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Old 12-27-2011, 10:14 AM   #1
Crackpot
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Abusing the internal USB-port of a kindle touch WiFi

Hello everyone,

because Geekmaster said in an other thread that the 3G modem of a kindle is internally connected via USB, I'm curious what's about the kindle touch modem and it's connection .
In this article on zdnet they open up a kindle touch wifi. After I read it some questions came up:
1. Does anybody know what's the pinout of the connector between the modem and the main board?
2. What's the size of the modem ( I can't tell it from the pixels ) ?

I'm asking because I think replacing the pice of plastic in a kindle touch wifi with a circuit board on that you put an integrated hub with four microsdhc-card-readers or so would be nice. So you could replace the cards easily and you could store a lot more books than the 3.21gb available make it possible and you could store images and use it for applications that need more space.
If this would be possible I would get my lazy ass up and try to make such a thing for testing or it's just impossible and I'm a littlebit dumb and insane.
in advance and please excuse my English.

Last edited by Crackpot; 12-27-2011 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:38 AM   #2
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To connect more than one USB device in place of the missing (or removed) 3G modem, you would also need a USB hub. Much easier to just use ONE large capacity microSDHC card (or perhaps a cheaper full-sized SDHC card).

Here is a miniPCIe pinout:
http://pinouts.ru/Slots/mini_pcie.shtml

Also, I am considered controlling an SDHC card using software SPI protocol, reusing "spare" GPIO pins (or attaching to and controlling the multi-color power LEDs for SPI output pins, and power button for input, and/or other identifiable and controllable GPIO lines as needed). Of course, it would be nicer to use the existing SPI bus, but that may be more difficult to solder to and to control (due to it being shared).

Here is a miniPCIe to USB and SATA breakout board:
http://www.amazon.com/Elecity-Mini-P.../dp/B003SLRU8S
It does NOT supply power to the USB +5v pins, so you need to route that power to USB from elsewhere in the kindle. Some USB devices *might* work on the 4v available from the kindle battery, if a 5v boost converter cannot be found in the kindle. A 256GB SATA SSD would be a nifty add-on.

Last edited by geekmaster; 03-13-2013 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:52 AM   #3
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Thank you very much,
I ment to integrate a "hub" onto the board so integrate all this in one board.
For now I'll lookup more based on your info.
( btw. I would let the circuit board being produced although its expensive, because I'm sure I can't build one myself that exactly. )
After some research I've got some more questions.
1. I assume that the modem needs more power than i.e. four microsdhc-readers and a hub.
Is this right?
2. When it's right they have to get their power from somewhere too, so I need a voltage converter on the board too. I see, I'm loosing space on my planned board

Last edited by Crackpot; 12-27-2011 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #4
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@crackpot: Some devices may tolerate a lower voltage than the full USB 5v. The kindle battery supplies nearly 4v.

You can get miniPCIe breakout boards with integrated 4-port USB.

Why do you need 4 microSDHC readers? You can get microSDHC cards up to 64GB, although full-size SDHC cards cost less, and could still fit in the 3G modem space if careful. You could even remove part of the plastic shell on an SDHC card to make it smaller.

Although slower, you can use SPI to talk to SDHC cards as well (as mentioned above), and this will not interfere with a 3G modem. Not all microSDHC cards are guaranteed to support SPI, but full-size SDHC cards are required to have SPI support. You can use software "bit-bashed" SPI drivers on "re-used" GPIO lines (such as power LEDs) if the onboard SPI bus is not easy to hijack for your own personal use.

These days, rather than using a floppy connecter (no longer as common as back in 2006), I would instead try to find a microSDHC card that supports SPI, and use the microSD adapter that comes with most of them as a socket by soldering directly to the outer pads on the adapter.

"SD format" cards larger than 64GB are REQUIRED to NOT support SDHC protocol, even though they use identical hardware, forcing end-users to buy all new equipment (for pure greedy political reasons)! Instead, "SD" cards larger than 64GB must use the new XD software protocol, which would require new drivers in the firmware. You would have to port (or write) a linux XD card driver to use in the kindles, if you want to go larger than 64GB.

Last edited by geekmaster; 12-27-2011 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:09 PM   #5
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I know there are cards up to 64gb, but four times 64gb is four times better (because of pictures and such stuff).
And a 3G modem is useless for me, on the one hand side because I live in Europe and as far as I know the modem is CDMA and on the other hand side I own an iPad. (And the SPI idea is nothing for me. Too much changes on the kindle.)
again
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crackpot View Post
I know there are cards up to 64gb, but four times 64gb is four times better (because of pictures and such stuff).
And a 3G modem is useless for me, on the one hand side because I live in Europe and as far as I know the modem is CDMA and on the other hand side I own an iPad. (And the SPI idea is nothing for me. Too much changes on the kindle.)
again
In that case, why stop at only 4? USB can support up to 127.

Last edited by geekmaster; 12-27-2011 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:19 PM   #7
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already thought about.
I want it to fit the space of the modem, so it's a clean solution, and for the case a card dies I just have to open the kindle and change the card. I want a minimum of changes to the kindle.

It seems microsdhc cards operate at 3.3 voltages anyway.

Last edited by Crackpot; 12-27-2011 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:23 PM   #8
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Or, you can replace a (maximum capacity) 64GB microSD card with a much larger capacity microXD card (same hardware, but new software extortion protocol required by "SD Consortium"). A single XD card should fit that space, and may be upgraded to higher capacity in the future.

Another benefit of replaceable flash memory is that you can stick a linux swap partition on it. This is MUCH needed for doing anything useful in a kindle touch after loop mounting a filesystem from a file on the USB Drive. The kindle touch does not leave much memory for native mode apps, and a swap partition could help a lot in that case. Running out of memory when automounting a loop mount has caused more than one kindle touch to get "bricked". Luckily, I was able to restore my kindle touch to good health using the internal serial port.

I am a bit afraid to use a swap file on the integrated mmc device. I do not know how well it does write wear-levelling, and wearing it out from too many writes would be a bad thing unless you have BGA rework equipment. [BGA = Ball Grid Array = many soldered connections UNDER the chip.]

Regarding CDMA, starting with Kindle 3G, newer Kindles use GSM 3G modems that work all over the world (except where I need, Belarus, where the "president" and his family own the telephone company and HATE competition -- even Skype is outlawed for communicating with the USA). If you have a newer kindle, it may be usable in your country. Amazon has a coverage map at their website (with a bad all-white blob where Belarus resides on the map).

Last edited by geekmaster; 12-27-2011 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:57 PM   #9
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again.
but anyway I dont care about the modem, because just access to the Wikipedia and the store isnt worth the price and the space in the wifi is inviting me ( can you say that in English ? ) to expand the storage.
The write problem is the main cause for me to want sd card(s).
( I had to look up Belarus -> Weißrussland ("the last dictatorship in Europe" . Sad for you. What's about using a VPN for Skype?)
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:34 PM   #10
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Are you sure the Touch has Mini-PCIe? I haven't looked into it, but it looks like some weird non-standard port.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:59 PM   #11
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I'm not sure, it was one of my inertial questions.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yifanlu View Post
Are you sure the Touch has Mini-PCIe? I haven't looked into it, but it looks like some weird non-standard port.
My Touch is wifi-only and has a relatively large plastic shell where the modem goes. I did not remove that (yet). The wifi shell in the Touch looks the same size and shape as the one in my wifi-only K3. I removed the shell on my K3 wifi, and it had miniPCIe pads (but missing connector) under it. miniPICe has pins dedicated to USB. I compared the K3 wifi (unpopulated) pads to the official miniPCIe layout, and they seemed to match.

Based on that evidence, I think that there *should* be some USB pads under the similar shell on the Touch. And least it is worth further investigation...

EDIT: From all 50 photos shown in the zdnet article linked above, I cannot find any that show the underside of the circuit board where the 3G modem connector would attach. Without more information, we do not know what kind of connector that the 3G modem in the Touch uses. Hopefully it has some USB pads or pins. Of course, in a wifi-only kindle you may need to add or remove some zero-ohm (or other value) resistors nearby the pads. It may be necessary to compare the wifi-only to a 3G version of the Touch.

Last edited by geekmaster; 12-27-2011 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:04 PM   #13
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Yes, I was unable to find any other pictures of the inside exept the of the FCC.

Delock produces a board that would fit nearly all my needs if the kindle touch really uses minipcie and the shape would match.

Last edited by Crackpot; 12-28-2011 at 08:33 AM.
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