Dec 29, 2011


Just joined the Android Party and acquired a HTC EVO 3D and HTC Sensation for the Missus. I'm going to jump in and learn all I can to modify this beast. Even though the EVO 3D is just a few months new, it's considered old technology already! That's great for me though because I got a great deal for some excellent hardware. 

My main consideration when buying a phone was hardware specs. With good hardware, I can flash different software to suite my needs. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2ghz Dual Core, two cameras for 3D shooting, 720P video, qHD 540x960 screen, and MHL HDMI out. Imagine the possibilities!

Dec 19, 2011

[OUTDATED] DIY $40/year GPS Tracking on the Cheap Tutorial


Update 1/8/12:
I just ordered a Motorola i576 iDEN ruggedized phone to test its Bluetooth DUN (Dial Up Networking) connection with my WiFi only HTC EVO 3D VOIP phone. The i576 will provide internet access to my EVO 3D over a bluetooth connection. Ideally, I will be able to track my routes, LoJack my bike, unlimited free text messaging, and have internet access available to my Android device.

Update 3/1/12:
The i576 is one awesome phone. I was able to get the i576 to provide internet to my Android phone. For those looking for a cheap LoJack or a GPS tracker, the i576 may work better with its extended battery and ruggedized design. Whichever phone you decide to choose, the following tutorial will work great.

This is my Dude, Where's My Bike Spot/LoJack set up using tazeat's Honda Forum post as a guide. It's cheap and useful for the road warrior.

With an old Motorola i425 Boost Mobile pay-as-you-go phone, I was able to track my routes via the web, share my route to loved ones, make/receive calls, and use the phone like a LoJack GPS tracker. There's also a way to get unlimited 20kbps free internet access including tethering to a laptop. Remember 56K, well this is 20K, so yeah. Absolutely no data plan needed and all for $10 every 3 months.

The bare minimum payment to keep the plan active is $10 every 3 months. There's no need to put more than the minimum, unless you want to use your phone to make/receive calls at a rate of 20 cents per minute.

Quick Summary:
Buy new phone kit with $5 credit included
Activate phone online
Install Instamapper App
Register an Instamapper Account
Connect extended power


Bill of Materials:
$40 iDEN Motorola Phone (i290, i335, i425...), with unactivated SIM card, and $5 credit
$2 mini USB transfer data cable
Optional $20 Portable USB battery pack (comes with 2 wire charger for the i425) OR $2 mini USB charger cable (usually made with 2 wires, no data pins)
Free App
Total Cost for 3 months: $44 or $64 w/battery pack

A new i425 phone, activation kit, and $5 credit (good for 3 months of tracking) go for $40 on eBay. From my experience, the best bang for your buck is to buy the phone kit new.

Update by user Moo Cow 6/9/12 (picking up a used phone may not be as hard as I thought. Check it out):
"Hey Tri, great write up!! just picked up an i576 from Mobile Karma and got a sim from a local boost store, everything went together without issue."

If you want to take the hard road like I did, then by all means, get a working used phone, get a SIM with the PIN (without the PIN, there will be a $10 activation fee on top of the credit you need to add), and working battery (the BK60, BK70, or the giant BK10 battery could possibly be used with a modded case), or else you'll need to revive your old dead battery. Then go through the process of resetting the phone's network connection and settings. Seriously, save yourself the hassle and get a new phone kit.

Follow Boost Mobile's instructions for activation. It may go something like this:
Log onto and click Activate
Enter in your SIM ID and IMEI
Select Pay as you Go (We do NOT need data)
Choose a phone number
If your phone came with a $5 credit, then you'll see the credit once you log into My Account. Look under Expiration Date, and you'll see it should have a expiration date 3 months from the day you activated.
When your phone activates, you'll see Boost display on the phone once the phone is turned on

Install Instamapper
Visit their website and go to step 4.

Register a Free Instamapper Account
Then browse to Devices:
Then add a device:
Give the Device a name
Click Add
Now grab your phone and open GPS Tracker
Copy the Key for the new device you just created into GPS Tracker's Settings menu

Configure Instamapper to run Always On
We can have Instamapper run automatically every time we turn the phone on. This will enable the App to constantly run in the background.
Go to your Apps menu
Type *158#
Enter passcode: 0000
Select OK
Select Full Time App
Scroll down to select GPS Tracker, and a green checkmark will display
Select Done

Extended Power
Battery life is limited depending on the frequency of "Send every (sec)" signal updates you want to send to Instamapper. The more updates you send, the more battery life you will use. To get extended battery life, you can purchase a portable USB battery pack which includes a charger for the i425 phone. The i425 phone can charge on any USB port as long as the cable is only 2 wires with no data pins.

Example Usage
For my setup, I have my i425 connected to a portable USB power pack. I can hide this set up in my Moto or Car to track my vehicles in case of theft. The online Instamapper updates will be accurate enough to locate my vehicle. Additional benefits from Instamapper include features similar to a Spot Location Device where we can share your maps with friends and family so they track our trip. Facebook or embedded maps are available too. Spot does have one unique feature with it's emergency button and satellite emergency communication, whereas the phone only has 911 capabilities and is limited to cell phone coverage areas.

Extra Modifications
Opera Browser
You can install Opera Browser 3 to get free internet on your phone. Again, no data plan is needed. From my understanding, the data usage is all on the iDEN network, so it is extremely slow, but still useful when in a bind.

Google Maps also work on the phone.

Tethering to Ubuntu/Linux
There are tutorials online to tether an iDEN phone to a laptop/computer to provide internet access to your PC. Newer phones may provide faster tethering speeds?

For Ubuntu/Linux users, you can do the following:

Install moto4lin from Synaptics Package Manager
Then from user J@F on
"Go to the terminal and type "sudo pppconfig"
  • your password 
  • create a connection
  • give it a name like boost or nextell, whatever service ur using. (remember this name)
  • arrow down to "use dynamic dns" then space bar, then enter.
  • press enter on PAP
  • for username and password press spacebar
  • im not sure about the best speed but I put 19200
  • press enter on tone
  • enter "S=2" 
I knew my port was /dev/ttyACM0 so I arrowed to no enter. yours should be something with ACM in it look in the /dev directory and look for something with ACM in the name also it changes to ttyACM0 and ttyACM1 with me so i made 1 with ACM0 and 1 with ACM1

  • arrow down to finished
  • enter
  • arrow down to quit
  • type "pon whatever_the_name_of_the_provider_you_gave_was"

your logged in. just don't keep the phone next to the monitor it will make lines show up on the screen type poff in the terminal when you want to hangup. oh and the i450 can have widen on it and thats 4x faster. hoped this helped"


Dec 8, 2011

How to install Siphon SIP for iPhone, iPod, iPad

(image from Siphon)

This tutorial is applicable for iOS 4.1 or later, but not 5.
You must have Cydia before proceeding:

  1. Install Cydia
  2. Install iFile
  3. Download your favorite release from
  4. Email the file you just downloaded to yourself
  5. Open up your email
  6. Touch the file to download it
  7. Once the download is complete, open in iFile
  8. Click on the file in iFile
  9. Select Install
  10. Once the installation is complete, an Siphon icon will display, and if not, use your App search to find it, then Siphon will display on your springboard
  11. Enjoy

Dec 5, 2011

XBMC & Nvidia VDPAU on Ubuntu 11.10 with working Sound over HDMI

I've successfully built another XBMC Ubuntu 11.10 machine with sound over HDMI thanks to various internet resources and some good ole troubleshooting. Sound is audible through the Internet Browser as well as through XBMC, so we have system sounds as well as movie sounds enabled. 

My system plays 1080p and 720p movies smoothly with almost no CPU utilization e.g. a 15 gigabyte 1080p Blu-ray rip runs perfectly smooth. Nvidia's VDPAU handles all of the HD processing, and the video is stunning. Also, XMBC's AEON skin is just as beautiful. Note: Adobe's Flash 11 has numerous bugs in its current state, so it does not work 100% with this build, and it seems slightly more stable in Firefox than in Chrome.

This tutorial should work for Nvidia hardware users as well as give some troubleshooting ideas for ATI users.


My Setup:
Acer Revo R1600 (stock and unmodded)
Nvidia ION LE
Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit


1. Install Ubuntu 11.10

2. Get the Nvidia driver
How To Install Nvidia 275.09.07 Driver in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot?

3. Install XBMC
Install XBMC on Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot/Linux

4. Getting Sound to play over HDMI may take several steps:

First, check to see if sound is enabled and unmuted. SPDIF should be unmuted as well:

Press <F6> to select the correct soundcard.
Press <F3> to show playback levels. <F4> selects capture levels [or use <Tab>]
Use the left/right arrow keys to select and up/down arrow keys to change levels. <M> to mute/unmute.
Go to "System ->Preferences ->Sound" and make sure the correct soundcard is default and adjust your profile on the hardware tab. 
On the output tab choose the correct device."
Then we'll check to see where our sound device is located by:
aplay -l
(Mine was 0,3)

Next, we'll load a module to finally get system sounds working:

From Ubuntuforums user efflandt on (I've modified the hardware location to match my hardware 0,3) :

aplay -D plughw:0,3 /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
Mine is 0,3 so I added a line to /etc/pulse/ after alsa-sink line:

#load-module module-alsa-sink
load-module module-alsa-sink device=hw:0,3
Reboot. The only odd thing it that in the Output tab of Sound Preferences you will need to select the HDA NVidia device that does NOT say HDMI to get HDMI sound. The speaker test in Sound Preferences will not work, but if you play Rythmbox, etc. you should be able to switch sound output on the fly."

Lastly, we're going to enable HDMI sound in XBMC

Select HDMI in Audio Output
Under Audio Output Device, select Defaults
For passthrough sound to your receiver, choose the setting your setup requires.

Now get some popcorn going, sit back, and enjoy your HTPC!

Troubleshooting & Tips

Fix Video Tearing:

Overscan compensation:

Enable HD flash

Change icon size

Change font sizes (just change the DPI for bigger fonts)


Dec 1, 2011

DIY GPS Handlebar Mount Tutorial

(image: Tri's DIY GPS handlebar mount on an Aprilia Tuono)

The goal of this post is to give you an idea on how to create your own GPS handlebar mount. The core build of this DIY GPS mount should be applicable to anything with handlebar like a motorcycle, bicycle, scooter or ATV. The size and shape of the DIY GPS mount will vary depending on your needs such as the size of your GPS and handlebars. Overall, I've used this GPS mount on two motorcycles with great results.

Materials to build 1 mount:
Aluminum Flat Bar at Home Depot
2 Halex 3/4 in. Steel Conduit and Pipe Hangers #26781, (in the electrical isle of HD)
2 Hex bolts
2 Nuts
2 Washers
2 Locking washers
Plumber's Teflon Tape

Bill of Materials:

Dremel or Hack Saw
Sanding block
Dry erase marker


1. Gather your build materials from Home Depot.

2. Choose a good mounting location and make note of how much space you have to work with. Will the GPS mount fit?

3. Cut your aluminum bar to the size of your GPS using either a Dremel or hacksaw, and sand the edges smooth

4. Place the conduit hanger holes side by side, and place them together onto the aluminum bar. Mark your drill holes with your Dry erase marker.

5. Drill out the two holes

6. Tighten and screw in the nuts and bolts with the washer and locking washer.

7. Optional. Drill out a pair of holes to attach some Velcro straps.

8. Mount the GPS holder to your handlebar by unscrewing the Speed Thread on the Conduit Hangers. 

9. Add some  plumber's Teflon thread tape to protect your handlebar from scratches. 

10. Pull the hangers apart and mount it to your handlebar. Put back the screw and tighten down.

11. Cut some velcro and add it to the front of the GPS holder and to the back of your GPS.

12. Mount your GPS to your new DIY GPS mount. Now start on your next adventure!