GhettoHardware.com - Netpliance I-opener hack

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Netpliance i-opener Hack

What follows is discussion and photographs of a most righteous hack, turning the nearly-free Netpliance i-opener web appliance into a full featured pseudolaptop / electronic photo album.

the first thing I needed to do with my newly acquired i-opener was of course give it a useful operating system. While many would debate my choice of windows 98 (later upgraded to millenium), few will disagree that it does more than the simple QNX install it came with. What follows is a shot of the upgraded bios chip, after much hacking with a x-acto knofe on the epoxy placed there to keep me form doing just this.

Netpliance i-opener Hack

After the bios was removed, flashed and replaced my next mission was to install a hard drive. Here is a picture showing the hard drive cable wrap in detail, and my "ghetto approved" unique mounting procedure. Just screwing the damn thing onto the plastic case.

Netpliance i-opener Hack

Now that the computer was functional; I needed to make it useful. Seeing as I botched the original stand in the hacking process (and that it was ugly and huge) I decided I needed a better, and more portable stand. I opted for my own design again, a plexiglass stand with hinges and a wire segment to keep it form opening up too far. (why, because clear is pretty; ask apple; and besides i had some plexi for the screen protector already). Here is a detail of the hinge and the totally ghetto wire restraint.

Netpliance i-opener Hack Netpliance i-opener Hack

For the longest time; that was enough for me. My i-opener had ethernet through the included usb port on the back, it was portable with its translucent stand, and it was still affordable; as altogether I had spent less than 100$ on the project. Unfortunately, good things don't last forever. The i-opener had an cheap usb connector which broke off. Thus I hemmed and hawed as to how to fix it; and with a burst of inspiration (shuffling around my messy room) stumbled upon the usb header I had for non-atx motherboards (which never worked anyhow). SO I hacked it open; and soldered it right onto the pins... Then; I used a pocketknife to make a square hole (no dremel tools) and mount usb on the side where it belongs. So, now I have usb, mounted securely and on the side where it belongs.

Netpliance i-opener Hack Netpliance i-opener Hack

Once this was done; I had but one more sinister plan to complete my i-opener. It was hung by it's ventilation vents with some twisted wire I stole from the Electrical Engineering lab; but that made for a weak and unatractive mounting solution for the wall. My final hack was mounting 2 eye-hooks on either corner of the screen; allowing it to hang from the wall with simple s-hooks. Isn't it Beautiful?

Netpliance i-opener Hack

updates

12-07-2000 (3:30 am)

today I recieved a used 4 gb laptop drive from george which has helped my process substantially. Installign a clean OS on a drive without bad sectors can make quite a difference.

today I also made a big mistake; but fixed it in an even bigger way. I decided I should give my i-opener an external line for audio so I proceeded to impleent it in the standard fashio as described on netik's i-opener hacks page. All went well until I foolishly soldered the capacitor onto the live wire. I THOUGHT that the 1 foot segment of wire would buffer the eletronics plenty, but I was quite wrong. BAM, no audio.

So, what did i do? What any self respecting computer engineer wannabe would do; looked for schematics. I found the schematic for the yamaha sound chip used in the i-opener and proceeded to find the pins of right out, left out and analog ground. I simply wired these to my cap's and the line out jack and bam; a line level output. I would point out that this is REALLY REALLY hard as the wire i used is the thin stuff used in wire wraps; and is still thicker than the machine traces. Yikes! Oh well :-)

...pictures to follow.

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