This is in no way an original project, but I’m publishing it because I think some of the things I did were pretty neat. A long long time ago Linksys released the nslu2, a network atatched storage device. That’s cool, let’s open it up to see what it has inside. TTL level serial port, cool, I put a header on it, and broke it out to the ftdi friend standard with a pigtail though a hole in the case. Overclocking? yes please! just remove resistor R83, it’s that simple to double the clock speed. now you’re cooking with gas at… 266Mhz. Ok, this is a bit of an old device. What else do we have…. more USB ports? ok, I can break those out, but first what’s with this one port that doesn’t allow flash drives? it has no power line soldered to it… what? Ok, there’s a set of pads for a fuse like the other port has, but it’s not connected. Maybe it’s to make sure their cheap power brick won’t crap out on them? No matter, solder a jumper and it’s done, add another 3 ports and they’re all broken out. The thing is, I didn’t have 3 nice USB ports at the time, but I did have an old USB PCI bracket that’s normally used to break out motherboard USB ports. No problem, just grab some pin header and a scrap of PCB (these pin headers tend to fall apart if not soldered to something sturdy. Now I have a total of five powered USB ports. Now, about that power adapter… This thing runs on 5v, and after tracing the power rails I find that it’s unregulated all the way out the USB ports, so I dig out a monster 5a 5v supply, graft on the right barrel jack and we’re in business.
Ok, now that we’re done with the hardware (all that I did anyway) let’s move on to the software. I’ll admit that I had modded this thing, put it on a shelf and forgot about it for a while, the only thing I remember was insisting that I had to have the most capable linux install on it (a debian derivative) and it had to be a fully featured linux box (a configuration nightmare compared to what I finally used it for). So I have a modded slug that I want to re-mod to have Unslung on it, a derivative of the stock firmware that allows those extra usb ports. All the tutorials say to “use this utility and it’s easy”, bah, I have a serial terminal, no need to mess around with blind boots, and all this crap. With my experience modding FONs and other embedded linux devices I’m actually more comfortable with redboot, a tftp server and raw commands. Following the tutorial listed here I got it installed and booting in no time. I can’t use it as a general purpose webcam server or network connected speaker system, or whatnot but it’ll make a good NAS.
There’s another interesting feature of the nslu2 has, a strange one, a USB device port. Now, I can’t really say what I’d use it for, but it’s there and I haven’t done it yet (I may never). There is a mod to auto power on the slug using a capacitor (The same hack can be done with a desktop, I think) but I haven’t done that mod, mostly because I have real servers… also does this thing not respond to WOL packets? Now, looking at what people have done, using it as a network attatched power switch and stuff, they all seem to use usb connected devices to trip FETs or relays… what about the activity LEDs? can you not manually control them like on the WRT54g or the FON? Some pretty fantastic things have been done with these devices, as a EE I tend towards the really cool hardware, like using the I2C bus to talk to low level devices directly, adding more RAM and flash, and the fact that there is a second RX and CTS only serial port in there somewhere. Check out the wiki, it has so much covered on this neat little gadget.