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Hardware Hacking Hardware

Juicebox Hacking 259

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
magic_user writes "Now that Mattel's JuiceBox can be had for $12 (Target, WalMart), this seems like a perfect toy for hackers. I've found a picture frame hack but what I'm really looking for is a way to play my own videos on it. It runs uclinux so this shouldn't be too hard, right? "
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Juicebox Hacking

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  • $12? Hardly... (Score:5, Informative)

    by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:46PM (#12696236) Homepage
    From what I can see (walmart.com, amazon.com, and froogle.com) the JuiceBox is about $40 to $50. The only place I can find it quoted for being less is at the blog that this story links to... Perhaps they were on sale, the unit was in an opened package, or the online prices do not reflect the in-store ones. I don't know. YMMV.

    It seems that this [elinux.org] would have been a more informative link to include in the story as it gives quite a bit of information about the JuiceBox and links to some of the code from Emsoft.

    It does seem like an interesting device to putz around with but I'll hold out until you can display pics via wlan to it :)
  • hacking? (Score:5, Funny)

    by justforaday (560408) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:47PM (#12696248)
    I wouldn't exactly call it "hacking," but I've been modding juiceboxes for years. All it involves is a straw...
    • I agree.

      I really like the effect known as "laughing so hard the juice goes out one's nose" trick which is practiced in lunchrooms across the country.
    • ....you know...for KIDS!!!!
    • Re:hacking? (Score:5, Funny)

      by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:54PM (#12696335) Journal
      I wouldn't exactly call it "hacking," but I've been modding juiceboxes for years. All it involves is a straw...

      Have you ever noticed what color the hole that you stick the straw is? Silver. That's right. It's tinfoil.

      There's something in these "juiceboxes" that they don't want us to know about, and someday our meddling with juiceboxes with straws will get us in trouble...

    • I wouldn't exactly call it "hacking," but I've been modding juiceboxes for years. All it involves is a straw...

      Actually, you can 'overclock' said juiceboxes when empty by inflating them with the aforementioned straw, and then stamping on them very hard.

      Cue a Very Loud Bang.
    • Re:hacking? (Score:3, Funny)

      by spacefrog (313816)
      Maybe my modding is a bit more advanced then yours, but it involves a funnel and some vodka.

      Either that, or I'm an alcoholic. You decide.
    • Re:hacking? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tenebrious1 (530949)
      All it involves is a straw...

      The straw??? Now you tell me! I've been lifting up one corner flap and chewing it off to get to the juice...

    • Re:hacking? (Score:4, Funny)

      by morcheeba (260908) * on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:21PM (#12697276) Journal
      I modded my juice box in highschool.

      The goal was to make the drink still cold for my long bus ride home in the afternoon. Even when I froze the drink, it got warm sitting in my locker. I started by making a form-fitting styrofoam cooler out of left-over packing material. The walls were probably 1/4" thick. Result: cool, but not ice-cold. So, on my second try, I found some thicker sytrofoam (1/2-3/4") and built a box out of that. Result: still frozen solid - success! Of course I couldn't drink it, but that wasn't the point...
    • "I wouldn't exactly call it "hacking," but I've been modding juiceboxes for years. All it involves is a straw..."

      I hacked a bag of chips once. This freshman came and sat at our table. I pointed at his bag of chips and asked if he wanted more. He nodded his head. I made a fist and *SMASH*. Suddenly, he had more chips.
      • Just like that lovely Japanese song "Fushigi na Poketto." This is the song about where you have a biscuit in your pocket, you slap it, wow! Now you have two. Repeat, now you have three... Your fantastic pocket makes more biscuits!

        This wonderful song used to cheer up the Japanese kids while they starving during WWII.

  • Arm port of Debian (Score:4, Interesting)

    by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:48PM (#12696259) Homepage
    Get the ARM port of Debian on there and compile mplayer to an ARM target. Failing that use the debian port of Xine. Does this rate a /. article?
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) *
      MPlayer and Xine would probably be too slow. I'm digging through the specs now, but my guess is that this has a built-in MPEG decoder chip. Alternatively, it might just accept the hit in ROM costs and store the video in a poorly compressed format. It would certainly make sense if all you're storing are a few, low-res, low-quality music videos.
      • I saw on the Samsung site for the CPU that the processor runs at 66 Mhz. That's slow by today's standards, but then the processor is meant to be low power for battery powered devices. Would have been nice if it had something like a 200-300 Mhz cpu.
    • by theGreater (596196)

      Or you could just go grab the juicebox source [emsoftltd.com] from emsoft [emsoftltd.com] and save yourself some time.

      -theGreater.
    • I don't think it will be quite that easy. The CPU in this thing is an ARM7 with no MMU - which is why it runs uclinux instead of regular linux. That means that you can't just drop regular packages onto it. I think that you need to custom locate (in memory) each package that you want to run, and compile it yourself. I could be wrong - but it certainly isn't going to be as easy as just running Debian on it.
      • iPods also have no MMU, which is why running Linux on them has been somewhat of a challenge (that and puzzling out the bootloader code, but that's been figured out)
  • by The_Rippa (181699) * on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:50PM (#12696281)
    ...do what now?
  • Noisy website (Score:5, Informative)

    by th77 (515478) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:52PM (#12696311)
    You could have warned us that the JuiceBox link leads to an obnoxiously noisy site. Fun way to get noticed at work. Yick.
    • Re:Noisy website (Score:3, Insightful)

      by temojen (678985)
      I was annoyed at it and I don't even have speakers plugged in to my workstation.
    • This was clearly posted by a peeved off Admin trying to catch people out -
    • Re:Noisy website (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LetterJ (3524)
      See, the fact that you can even hear sound from your PC at work is a foreign concept to me. Everywhere I've worked, hooking actual speakers to a workstation would get you smacked down pretty quickly. If you actually need the sound, they've invented tiny speakers you can temporarily strap to your ears that let you hear the sound without anyone else having to.

      I'd never even think to warn about the sound on a site because I don't have publicly audible speakers connected to any PC I own except the one in my ho
      • The USAF requires all current and new computers to have speakers because of a push towards computer based training products replacing classroom academics for certain initial and recurring training that everyone must receive. It's a hell of a lot easier to tell 5000 people at an airbase to view a CBT module and take an online test than it is to schedule all 5000 of them through classes 30 at a time.

        Some of that stuff is absolutely crucial to military expertise, but it's not really tough enough to require h
      • My workstation at work not only has speakers, it has a freakin' subwoofer on the floor. I think maybe Dell gave a package deal or something, because my job definitely does not require that the bass be thumpin' (though it does help)
      • "See, the fact that you can even hear sound from your PC at work is a foreign concept to me. Everywhere I've worked, hooking actual speakers to a workstation would get you smacked down pretty quickly. If you actually need the sound, they've invented tiny speakers you can temporarily strap to your ears that let you hear the sound without anyone else having to."

        Funny...everywhere I've worked...speakers were standard issues. Even on some Gov. contracts...

        Now...with that being said...most people around ME w

    • Re:Noisy website (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fabs64 (657132)
      ... thanks ed, sure bet my housemates appreciated the sudden and stupidly loud "JUICEBOX!" at 4.28AM
    • Here I am trying to write intelligently about the structure of on-line apps (and you NEED a /. break to clear you mind from all the BS you've just been spouting,) and this little kid's voice comes on and utterly blows my cool.

      The links should have carried a warning, in BOLD and red.
    • Re:Noisy website (Score:2, Insightful)

      by darken9999 (460645)
      And you could have had the foresight to mute your speakers if you're screwing around at work.
  • ...it's that hardware intended for kids is usually useless for anything else. I've seen quite a few electronic gizmos in recent years, and every time I look at hacking them into a more general purpose device, I find that they are far too mission specific to be of any real-world use. Half the time you open them up and find nothing more than a chip, small PCB, and some epoxy holding the whole thing together.

    If you're interested in replicating this, it might make a "fun" home project to build one using services like Pad2Pad [pad2pad.com], Digikey, and a handful of parts. Once you have the design down, you can sell them in bulk for a similar cost. Perhaps even as "developer kits" that allow others to fool around with them. Just don't waste your time on a toy. :-/
    • I find that they are far too mission specific to be of any real-world use. Half the time you open them up and find nothing more than a chip, small PCB, and some epoxy holding the whole thing together
      Well there goes MY hopes and dreams of a Furby Robot Army of DOOOOOOM.
    • Holy shitsky, somebody mod the parent up! Maybe I'm just a luser who hasn't been paying attention, but this Pad2Pad thing is extremely cool. Custom PC board fab on the cheap. Zow.
    • There are always a few exceptions, and the JuiceBox looks like it's one of those. Probably for exactly the same reason that it failed in the marketplace as well - a $50 (questionably useful) toy is a bit too much.

      The JuiceBox [elinux.org] isn't one of the cheap, one-in-all chips: it's an S3C44B0X 66 MHz ARM7TDMI processor with 8M of RAM onboard (some have 2M) and an SD slot (via a custom connector, but you could make an adapter for roughly free by sampling the connector from Molex) with a uClinux distribution. Plus, J
      • > clearance sales are wonderful things, especially when they involve devices with LCD screens.

        That's what I thought right away--a $12 color LCD for embedded projects. That's cheaper than anything I've seen so far.
  • I have RTF, well, links.
    What's the resolution/physical size of the screen in this thing?
  • by Ravnsgaard (878623)
    Could someone please explain what this thing does and doesn't? The website doesn't really say much.
    • Sorry but I just LOVE that this:

      >Could someone please explain what this thing does and doesn't? The website doesn't really say much.

      was rated +2 insightful.
    • I was just about to post the exact same question. That is the worst website I've ever seen. Nowhere that I saw did they actually say what the product was. They had a faq:

      will it play mp3s? no
      will it play movies? no
      will it do this? no
      will it do that? no

      thanks, but the very first question in any faq should be, "what the heck is it?"
    • It didn't say anything, a Flash page with no SKIP INTRO, as I haven't yet installed Flash on my machines, their page was blank.

      upshot: no sale.
  • I wouldn't mind spending $20 on a DIY digital picture frame that I could upload pix to while traveling on business. It seems no one can agree on the price and functionality out-of-the-box here.
    • What I don't get is why people are trying to do with this what it really can't do easily, which is display pretty graphics and such. It has a sound chip, so mpg123 would work well, along with a text frontend.

      People, it has a USB port. USB Nic, bam, you're on the network. ssh to a server, run pine, irc, etc.

      Awfully cheap remote terminal if you ask me. ;) I wonder how firefox looks at that low of a res....
  • Buy one now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TimmyDee (713324) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:01PM (#12696422) Homepage Journal
    Because it won't be a product for very long. Other than for hackers and a few "must have everything" kids, I can't see this succeeding as a product. The number of qualifiers/caveats/limitations of this thing as mentioned in the FAQ are ridiculous. Want to play MP3s? You need to purchase special software. Oh, and the sound quality is limited to 128 K/s, so all those songs you ripped at higher quality won't work. Want to watch movies? Again, special software. To store anything, you'll need an SD or MMC card (not included) to boost the storage past the 32 MB. The game selection is bound to be limited as they are cartridge based and proprietary.

    Oh, and one more thing: It's not cool. By the time kids will be able to use it, they'll be old enough to know they want an iPod/GameBoy SP/PSP/DS/etc. and not some childish thing from Mattel.
  • and was greeted with the most horrible noise! It sounded like someone singing "Yeah, Yeah" over and over again, horribly clipped and distorted.

    Does the actual hardware sound better than that? And why does it use MP3 instead of something that sounds better at a lower bitrate like WMA?

    • First off, MP3s are vastly more compatible than WMA files. I would rather have MP3s than WMAs. Just crank the bit rate up a bit - storage is cheap anyway.

      On a second note - I doubt that you would be able to detect any limitations of a $30 toy with a 128kbit mp3. Of course, Mattel is known for it's fine audio products...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:05PM (#12696466)
    2.75 inch 240x160 color LCD
    http://www.elinux.org/wiki/JuiceBox [elinux.org]
  • Well, some enterprising American can stick them on ebay and available to the UK because they're upto $108 here.

    As I speak one is going for $54.33:
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ca tegory=298&item=7520347783&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW [ebay.co.uk]
  • and now all they need is a computer and some software to tie it together. Yea. Sure. Its easy.

    (Its gonna be such a bOmB. I don't want to see the collateral damage but I know somebody's gonna get fired over this...)
  • Try 50. Expensive! [walmart.com]
  • DIY Kit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KerosX (69075)
    After all this time I can't believe that someone hasn't just come up with a kit/product that is embeded linux with a small (somewhere around 3" to 5") LCD panel and a network adapter or WiFi.

    If there is something out there like this, I'd love to know about it. The best I've seen previous to this is hacking an old laptop and throwing it into a custom frame, but I want something that uses very little power and generates as little heat as possible.
  • Does this new fangled playback device honor the broadcast flag? :-)
  • by ewanrg (446949) * <{ewan.grantham} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:28PM (#12697378) Homepage
    Rather than hacking the JuiceBox, you might want to consider getting a VideoNow Jr and hacking that instead. There are filters out there for VideoDub, and if you don't mind a bit of dremeling, you can get it to accept a standard CD-R (get the silvery ones like Sony).

    You can put up to 35 minutes of encoded video on a CD-R at a decent quality (18fps) and sound.

    Why go this route rather than a portable DVD player? Somewhat cheaper, don't have to hold the unit folded open (big plus for my handicapped daughter) and RUGGED (bigger plus for my handicapped daughter). We've dropped ours numerous times on the concrete driveway getting her out of the car, and the unit skips and then keeps playing.

    Of course we're not total idiots, so we've bought a backup unit for the eventual day that the driveway is harder than expected :-)
  • by Feyr (449684)
    where's the pcmcia port on these babies? i could see this being used, along with a wireless card, to have an up-to-date calendar hanging on my fridge! mwahahaha!
  • by NeuroManson (214835) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @04:28PM (#12698057) Homepage
    While it doesn't play back DiVX/XViD/MPEG-4, Radio Shack has a portable DVD player for $99 after rebate, it has a 3.6" screen and is about the size of a portable CD player(I've tested one, and it has passable playback quality).

    http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name =CTLG&category_name=CTLG_003_003_004_000&product_i d=16-3912 [radioshack.com]

    I'm sure it can be taken apart and fiddled with, but for those who don't want to, it makes a satisfactory substitute.
  • Did anyone ever figure out how to install Linux on a 3Com Audrey [linux-hacker.net]? Now that little gizmo was promising, running QNX. Needs a bootloader and uCLinux...
  • Speaking of small-screen gadgets running Unix variants, I can't resist putting in a word about the 3-Com Audrey, a $85 (EBay) solid-state touch-screen gadget that runs an embedded Unix called QNX. The Audrey is a failed Internet appliance that was made by 3Com a few years ago. When they didn't sell for $499, 3Com dumped them. They soon showed up on EBay and an Audrey hacking community sprang up (see AudreyHacking.com [audreyhacking.com]). Hacked memory images are available with all sorts of free goodies like mp3 players and ho

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