Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades Discuss Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades.

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grassle grassle is offline
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Default Fingerprint reader instead of reading 'mini' - 10-11-2009, 04:58 PM

This mod made me restless. Now I wanted a fingerprint scanner too, but in a different location. Here's the story.

Some research found 4 options from Upek (I didn't search other manufacturers) that support USB. The Eikons come with the Protector Suite (it's also free on the Upek site) and one can assume that they will be supported for quite a while. This mattered to me.

The TCEEA4 module
Power: 3.3V to 3.6V.
I learned through somebody at Upek that this module would be fully compatible with the Protector Suite, but that's not official, and I don't know whether updates of the Protector Suite will be compatible in the future.
Pros: Form factor.
Cons: Need to solder on motherboard for lower power source. Protector Suite in the future?
Price: An offer from Upek Germany ranged from the mid-50s (Euros) for 1 module, to nearly 300 for 10.
(If there would be official information that TCEEA4 works with Protector Suite there may be a small market for a kit that should also include cable, connector, and instructions, possibly for a way that does not violate warranty for the motherboard... Anyone?)

The TCESC4K module
Power: 3.0V to 3.6V
Pro: Form factor.
Con: Solder on motherboard. No info about Protector Suite.

A comparison of the two modules above is here.

I wanted to use an existing 5V USB, I wanted software support for the near future, and I wanted to start NOW. And rumbling through the back of my mind was an idea for a challenging mod.... That left the Eikons to grab at the shop.

The Eikon (as used by the pioneering rich2871)
Pros: Protector Suite support, already demonstrated to work in a mini mod, 5V USB.
Cons: Needs room, can only go under the areas for the palms.

The Eikon-To-Go
Pros: Very likely the same technology as the Eikon, so same Pros. Scanning strip lengthwise on board... so, if I could fold that board... the challenge!
Cons: None.

The Mod
I bought the Eikon-To-Go. I could always use it in its stick incarnation if it turned out to be immoddable (does that word exist?).

Here are the dissassembled parts

Details of the board

To cut it into (roughly) halves, three internal leads later need to be reconnected. At that point I had not lost anything if I would put it back into the USB stick enclosure... Also I did not want to solder on the top side and located connections on the bottom side.

But first a test for the available space. I wanted the touchstrip close to the right display hinge, roughly symmetrically to the power button. Some soft wax was fine, after padding the space with elastic foil to prevent the wax from leaving traces and from getting into every tiny crack. The metal cable guide would have to go, cables would be held in place by the reader.

Then I cut the board in half, removed the USB plug, connected all 5 leads, added a new cable (the 5 tiny pads on the bottom side are USB, the middle one is a second ground, I left it unused), and folded the board. Although I had fixed all wires with glue, one of the tiny leads ripped of and I was very lucky to find it again digging deep from the top side. Now it looked ugly but it worked again. Phwwwwwwww. The tiny leads turned out to be by far the main difficulty in this mod.

Flat band cable and a ZIF connector soldered to the USB port of the touchscreen controller board. Test. Works.

In the original enclosure, the touchstrip is some 2.5mm below enclosure edge, with a smooth broad trough to slide the fingertip through. The high sides guide the fingertip in a straight line.

Mimicking this in the area where the "mini" is printed was going to look awful. Instead I tried to keep the look somewhat similar to the bezel around the power button -- it will still be possible to remove more of the palmrest plastic if necessary. Cut the hole (some shielding foil had to go), dremeled, whittled, and filed... The reader was insulated with Kapton tape, and then it was time for the first fitting test.

The ZIF connector got fixed to the motherboard and the metal cable guide vanished. To take some of the finger pressure load I added a piece of stiff-elastic foam.

A few layers of electric tape around the touchstrip were to keep it a little sunk into the palm rest. Double sided tape holds them together. Here are connector and touchstrip in their final locations.

And this is how it currently looks. I'm happy with that except for the ugly scratch that I had to make to keep me humble...

Note: The Ikon-To-Go seems to be touchy with USB hubs. It didn' work with an older no-name USB 1.1 hub or an older Hama USB 2.0 hub (both had given me other problems in the past, I only wanted to use them for testing the mod, so that in case of a mistake I would not fry a motherboard directly). A recent Conrad USB 2.0 hub or the touchscreen hub were fine.
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anguish anguish is offline
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Default 10-11-2009, 05:06 PM

Wow! Awesome job!

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tismon tismon is offline
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Default 10-11-2009, 08:20 PM

That looks really well done. Assuming everything works, that's truly amazing (At least in my book ). Great job!
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grassle grassle is offline
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Default 10-11-2009, 09:37 PM

Everything... Well, the Protector Suite for Snow Leopard is still in beta. I've had no other problems so far, but some serious issue they say is being worked at.

EDIT: Besides the problem Upek mention on their site I can't register new fingers under SL. I could with the modded little parcel when plugging it in a Leo/PPC machine (I had sacrificed a USB cable for testing that got a ZIF connector instead of the B plug), so it's not the hardware mod but the software.
Also the training program runs fine on SL, I get the same recognitions and the same errors (like 'too fast', 'too short', 'too oblique', etc. when doing it wrong) as I did on Leo/PPC or on SL/M9 before starting the mod.
I had tested that before assembly and as fingerprints are stored on the Eikon, not the PC/Mac, I could pre-register the fingers on the Leo machine for the time till Protector Suite goes final release.

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strider_mt2k strider_mt2k is offline
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Default 10-13-2009, 12:38 AM

Beautiful work!

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TheDoctah TheDoctah is offline
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Default 10-28-2009, 06:11 PM

Very neatly done. Good job!

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eikon to go, eikon-to-go, fingerprint reader, mini 9, mod

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