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ถูกปรับปรุง 48 min 17 sec ก่อน

A Mess Of Wires Turned Into An Analog Synth

2 hours 16 minก่อน

Over on YouTube, [GumpherDM3] built one of the greatest musical projects we’ve seen in a long time. It’s an analog synthesizer that is one of a kind. It’s going to stay one of a kind, too: no one would ever want to copy this mess of wires and perfboard that was successfully turned into a complete musical instrument.

The design of this synth is what you would expect from something that draws its inspiration from semimodular synths such as the Minimoog and Korg MS20. There are four VCOs on this synth, two audio and two used for the LFOs. A four-pole low pass filter, VCA, and two envelope generators round out the purely analog portion of the build. There’s an arpeggiator in there too, which makes for a really great demo video (below).

Inside, this is a true analog synth with the VCOs, filter, and VCA built around the LM13700 transconductance amplifier. The build log shows these chips spread out around half a dozen breadboards before being plugged into sockets soldered to handwired perf board. This synth is a one of a kind instrument – no one would want to build this thing twice.

Additional features include an Arduino with a MIDI in port sending out CV signals to the analog part of the synth. This thing has everything you would expect from a modern take on an analog synthesizer, and it sounds good, too.

Filed under: musical hacks

iPhone Brain Surgery

5 hours 16 minก่อน

You think you’re good at soldering? Can you solder a CPU? A CPU inside an iPhone? A decapped CPU inside an iPhone? Can you solder inside a decapped CPU inside of an iPhone?

If you can’t, fear not – someone can, and we found him or her courtesy of a video that [Bunnie Huang] tweeted a while back. There’s not much information in the video, but from what we can gather it comes from an outfit called G-Lon Technology in Guang Zhou. Their Facebook page suggests that they teach cellphone repair, and if they take their repairs this far, we’d say the students are getting their tuition’s worth.

The reason for the repair is unclear, although the titles refer to a “CPU to U0301 AP31 AR31 broken repair,” which we take to refer to a boot error that can be repaired by exposing a couple of pads inside the CPU and wiring them to another chip. We’d love to hear comments from anyone familiar with the repair, but even in the absence of a clear reason for undertaking this, the video is pretty impressive. The epoxy cap of the CPU is painstakingly ground away under a microscope, then tiny tools are used to scrape down to the correct layers. Solder mask is applied, hair-thin wires are tacked to the pads, and a UV-curing resin is applied to fill the CPU’s new gaping hole and to stabilize the wires. It seems like a lot of work to save an iPhone, but it sure is entertaining to watch.

Can’t get enough of poking around the innards of chips? We’ve got decapping stories aplenty: one, two, and three that you might like. We’ve even covered at least one CPU internal repair before too.

Thanks to [Dr.Tune] for the tip.

Filed under: Cellphone Hacks, iphone hacks

60 Watt USB Soldering Iron Does it with Type-C

6 hours 44 minก่อน

Some time back we ran a post on those cheap USB soldering irons which appeared to be surprisingly capable considering they were really under powered, literally. But USB Type-C is slated to change that. Although it has been around for a while, we are only now beginning to see USB-C capable devices and chargers gain traction. USB-C chargers featuring the USB-PD option (for power delivery) can act as high power sources allowing fast charging of laptops, phones and other devices capable of negotiating the higher currents and voltages it is capable of sourcing. [Julien Goodwin] shows us how he built a USB-C powered soldering iron that doesn’t suck.

He is able to drive a regular Hakko iron at 20 V and 3 Amps, providing it with 60 W of input power from a USB-C charger. The Hakko is rated for 24 V operating voltage, so it is running about 16% lower power. But even so, 60 W is plenty for most cases. The USB-C specification allows up to 5 A of current output in special cases, so there’s almost 100 W available when using this capability.

It all started while he was trying to consolidate his power brick collection for his various computers in order to reduce the many types and configurations of plugs. Looking around, he stumbled on the USB-PD protocol. After doing his homework, he decided to build a USB Type-C charger board with the PD feature based on the TI TPS65986 chip – a very capable USB Type-C and USB PD Controller and Power Switch. The TI chip is a BGA package, so he had to outsource board assembly, and with day job work constantly getting in the way, it took a fair bit of time before he could finally test it. Luckily, none of the magic smoke escaped from the board and it worked flawlessly the first time around. Here is his deck of slides about USB-C & USB-PD [PDF] that he presented at linux.conf.au 2017 Open Hardware Miniconf early this year. It provides a nice insight to this standard, including a look at the schematic for his driver board.

Being such a versatile system, we are likely to see USB-C being used in more devices in the future. Which means we ought to see high power USB Soldering Irons appearing soon. But at the moment, there is a bit of a “power” struggle between USB-C and Qualcomm’s competing “Quick Charge” (QC) technology. It’s a bit like VHS and Betamax, and this time we are hoping the better technology wins.

Filed under: peripherals hacks, tool hacks

About Schmitt (Triggers)

8 hours 15 minก่อน

There is an old saying: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” We spend our time drawing on paper or a computer screen, perfect wires, ideal resistors, and flawless waveforms. Alas, the real world is not so kind. Components have all kinds of nasty parasitic effects and no signal looks like it does in the pages of a text book.

Consider the following problem. You have a sine wave input coming in that varies between 0 V and 5 V. You want to convert it to a square wave that is high when the sine wave is over 2.5 V. Simple, right? You could use a CMOS logic gate or a comparator. In theory…

The problem is, the sine wave isn’t perfect. And the other components will have little issues. If you’ve ever tried this in real life, you’ll find that when the sine wave is right at the 2.5 V mark the output will probably swing back and forth before it settles down. This is exacerbated by any noise or stretching in the sine wave. You will wind up with something like this:

Notice how the edges of the square wave are a bit fat? That’s the output switching rapidly back and forth right at the comparator’s threshold.


The answer is to not set the threshold at 2.5 V, or any other single value. Instead, impose a range outside of which it will switch, switching low when it leaves the low end of the range, and high when it exceeds the high end.  That is, you want to introduce hysteresis. For example, if the 0 to 1 shift occurs at, say, 1.9 V and the 1 to 0 switch is at 0.5 V, you’ll get a clean signal because once a 0 to 1 transition happens at 1.9 V, it’ll take a lot of noise to flip it all the way back below 0.5 V.

You see the same effect in temperature controllers, for example. If you have a heater and a thermal probe, you can’t easily set a 100 degree set point by turning the heater off right away when you reach 100 and then back on again at 99.9999. You will usually use hysteresis in this case, too (if not something more sophisticated like a PID). You might turn the heater off at 99 degrees and back on again at 95 degrees, for example. Indeed, your thermostat at home is a prime example of a system with hysteresis — it has a dead-band of a few degrees so that it’s not constantly turning itself on and off.

Schmitt Triggers and How to Get One

A Schmitt Trigger is basically a comparator with hysteresis. Instead of comparing the incoming voltage with VCC / 2, as a simple comparator would, it incorporates a dead band to ensure that logic-level transitions occur only once even in the presence of a noisy input signal.

Schmitt Trigger Symbol by Selket CC-BY 2.5

Assuming you want a Schmitt trigger in a circuit, you have plenty of options. There are ICs like the 74HC14 that include six (inverting) Schmitt triggers. On a schematic, each gate is represented by one of the symbols to the right; the little mark in the box is the hysteresis curve, and the little bubble on the output indicates logical negation when it’s an inverter.

You can also make them yourself out of transistors or even a 555 chip. But the easiest way by far is to introduce some feedback into a plain op amp comparator circuit.

Below are two op amps, one with some positive feedback to make it act like a Schmitt trigger. The other is just a plain comparator. You can simulate the design online.


If you haven’t analyzed many op amp circuits, this is a good one to try. First, imagine an op amp has the following characteristics:

  • The inputs are totally open.
  • The output will do whatever it takes to make the inputs voltages the same, up to the power supply rails.

Neither of these are totally true (theory vs. practice, again), but they are close enough.

The comparator on the right doesn’t load the inputs at all, because the input pins are open circuit, and the output swings to either 0 V or 5 V to try, unsuccessfully, to make the inputs match. It can’t change the inputs because there is no feedback, but it does make a fine comparator. The voltage divider on the + pin provides a reference voltage. Anything under that voltage will swing the output one way. Over the voltage will swing it the other way. If the voltages are exactly the same? That’s one reason you need hysteresis.

The comparator’s voltage divider sets the + pin to 1/2 the supply voltage (2.5 V). Look at the Schmitt trigger (on top). If the output goes between 0 V and 5 V, then the voltage divider winds up with either the top or bottom resistor in parallel with the 10K feedback resistor. That is, the feedback resistor will either be connected to 5 V or ground.

Of course, two 10K resistors in parallel will effectively be 5K. So the voltage divider will be either 5000/15000 (1/3) or 10000/15000 (2/3) depending on the state of the output. Given the 5 V input to the divider, the threshold will be 5/3 V (1.67 V) or 10/3 V (3.33 V). You can, of course, alter the thresholds by changing the resistor values appropriately.

Practical Applications

Schmitt triggers are used in many applications where a noisy signal requires squaring up. Noisy sensors, like an IR sensor for example, can benefit from a Schmitt trigger. In addition, the defined output for all voltage ranges makes it handy when you are trying to “read” a capacitor being charged and discharged. You can use that principle to make a Schmitt trigger into an oscillator or use it to debounce switches.

If you want to see a practical project that uses a 555-based Schmitt, check out this light sensor. The Schmitt trigger is just one tool used to fight the imprecision of the real world and real components. Indeed, they’re nearly essential any time you want to directly convert an analog signal into a one-bit, on-off digital representation.

Filed under: Engineering, Hackaday Columns

Join Hackaday And Tindie At The Southern California Linux Expo

9 hours 1 นาทีก่อน

Do you like Open Source? Join Hackaday and Tindie at the largest community-run Open Source conference in North America. We’ll be at the Southern California Linux Expo next week, and we want to see you there.

What’s happening at SCALE this year? Amateur radio license exams, a PGP signing party, Bad Voltage Live and The Spazmatics, and a ton of great talks.

Hackaday and Tindie will be at SCALE Friday through Sunday, showing off the coolest parts of Hackaday, Hackaday.io, and our lovable robotic dog, Tindie. We’ll be handing out t-shirts and stickers, and we’ll be giving tours of the SupplyFrame Design Lab located just two blocks away from the convention center. The Design Lab is a crown jewel of our corporate overlord’s emphasis on Open Hardware, and if you want to see where the magic happens, this is your chance. We’ll be running tours of the Lab on Friday, so find the Hackaday and Tindie crew in the expo area around 3:40 PM.

Here’s something cool: We’re offering discounted SCALE passes, too. They’re 50% off using the code ‘HACK’ at this link. That’s $45 for four days of fun.

SCALE is much more interesting than I’m letting on here. Last year, I was absolutely befuddled by the Microsoft booth, and their stickers saying that ‘Microsoft (heart) Linux’. A few weeks later, and a day short of the best April Fool’s joke of all time, Microsoft said Cygwin Can Suck It. Somehow or another, the Linux Subsystem for Windows 10 made it to SCALE and nobody noticed. Let’s see what we find this year.

Filed under: cons, Hackaday Columns

Cloudbleed — Your Credentials Cached in Search Engines

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 23:00

In case you are still wondering about the SHA-1 being broken and if someone is going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a fake Certificate Authority and sniff your OkCupid credentials, don’t worry. Why spend so much money when your credentials are being cached by search engines?… Wait, what?

A serious combination of bugs, dubbed Cloudbleed by [Tavis Ormandy], lead to uninitialized memory being present in the response generated by the reverse proxies and leaked to the requester. Since these reverse proxies are shared between Cloudflare clients, this makes the problem even worst, since random data from random clients was leaking. It’s sort of like Heartbleed for HTTP requests. The seriousness of the issue can be fully appreciated in [Tavis] words:

“The examples we’re finding are so bad, I cancelled some weekend plans to go into the office on Sunday to help build some tools to cleanup. I’ve informed cloudflare what I’m working on. I’m finding private messages from major dating sites, full messages from a well-known chat service, online password manager data, frames from adult video sites, hotel bookings. We’re talking full https requests, client IP addresses, full responses, cookies, passwords, keys, data, everything.”

According to Cloudflare, the leakage can include HTTP headers, chunks of POST data (perhaps containing passwords), JSON for API calls, URI parameters, cookies and other sensitive information used for authentication (such as API keys and OAuth tokens). An HTTP request to a Cloudflare web site that was vulnerable could reveal information from other unrelated Cloudflare sites.

Adding to this problem, search engines and any other bot that roams free on the Internet, could have randomly downloaded this data. Cloudflare released a detailed incident report explaining all the technicalities of what happened and how they fixed it. It was a very quick incident response with initial mitigation in under 47 minutes. The deployment of the fix was also quite fast. Still, while reading the report, a sense that Cloudflare downplayed this issue remains. According to Cloudflare, the earliest date that this problem could have started is 2016-09-22 and the leak went on until 2017-02-18, five months, give or take.

Just to reassure the readers and not be alarmist, there is no evidence of anyone having exploiting what happened. Before public exposure, Cloudflare worked in proximity with search engines companies to ensure memory was scrubbed from search engine caches from a list of 161 domains they had identified. They also report that Cloudflare has searched the web (!), in sites like Pastebin, for signs of leaks and found none.

On the other hand, it might be very well impossible to know for sure if anyone has a chunk of this data cached away somewhere in the aether. It’s impossible to know. What we would really like to know is: does [Tavis] get the t-shirt or not?

Filed under: news, security hacks

What Does a Hacker Do With A Photocopier?

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 22:01

The year is 2016. Driving home from a day’s work in the engineering office, I am greeted with a sight familiar to any suburban dwelling Australian — hard rubbish. It’s a time when local councils arrange a pickup service for anything large you don’t want anymore — think sofas, old computers, televisions, and the like. It’s a great way to make any residential area temporarily look like a garbage dump, but there are often diamonds in the rough. That day, I found mine: the Ricoh Aficio 2027 photocopier.

It had spent its days in a local primary school, and had survived fairly well. It looked largely intact with no obvious major damage, and still had its plug attached. Now I needed to get it home. This is where the problems began.

The 1991 Daihatsu Feroza is not, as it turns out, an appropriate transport for this task. A combination of its high rear floor and small cargo area (even with the rear seats removed) made loading the copier physically impossible. I will not overstate the weight of this copier, approximately speaking, it was Damn Heavy™. Calls to the few friends I’d made in my short time in Victoria came to nothing, so an alternative solution had to be found.

The south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne are remarkably hilly. It had become my task to push a 62 kg office multifunction 1.4 kilometers home (137 pounds and just less than a mile). Considering this was a piece of hardware I’d found on the side of the road, over the next forty minutes I began to realise I almost literally became the modern Sisyphus.

Quite the struggle. Is This Thing On?

Upon getting it home, I plugged it in.

I was greeted with the phrase “Please wait…” for about ten minutes. I remained hopeful, and then… beeps! The error code SC990 was given, as well as a local number to call for service — though that seemed like giving up, and they’d ask a few too many questions on turning up to a residential address. I persevered, and found that if I quickly cycled the power, the copier would successfully boot.

Now I was really excited. This was the best part of my plan. With the copier sitting by the fridge, I left it powered on and took a photo. I quickly sent it to my housemates in a group chat.

“Guys, I’m really tired of this. If you’re leaving the house would you PLEASE remember to turn the photocopier off before you go? Come on.”

Their confusion and laughter was totally worth it. At this point, though, I reached an impasse — what does one actually do with a free photocopier? Wait, of course! I promptly removed my pants.

The Stuff You Can’t Do With the Work Copier

It took me a little while to master the proper technique. It’s not enough to simply sit down, placing one’s entire weight on the photocopier to image the buttocks. Even ignoring the risk of being crushed in the event of the copier falling over, the imaging bed isn’t designed as a seat. The plastic frame tends to deform under this sort of load, just enough to stop the scanning bar moving across the platen. Instead, it’s necessary to support oneself by placing the hands on the corners of the copier, hovering above the platen, ideally with an assistant to help you by pressing the start button.

In all seriousness, though, short of reinforcing the copier bed with a steel frame to enable the easier imaging of the human anatomy, I was running short on ideas and paper was jamming repeatedly. This test run behind me, I had an agonizing troubleshooting session ahead. Luckily, there were still a few beers in the fridge.

Amateur Copier Repair A jammed print. Notice the rippling from the paper bunching up in the various rollers.

I had to figure out why the paper was getting jammed — for your viewing enjoyment, I filmed the process and embedded it below. The great thing is, over the last 20 years, copiers have started to include big, obvious pictorial instructions on both the LCD and the frame that help you troubleshoot a jam. Enabling users to sort out the easy issues has probably saved millions, if not billions, in service calls.

I did some research online, and came across talk of a paper feed clutch. After turning up the service manual for my copier, I found out how to enter not just Service Mode, but Special Service Mode! This allowed fine control of the photocopier’s deepest, darkest settings. I changed the clutch settings to 10mm, up from 6mm and tried to make 5 copies in succession. No dice — things jammed up again. It didn’t really feel like what I was doing had any effect.

A shot of paper jammed in the teeth that are meant to guide the print away from the fuser, towards the output rollers.

I sat down and had a think. Upon close examination of where the paper was jamming, it looked like instead of rolling over the fuser (the hot roller that bonds the toner to the paper) and peeling away, it seemed like the paper was sticking to the fuser too long and winding up jammed under the teeth designed to guide it off the fuser. Back to the service manual!

I decided to try cooling down the fuser. That would perhaps stop the paper sticking so much and then it would freely pass through to the output rollers. I dialled things down from 170 to 140 degrees. After checking the temperature monitor and confirming the roller temperature was following the settings changes, I successfully made 10 copies in a row with no jams. Success? Perhaps! But if there’s one thing I learned in my career as a manufacturing engineer, it’s not enough to change a setting and call it fixed. You’ve got to confirm your hypothesis is correct.

I decided to go the other way — I cranked the fuser temperature up to 185 C, hit Start, and waited with bated breath. Not entirely to my surprise, I got ten copies out, no problem. A second trial confirmed things were humming along smoothly. On the one hand, my copier worked — great! On the other, it kind of meant I had no idea what was going on.

Compare the prints from the hotter and colder fuser settings – note the spotting on the colder print.

I compared the 185 degree copies with the 140 degree copies, as seen in the image below. Oddly enough, there was some random spotting on the colder copies that wasn’t present on the hotter ones. For all I know, however, this might have just been old toner that was stuck to the rollers that came off at the higher temperature. In the end though, it seems to be printing well now at 185 degrees, only jamming occasionally. In the rare event it does, opening all the access panels, removing the jam, and closing them again is generally enough to get things ticking over smoothly again.

Did I solve the jamming issue? I guess I did. Do I know how? Not really. But if and when it comes back, I’ll be armed with more knowledge to attack the problem once more. If you’re a photocopier tech, please watch the video and tell me what I’m missing. I’d love to get an expert opinion on how to sort this out.

What Now?

The troubleshooting process was a lot of fun. But now I’m back to figuring out what to do with the copier. I’ve currently got the copier wired up to my home network as a printer and scanner, and could hook it up to my vintage computers over parallel or even AppleTalk if I so desired. But all of these ideas are simply using the copier for its intended purpose. Thus far, all I’ve really done is given it a name; it shall henceforth be known as Printmaster Flush.

I ask you — what does a hacker do with a free photocopier? I’m not content to just use this gift as it was intended. I’d like to build something truly unique and awesome with it, I just don’t know what. Please, share with me your ideas in the comments and any stories you have yourself of office hardware hijinx. Check out the video below for a play-by-play on dragging it home and dealing with the jamming issues.

Filed under: Featured, peripherals hacks, repair hacks

Toast-Bot Butters For You (Sometimes)

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 19:01

Sometimes — despite impracticality, safety, failure, and general good sense — one has an urge to see a project through for the sake of it. When you’re sick of buttering your toast every morning, you might take a leaf out of Rick Sandc– ahem, [William Osman]’s book and build a toast-bot to take care of the task for you.

[Osman] — opting for nail the overkill quotient — is using a reciprocating saw motor to hold the butter while the toast moves underneath the apparatus on a platform controlled by a linear stepper motor. The frame and mounts for Toast-Bot were cut out of wood on his home-built laser cutter — affectionately named Retina Smelter 9000′ — and assembled after some frustration and application of zip-ties. The final result DOES butter toast, but — well — see for yourself.

Despite working with only margerine-al (sorry!) success from a practical standpoint — equally inclined to shred or butter — we are inclined to chalk this up as a win regardless. A robot doesn’t always need to be perfect to prove that it can be done — especially if it does the job in a deliberately comedic fashion.

Filed under: hardware, robots hacks

3D Printing Using Holograms is Actually Printing in 3D

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 16:01

It’s the year 2260 and you’re being beamed from your starship to the planet below. Being a descendant of present day 3D printers, the transporter prints you out, slowly making one layer before moving on to the next, going from the ground up. The you-that-was hopes nothing spills out before you’re done. But what if you could print every atom in your body at the same time? If those transporters are descendant’s of Daqri’s holographic 3D printing technology then that’s just what will happen.

Daqri’s process is akin to SLA (stereolithography) and SLA/DLP (digital light processing). In SLA, a laser beam is shone onto a pool of resin, hardening the resin at the beam’s point. The laser scans across the resin’s surface, drawing one layer. More resin is added and then the next layer is drawn. In SLA/DLP, the light for an entire layer is projected onto the surface at once. While both methods involve stereolithography, the acronym SLA by itself is commonly used to refer to the laser approach.

Holograhically 3D printing a paperclip

Daqri’s process however, uses a holographic chip of their own making to project the light for all the layers at the same time into the material, a light-activated monomer. Their chip is a silicon wafer containing a grid of tunable crystals. Those crystals control the magnitude and phase of light reflected down into the monomer, creating a 3D volume of interference patterns. The brief description of the process says that a laser is used to shine light onto the crystals, so there’s probably still some scanning going on. However, in the video, all of the object being printed appears illuminated at the same time so the scanning is likely very fast, similar to how a laser in a light show seemingly paints what appears to be a 2D shape on the side of a building, even though it’s really just a rapidly moving point. There’s also the possibility that the beam’s point is large enough to encapsulate all of the chip at once. You can see a demonstration of it in the video below.

In the video, Daqri prints a small paperclip, and the reason for that small size is likely due to the size of their chip. But if it’s scaled up then heating may become an issue. The “hardening” that goes on, called polymerization, involves the formation of long, tangled polymers from monomers and is exothermic, meaning it gives off heat. If, like us, you’ve worked with resin before then you’ve probably noticed how hardening a large volume of resin produces more heat than hardening a small volume. That heating can be enough to melt and deform the object itself.

There’s no word on when this process will escape the lab and appear in our workshops, but for a future Star Trek transporter, it’s a step in the right direction. In the meantime, for an SLA/DLP 3D printer, have a look at the open source RooBee One.

Our thanks to Sascho for tipping us off about this.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

Universal Radio Hacker

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 13:00

If you are fascinated by stories you read on sites like Hackaday in which people reverse engineer wireless protocols, you may have been tempted to hook up your RTL-SDR stick and have a go for yourself. Unfortunately then you may have encountered the rather steep learning curve that comes with these activities, and been repelled by a world with far more of the 1337 about it than you possess. You give up after an evening spent in command-line dependency hell, and move on to the next thing that catches your eye.

You could then be interested by [Jopohl]’s Universal Radio Hacker. It’s a handy piece of software for investigating unknown wireless protocols. It supports a range of software defined radios including the dirt-cheap RTL-SDR sticks, quickly demodulates any signals you identify, and provides a whole suite of tools to help you extract the data they contain. And for those of you scarred by dependency hell, installation is simple, at least for this Hackaday scribe. If you own an SDR transceiver, it can even send a reply.

To prove how straightforward the package is, we put an RTL stick into a spare USB port and ran the software. A little investigation of the menus found the spectrum analyser, with which we were able to identify the 433 MHz packets coming periodically from a wireless thermometer. Running the record function allowed us to capture several packets, after which we could use the interpretation and analysis screens to look at the binary stream for each one. All in the first ten minutes after installation, which in our view makes it an easy to use piece of software. It didn’t deliver blinding insight into the content of the packets, that still needs brain power, but at least if we were reverse engineering them we wouldn’t have wasted time fighting the software.

We’ve had so many reverse engineering wireless protocol stories over the years, to pick only a couple seems to miss the bulk of the story. However both this temperature sensor and this weather station show how fiddly it can be without a handy software package to make it easy.

Via Hacker News.

Filed under: radio hacks

Jean-Luc PYcARD is a Pocketable Python Development Platform

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 10:00

It’s a good thing that a ridiculous pun and a screenprint of Jean-Luc Picard on the bottom of the board is enough to qualify for the 2017 Hackaday Sci-Fi Contest, because [bobricius]’s Python-plus-Arduino card and environmental sensor potpourri is very cool.

The PCB design itself is great. It’s got a gigantic LED array, cutout for a wrist strap, and an onboard USB plug so you can program it just by sticking it in your computer; it shows up as a USB mass storage device when you plug it in. The files that show up on the “drive” are Micropython code that you can edit, save, and then run directly on the device. You can hardly beat that for convenience.

And there’s a full complement of sensors: not one but two temperature and humidity sensors, including our recent favorite BME280, which also reads barometric pressure. (We suspect that makes it a tri-corder.) There’s a real-time clock, a buzzer, and some buttons. Want to add more sensors? I2C ports are broken out for your convenience.

Besides having Star Trek flair, this board would give the various educational platforms a run for their money: Micro:bit, we’re looking at you. Very cool indeed!

Filed under: Microcontrollers

What Is This, A Battle-Bot For Ants?

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 07:00

Instructables user [Team_Panic] — inspired by the resurgence of robot battle arena shows — wanted to dive in to his local ‘bot building club. Being that they fight at the UK ant weight scale with a cap of 150 grams, [Team_Panic] built a spunky little Arduino Mini-controlled bot on the cheap.

The Instructable is aimed at beginners, and so is peppered with sound advice. For instance, [Team_Panic] advises building from “the weapon out” as that dictates how the rest of the robot will come together around it. There are also some simple design considerations on wiring and circuit boards considering the robot in question will take a few hits, as well as instructions to bring the robot together. To assist any beginners in the audience, [Team_Panic] has provided his design for a simple, “slightly crude,” wedge-bot, as well as his code. Just don’t forget to change the radio pipe so you aren’t interfering with other bots!

[Team_Panic] concludes by urging any prospective roboteers to pay attention to the rules and regulations of their local robo battle clubs and have fun! He really pump up the robot battle community — and we’re hard-pressed to argue with such helpful enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the world is still waiting for the epic, giant robo-showdown of the century.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

MacGyvering Test Lead Clips

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 04:00

Okay fellow Make-Gyvers, what do you get when you cross a peripheral power cable jumper, a paperclip, springs, and some 3D-printed housings? DIY test lead clips.

Test clips are easily acquired, but where’s the fun in that? [notionSuday] started by removing the lead connectors from the jumper, soldering them to stripped lengths of paperclip, bent tabs off the connectors to act as stoppers, and slid springs over top. Four quick prints for the housings later, the paperclip assembly fit right inside, the tips bent and clipped to work as the makeshift clamp. Once slipped onto the ends of their multimeter probes, they worked like a charm.

In the video you also get a glimpse of a battery holder [notionSunday] made using a 3D printer and some more paperclips. Take note — if you don’t have a cache of paperclips in your workspace, you may be missing out on critical hacking materiel.

If you can never have too many testing devices, this impressive LED tester will tell you the needed resistor value to make sorting through that pile of LEDs you have collecting dust that much easier.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, misc hacks

Bring Saturday Mornings Back to Life with this Cartoon Server

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 02:31

It was an American ritual for over four decades: wake up early on Saturday morning, prepare a bowl of sugar, and occupy the couch for four glorious hours of cartoons. The only interruptions came when the least-significant sibling had to be commanded to get up to change the channel to one of the two other networks, or when your mom decided to vacuum the TV room. It was a beautiful ritual, but now it’s gone.

Or is it? If you really want to recapture your misspent youth, you can try this Raspberry Pi multi-channel cartoon server with retro TV display. [FozzTexx] started with a yard sale 13″ Zenith set, which languished in his shop for want of a mission. When he found a four-channel video modulator, he knew he had the makings of the full channel-changing Saturday morning experience.

Four Raspberry Pis were configured to serve up four separate streams of cartoons from his Plex server, and after a late Friday night of hacking the whole thing together, each stream was ready to go live at 7:00 AM on Saturday. [FozzTexx] thought of everything — from the pre-“broadcast day” test pattern to actual commercials spliced into the cartoons to the static between the channels, it’s all there in low-definition glory. He even printed up faux TV Guide pages! You can watch a brief demo on [FozzTexx]’ Twitter feed, or you can watch the entire 2-hour Periscope feed if you’re feeling nostalgic.

[FozzTexx] chose UHF channels for his “stations,” so if you want to replicate this build it may pay to bone up on analog TV tuner basics. Or if it’s just the retro look you’re going for, this custom case inspired by a 40s TV might be nice to check out.

#SaturdayMorningCartoons & commercials from the '60s! You vote on what we watch on a TV with knobs! https://t.co/XCB8kM2GRu

— Chris Osborn (@FozzTexx) February 18, 2017

Filed under: classic hacks, Raspberry Pi

What the Flux: How Does Solder Work Anyway?

ศุกร์, 02/24/2017 - 01:01

I’ve been soldering for a long time, and I take pride in my abilities. I won’t say that I’m the best solder-slinger around, but I’m pretty good at this essential shop skill — at least for through-hole and “traditional” soldering; I haven’t had much practice at SMD stuff yet. I’m confident that I could make a good, strong, stable joint that’s both electrically and mechanically sound in just about any kind of wire or conductor.

But like some many of us, I learned soldering as a practical skill; put solder and iron together, observe results, repeat the stuff that works and avoid the stuff that doesn’t. Seems like adding a little inside information might help me improve my skills, so I set about learning what’s going on mechanically and chemically inside a solder joint.

Solder != Metal Glue

It should come as little surprise that like other metal working methods, soldering has a strict definition. Soldering is the joining of metals by melting a filler metal into the joint. Unlike in welding, only the filler metal — the solder — melts. The metals being joined usually have a much higher melting point than the solder. Brazing is similar to soldering in this regard; even though the filler metal in brazing melts at a much higher temperature than solder, the joined metals still don’t melt.

The metallurgical details of solder itself could take volumes to discuss completely, but for our purposes it’s pretty simple stuff. Solder is just an alloy that has been engineered to melt at a specific temperature. For electronics uses, the king of solders for years was an alloy of 60% tin and 40% lead. New regulations in response to environmental concerns have led to the development of different lead-free alloys, but whatever the composition, solder’s job is pretty simple. Solder needs to melt at a predictable temperature and maintain its mechanical and electrical properties when it solidifies. In other words, solder needs to be strong enough to physically hold a joint together without introducing any undesirable electrical properties to the joint.

Intermetallic bonding. Source: Indium Corp

Solder needs to do more than just melt and solidify, though. People seem to think of solder as some kind of “metal glue” — apply it as a liquid and let it become solid to lock a joint together. That’s only part of the picture, though. For a soldered joint to be electrically and mechanically sound, the solder needs to wet the metals to be joined. In the context of soldering, wetting is the process whereby the molten solder partially dissolves into the copper base metal, forming a region that’s part solder and part copper. This creates intermetallic bonding and it’s the key to soldering. In most solders, the molten tin is the primary solvent that dissolves into the copper substrate and forms the intermetallic bond that electrically and mechanically stabilizes the joint.

Intermetallics are necessary to a good solder joint, but like so many things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Intermetallics tend to be brittle, so if the intermetallic layer is too thick, the joint can be mechanically weak. There can also be voids within the intermetallic layer that add to mechanical instability.

Keeping It Clean

We all know that flux is critical to quality solder joints. But what exactly is flux and why do solder manufacturers go to the trouble of stuffing it into the core of solder wire?

The importance of flux is due to its ability to fight the mortal enemy of solder: metal oxides. Metal oxides are no good for solder joints — solder will not adequately wet a joint when there’s a metal oxide coating. Fluxes are designed to remove metal oxides, and to do so while the joint is being soldered. Pre-cleaning the metals doesn’t cut it, by the time the solder flows atmospheric oxygen has rebuilt the metal oxide layer enough to spoil solder wetting.

Electronic solder usually has a flux made of rosin. Rosin is a natural product derived from pine trees, notably the loblolly and longleaf pines for US-made rosin. It has the advantage of being more or less inert at room temperature but highly acidic when liquified, and has a melting point slightly lower than solder. The rosin core of electronic solder will therefore melt before the solder, flowing into and around the joint. The acidic liquid reacts with metal oxides, exposing clean metal for the solder to wet into. The acidic liquid flux converts the metal oxides to metal salts and water, which are typically locked up in the flux when it solidifies. The reaction products are generally harmless at that point, but some processes still require the used-up flux to be removed.

Of course there’s a lot more to soldering than this, but these are the basics about what’s going on inside that blob of solder at the end of your iron.

Filed under: chemistry hacks, Hackaday Columns, Interest

SHAttered — SHA-1 is broken

พฤ, 02/23/2017 - 23:31

A team from Google and CWI Amsterdam just announced it: they produced the first SHA-1 hash collision. The attack required over 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 SHA-1 computations, the equivalent processing power as 6,500 years of single-CPU computations and 110 years of single-GPU computations. While this may seem overwhelming, this is a practical attack if you are, lets say, a state-sponsored attacker. Or if you control a large enough botnet. Or if you are just able to spend some serious money on cloud computing. It’s doable. Make no mistake, this is not a brute-force attack, that would take around 12,000,000 single-GPU years to complete.

SHA-1 is a 160bit standard cryptographic hash function that is used for digital signatures and file integrity verification in a wide range of applications, such as digital certificates, PGP/GPG signatures, software updates, backup systems and so forth. It was, a long time ago, proposed as a safe alternative to MD5, known to be faulty since 1996. In 2004 it was shown that MD5 is not collision-resistant and not suitable for applications like SSL certificates or digital signatures. In 2008, a team of researchers demonstrated how to break SSL based on MD5, using 200 Playstations 3.

Early since 2005 theoretical attacks against SHA-1 were known. In 2015 an attack on full SHA-1 was demonstrated (baptized the SHAppening). While this did not directly translate into a collision on the full SHA-1 hash function due to some technical aspects, it undermined the security claims for SHA-1. With this new attack, dubbed SHAttered, the team demonstrated a practical attack on the SHA-1 algorithm, producing two different PDF files with the same checksum.

The full working code will be released in three months, following Google’s vulnerability disclosure policy, and it will allow anyone to create a pair of PDFs that hash to the same SHA-1 sum given two distinct images and some, not yet specified, pre-conditions.

For now, recommendations are to start using SHA-256 or SHA-3 on your software. Chrome browser already warns if a website has SHA-1 certificate, Firefox and the rest of the browsers will surely follow. Meanwhile, as always, tougher times are ahead for legacy systems and IoT like devices.

Filed under: news, security hacks

Suddenly, Wireless Power Transmission Is Everywhere

พฤ, 02/23/2017 - 22:01

Wireless power transfer exists right now, but it’s not as cool as Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower and it’s not as stupid as an OSHA-unapproved ultrasonic power transfer system. Wireless power transfer today is a Qi charger for your phone. It’s low power – just a few amps — and very short range. This makes sense; after all, we’re dealing with the inverse square law here, and wireless power transfer isn’t very efficient.

Now, suddenly, we can transfer nearly two kilowatts wirelessly to electronic baubles scattered all over a room. It’s a project from Disney Research, it’s coming out of Columbia University, it’s just been published in PLOS one, and inexplicably it’s also an Indiegogo campaign. Somehow or another, the stars have aligned and 2017 is the year of wirelessly powering your laptop.

The first instance of wireless power transfer that’s more than just charging a phone comes from Disney Research. This paper describes quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR) to transfer up to 1900 Watts to a coil across a room. In an experimental demonstration, this QSCR can power small receivers scattered around a 50 square meter room with efficiencies ranging from 40% to 95%. In short, the abstract for this paper promises a safe, efficient wireless power transfer that completely removes the need for wall outlets.

In practice, the QSCR from Disney Research takes the form of a copper pole situated in the center of a room with the walls, ceiling, and floor clad in aluminum. This copper pole isn’t continuous from floor to ceiling – it’s made of two segments, connected by capacitors. When enough RF energy is dumped into this pole, power can be extracted from a coil of wire. The video below does a good job of walking you through the setup.

As with all wireless power transmission schemes, there is the question of safety. Using finite element analysis, the Disney team found this room was safe, even for people with pacemakers and other implanted electronics. The team successfully installed lamps, fans, and a remote-controlled car in this room, all powered wirelessly with three coils oriented orthogonally to each other. The discussion goes on to mention this setup can be used to charge mobile phones, although we’re not sure if charging a phone in a Faraday cage makes sense.

If the project from Disney research isn’t enough, here’s the MotherBox, a completely unrelated Indiegogo campaign that was launched this week. This isn’t just any crowdfunding campaign; this work comes straight out of Columbia University and has been certified by Arrow Electronics. This is, by all accounts, a legitimate thing.

The MotherBox crowdfunding campaign promises true wireless charging. They’re not going for a lot of power here – the campaign only promises enough to charge your phone – but it does it at a distance of up to twenty inches.

At the heart of the MotherBox is a set of three coils oriented perpendicular to each other. The argument, or sales pitch, says current wireless chargers only work because the magnetic fields are oriented to each other. The coil in the phone case is parallel to the coil in the charging mat, for instance. With three coils arranged perpendicular to each other, the MotherBox allows for ‘three-dimensional charging’.

Does the MotherBox work? Well, if you dump enough energy into a coil, something is going to happen. The data for the expected charging ranges versus power delivered is reasonably linear, although that doesn’t quite make sense in a three-dimensional universe.

Is it finally time to get rid of all those clumsy wall outlets? No, not quite yet. The system from Disney Research works, but you have to charge your phone in a Faraday cage. It would be a great environment to test autonomous quadcopters, though. For MotherBox, Ivy League engineers started a crowdfunding campaign instead of writing a paper or selling the idea to an established company. It may not be time to buy a phone case so you can charge your phone wirelessly at Starbucks, but at least people are working on the problem. This time around, some of the tech actually works.

Filed under: Crowd Funding, Engineering, Featured, slider, wireless hacks

Own the Night with this Open Source Night Vision Monocular

พฤ, 02/23/2017 - 19:01

If you’ve always wanted to see in the dark but haven’t been able to score those perfect Soviet-era military surplus night vision goggles, you may be in luck. Now there’s an open-source night vision monocular that you can build to keep tabs on the nighttime goings-on in your yard.

Where this project stands out is not so much the electronics — it’s really just a simple CCD camera module with the IR pass filter removed, an LCD screen to display the image, and a big fat IR LED to throw some light around. [MattGyver92] seemed to put most of his effort into designing a great case for the monocular, at the price of 25 hours of 3D printer time. The main body of the case is nicely contoured, the eyepiece has a comfortable eyecup printed in NinjaFlex, and the camera is mounted on a ball-and-socket gimbal to allow fine off-axis angle adjustments. That comes in handy to eliminate parallax errors while using the monocular for nighttime walks with both eyes open. One quibble: the faux mil-surp look is achieved with a green filter over the TFT LCD panel. We wonder if somehow eliminating the red and blue channels from the camera might not have been slightly more elegant.

Overall, though, we like the way this project came out, and we also like the way [MattGyver92] bucked the Fusion 360 trend and used SketchUp to design the case. But if walking around at night with a monocular at your face isn’t appealing, you can always try biohacking yourself to achieve night vision.

Filed under: misc hacks, video hacks

Plasma Cutter Jig Notches Tubing Quickly and Cleanly

พฤ, 02/23/2017 - 16:01

It may be [MakeItExtreme]’s most ambitious build to date. There are a lot of moving parts to this plasma cutter tubing notcher, but it ought to make a fine addition to the shop and open up a lot of fabrication possibilities.

We have to admit to a certain initial bafflement when watching the video below for the first time. We can usually see where [MakeItExtreme]’s builds are going right from the first pieces of stock that get cut, but the large tube with the pressed-in bearing had us scratching our heads. The plan soon became clear — a motorized horizontal rotary table with a hollow quill for the plasma torch leads. There’s a jig for holding the torch itself that can move in and out relative to the table. Cams made of tube sections can be bolted to a fixed platen; a cam follower rides on the cams and moves the torch in and out as the table rotates. This makes the cuts needed to properly fit tubes together — known as fish mouth cuts or saddle cuts. The cams can be removed for straight cuts, and the custom pipe vise can be adjusted to make miter cuts.

All in all a sturdy and versatile build that ought to enable tons on new projects, especially when teamed up with [MakeIt Extreme]’s recent roll bender.

Filed under: tool hacks

Keep the Peace in the Bedroom with a Snore Stopping Sleep Mask

พฤ, 02/23/2017 - 13:00

Despite what my wife says, I have absolutely no evidence that I snore. After all, I’ve never actually heard me snoring. But I’ll take her word for it that I do, and that it bothers her, so perhaps I should be a sport and build this snore-detecting vibrating sleep mask so she can get a few winks more.

Part wearable tech and part life hack, [mopluschen]’s project requires a little of the threadworker’s skill. The textile part of the project is actually pretty simple, and although [mopluschen] went with a custom mask made from fabric and foam shoulder pads, it should be possible to round up a ready-made mask that could be easily modified. The electronics are equally simple – an Arduino with a sound sensor module and a couple of Lilypad Vibe boards. The mic rides just above the snore resonating chamber and the vibrators are right over the eyes. When your snore volume exceeds a preset threshold, the motors wake you up.

Whether this fixes the underlying problem or just evens the score with your sleep partner is debatable, but either way there’s some potential here. And not just for snore-correction – a similar system could detect a smoke alarm and help rouse the hearing impaired. But if the sewing part of this project puts you off, you should probably check out [Jenny List]’s persuasive argument that sewing is not just for cosplayers anymore.

Filed under: misc hacks, wearable hacks