hack

Hacking a Laptop Battery – Increase Runtime

Do you have an old laptop whose battery struggles to reach 30 minutes? I used to.

An aftermarket 6-cell pack would have cost me around $40, which isn’t expensive, but the laptop was old (circa 2006) and not worth putting money into.  I happened to have a fair number of Lithium-Ion battery cells “lying around”, and decided to upgrade my pack, not just with new cells, but with more cells.

IMAG0680

This project was completed about a year ago, and I’m surprised I never posted it before!

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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 computers, electronics, projects No Comments

Modifying a Flip Video UltraHD to Add Charging Capabilities

The Cisco Flip Video UltraHD is a very basic 720p video recording device. It has a screen, a few buttons, and USB and HDMI ports. Not very much going on. Record, play back, copy to computer. However, these devices were discontinued, so my friend and I bought two to share at $29 a piece. I was very keen on using them together for 3D video.

To prepare for this weekend’s 2nd annual Ottawa Pinball Expo, I was making sure all my camera gear’s batteries were charged. The Flip UltraHD takes 2 AA batteries, which is generally enough to allow you to completely fill the camera’s 1 hour internal memory.

I noticed that there was a rechargeable battery pack you could buy for the Flips. It charges when the camera is plugged in to a USB port. This battery pack is really just two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries wrapped together, with a little tab that pushes on a switch to tell the camera that the pack is installed, and not regular AAs. When I realized this, I figured I could modify the Flips to work with my own AA NiMHs, and charge when connected to my computer.

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Friday, September 7th, 2012 electronics, projects 4 Comments

Modifying Bluetooth Headphones

Backstory

For Christmas, I asked my sister for a pair of Bluetooth headphones. I had wanted a pair for a while, but the biggest concern I had was quality, but hand in hand with that is price. I read many reviews about headsets in the $50-$80 range, and many of them complained of sound dropping, artifacting, tinny sound, empty bass. This was the highest I was willing to pay for BT headphones, and even at that, I wanted excellent quality for that price. Then I came across these:

These Nexxtech “Soaring” Bluetooth headphones were on sale for $19.99 at the time. I thought, “hey, these have the same kind of reviews as the $60 units. Since they are more affordable, and would be a great gift idea, I’ll try them out.” So, when Christmas came, these were the headphones I got.

I used them a few times, but it wasn’t until college resumed that they were getting more usage. I found they were fairly comfortable to wear (as long as you have hair that covers your ears), and that the sound quality was actually exceptional. Not as in, “I can tell it is Bluetooth but I don’t mind.” I mean, it sounded as close to wired headphones as it could get. My friends were equally impressed.

Unfortunately, clarity does not mean frequency response. The bass lacked punch, dubstep did not tickle my eardrums like other headphones. It suffered from Generic Driver Syndrome – standard, run of the mill, $10 headphone speakers.

Time for a solution…

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Saturday, February 4th, 2012 electronics, music, projects 10 Comments

GPS Hacking – Magellan 1424

Modern day GPS devices are essentially miniature computers. Many have a compact version of Windows, called Windows CE, installed, and the GPS software runs over top of it. However, GPS manufacturers often lock out this extra functionality. There are different packages and ways to unlock your GPS, however because there are so many different brands, it isn’t always one-size-fits-all.

I Googled for information on unlocking the Magellan RoadMate 1424 (the GPS I have) but the only information I found was a couple of people who couldn’t do it. Not deterred, I set off and entered the unknown. Read on for my story (spoiler: it ends in success).

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Saturday, February 5th, 2011 electronics, projects, software 45 Comments

Electric Vehicles, Blog

Note: I’ll say this before I dig too deep into the content of the blog. This morning I logged in to find that my WordPress password had been changed (MD5 decryptor couldn’t decrypt it unfortunately), and once I manually reset my password in the database, different parts of the dashboard were broken. I doubt the blog broke itself. So, to whatever bot or being did this:

Every step you take, I’ll be watching you.
Every single day.
Every hack you make.
Every script you change,
Every code you break, I’ll be watching you.

Oops, got carried away.

During the last week or so I’ve been excessively interested in portable and quick “personal electric transportation”. Oh dear, I’ve gone an made an acronym in my first sentence… The idea is to use these small vehicles in areas with high pedestrian traffic, on trips where walking would take too long, and have a range that allowed for multiple such trips on a single charge. The most ideal form for such a vehicle that comes to mind is the scooter.

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Monday, July 12th, 2010 electronics, projects 1 Comment