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  • K 10:12 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , hardware hacker, , Open Hardware, , Samsung Galaxy,   

    (Bangalore) Summer of ’12… with BeagleBone 


    This post will be slightly long. Lots of exciting things happening over a Bangalore summer this year for me. 😀

    Somehow I always wanted to learn more about hardware and with a mentor like Khasim the road seems a lot more exciting. I first met him when he came to conduct a workshop on BeagleBoard during Tathva 2009 at my college – NIT Calicut. I was just a fresher then and have since regretted that I could not attend that workshop completely (due to my participation in various CS related competitions).

    Well, life took strange turns and I along with friend Jerrin landed up in Bangalore and got to hack together on a BeagleBone (a low-cost, high-expansion hardware-hacker focused BeagleBoard). We initially learnt the very basics of working with a board like this using the serial output on UART console (and discovered that we couldn’t proceed further until R219 was plucked out, thanks to another mentor Mr. Satish Patel from Khasim’s team; fiola on #beagle channel on freenode was a great help in troubleshooting as well), then there was Starterware which enabled us to experiment with blinking LEDs and other small programs for Bone.

    I then learnt how to read a schematic using the great book by Barr & Massa which Amarjit Singh suggested (now I will recommend this book, Programming Embedded Systems, as a TO-READ if you want to learn basics of embedded systems programming) and tried to understand the schematics of BeagleBone (rev. A4). I was able to identify how various components on the board connect to the processor and the direction of data flow among them and to understand how simple things like power reset, user LEDs, SDRAM, USB host & connector, microSD and expansion slots interact with the CPU.

    Exploration of the design specifications of the board with some details about each external peripheral present on the board from the BeagleBone System Reference Manual followed. I even tried to read ARM335x datasheet and Technical Reference Manual to extract useful information (like memory locations of on-chip peripherals, handling of interrupts at CPU level, etc.) – datasheets are HUGE documents! Using this data, referring the book by Barr & Massa and taking help from Starterware example programs I was able to write my (own) code from scratch for blinking an LED on BeagleBone as a pure learning exercise – believe me it was total fun (no matter however it may sound in this post)!

    Just today, I got my hands on Microchip’s Accessory Development Starter Kit for Android (pictured below). I will be using this to understand the ins and outs of Android’s Open Accessory Protocol and try to port the firmware on BeagleBone such that it could be used as an ADK platform as well. Lots of learning, fiddling with USB APIs, Android hacking, and of course embedded C programming to follow next (and I am up for the game!).

    Here are some pics of the awesome things I am playing with these days (click on image for larger view):

    I will try to regularly post about my progress here and yes, there is a lot more I have to say about this Bangalore Summer, but some other post, some other time. 🙂



    • appu sajeev 10:30 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      from where did u buy the beaglebone?

    • Sajjad Anwar (@geohacker) 12:16 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Yay! Super excited to know that you are enjoying your time in Bangalore! Good luck 🙂

      • Kartik 12:45 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. And it’s because of you and so many other people I am meeting here in Bangalore. 🙂

    • Pranav 9:50 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Awesomeness 😀

    • Pramode 10:02 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Have fun hacking the BeagleBone (and other stuff)!!

      • Kartik 10:06 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, loving it.
        And this time I would really love if you could visit our campus for a workshop on hardware hacking. We two would be able to assist too. 🙂

  • K 10:31 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Samsung Galaxy, ,   

    Root Samsung Galaxy S i9000 running GINGERBREAD.DDJV6 using Ubuntu Linux 

    I bought a Samsung Galaxy S i9000 just last month. The most prominent reason to buy an Android phone was that it’s based on Linux and I love the UNIX-based OS. Besides, Android as a platform provides so many opportunities into application development (and even kernel hacking) that I was simply tempted to buy one since last year.

    I have explored the phone since I got my hands on it – trying various apps, playing with 3G internet speeds (3.1 Mbps!), tons of widgets, shooting hundreds of pics with various modes and settings, upgrading to latest official firmware (from Froyo to Gingerbread), chatting (GTalk, Facebook), emailing, tweeting, keeping updated with latest news, instantly looking up words in dictionaries, managing my day with to-do lists, reading eBooks, playing Angry Birds, scanning random barcodes, watching videos, sending free SMS (via Free SMS Sender app), listening to music, blogging, etc. …the list is almost endless.

    The only thing I had delayed to do was rooting/flashing my phone as it voids the warranty from the manufacturer and there is always a little risk of things going bad. Another reason for this delay was my ignorance of availability of any Linux-compatible tool to do the actual flashing as I have grown so used to my latest Linux Mint install that I simply forget to boot Windows every time. Almost all the guides out there describe the process using a leaked out utility from Samsung – Odin – that works only on Windows. Today I managed to root my phone using a cross-platform and open source utility called Heimdall.

    Disclaimer: Follow the steps at your own risk, the author can not be held responsible for any damage that may occur to your device in the process.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Go to http://www.glassechidna.com.au/products/heimdall/ and download the latest binary for your platform for both command line tool and the GUI front end. In my case I downloaded Debian Linux (AMD64 / Intel 64) editions of Heimdall 1.2.0 – Command Line and Heimdall Frontend 1.1.1 as I am running Linux Mint 64-bit (based on Ubuntu 11.04).
    2. Install them one by one by double clicking on the downloaded deb files – first the command line deb and then the front end one.
    3. Press Alt+F2 and launch ‘heimdall-frontend’ to check whether it installed properly.
    4. Carefully read instructions given at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=788108, take necessary precautions as mentioned there and download proper version of CF-Root kernel from the same page. As JV6 is not listed, I downloaded JVO (v3.2) as it is known to work with most of the Gingerbread builds. Extract the zip obtained two times to get the zImage.
    5. Power off your Galaxy S and enter into ‘Download mode’ by pressing and holding VOLUME DOWN, POWER and HOME keys together till you see a yellow triangle with ‘Downloading’ message.
    6. Connect the phone to the computer via USB cable and make sure it is recognized by running lsusb command in the Terminal. You will see something similar to
      Bus 002 Device 003: ID 04e8:6601 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd Z100 Mobile Phone

      in the output if it is recognized.

    7. Launch ‘heimdall-frontend’ as in step 3 and load the ‘zImage’ obtained in step 4 in Kernel (zImage) section.

      Heimdall Frontend 1.1

      Heimdall Frontend

    8. Press Start and within a few seconds your phone will automatically reboot and you can disconnect the cable. You will find 3 new apps – CWM, Superuser, and Tweaks installed.

    Now you can enjoy even more applications on your phone which need root access (like backup apps), or go on to install a custom ROM (as rooting is usually the first step in installing most custom firmwares) or simply play with the Linux terminal by installing Terminal Emulator (this app doesn’t need root access, but without rooting you don’t get access to even the simplest of shell commands like cat or less).

    Comments and questions are welcome (as usual 🙂


    Happy rooting,

    • Pranav 12:24 AM on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great! I rooted my 1 week old ZTE Blade (XCD35) jus yesterday! 😀

      • Kartik 9:31 AM on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, I know. In fact, your tweet regarding the same encouraged me to do this for my phone too. 🙂

    • jadi 11:12 AM on August 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. Helped me a lot and worked like a charm

    • Karthik 11:16 AM on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Dude, what apps have you tried out after rooting? Anything interesting? I want to know if its actually worth making the warranty void.

      • Kartik 2:18 PM on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        It’s definitely worth it. My whole purpose of buying an Android was this level of customization available with the platform.

        I recently flashed my phone with CyanogenMod 7.1 based on latest version of Android Gingerbread – 2.3.7, while the official updates from Samsung are still stuck at 2.3.3.

        Among apps – I am using
        1. AdFree – get rid of ads in apps
        2. ConnectBot – easy SSH from phone
        3. Clockwork ROM Manager – helps in flashing the phone with most custom mods
        4. Terminal Emulator – with busybox on rooting, provides most basic shell commands on the phone itself.
        5. Titanium Backup – take any type of backups including apps, and restore easily
        6. Superuser – the app which grants root permissions to the above mentioned apps.

        Hope this will convince you enough to try out rooting. Also CyanogenMod provides loads of changes in the UI and performance and feature enhancements, check its website for more.

    • Pranjal 10:33 AM on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      everything goes as mentioned in steps but after heimdall finishes the phone does not auto start and no apps are installed, I believe that even though it is showing that device detection yet its not properly detected because same problem of detection is what I am facing in windows, odin does not detect phone in debugging mode only..!!
      please help

      • Kartik 11:58 AM on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        If the problem is similar for ODIN too, there might be some hardware issue. Try posting your query in xda forums for expert advice on this.

  • K 6:50 PM on June 11, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , Samsung Galaxy   

    Current Android App List 

    Alchemy: http://market.android.com/details?id=me.zed_0xff.android.alchemy

    Angry Birds: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.rovio.angrybirds

    ASTRO: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.metago.astro

    Barcode Scanner: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.zxing.client.android

    Dropbox: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.dropbox.android

    English Dictionary: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.diotek.diodict.galaxys.engeng

    Entrepreneur: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.handmark.mpp.entrep

    Evernote: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.evernote

    Facebook: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.facebook.katana

    FBReader: http://market.android.com/details?id=org.geometerplus.zlibrary.ui.android

    Firefox: http://market.android.com/details?id=org.mozilla.firefox

    Free SMS Sender: http://market.android.com/details?id=cz.vojtisek.freesmssender

    Google Sky Map: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.android.stardroid

    Linux Command List: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.application.LinuxCommandList

    NDTV: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.july.ndtv

    Opera Mini: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.opera.mini.android

    Perfect Viewer: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.rookiestudio.perfectviewer

    ShareMyApps: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.mattlary.shareMyApps

    Terminal Emulator: http://market.android.com/details?id=jackpal.androidterm

    Twitter: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.twitter.android

    WordPress: http://market.android.com/details?id=org.wordpress.android

    XDA: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.quoord.tapatalkxda.activity

    Generated by: ShareMyApps

  • K 10:12 PM on May 23, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Samsung Galaxy   

    Choosing an Android Phone – Not an Easy Job 

    Little background:

    It’s almost a month now since I sold my old Nokia N72 (fondly named PlatiniumJunior by me), hoping to buy an Android-based smartphone soon. Since then, I have realized how dependent I was on the phone – thinking of taking a quick snap and realizing I don’t have a camera anymore is disappointing, same is getting stuck at a word while reading and missing that MSDict software on my phone which was always ready as a quick reference, similar is being jobless at places I am forced to visit at times (or when there were power outages of countless hours at home, more on this in another post) and missing the phone again which I could use to read some or other ebook. Thinking back, I was more used to it as a smart device, than as a phone. Anyhow, I did manage with the 5-year old Nokia 2600 all this time.

    Android robot logo.

    Image via Wikipedia

    Coming back to the topic, I have drooled over Samsung (Google) Nexus S since the time of its launch in India, but a little research led me to believe it’s not worth its jaw-dropping price without the S-AMOLED screen. Asking around friends, reading reviews on various sites, visiting few local show rooms and shopping centers in malls (all this within the worst 2 weeks of my life) could do just one thing to me – leave me confused! One thing that I found is that here in Indian market, there are so many options to choose from in high-end segment and low-range segment, but too few for mid-range segment which caters to people like me looking for the best combination of price and features.

    Anyway, here are my picks in different price classes, these may be considered the best in their range, but let me warn you this post is completely biased on what I consider should be in a complete smartphone and, of course, limited by the maximum price I can spend (read: convince my father to spend 😉 ). Note that these are in decreasing order of their current prices on Flipkart, and I have mentioned only my likes and dislikes about each of them, not to be confused with Pros/Cons, Ups/Downs, etc. parameters. You can still click on their names to see pics and full specs.

    Samsung Galaxy S I9000

    Price: Rs. 22,900

    Likes: 4” Super AMOLED, 720p video recording, Bluetooth v3.0, 16GB in-built storage

    Dislikes: price, no camera flash

    Comment: This is the phone to buy if you have the moolah (beats closest rival Desire S on many specs). It was awarded best phone of the year by many reviewers last year. Only choice, among these phones, with an S-AMOLED screen.

    Samsung Galaxy S LCD I9003

    Price: Rs. 19,900

    Likes: 720p video recording, 1650 mAh battery, 4GB in-built storage

    Dislikes: SC-LCD instead of S-AMOLED, no camera flash

    Comment: Almost similar to I9000, slightly thicker & bulkier, comparatively inferior screen, lower performance. Good choice if S-AMOLED is not a must for you.

    Motorola Defy

    Price: Rs. 17,189

    Likes: water & dustproof, scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass display, 1.25GB internal storage and a 2GB microSD card included, decent VGA recording

    Dislikes: normal TFT capacitive screen, Android 2.1 Eclair, average camera (for stills), no secondary camera

    Comment: I almost chose this phone, but reading about camera quality disappointed me. One nifty feature is automatic loading of lyrics from TuneWiki while using its music player. And, you can actually put this phone in a glass full of water. 🙂

    Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830

    Price: Rs. 15,200

    Likes: 2GB microSD card included, decent 5MP still camera with LED flash

    Dislikes: resolution (320 x 480) normal TFT capacitive screen for its rather steep price , poor QVGA recording at 15fps, no secondary camera

    Comment: Nice camera, but video recording is a sure no go. Feels pricey for its features.

    LG Optimus One P500

    Price: Rs. 10,999

    Likes: price, Android 2.2 Froyo (perhaps cheapest phone with this)

    Dislikes: 262K color display (instead of 16M), only 3MP camera, no secondary camera, no WiFi 802.11n, VGA 18fps recording

    Comment: Heard a lot of rave reviews about this one. One of my Kerala (geek) friends recently bought it too. Good choice for its price. (And my last resort!)

    Dell XCD35

    Price: Rs. 10,499

    Likes: high resolution (480 x 800) at this price

    Dislikes: Android 2.1 Eclair, 256K color display, 3.15MP camera, no secondary camera

    Comment: This finds its place here in my list because of the huge screen resolution you get at this price. May serve as a good e-book reader for me, if nothing else.

    I am expecting to purchase one of these really soon. Will try posting a review too.

    Hope this helps some of you. Comments from readers are welcome as usual.

    Signing off,


    • Mahesh Mohan M.U 10:50 PM on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, if you have a 20k+ budget why even think about LG O1 and Dell XCD. Don’t go for XCD solely because of the high screen resolution. You would be stuck with old Eclair for years. Don’t expect any updates. Even Samsung is a bit slow in that job!

      IMO, O1 is a nice pick for a 10K budget. If you go beyond 20K, it is considered as high end.

      First fix your budget. Get a final word from your dad about how much he could shell out! hehe

      • Kartik 12:56 AM on May 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the comment Mahesh. 🙂

        Yeah, I understand. I prepared this list for others to check out too. Most probably I will go for Galaxy S I9003, but it was not a bad idea to weigh all the other good options too. 😉

        Putting XCD was just to highlight the screen size it offers at its price. Anyway I am reluctant to buy Dell as it is new in the smartphone business.

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