Power to the People of Iran

..and welcome to eeeGadgets! This blog is dedicated to everything associated with the wide (and interesting) field of mobile computing. The main focus is on presenting all the various hardware modifications I made to my eeePC, but I will also give short reviews of other interesting Mobile Internet Devices I come across. Further I want to share some tips and tricks I found out to be helpful in getting the most performance out of Ubuntu linux...
On the right side under "LABELS" you can navigate between various assorted article categories. Also, on the very bottom of the site you will find some useful weblinks, as well as a small broadband connection speed test (which can be very useful sometimes).
If you want to, you can subscribe to my RSS news feed too, to be always up to date about my latest articles - simply click on "subscribe now!" in the little box on the right side. Alternatively, you can subscribe to my simple email newsletter by clicking here.
For questions, feedback, suggestions, criticism and everything else, don't hesitate to contact me:

....have fun reading!

If you like my site and want to support me , you can always donate to my personal "coffee funds" using the PayPal "donate" button further down on the right! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"TwitterCheck 1.05" - twitter for your taskbar

During the last days I've been quite busy (moved to a new apartment) but managed to write a new win32 application nevertheless (took me two evenings, overall eight hours of work).
The original idea was that I wanted to write some application which actually made use of the LED notifier device - besides of just "manually" lighting it up in different ways. Seeing that Scotts "Gmail Alert" (which I'm using) seems to evolve into a very nice full-featured email client at present time, I didn't feel any need for writing something email related - so I decided it would be a good idea to do something with twitter (after all, their API is nice to work with, IMO) maybe. After searching for a suitable twitter API wrapper for vb.net, I settled on using the "yedda_twitter" library for the purpose (see http://devblog.yedda.com/index.php/2007/05/16/twitter-c-library/ for more details). The timeline is being fetched, saved and parsed as XML file. The user interface was designed based on bitmap graphics created while playing with the new gimp 2 (making it possible to add skin support in the future if needed), Here's a screenshot of the main window:

I included a checkbox to enable the thing to autostart when windows starts up, the application remembers your twitter account data (but it hides your password, of course!), and checks your twitter "friends timeline" every minute, then it decides whether the last tweet is a new one or not, and in case it IS a new tweet the LED notifier is lighting up in turquoise, tray icon changes color to red, a balloon popup shows up displaying the new tweet sender's name and actual message, and on clicking it, the twitter tray icon becomes normal colored and the LED goes off again.

"Twittercheck 1.05" is available for download here:

Application requirements are installed "VisualBasic PowerPacks 3.0" and ".NET Framework 3.5 SP1", and of course you need a twitter account too, if you want to make use of twittercheck's features.. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

LED notifier software ported to Windows

I've been tinkering around with win32 software development lately, and managed to make my LED notifier work with Windows 7. For the purpose I had to create a custom driver based on libusb which replaced the generic usb HID device driver that is part of windows. I also recompiled the command line tool "set-led.exe" using minGW32 and Dev-C++, and managed to pack a few snippets of python source code from my dBird notifier into executables by using the marvelous "py2exe" module for python 2.6..

This made the device work, but without software to talk to it, the notifier was soon pretty boring. So I finally wrote another app, this time in VisualBasic 2008 Express (with .NET 3.5 SP1) which controls my LED notifier hardware (to date color selection is the only thing that is possible, plans are to use it for controlling my home-made ambient room lighting in the near future...)

here is a screenshot of an earlier
version - "LEDControl 1.27":

and here a download link for the latest version 2.05:

this is how the latest ver2.05 looks
like - note tray icon and tray menu

I packaged all into a nice installer, which also simplifies driver installation greatly, since you can select to install them along with the application if needed. And now everything is copied to the right folders automagically, finally.

now I finished work on the new release, version 2.05, featuring new GUI, more functions, smaller download size (50% reduced, now its only 1.98 MB small), comfortable setup routine, auto driver install, and "auto mode" color fading with less CPU load (all fading is written in C++ now). I also fixed a bug with the "off" button not working as it should, and added speed and brightness adjustment features for auto mode too.

Here I want to note too that I'm pleased to announce that my "LEDcontrol" software has been rated "100% malware spyware and virus free" by SoftPedia.com - thanks for taking the time guys.. See button at top of this article for a download link.

Also I want to make mention here of a nice little piece of software written by Scott Merryfield, "Scotts Gmail Alert", which checks your gmail or googlemail account periodically, gives on-screen alerts in case of unread message, and lights up my LED notifier hardware in the color corresponding to the sender's alert color! VERY useful software. Recommended.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

repairing a HTC MDA pro

I got ahold of a damaged MDA Pro recently, and soon tried to repair it (the usb charger plug was broken), successfully as you can see. Here are a few pictures of the innards of this device..

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Asus announces new T101 convertible netbook

Asus has just confirmed the release of another netbook, presumably to happen in late August, which will feature a 10 inch convertible touchscreen (finally). The marvelous little device bearing the name "eeePC T101H" comes with several nice features long awaited by the eeePC fan community, namely integrated GPS, above mentioned 10.2" resitive touch screen panel, LiPolymer battery for up to 5.4h run time, sleak design with a weight of just 1500g (both made possible though use of a 16GB solid state disk instead of the more common 2.5"/160GB hard disks seen with other netbooks) and of course the obvious intel Atom CPU (this time only a Z520 running at 1.33GHz) supported by 1GB RAM (upgradeable to 2GB). Connectivity is gooood - since this thingie has 3G broadband modem, 802.11 b/g/n wifi and bluetooth built-in you'll probably never feel "under-connected" again.. Also included are a 0.3MP webcam (a bit grainy pictures are predictable with such low resolutions, but for video telephony it might be just ok), microphone and stereo speakers - and as a special extra an included TV tuner too (no further details are known yet).
Price is unknown too, as well as the exact release date. Since Asus claims it will be "Windows 7 ready" it will probably ship with WinXP and an option to upgrade to Win7 later - and thus it might become available well before october. We'll keep you updated..

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

USB mail notifier - final hardware and software revision

Over the past few weeks I've refined the design of my LED message notifier device that has been the topic of my last few articles. For those of you who aren't familiar with how it works or what is meant: the notifier device inquestion is capable of lighting up a multi-color LED in the corresponding color when/if messages are received. It indicates several types of messages: instant messages received via Pidgin (green LED/purple LED), emails and RSS/Atom feeds received via Mozilla Thunderbird (red LED), and it also informs about new tweets on my Twitter account (turquoise LED).

Thanks to the help of forum.eeeuser.com member justblair (from justblair.co.uk / ayetea.com) who was kind enough to donate all necessary parts for making a prototype, I am now using a USB notifier dongle based on the ATtiny45 microcontroller, running firmware written by Dave Hillier (from Linden Labs / Dave's Blog) - who built a notifier too (Dave in turn says he got his idea from the blog www.j4mie.org, so its fair to say that this is really a kind of some pass-on open-source project).
In fact this firmware from Dave implements a free virtual hardware USB driver for AVR microcontrollers called V-USB (based on libusb which is available for all major operating systems incl. Win32 and MacOS and, of course, linux too) and works by emulating some sort of generic "Human Interface Device", which is controlled by a small command line tool called "set-led", written in C (also courtesy of Dave Hillier!), which in turn is called by my "dBird Notifier" scripts as appropriately - which is when new messages do arrive.

For this purpose I've rewritten the scripts to support the new USB hardware and have released a new version "dBird-notify-usb-1.5" which can be found here at its sourceforge page for download. To install it, just extract the .tar.gz archive into your home folder, navigate to the newly created subfolder /LEDnotifier", run "sudo ./install.sh" and edit the file "config.conf" to fit your needs (more instructions can be found in the file HowTo.txt).

So far for the software part...

The hardware has been further developed too and has become significantly smaller thanks to omitting the now useless USB->serial adapter circuit, through consequent use of the Attiny45 in SOIC package and all SMD 0805 parts, and by etching an own PCB for the purpose. Only thing that is still the same compared to my initial design of a serial device are the 5mm common cathode rgb LED, and the USB plug.

I've found a very nice light diffuser in form of a tiny keychain lavalamp (filled with viscous liquid and some glitter stuff) which I managed to fit to my notifier and which, although just "a little bit" flashy, looks mighty cool (in my opinion at least).

The final PCB layout Blair and I designed:

A few pics of the hardware building process (from left to right: partially assembled unit, etched PCB, cardboard prototype made using through-hole parts):

Here you can see how the final external USB notifier (and attached lava lamp) look like:

If you want someting like this but feel not skilled enough with the soldering iron, or simply don't have the time for building one yourself, you can contact me for a pre-assembled board (fully functional), or if you like to solder things yourself you can contact me for a DIY kit consisting of a PCB with pre-soldered and programmed microcontroller, and solder the SMD resistors and diodes, LED and usb plug by yourself - I've still got a few PCBs and attinys left over... ;)

By the way: firmware and source-code of Dave Hillier's AVR-USB-LED software as well as the PCB layout and wiring schematic can be found in the subfolders "/AVR-USB-LED" and "/hardware" of dBird-notify-usb-1.5.tar.gz, which can be downloaded from my sourceforge project page
Support the dBird notifier Project over at Sourceforge.net - donate now!
Support the dBird notifier Project over at Sourceforge.net -
donate now by clicking the button above.

As it turns out people do like this gadget! In the meantime Dave Hillier has obviously been impressed with the lavalamp I added, and has written a short report about it on his blog, as well as JustBlair from justblair.co.uk - who has built a notifier device too - and JustBlair even managed to fit it inside his eeePC 901, despite him using the through-hole DIP variety of the attiny45! To accomplish this he omitted the PCB alltogether, and decided to wire up the chip and resistors "dead bug" style, which enabled him to hide the circuit in the base of his netbook, while the LED itself sits on the top left corner of his LCD bezel, where it is apparently very visible - even from across the room. He admits he has already become addicted to reading email as soon as it arrives, due to his new "netbook-notifier". :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

PCB etching @home...

Doesn't it look nice? (stay tuned!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

dBird release 1.15 - due to Pidgin problems

During recent conversations on ICQ I noticed that my dBird Notifier scripts don't behaved like I wanted: each incoming ICQ message created a new tray icon, regardless of whether the conversation was already opened or not, causing many tray icons to accumulate during a longer conversation which was quite annoying and ugly. I changed the code to fix this bug - only one icon shows up now, all following messages belonging to the same conversation don't cause further icons to appear - UNLESS they are from someone new, i.e. if a new conversation is opened.

The new release v1.15 (incl source) can be downloaded here:

Broadband Connection Test:

Just click on "Speedtest starten" to evaluate your actual downlink in MBit/sec (takes 10 seconds approx.)

(c) dsl-speed-messung.de - DSL Speed Test