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Friday, September 01, 2006

Pack Me a Juice Box Ma! Actually, make it 6!



So alot of you that know me (I'll call you my "peeps" ), know that I am kind of a sucker for a bargain. As such, one of my regular stops on my daily tour of the world wide web is slickdeals.net. It's basically a forum site where people post great deals and amazing bargains. Despite some really good deals I seldom really find justification for buying stuff (alot of times because there are rebates involved, and sometimes even some sketchy sites that make me wary of providing credit card info), but the other day I was scanning the daily highlights and noticed a really awesome deal from overstock.com.

Target bargain: the Mattel Juice Box. Bargain price: $25.99 - $5.00 (with coupon code) + $1.00 shipping = $21.99 for a pack of 6. That's only $3.67 a piece! Now that's a bargain if I've ever seen one!

What's so great about the Juice Box? Well, it was put out by Mattel as a personal media player for kids and such. You were supposed to buy new media on these little cartridges, but it sorta fizzled out, and for the last year or so, retailers have been dumping their stock. I have been hearing about them for a while, but have never been lucky enough to find any on sale. Until now.

Oh, I could care less about having something cheap to watch little kiddie cartoons on (although my boy will probably end up with one of them). No, the real gem here is the fact that they are quite hackable. It runs under a version of uclinux, so its quite feasible to load a custom uclinux version onto it for creating things like an mp3 player, video player (albeit crappy frame-rate-wise), or even an LCD picture frame. They can even fairly easily (it seems) do some custom soldering to get them to accept SD and MMC memory cards directly. I have always been a fan of tinkering, and once I found it was quick to jump on the hardware hacking bandwagon, so this project was right up my alley (one of my favorite hardware hacking sites is www.hackaday.com). Unfortunately, until my thesis is finished, I am a bit limited on spare time for tinkering, but this hasn't stopped me from amassing a few projects in the queue. So, stay tuned in some future post for when I actually show you that I've been able to do something cool with my 6 shiny new Juice Boxes. In the meantime, below are a few of the links I've dug up so far for Juice Box projects:

Juice Box Linux Hacker forum
Juice Box Linux wiki
Juice Box Messenger Bag (on hackaday)
Juice Box eBook Reader


There are surely many more out there. I have thoughts of maybe adding a GPS receiver into one of them, or using it for text-to-speech. I guess it will all depend on how well it runs uclinix. Until then....

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