Thursday, December 30, 2010

Running XBMC on Nokia N900 with MeeGo

Because my goal is to create new HTPC solution from my Pandaboard there is a need for proper HTPC software as well. I have used XBMC in the past a bit and have found it very good solution for HTPC usage so at least for now the plan is to get my HTPC solution to use XBMC as the software. Thanks to the XBMC community from providing this very good piece of software.

I spend some time on my vacation to compile the XBMC 10.0 to MeeGo ARM. This took couple of days to get done with all the dependency packages, graphics problems and things like these but I finally got it running and as an example of XBMC running on MeeGo on ARM I uploaded a video of Nokia N900 running XBMC.
As you can see from the video there is still some things to check and figure out, but it is already running which is very good sign. I am going to do the same on Pandaboard as soon as there is gles hardware acceleration available on that platform on top of MeeGo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Changing Nokia E51 body

I have Nokia E51 that has been in very active usage for couple of years. During this time the side buttons have worn "a bit" as shown in the photos.
As it can be seen the functionality of volume and power buttons is not as good as it used to be which made it a bit hard to use phone at varying environments where background noise levels changed. To fix this problem I ordered an original spare part to my phone. In addition to the body I ordered one needs also a torx T6 screwdriver and knive.

The dissemble is started by removing back cover, microsd card, SIM card and the battery.
First actual thing is to open four (T6) torx screws that are found under the back cover.  After opening these four screws the front cover and keypad can be put a side.

Under the front cover there was two more (T6) torx screws on the top of phone and two clips next to the battery, one on both sides. Then the mainboard of the phone can be separated from the body.
After these the only things left to the body are speaker/antenna and the camera cover. The speaker can be just pulled out of the cover as the screw that hold it in place is already opened. The camera cover can be gently separated with knife.

Before I put the parts back together I took some comparison picture of the old and new body and I think everyone can see the difference. :)

After cleaning the parts a bit I assembled the phone in reverse order. This whole process was in my opinion very simple and took me about 30 minutes to do.And here is one more photo of the result. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ubuntu on Pandaboard

In pandaboard community there is already a decent amount of information how to utilize the hardware. There are ready made images running Ubuntu and Android (pandroid) on Pandaboard. I downloaded the Ubuntu image and flashed it to SD card based on the guide in omappedia wiki pages. The flashing and booting the image went without any problems and I was actually a bit surprised how easy it was in the end. During the first boot the installation extended the partition to maximum of the SD card so it took a while to get the first graphical screen. After booting the installation asked couple of very basic questions such as username, password, timezone and keyboard layout and did some configurations.

When the installation was complete the image was still missing the proprietary components for example WiFi, BT and graphics firmwares and some hardware accelerated codecs for video playback. Installing these took over an hour with me setup (Class 6 SD card).

The ubuntu works quite well on pandaboard I haven't used it much yet so can't give very extensive report, but there are couple of things that I noticed that are bothering me currently. First of all the usage is a bit sluggish to which the rootfs change to USB HDD could help, so that is one of the next things to try. The second thing is that the WLAN MAC address is not static but changes on every boot so it is not possible to set the static IP to my DHCP server for this. There might be a solution for this MAC address problem already but I have not looked so much into that yet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Starting to build new HTPC solution

I have pondered a long time getting a HTPC type of device connected to Full HD screen. It has taken me so long, because of the long list of requirements that I have. First of all the device should not consume much electricity in idle state or even when used still keeping in mind that it should also have a decent performance. While the device should be able to decode 1080p content it still needs to be quiet, so it would not disturb the user experience while listening music, watching a video clips or photos. There is also connectivity requirements such as HDMI and WLAN, and still it should be small device.

While searching a device I first came across the Intel Atom based nettops and boards.  However because I like to have challenges in my life I wanted to select something more "exotic" for the base of my device. So, I continued my search and finally found the Pandaboard, a very small ARM based board manufactured by TI.

I got the device in a small black box a printed pandaboard image on top of it, which contained only the board in antistatic bag and some padding.
The board itself is in my opinion a very nice piece of hardware in very compact space. Pandaboard has very nice features including for example 1080p decoding, HDMI, WLAN, BT, and two USB 2.0 ports. In addition to the Pandaboard itself one needs to get also a power supply, SD memory card, HDMI cable and wireless keyboard/mouse or other controller for the device to get started.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Starting a blog...

I finaly decided to start my own blog about different gadgets and things I'm using in my spare time. Welcome along and I hope you enjoy the content of the blog content.