Simple hack: buy wireless card and it works

I went to OfficeMax the other day for something unreleased and noticed that they were selling 'My Essentials 802.11g wireless' cards for $40.00 each. Since I'm working on a FreeBSD-based wireless picture frame for my wife for Christmas, I thought I'd buy one and see if they worked. To my suprise, they do:

ath0: mem xxxxxxxx at device 0.0 on cardbus0
ath0: Ethernet Address 00:17:3f:xx:xx:xx
ath0: mac 7.8 phy 4.5 radio 5.6

The LEDs don't work on this card. You can enable soft led operations in the ath driver if you want the LED to function:

sysctl dev.ath.0.softled=1

More work would be needed to have the "LINK" light work from the ath driver, but not that much more. All the necessary functions appear to be exposed. The hard part may be finding the GPIO pin for the link LED, since none of the first 20 pins seems to do the trick. And after messing around with them for a while, both LEDs are on solid no matter what.

Still, for a card going into an appliance, this makes a great choice. Plus an easy hacking project if someone wanted the leds to always work.


Mustek PF-A700B Digital Photo Frame -- not hacking

Today I noticed that CompUSA has the Mustek PF-A700B digitial photo frame for $70. So I got one on a flier thinking that I could hack it.

Turns out, that I doubt I could hack it. Here's why.

The unit has two CheerTEK parts in it. A CT-950A and a CT-978. These two are the display engine and "CPU" for the box. However, there's no documentation available on these parts, or prior parts in the same family. There appears to be only 16MB RAM and no ROM/flash chips I could find.

It is kind of a shame because the box has USB, CF and SD slots. One could imagine replacing the firmware that's inside it with firmware that did a wireless connection to a network drive to get the pictures off one folder. There's also two unpopulated headers. One looks like it is either serial or JTAG. The second one is for IIC control. These could make hacking on this box relatively easy, but the total lack of documentation makes doing anything with it a non-starter.

I hope others have better luck, but I'm returning mine. It is too wimpy a photo frame, and there's no way to bend it to my needs.