(What is that? A pile of junk? ....DO I SMELL SOLDER?)
It's funny, because all I was doing was sitting back and playing some Shenmue on my newly acquired dreamcast. I hadn't even received the keyboard and mouse I ordered two weeks ago, I hadn't even attempted to root linux on it, I hadn't even TRIED the PC-DC link with an old 56k modem. But it occured to me, right then and there, that if Ben Heck forumer (and Ben Heck himself) can make dreamcast tablets and dreamcast portables, Then surely I will have the ability to do something cool with this machine.
(of course this is where I drift off into a glazey-eyed dreamstate and ramble on about my infinite love for the dead Sega console. The first console ever to do things that no one dreamed a console could. Go online. Webcam. Motion sensor. Etc. Everything your PS3/Wii/360 can do today is all thanks to the little dreamcast that could, and did, magnificently)
And so, I've decided to give the Console-Laptop project another go (and not admit defeat as such with the defunct PS2 laptop project.....Um, Which now lives in pieces in my garage, and actually, the casing for that project serves as a weatherproof box for project freenet(yay recycling!))
Some may see this as a daunting task. Not I. Not how. The machine is fairly thick (4" or just under, methinks) but most of that is pretty plastic and a stacked mother/daughter/GDrom combo. This design was not only pure genius, but makes for an easier than ever mod capability. So....Let's go over some design ideas to begin:
WHAT DO WE NEED HERE
a) A case. Simply put, you gots to has somesing to puts its ins.
Easy shit. Home depot, buy some acrylic. It's cheap, cuts easy, paintable, and effective.
b) A screen. For teh watchins.
Ok, so am I the only one in the world with a crapload of PC LCD screens in his garage? I think not. This works perfectly for two reasons 1 - they are easy to bust open and salvage and 2 - they look amazing coupled with dreamcast's ability to output some sweet video via VGA mod (which I purchased the parts for, pictured above, for under $12 locally)
c) A Keyboard. Cause it's not a laptop without a keyboard.
Two ways I can go about this: 1 - Official sega dreamboard, which is IMHO overpriced and far too large for a laptop, so it would have to be cut down and such OR 2 - Dreamcast keyboard adapter, which appear to be a DIY project or purchased through several online sources. The latter seems a more viable option as it would be far easier to just buy a keyboard of smaller form factor and couple it with the keyboard adapter.
d) A Mouse. Same as above, except replace the word "keyboard" with the word "mouse"
e) A power supply / Battery - cause if it's gotta be run on mains 24/7, it's not much of a laptop. Normally the power supply unit carries a hefty pricetag, but it just so happens that my staff discount grants me access to cheap PSU's that will recharge a battery as well. The battery itself will be a lightweight lithium rechargeable (and probably from megacapacity.com)
And the rest is all making it look pretty....which is easy enough and literally comes last on the list.
Product: Apple Peel 520
Purchased: Dealextreme for $74 (now lowered to $60)
It wasn't more than three months ago I heard the low murmer or internet rumours floating through cyber space....beckoning me....
"A fantastic new device affectionately called the apple peel will blow ipod touch users away with the ability to transform their ipod touch into an iphone!"
Alledgedly, in China, a 21 Year old techwiz was inventing a device that would change the world.
It didn't take much. I knew I had to have it. Turn my ipod into an iphone, you say? The very device I've been trying to afford but settled for an ipod touch....you say? Well hook me up, Mr. China man!
Of course I bought one promptly, and a lightning fast four weeks later it arrived at my door as per Dealextreme's usual fashion.
Apple Peel 520 (picture shows a BETA version, new version is much nicer)
Features a built in rechargeable battery, space for one sim, microphone and speaker. Also has ipod charge port and headphone jack. Buttons are placed on the side for volume up/down and on the top for power/lock/unlock
The entire enclosure itself feels extremely solid with the ipod installed. The top half of the casing pops off to allow easier removal/installation of the ipod touch. The back portion slildes off just like a cell phone battery from 1997, allowing access to the SIM drawer and battery compartment.
The entire device with ipod installed is slightly thicker than an iPhone 4, and feels great in the hands.
- Of course I instantly went about testing it. I popped my sim card out of my rogers phone, grabbed my itouch off it's charger, and went to work:
a) Need jailbroken itouch. (already done AGES ago)
b) add yosion (the creator) sources to cydia (again, done at time of purchase)
3) install yosion call and sms apps
d) Reboot. Lock ipod. (you know, press the top button so the screen turns off)
5) Insert sim into apple peel. Insert battery into apple peel. Hold down small button just below the battery - Music is heard, and if your SIM is accepted - Another tone will play shortly after.
6) Put everything back together. Unlock your itouch by pressing the sleep/home button on the top and sliding the STU bar. You should now see a battery icon and signal icon in the upper portion of your ipod screen.
Clicking on the yosion app ( not the ysms) should bring up the dial pad, this is where you can fiddle with settings and copy contacts from your SIM.
The first time I tried this, It played music but no second tone. I got an error on my screen claiming "SIM ERROR". I died a little on the inside, but after two hours of internet sleuthing and not coming up with answers, I removed my SIM card, and realized that I had it sitting on an ever so slight angle the entire time. I carefully pushed the card back in -correctly- this time, and it gave me the second tone. Word to the wise - always check the stupid little things.
Once installed (correctly), I gave it a test:
Phone call #1:
No noise. Just a blurb on my screen saying "call connecting".
Phone call #2:
A couple beeping noises. Some static. A click. End of call.
Phone call #3:
Finally went through. Volume of call is ear shattering. Volume buttons do nothing.
Phone call #4 (incoming):
Went straight to voicemail because unknown to 99% of users, the apple peel is not compatable with caller ID
Deaf in one ear - Texting testing began:
Unless you are fluent in "simplified" chinese (though there is clearly nothing simple about it), I wouldn't exactly call this a breakthrough. Other users have reported this quirk as well, and with no stable answer in sight from yosion, it looks as though we're left to our own means to figure it out.
My favourite part about this is that you can text TO someone in english, but when they text back, it's in chinese.
long and short, good/bad/ugly
Good: The apple peel is stable, feels nice in your hands and offers utmost protection for your wimpy feeling ipod touch. The build quality is excellent, and the spare battery for the phone ensures no precious ipod battery life is wasted on phone calls.
Bad: Call quality is, IMHO, horrid. You can't adjust the call volume so even when calls go through, it's deafening (equivalent to a normal cell phone on "speaker" against your ear)
The non-ability to accept caller ID fed calls is stupid. Everyone has caller ID these days!!
UGLY: Texting in chinese (or learning chinese) is not in my list of things I want to accomplish. Yosion only releases their apps in "beta" versions. They have promised these fixes for weeks now, and those of us who bought the device for an overcharge of $80 USD aren't very impressed with the lack of quality customer service.....though expecting that from china is downright impossible.
Another key issue is the 3.5mm headphone jack on the device - this only plays music through mono (one speaker) and volume cannot be adjusted, therefor ruining your ipod for it's general purpose. One must remove the ipod from the peel to listen to music or watch videos in stereo.
As of this writing I have seen several devices similar to the apple peel that are in production that look better and promise more features. I've also noted that there are hundreds of apple peel renditions out there that are warned to be shoddy and not worth buying.
Yosion has promised a fix to these bugs but we have yet to see anything. If I find a solution, I'll update!
This new site is not abandonware quite yet. I took a breif hiatus, got married, ate some candy, but now I'm back in full swing.
Friends: As the end of the year approaches, I promise to not leave you hanging. I've gained my share of new gadgets and gidgets to play with over the past couple of months, comprised of; but not limited to; a PSPgo, A dreamcast, A sony ericcson Z500 with DCU11 cable, a Sony Clie, A motorola Q9, Several newer versions of Kubuntu, More computer parts and peices than you can imagine, The old computer style Atari, Two - yeah, TWO versions of the Colecovision Console....what else....Well, let's put it this way: I've got so much stuff and so many idea, I don't even know where to begin.
My latest is the Apple Peel 520....A simple device that alledgedly turns your iPod Touch into an iPhone....Well, I'll review it a little and show some testing on it, and you'll be shocked and amazed.
Until then I bid you all a festive festivus.
Is becoming a viable project.
It all started when I got ahold of a used Bell Expressvu satellite dish. The idea behind obtaining the dish was FTA satellite signals, but that went out the window when I found out that the hardware required to watch free to air TV was incredibly expensive.
I googled the term "what to do with an old satellite dish" (out of boredom) and among the many pages found random posts about wifi antennae and the like.
Here's where the little lightbulb turns on over my head. If one can potentially create the ultimate wifi antenna from a satellite dish, one can potentially couple that antenna with a router running in repeater mode to ultimately access the internet for free.
Let me clarify: It's not about stealing your neighbour's wifi. It's not about wardriving, or hacking encryptions or anything to that level of difficulty.
This is simply using really big antenna to access freely available open wifi networks in your area. Think of it as bringing the starbucks to you, without the overpriced coffee.
Let's get started:
What you need
- Satellite dish of some kind, The bigger, the better. Ideally one of those giants analog dishes you see in people's yards in the boonies would work best, but since I had the old Bell Expressvu dish, that's what I'll be using here.
- Cat5e or Cat6 Patch cable. 50-100ft if you're running it from the roof.
- Long extension cord to provide power to your rooftop router
- Linksys WRT54G Wireless Router This is the optimal router, though others will work, This one is THE router to use (and everyone knows it). Plus I had one sitting around after upgrading the home network to wireless N.
- Linksys Antenna Stand For TNC connectors A pretty important piece of this build. If you can get your hands on antenna extension cable, a pair would work, but this stand is cheap and can be found at princess auto usually.
- A computer with access to the internet and an ethernet port.
1: Flash your router
This is the heart of the operation, so to speak. You've got the router, now you just the to get rid of that pesky stock linksys firmware, and flash some super awesome firmware. SO, head on over to www.dd-wrt.com And grab the version of DDWRT that coincides with your routers "version" (this will be marked on a sticker on the bottom of the router as v1, v3, etc.)
Turn on the router and connect a cable between your PC's ethernet port and the "LAN 1" port on the router. Remember to disable all connections to the internet. Open up a web browser and go to 192.168.1.1
That should pop up your router's config screen. The username is nothing, and the password is admin (default for most linksys routers). Now find the firmware upgrade screen (actual documentation on how to do this is on ddwrt's website) and flash the DDWRT file you downloaded to your router.
2: Break stuff
First, get the antenna extension cable out of the desktop stand you bought. The whole plastic stand comes apart real easy if you pry it enough or hit it with a blunt object. You'll find that the connectors for the antennae are just an extension cable put into a plastic casing
My dish came unassembled, in a box. If yours is ALREADY assembled, you're going to need to take off the end part (the horn that connects to your COAX cables).
Essentially what we're trying to accomplish here is this:
The horn that once held the COAX connections is one, replaced with one 12+db high gain antenna, and one regular antenna (you can set which antenna is receive/Transmit in ddwrt settings). The entire thing is caulked real good for weatherproofing. I also spraypainted over the "bell expressvu" logo (in case they saw this on my roof and thought I was stealing satellite signals or something). I ran the extension cable through the hollow tubing of the dish (where the coax cables used to run) and simply taped the new antennae into place, sealing it up with weatherproofing. The caulk will prevent the tape from being exposed and it won't come off over time, though glue or any other adhesive will work.
3: You'll need a box to go with that
Because the router has to be stored outdoors due to the length of the antenna cables, you'll need a weatherproof box to store that in. I recycled a hoffman 10x12x5 box that I had bought a number of years ago for a different project but never ended up using. Because it's a weatheproof box, it's got a built in rubber ring gasket, so you'll need to drill a hole into the side of the box for power/cat5/antenna cables. Once the cables are run through, just patch up the hole with some caulk or other means of weatherproofing.
Attach the hole damn thing to your roof with screws. Nails leave holes, and holes cause leaks.
Now most dishes will have a series of bolts acting as "fine tuning" to move your dish around. Go ahead and point it in the direction you think will be most rewarding for open networks. Remember - you can always change the direction if you need to.
I also purchased a network grounding bit to ground the cat5 cable coming from the LAN1 port on the router. This isn't really necessary as the extension cable used for power will have a built in ground, but you can never be too careful.
That should be good, get off the roof. Plug the power cable in.
4: Find your open wifi network and go!
Now that you've set up your dish, powered your router, and pointed your dish in some random direction, Connect your cat5 cable to your computer's ethernet port again.
Point your browser to 192.168.1.1 and access the ddwrt settings.
Follow THIS GUIDE to set up the router as a wireless repeater. Note: in order to repeat a wireless signal, you need to know the SSID (or the name) of the network. To find networks, use the "wiviz survey" radio button under status>wireless. Open networks are always coloured green.
Once you've set up the router in repeater mode, and selected the open network to repeat, you're good to go! Connect to your now free internet source and google your heart out.
The power of the dish is amazing, I picked up thirty five networks, fifteen of which were open networks. I've done a little testing, suffice to say I technically could supply my block squared with free wifi. I won't, but I could.
The old website was dated and lacking interest.
Still a work in progress!