Posts filed under 'Latest Accessories'

Blackberry Bold Preview coming

More pics to come.

1 comment May 20th, 2008

Improving the CradlePoint PHS300′s battery life

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I love my PHS300. Being able to go out and having internet whenever I need it is really liberating. Of course there is one drawback; I’m talking about the battery life. I’ve turned the signal on the PHS down since it’s usually close by. I’ve found that typically I get 90 to 120mins connected time before my PHS300 battery gives up. Battery life is decent but it’s not long enough that I can leave it on whenever I’m out. I have to turn it on whenever I need it and remember to turn it off when I’m done.

When I’m out I usually bring a Toshiba Libretto (a small laptop with a 7″ display) plus the PHS300 and my modem. I carry it all in my man purse.

After reading a thread at EVDO forums, I was inspired to try making an external battery pack for my PHS. Rechargeable AA batteries have a voltage of 1.2 volts. 4 AA’s connected in series would yield a voltage of 4.8 volts which is close to the PHS AC adapter’s 5 volts.

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I happen to have tons of AA rechargable batteries lying around from my SLR camera gear and various video game controllers. I have two types of batteries – Sanyo 2500mAh NiMH batteries which are the regular kind that discharge if you charge them and they sit on the shelf for a while. The other kind is Sanyo’s newer ENELOOP 2000mAh NiMH batteries. These have less capacity but only lose 15% of their charge per year (so they claim). Since I’m guessing they will only last a day or two I’m going to be using my 2500mAh cells.

I recharge the batteries with a Maha C801D.

Regular alkaline AA’s have a voltage of 1.5 volts and will fit but I’m not sure if the voltage is too high. I didn’t try them.

Before you read my instructions, here’s my disclaimer. If you break your PHS300 using my instructions it’s not my fault. If somehow you manage to set your PHS300 on fire it’s not my problem but please do send me a picture.

Here’s my instructions on how to make your own external battery pack. They’re actually very simple but in the interest of helping total electrical noobs (like myself) I’m being very very verbose.

Needed:

  1. Soldering iron
  2. Solder
  3. Multimeter
  4. Heatshrink wrap
  5. 4 cell AA holder
  6. Compatible plug
  7. Wire stripper
  8. AA NiMH battery
  9. Hair dryer

Steps:

  1. Stick AA batteries into the holder
  2. Strip off some wire from the compatible plug. 1/4″ should do fine. Separate the wires for an inch or two.
  3. Put some small heatshrink wrap on EACH wire from the AC adapter plug. You don’t need that much.
  4. If you want a neater looking job, you can put a thicker piece of heatshrink wrap to cover the parts of wire that are separated.
  5. Connect wires from the battery holder to the compatible plug. Connect the red wire from the battery pack to one of the wires on the compatible plug. Do the same with the black wire and the other wire on the compatible plug. Make sure the 2 sets of wires don’t touch.
  6. Check polarity with the multimeter.
  7. measuring1.png
    1. Here’s how you do it: The PHS300′s plug polarity is like this -c+ the outside is negative and the inside is positive (see the picture above).
    2. Set your multimeter to measure DC voltage, you want it at a resolution that will handle around 6 volts.
    3. While the batteries are in the holder and the wires are connected, place the black tip from the multimeter on the outside of the plug and place the red tip from the multimeter on the INSIDE. Make sure the red and black wires from the battery pack are not touching each other.
    4. tips.png
    5. If the voltage is +5 (around there, mine read 5.2 volts) you’re good to go. If the voltage is negative, the polarity is wrong. Swap the red wire from the battery pack with the black wire from the battery pack and test again to make sure it is now positive.
  8. Solder the red wire from the battery pack with the wire from the AC adapter. Do the same with the battery pack’s black wire.
  9. Wait for things to cool and then move the two thin pieces of heatshrink wrap over the exposed wire.
  10. Use the blow dryer to shrink the wrap.
  11. If you wanted a neater job, move the thicker piece of heatshrink wrap over the two smaller wires and shrink it with the blow dryer.
  12. Check the polarity again. Make sure the voltage isn’t higher than 6 volts.

You’re done! Please note I don’t have any heatshrink wrap in my how-to pictures. I cut the wrap off of my setup to take pictures of it.

Using the new external battery pack I found my PHS battery life went from about 120mins to almost 7hrs. An increase of around 5 hrs. Please note I’m not constantly using the PHS300. A lot of the time it’s on but I’m not. 5 hr’s isn’t bad but it’s not quite enough for a long day. I ran out, got some more supplies and connected two 4 cell AA holders in parallel. Connecting them in parallel is the same as my instructions only you do this differently:

Connect the red wire from battery pack 1 to the red wire on battery pack 2 to the correct wire on the AC adapter plug. Do the same with the black wire from the battery packs, check polarity and solder. I connected the packs using some double sided tape and some parts I had lying around the house.

batterypack.png

Now you get the same voltage but double the run time. Now I can get close to around 12 hrs of battery life. That’s good enough for me. If it’s not enough for you to make a battery holder with D cells (D cell NiMH batteries have capacities of around 10000mAh)

Since the battery pack is not that thick I can fit it, my laptop, modem and router in my man purse no problem. Sweet huh?

Howard Chui
03.30.2008

18 comments March 30th, 2008

CradlePoint PHS300 Portable Hotspot Review

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As time goes by, more and more personal devices are able to connect to the internet. Devices like your iPod, laptops, phones, etc. With the exception of phones, the connection of choice seems to be WiFi.

Now it’s cool when you’re at home where you have WiFi but when you’re out you won’t always have internet access. You also have to deal with the dilemma of which of your devices you want to pay to get on the net when you’re out. You could connect your phone to your laptop via Bluetooth but what about your iPod? If you pay for WiFi at a coffee shop what happens when you leave?

Here’s where the Cradlepoint PHS300 comes in. You connect your USB cellular modem (or certain phones) to it and then it allows you to share the connection with all of your WiFi enabled devices. It’s a brilliant idea.

It’s portable so you have to throw a battery into the mix. There’s a removable (sort of) Li Ion battery that lasts for around 90 mins if you’re using a USB modem. So you have to charge the PHS300 when you’re not using it. If you’re close to a electrical outlet then you can connect the router to the wall and won’t have to worry about battery life.

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The reason I say it’s sort of removable is because it’s virtually impossible to remove without using tools. It’s just such a tight fit. To make matters worse, the battery that Cradlepoint includes doesn’t have a ‘lip’ for you to use to pry out the battery. It seems a Kyocera Model TXBAT10073 extended battery is compatible and fits plus it has a lip though in practice the lip doesn’t help. To remove the Cradlepoint battery, I had to gouge the plastic with my car keys to remove it. The Kyocera battery is a little easier. I haven’t changed batteries since.

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There’s no network jack – which is fine by me since it makes the unit smaller but some may miss this.

There isn’t much to compare the PHS300 too but I thought it was acceptable as far as size goes. It’s not tiny, it’s not large. It’s similar in size to a portable notebook hard drive which means it is not an awkward shape (very important if it’s portable).

You charge the PHS300 with the included AC adapter. It’s slightly bigger than the average phone AC adapter. Since it’s a portable router it would be nice if you could also charge it using your computer’s USB port. There is also an optional cigarette lighter adapter for your car.

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There are 3 status LED’s; power, phone and WiFi. If the phone LED is red there’s a problem with the connection to your phone. Try unplugging your modem or phone and plugging it back in.

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I tested the PHS300 with a Novatel U720 EVDO modem. It works well but I often found that I could not get online if I left the modem plugged in when I powered the router on. I found I could get online sometimes if I’ve used the modem recently (like in the past 30 minutes) otherwise I’d have to wait till the router is on to plug the modem in. It’s not a big deal but can get annoying.

The router admin panel is pretty much exactly the same as a Dlink router’s. Option for option, page for page. Before I describe it I found it to be missing 2 important pieces of information; battery remaining and a cumulative data counter. These 2 things are pretty ‘portable EVDO router’ specific so I’m pretty disappointed they’re not included.

Otherwise you get lots of router-y options. You can find a complete map of the PHS300′s menu options after the review.

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Speed wise the PHS300 is pretty transparent (it doesn’t slow your connection down). Unfortunately my U720 modem broke half way through the review so I don’t have any numbers. The PHS300 has Wipipe technology that’s supposed to speed your connection up. I suspect it’s just packet prioritization software so that if you’re downloading a number of things and try to stream something, the stream packets will get priority.

Besides wireless security (WPA/hiding the SSD/MAC address filtering) you can require users to type in a password before they can access the net.

Battery life is claimed to be 60 to 90 minutes. I didn’t get a chance to test this (since my modem broke). I will update this review when I get it replaced.

There’s a chat function that people can use to talk with other people connected to the router.

One use I didn’t really discuss is if you’re somewhere where you have very weak network signal. You can put the PHS300 where there is a strong network signal (like in another room by the window) and get service elsewhere.

While not perfect, the PHS300 is a really useful device. Probably the worst things about it are (in order): Sometimes you have to plug your modem in AFTER you’ve turned the PHS300 on. The battery life is too short plus the battery is not easy to remove (would make the battery is too short point less important). There is no battery meter and cumulative data counter info in the router control panel.

Howard Chui

Menus

  1. Basic
    1. WAN
      1. Cellular Modem PPP Settings
      2. DNS and Advanced Settings
    2. LAN
      1. Lan Settings
      2. RIP
      3. IGMP
      4. DNS Relay
    3. DHCP
      1. DHCP server enable
      2. DHCP settins
      3. number of dynamic DHCP clients
      4. add DHCP reservations
    4. Wireless
      1. Basic wireless settings (network name, visible/invisible, 802.11b,g,b/g, auto channel select, rando channel select, super G Mode, channel, transmission rate)
      2. Wireless security mode (WEP/WPA)
      3. WPA (WPA or WPA2 or both)
  2. Advanced
    1. virtual server (aka port forwarding)
    2. special applications
      1. application level gateway configuration (IPSec VPN, RTSP, FTP, SIP, Wake-on-lan)
      2. Add special applications rule
    3. gaming
    4. traffic shaping
    5. routing
    6. access control
    7. web filter
    8. mac address filter
    9. firewall
    10. inbound filter
    11. advanced wireless
    12. schedules
    13. modem settings
  3. Tools
    1. Admin
      1. Admin password
      2. Internet access password
      3. Administration
        1. gateway name
        2. enable remote managment
        3. remote admin port
        4. remote admin inbound filter
        5. admin idle timeout
      4. UPnp
      5. Save and restore configuration
    2. Time
      1. Time configuration (time zone, DST)
      2. Automatic time configuration (NTP server)
      3. Set time and date manually (set manually, copy computer’s time settings)
    3. Syslog
      1. enable (enable logging, specify server to send logs to)
    4. Email
      1. enable email notifications
      2. email settings (from, to, SMTP server address, enable authentication)
      3. email log when full or on schedule
    5. System
      1. system commands (reboot device, restore to factory settings)
    6. Firmware
      1. firmware information
      2. firmware upgrade
      3. firmware upgrade notifications options
    7. Dynamic DNS
      1. enable
      2. dynamic DNS (changeip.com, DNSomatic.com, DynDNS.org, easyDNS.com, EuroDynDNS.org, no-ip.com, ods.org, OpenDNS.org, ovh.com, regfish.com, tzo.com)
  4. Status
    1. Device Info
      1. General (time/firmware version)
      2. WAN (connection type, connection up time, ip address, subnet mask, default gateway, primary and secondary DNS server)
    2. Wireless
      1. Number of wireless clients
    3. Routing
      1. Routing table
    4. Logs
    5. Statistics
      1. WAN statistics
      2. Wireless Statistics
    6. Active Sessions
    7. Modem Info

19 comments March 18th, 2008

Apple iPhone grows 29 new colors

iPhone ColorWare

ColorWare usually comes up putting new colors into Sidekicks and other devices now they have taken on the Apple iPhone. You can choose from 29 different colors. You can purchase a new iPhone with your choice of ColorWare for either $649 (4GB) or $749 (8GB) or you can send your in own iPhone for only $149. Check it out at ColorWare.com

Source: Engadget 

11 comments July 19th, 2007

Sony Ericsson, Fossil launch new Bluetooth Watches

Sony Ericsson Bluetooth Watches

Sony Ericsson has just announced three new Bluetooth watch accessories. All three new watches are designed in partner with Fossil.

“From the moment you use a Bluetooth™ Watch you wonder how you ever managed without it,” says José Barreiro-López Head of Sales & Marketing Support of Sony Ericsson. “Using your watch as a wire-free interface with your phone is about as convenient and non-obtrusive as you can get. Now whether you’re out socialising, working, or just at home with your family, there’s a Bluetooth™ watch to go with you.”

With their new watches you can choose from:

  • Bluetooth™ Watch MBW-150 Music Edition: Control your music phone with your watch.
  • Bluetooth™ Watch MBW-150 Executive Edition:Keep ahead of the pace and control your phone in a way that keeps you focused.
  • Bluetooth™ Watch MBW-150 Classic Edition: Relax in casual style while keeping in touch with the world.

“All three timepieces in the MBW-150 range have a scratch-resistant mineral crystal glass face with an antiglare coating. When not using them to control your phone they look exactly like a regular watch, thanks to a discreet OLED display that’s only seen when in use. What’s more, the addition of Bluetooth™ technology does not lead to a compromise on time-keeping. A Quartz analogue precision movement, plus a digital time display that’s synchronised with your phone, make sure that you stay on track.”

[Sony Ericsson]

5 comments June 15th, 2007

Palm announces “Foleo” mobile companion

Palm Foleo

Palm has released a new mobile device called “Foleo”. Basically its a mini laptop running Linux OS that connects directly to your Treo smartphone for syncronzation.  You will see the Palm Foleo go on sale later this summer for $499 after rebate. For more informaiton on Foleo visit Palm.com.

The Foleo mobile companion turns on and off instantly and features fast navigation, a compact and elegant design, and a battery that lasts up to 5 hours of use. Its applications include email, full-screen web browser, and editors or viewers for common business documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. The Foleo stays synchronized via Bluetooth(R) wireless technology and uses the smartphone’s radio or the Foleo’s built-in Wi-Fi radio for general Internet connectivity.

“Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on,” said Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc. and the visionary behind the Foleo’s concept and definition. “Smartphones will be the most prevalent personal computers on the planet, ultimately able to do everything that desktop computers can do. However, there are times when people need a large screen and full-size keyboard. As smartphones get smaller, this need increases. The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity.”

2 comments May 31st, 2007

Samsung unleashes 8GB microSD memory card

 Samsung 8GB microSD

Samsung has announced they have a designed a 8GB microSD memory card. The 8GB microSD would allow phones to store just over 2,000 songs. Only problem at this time is no phones support the card as of yet. You can bet Samsung will be launching a handset with support shortly.

Source: Samsung

6 comments May 23rd, 2007

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