Making external storage work on iPhones with iOS 13

- or, why do I get "too much power" error with my drive and how do I fix it? -

Apple's official Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

With iOS 13, native support of USB external storage was introduced to iPhones. Files stored externally can be accessed from the Files app included in the OS. Other apps can do it as well if it can connect to this Files app. Sadly, modern iPhones' external port of choice is Lightning, which means you either buy a storage device with a Lightning port or get an adapter to connect a USB device. This is where things get complicated.

I bought a Lexar MicroSD to Lightning Reader (part # LRWMLBNL) more than three years ago. It connects directly to the Lightning port and I can open files using a dedicated app. Apple MFI certified storage can supposedly work with the iOS 13's Files app, but that wasn't the case here despite the certification. Adding insult to injury, its app had not been updated in more than two years - the screen resolution and the file sharing functions were outdated. I needed a different solution.

Apple sells many types of USB adapters, one of which is the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter you see above (US$29). It can be connected to a camera for transferring photos and videos, hence the name. Other devices could be plugged in as long as the OS recognizes it, like keyboard, MIDI equipment, or Ethernet adapter. iOS 13 expands this to general storage and mouse.

Plugging in a USB flash drive directly do the adapter results in a "Cannot Use Accessory: This accessory requires too much power" error

So I bought this adapter expecting that any low-power storage devices like USB flash drives and memory card reader could be plugged in directly for my file management uses. Boy was I so wrong. Of the multitudes of flash drives and card readers I own, all of them, save for one, caused the "too much power" error you see here. This was bizarre because they shouldn't consume enough power for this to appear. There had to be a reason and a way around this, so I decided to dig in.
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Lighting up Bolt EV's charging port

Rechargeable LED dog collar

When I have to charge my Bolt EV in the dark, such as outdoor charging in the middle of the night, the lack of illumination on the charging port makes it hard to plug the charging cable correctly. I saw a video about fixing this with an LED strip, so I decided to try it myself as well. I bought an LED dog collar online for about six bucks (KRW 6,900) that would get the job done.

Charging the collar via USB cable

The collar had a Micro-USB port for charging, and came with a short cable to facilitate it. After I finished charging it (the indicator turned green, from red) I went down to the parking lot.
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SKT Smart Home: making of a motion sensor

Small lifting electromagnet

SK Telecom's Smart Home device line-up was conspicuously missing a motion sensor. It would have nicely complemented the Jikimi home security devices. Considering that the PIR (passive infrared) sensor itself doesn't cost all that much (some as low as US$2) or complicated to work with, it wouldn't have been so hard to create a product out of it.

It turned out that SKT wanted that as a part of a much more beefed up home security solution called "T View Sense" that came out last month. It's a cloud-connected IP camera with the optional sensor package (motion, door, temperature/humidity, smoke, and carbon monoxide). The sensors requires the IP camera to function because they communicate to the server via the camera's integrated gateway. I appreciate the effort SKT is finally making to counter the IP camera efforts from the other mobile carriers (LGU+ had theirs since 2013), but the pricy nature of the camera (official price of KRW159,000 or about US$140) is off-putting to someone who's just interested the sensor alone.

So I decided to be a bit creative and repurpose one of the existing Jikimi devices into a motion sensor instead. Initially, I wanted to modify the SOS button because it was cheaper. But the fact that the alarm it makes doesn't get differentiated between the buttons made it a deal-breaker. With the door sensor, I needed to simulate the door closing/opening with a magnet, meaning that I could either attach the included magnet to a motor or use an electromagnet to fake such action.

Getting the door sensor to sense the electromagnet

Obviously, I chose the electromagnet because it would be far more simpler if it worked. If it generated enough magnetic field, it would act like the original magnet and cause the sensor to send a "door closed" signal. The problem was that I wasn't sure what kind or how big of an electromagnet would be necessary. After looking at various offerings on the internet, I decided to take a stab in the dark and buy a small "lifting electromagnet" used in machines for picking up metallic items. The particular model I bought for about US$5 was rated for 2.5kg at 12V DC, consuming 3W. The model number KK-P20/15 apparently indicates a 20mm outer diameter and 15mm thickness.

12V was tad higher than what I wanted, but the electromagnet works at a lower voltage with reduced pulling power. All I needed to know was whether that pull is just enough to trick the sensor, so I created a quick testing platform with my kids' electric circuit kit. As you can see here, 3V was just barely good enough for the sensor to activate. At 6V, it worked more reliably. This confirmed two things - the electromagnet I had was fit for the job and that I could make it work with a battery pack, e.g. single-cell Li-Ion battery (3.7V nominal).
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Disable camera shutter sound on iOS 10.0.1

Select AssistiveTouch as Accessibility Shortcut (left), then leave "Mute" as its only top level menu (right)

iPhones and iPads bought (or intended to be sold) in either Korea or Japan has the camera shutter sound forcibly turned on at maximum volume no matter what sound setting is used. I've noted this three years ago. This is due to local regulations, but even making a screenshot causes the same sound, which is inconvenient.

Recently, though, someone at Ruliweb has posted an interesting tip that can override this if you're using iOS 10.0.1. I would like to share this information here.

1. Run Settings app and go to General > Accessibility

2. Scroll to the bottom and enter "Accessibility Shortcut" option. Select "AssistiveTouch".

3. Back in the Accessibility menu, scroll up to the middle. Find and enter "AssistiveTouch" option.

4. Enter "Customize Top Level Menu" and remove icons until there's only one left. Select "Mute" for this icon. (If you leave two or more icons, this tip will not work.)

When you triple-click the home button, a small floating AssistiveTouch button will appear on the screen. When you press it, the system sound will be muted completely, including the camera shutter sound and alarm. Pressing the AssistiveTouch button again will re-enable the system sound, and triple-clicking the home button will hide the AssistiveTouch button.

In a nutshell, you can use AssistiveTouch to disable or enable camera shutter sound at will. User reports indicate that the tip works across all devices, including iPhone 7 that I personally confirmed. However, it doesn't seem to work on iOS 9. Therefore it isn't clear if this is a bug or an intended effect. Use at your discretion.
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The only thing that I carry is everything

Wearing my all-inclusive belt bag on my waist

Nearly a decade ago, you would have seen me wearing all sorts of gadgets around my waist, as evidenced by this television broadcast. The problem with this was clearly illustrated in that video - it takes a bit of time to put them all on the belt, however useful they may be.

I haven't let go of the carry-them-all attitude, but things have worked in my favour. A lot of the gadgets I had to carry separately were now integrated into a single device (smartphone). That meant less stuff to carry, and I was able to reduce the number of pouches and bags on the belt over the years. I ended up with a phone and an external battery each in a holster, and a bag that held adapters, cables, and other miscellany.

iPhone 6S Plus and external battery are easily accessible

But then large iPhones came along. When I put it on my belt, it occupied a sizable area of my waist. This got me thinking: since the phone is thin enough, maybe I could put it in a belt bag that can store other stuff with it. And this is how I now just have this one bag hanging from my waist.

As you can see here, my iPhone 6S Plus and the slim external battery fit nicely into the front pockets of the bag. They're accessible by opening up the flap usually held in place with a hook-and-loop fastener. I also have a paper clip there in case I need to change the SIM card or poke a reset button.

Of course, there's a lot more hiding behind. Let's take a look at the rear compartment.
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Copyright (C) 1996-2018 Wesley Woo-Duk Hwang-Chung. All rights reserved.