured below…remote of choice at our house and wife was using it while taking the picture). The USB hard drive has the 10 MB issue. The 10 MB issue is where external hard drives look like they have only 10 MB of free space and you can only read from them. It is present in all s905 boxes. I also tried my Dell touchscreen monitor but it didn’t work. It requires quanta hid drivers to be turned on. I am really surprised they don’t add this to the kernel because it is a popular touchscreen interface.



I have to admit I am not a big benchmark person. They can give you a good idea of how devices perform but prefer a more subjective approach. It boots in about 30 seconds, and I got about 36k on the newest Antutu.

Scenario Size in MB sec MBytes/sec
From NAS to Internal SD over Wi-Fi 1575.246 669 2.354628
From NAS to Internal SD over gig Ethernet 1575.246 191 8.247361
From NAS to External SD over gig Ethernet 1575.246 146 10.78936
From Internal SD to External SD 1575.246 146 10.78936
From External SD to Internal SD 1575.246 191 8.247361


Results for several apps:

  • Kodi 16.0 OK
  • Netflix Only SD
  • Team Viewer Quick Support with remote viewing OK
  • Asphalt 8 OK
  • Riptide GP 2 OK
  • YouTube 1080 OK
  • Google Play Movies Playback isn’t supported on this device
  • Crackle OK
  • Hulu OK
  • Plex OK


So there are some what I call issues with the rom…too much bloat…Kodi loads all these add-ons, no navigation bar, or menu bar. KL files missing. KL files are keyboard layout files that map all the buttons on keyboards. All the special functions including play, pause, volume up and down, Home etc . Aggressive background app killer. Most of these are present on these android devices and not just this one. I am accustomed to cleaning them up.

After loading I installed ES File Explorer, Google Now Launcher, System App Remover root and cleaned all the apps that I didn’t want/need. Added my keyboard layout files for my hid devices and after researching deleted /system/etc/allowbackgroundapp.list….I was poking around the file system and after experiencing the hostile background app killer googled the file name….some evil genius on 4pda deleted the file and it did the exact opposite what I thought it would do and now background apps persist….I thought initially I was going to have to add all my apps to this.

I also loathed the lack of a navigation bar and status bar so I took systemui.apk from another rom…modified it and added qemu.hw.mainkeys=1 to build.prop

Now I have a proper android build..Nice and clean

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Wrap Up and 4K

I am really pleased with the device. It played every 1080p video that I threw at it. Overall the system works and performs well. It gets a little laggy occasionally but only when doing a lot. Chrome is probably the worst. I believe all this can be sorted out in the coming months. For as short a time s905 has been on the market it is doing well. Amlogic is addressing issues quickly and ENY is patching their img. I would really like to try a box with 2 gig of memory to see if that needs to be the new minimum. Now for 4K…..Sure it can play 4K content…..but where do you get it…Netflix…nope not going to happen. Amazon….nope not going to happen. There are a few others but I doubt they will work on these kinds of devices. Only option I found was torrents but who wants to do that. If in the market for an inexpensive box I would suggest this over an s805 any day. Everything is faster and the cost difference is not much. Gig Ethernet and faster NAND are worth the couple extra bucks difference. But if your only purpose is to consume 4K content I would look at another device.

Distributors and resellers can contact Eny for requests or purchasing in quantities via EM95 product page. Individuals can purchase the device on Aliexpress for $52 and up including shipping.

This is my first review ever…I used the box for about a month…if you have any additional things you would like for me to test let me know in the comments below and I will be glad to do it.

You Can Now Connect ESP8266 Module to Your Color Television (Sort of)

February 8th, 2016 8 comments

You can do lots of things with ESP8266 WiFi modules, but CNLohr did something rather unexpected as he managed to use GPIO3/RX pin to broadcast NTSC signals first in black & white, and now in color, to his television’s channel 3.


On the hardware side, he did have to disconnect the WiFi antenna, and connected a wire antenna to GPIO3/RX pin. He then set I2S to run at 80 Mbps, and pushed data out using DMA buffers, so he could achieved the 61.25 MHz frequency required for NTSC luminance data, and the  color data, 3.579MHz higher up. Once the demo is running, you can alter it on the fly using a web neat interface. This is all explained on channel3’s github repository, as well as one a 15-minute video showing the capabilities and limitations, and explaining how you can play around with the parameters.

Via ESP8266COM’s Tweet.

Categories: Espressif, Hardware, Video Tags: esp8266, hack, ntsc