Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Creating Your Own Buuf2 iPhone Icons

November 30, 2009

Following on from my post on customising the iPhone Buuf2 theme, I thought it was about time somebody wrote up some instructions on how to create new icons from Mattahan (Paul Davey)’s original desktop icons. Currently, a few Buuf2 “super-users” with the right knowledge and skills are fulfilling many people’s icon requests; if more people knew how to do it, we could spread the load quite a bit, and build up a huge library of icons to cover almost every need.

It took me quite a while (and plenty of assistance!) to figure out how to perform even elementary icon editing, so I figured maybe I should step up to the mark and write down my learnings to help others. So, here goes!

First of all, you need to decide which software you’re going to use. The two best options are Photoshop and GIMP. Photoshop is great, but GIMP is free, and what I use, so my information is going to be centered around GIMP – however, the two programs are functionally very similar, so the principles apply to both. (If you’re using Photoshop, however, you will need the .ico plugin – GIMP opens .ico files just fine on its own.)

The second thing you will need are the source files to work from. Mattahan posted most of these on Deviantart, however some are not available directly from there in the correct format; here are some links you will find useful:

Buuf: note that you cannot use these icons in .png form, you HAVE to convert them to .ico form before you can work with them. There is a converter utility in the archive; if that doesn’t work for you, one of us can probably email you the .ico packs.

SuperBuuf already in png form, ready to work with!

Buuf Deuce in png form.

Buuf Halloween: png’s again.

Right, now that you have the source files, time to try converting one for the iPhone! Pick an icon that you want to use, and open it in GIMP. (If it’s an .ico file, you will see a confusing array of image sizes. Simply select the largest one in the layers dialog, then go to Edit > Copy. Now, Choose File > New; in the Advanced Options section, choose Fill with: Transparency; the image size should be the same as the layer you just copied. Click OK. Now, in your new window, click Edit > Paste.)

We need to resize the icon to 60 x 60 to work on the iPhone’s springboard. So, go to Image > Scale Image. Set the size to 60 x 60 pixels, and click Scale. Now, File > Save As (make sure you save it as a .png). You may get a dialog saying that the PNG format can’t handle layers; select Merge visible layers and Export. Bingo, you have produced a suitable icon for Buuf2 on the iPhone!

Now, that’s simply how to re-size an existing icon. If you want to get creative and try editing or combining the source icons to create new ones, there are many different tools to get to grips with. Here are some of the useful ones that I’ve learned a little bit about.

Open up your first source image. Don’t resize it yet; it’s best to work at a large scale, then scale it down to 60 x 60 when you’re done; hides a lot of errors that way! The eraser, brush and pencil tools are handy for making little edits; I haven’t learned to get to grips with anything complex like the clone tool, blur or smudge yet!

Now, open the next source icon that you want to combine with the first. Choose Edit > Copy, go back to your first icon, and Edit > Paste. You now have your second icon as a new layer. You can use the Move and Scale tools to move it around; hold Ctrl while scaling to lock the aspect ratio. When you save it, do the merge visible layers thing again.

Another trick you can do is to change the opacity of the pasted layer, using the slider in the layers dialog; I find this is useful when combining pictures with the TV icon, about 75% opacity makes it look like the picture is on the TV.

Another useful trick is changing the colour of an existing icon. There’s a good tutorial on how to do that here.

Sometimes you might want to add a bit of shading around the base of your icon; here’s a good tutorial on drop shadows.

Well, that’s about all I can recall for the time being; I hope it helped someone get started on the road to becoming a proficient icon editor!


’04 Honda Civic Dashboard Vent Mount

August 24, 2009

I have had my iPhone pretty well integrated with my OEM stereo ever since my first-gen model. However, I’ve only ever had it located down low in the central console, which makes it a bit tricky to operate whilst driving (glance, poke; glance, poke; glance, poke – and if you’re lucky the third poke did what you actually wanted to do). I had heard a lot about Brodit car mounts, and how they were pretty much the best way of mounting gadgets in your vehicle. However, none of the mounting options available for my model and year were really any better than what I already had – the best I could do was to put the phone alongside the gearstick. This wasn’t really worthwhile, so I stuck with my Belkin Tunedok holder.

However, when I got my 3GS and TomTom was announced, I renewed my interest. If I could only mount the iPhone high enough, I could use it for everything – music, calls, and navigation! I considered a windscreen suction mount, but I always worry about the security concerns with suction cup marks left on the glass, not to mention the fact that my satnav mount frequently drops off onto the dashboard (enraging my wife). So I applied a bit more effort into finding out if there was any way I could fit a Brodit mount higher on my dash.

After trawling the internet, I found that there were two companies offering brackets that fitted into the central driver’s side air vent. This was about the best mounting height I could hope for, and both manufacturers responded to email enquiries positively, saying they were sure the bracket would fit my model year Civic.

The first mount I found was from They confirmed via email that they were “100% certain” it would fit my vehicle, and quoted me £18 + P&P for the bracket.

The second mount was a Scorpion product, which after some investigation I found out was sold by the Chameleon Group. Again, they were very helpful via email, advising that if my car was an early ’04 model the bracket would fit, but if it was late ’04 it would have a newer style dash and would not fit. Their bracket was sold direct on eBay (seems to be quite common for manufacturers these days) for only £14 delivered, so seeing as my car is an ’04 and not ’54 reg, I decided to take the chance and ordered the second bracket. (I also had my doubts as to whether Dashmount’s 100% certainty would hold much water, given that the two brackets appeared to be all but identical.)

The bracket arrived the very next day – that’s really very impressive, I never expected a product purchased on eBay to turn up so soon! I’m generally pretty impatient with new gadgets, so I installed the bracket the same night. Here are some photos of the process, to aid anyone else trying to achieve the same as me (I had real trouble finding any info, hence this post!).

First, here is my dash, just to compare it with your own. My car is an ’04 reg 1.4si Civic.

The dash of my '04 Honda Civic

The dash of my '04 Honda Civic

Second, here is a picture of the bracket I purchased. The large hole goes over the air vent spindle, and the smaller hole is for a countersunk self-tapping screw for added stability of the installation.

The vent mount bracket

The vent mount bracket

Third, here I am trying to prise the air vent out of the dash… I really should have put some masking tape on the dash to protect it before this step, as quite a lot of force was actually required to get it out, but luckily no cosmetic damage occurred.

Prising out the air vent

Prising out the air vent

Now, here is a picture of inside the air vent. The hole is where the air vent spindle locates, and see the triangular section to the rear of that? The triangular cutout on the bracket is supposed to fit right on there, for a nicely braced, secure mounting position once the vent pops back in.

Inside the air vent

Inside the air vent

Supposed to. On trying the bracket in place, it became pretty clear that I must have the late ’04 style dash after all :o( The bracket just didn’t quite fit. The side wall of the vent in my dash is slightly curved, and the bracket is flat. No problem, I’ll bend it a little. Except that it still wasn’t right – the prongs at the rear weren’t the right profile, and the bracket wouldn’t line up with the hole for the vent spindle.

However, I wasn’t going to let this slight setback stop me. The metal of the bracket had already proved itself amenable to bending and forming, so I took a hacksaw to it and removed the offending prongs that were preventing aligning the bracket with the hole. Obviously there was no going back at this point! Fortunately, after filing down any sharp edges, I found that the bracket could now be positioned over the spindle hole. With the prongs removed there was now no support at the rear of the bracket, so I was definitely going to need to put the optional screw in to keep it firmly in place. And so, here is a pic of the bracket mounted in the vent:

The modified bracket in position

The modified bracket in position

You can see how I cut off the prongs, and installed the screw. (And look, I had put masking tape on by this point ;o) ) At this point I was still a bit concerned that the vent wouldn’t fit back in with the bracket in place, but I needn’t have worried – it popped back in surprisingly easily. So, here are a couple of pics of it installed:

Finished! I like the way it doesn't obstruct air flow from the vent

Finished! I like the way it doesn't obstruct air flow from the vent

A side view

A side view

Now all I need to do is attach the Brodit iPhone mount to the bracket. I had decided that I didn’t want to leave the cradle permanently in place – for one thing I didn’t want to advertise the fact that expensive gadgetry was used in the car, and for another, I didn’t want an empty phone holder staring my wife in the face every time she drove the car (especially since she’s the main driver). Brodit have a solution for this, which they call Move Clips. This would also have the advantage that I could clip another device to the mount, if required. However, their usual product is mounted to the bracket with adhesive, which didn’t sound too good to me – I wanted to be able to take it off again when I eventually have to get a new car. A bit more research uncovered a different version of the Move Clip that installed onto any bracket with an AMPS hole pattern, however it only seemed to be available from one retailer – Also, it was a special order from Sweden – so I’m still waiting for it to arrive. The Brodit iPhone 3GS mount I ordered from eBay is here, though, so I’ll be test-fitting that tonight!