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Adding GPIOs To The Raspberry Pi With The Camera Interface

ศุกร์, 07/25/2014 - 03:00

The Raspberry Pi Model B+ was just released, and now everyone who picks one of those up has a few more GPIO pins to play around with. For the millions of people with the two-year-old version of the Pi, we’re still stuck with the same old, same old: 17 GPIOs on the big header, and that’s about it as far as toggling pins goes.

The Broadcom SoC on the Pi has far more GPIO pins than are broken out on the large header, and a few of those go to the CSI camera interface. These GPIOs can be broken out with a few flat cables (Portuguese, Google Translatrix), giving you four more GPIOs, and this technique can also be used with the new, expanded Model B+.

The CSI camera connector has two I²C lines that go directly to the camera, controllable in Linux as GPIO0 and GPIO1. There are two more GPIO connectors on the CSI connector controllable as GPIO5 and GPIO21. By carefully slicing and soldering wires to a flat cable, these GPIO lines can be broken out onto a breadboard.

There’s a video below demonstrating these GPIO lines being used to control a few LEDs. Of course, anything that is possible with a normal Raspi GPIO is possible with the CSI connector GPIO lines.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

THP Hacker Bio: Kenji Larsen

ศุกร์, 07/25/2014 - 00:00

I met up with [Kenji Larsen] at HOPE X last weekend, and I’m fairly certain he was the coolest person at a conference full of really cool people. Talking to him for a little bit, you get a sense of what it would be like to speak with [Buckmister Fuller], [Tesla], or any of the other ‘underappreciated, but not by people in the know’ minds scattered about history. I’ll just let his answers to our hacker bio questions demonstrate that.

[Kenji]‘s project for The Hackaday Prize is the Reactron Overdrive. It’s not just one board he’s building here, but an entire suite of sensors, interfaces, and nodes that form a complete human to machines – note the plural ‘machines’ – interface. When you consider that no one knows what the Internet of Things actually is, and that [Kenji] is working on IoT 3.0, you get a sense that there’s really something here. Also, his project log has a Tron Recognizer in it. That has to count for something, right?

Interview/Bio below.

Culinary arts, both sides of it. I love to make food, and love to consume it; I just really appreciate how diverse it can get.  Lots of schools of thought, from French and Italian standards, to Japanese nature harmony, to chem-technical, to Ayurvedic, and many other things in between, and outside those concepts. I’ve eaten a lot of weird things. Even when it’s awful, I am glad for the experience. I took some courses at the Culinary Institute of America, and I like to tell people “I learned my knife skills at the CIA.” Other hobbies are hiking, flying airplanes, and sailing, but I find I don’t have a lot of time to do these that much anymore. Have to eat, though…

Data analysis and prototyping for product and process development. I would characterize it as hacking, actually. There is a fair amount of metrology, experimentation and testing, visualization, simulation, and a lot of coding.  There is a lot of time and workflow analysis.  I analyze what can be done asynchronously, and what things must be done in critical path; what can be left open-loop, what must be done with feedback. There is usually a “critical now” period in every process that is supported by several non-linear, asynchronous worker processes.  This got me thinking that really, human existence is the real “critical now” and we should use technology and just-in-time manufacturing methods, with the same non-linear optimization to augment that existence. Human experience is not just something we have by virtue of being alive – it is also something we are in charge of, can improve, optimize, and really is our most important product.  That thinking led me to trying to do this with my own life’s workflow, and later led to my entry in The Hackaday Prize.

Violins and antique violin restoration. Here is a machine (and work of art) that is old enough to have a real natural evolution.  Made of several different woods, animal substances, plant extracts, minerals, and insect secretions, this thing is the definition of hacking diverse stuff around you for optimum output. End result beauty. The older ones need some help to continue their beautiful existence. Restoration is not just repair – it’s harder in a lot of ways, because you must respect the flaws and exceptional excellences of what came before, remain true to the personality you found.  It’s not just about bringing the machine back to some standard. I mean, that is part of it, but there is more to it. Maybe this is my passion because there are things about this that I cannot yet quantify (despite a lot of efforts!)

Cable box.  So many reasons.  But in reality it’s not something I would ever do.  Poor defenseless components are better upcycled into awesome machines.

while(1){do_your_own_stuff();} No operating system is the best operating system. Simple loop execution such as in the AVR allows you to optimize as you like.  I totally get the utility of OSs in the sense of drivers and so forth, but uCs do that well enough with libraries. I find that once a system has a name, and is itself a product looking for market share, it feature creeps to serve many varying needs, until there is stuff I don’t want or need.  Then it creeps further until that stuff is not removable. Wait, isn’t that the definition of cancer? If you really press me, I will say Minix.

Well this is another tough question because I have several benches, all different. In my prototyping work, I have separate benches for electronics work, woodworking, inspection/measurement, microscopy, vacuum, high voltage, and sewing (yes, for wearables). There’s also a photography area but let’s not call that a “bench”.

I love my o-scopes but they are not the best ones out there, and I love my soldering irons but also, they aren’t anything too special. I love using my optical flat but don’t need to use it very often. I do use my granite surface plate all the time, but it’s just a flat rock.  And of course my Fluke 79 DMM, but as much as I love it, it is unremarkable. The one tool I use at all my stations is something I make myself, out of necessity. It is the pointy stick. You know those fiberglass rods they sell for next to nothing for marking the end of your driveway, so that they stay visible after it snows a lot?  I cut them down to 10 inch lengths and sharpen the ends on the grinder at different angles, then hone them further with finer grits. They are strong and durable, they are chemical resistant, heat-resistant, electrically non-conductive, great for high voltage. They can hold a fairly precise point, with which to

A fiberglass poking device

manipulate anything you need.  From pushing around carbon fiber cloth in resin, to holding something you are machining on the CNC, to moving something you are looking at under the microscope, or holding something tiny down when you are soldering, or pushing textiles through a sewing machine when you are working on something small, these are totally versatile.  I have several colors so that if I need several in a single job, I can keep them straight, if they need to touch different chemicals or whatever.  I also grade the point angle by color, so I know what I am reaching for (asynchronous process, sight and recognition) before I obtain it – keeps the workflow utilization up.


Does the Earth’s crust count? (42.) If we are talking about a semiconductor design, it is very tough, there are so many. I have to say I do really appreciate the INA128/129 instrumentation amplifier.  I mean I love the ATMega328P but that’s a higher level thing, more complex, and doesn’t need me to get it more press and admiration.  The INA128/129 is simple, clean, and does for ADCs what the electron microscope does for the eye. Power in, high-resolution knowledge out, I like it.

C++. I think it is the best compromise of a lot of factors. Been that way for a lot of years.  I will accept a better compromise, but so far haven’t seen one. I don’t like languages that attempt to make things easy for you by doing things for you in undocumented ways under the hood.  It’s usually at the cost of performance, and loss of control over the process.  I like manipulating memory directly.

This is not an easy question, because I am constantly re-prioritizing and I figure, anything that falls off the bottom by the time I die was not important enough to get to.  That said, the top items right now are:
  • Extend the time from now until I die (and stabilize bio-age at a good spot).  Aubrey de Grey, hello! Help him, please – everyone help him if you can.  I am trying to figure out how I can help.  So I guess the top item is, the “How can I help Aubrey de Grey?” Project.  (If this one works, I will get to complete more projects.)  Maybe just writing this is helping by raising awareness.  Here is a TED talk. Look, I am working on this project already!
  • Build a practical anti-neutronic fusion reactor.  People seem to be focused on Boron 11 at this time, but I have some ideas about Lithium 7 which has a good cross-section and seems just as promising. Lots of people have built fusors for regular deuterium reactions, so it’s not fantasy – but they are not over-unity yet. It seems like it may just be a matter of time before the right balance of things is achieved. I think Polywell technology is cool and I would just love to have some time to investigate it further. Fusion@home. Open source. I am sure someone will get to this before me, and that will take it off the list (or at least move it way down) because then it just becomes a formula – for me the discovery and experimentation process is the fun part – you know, the hacking.
  • Engineered organs, like a seven-pump distributed heart (like RAID for blood flow).  But people are doing this sort of thing now, and will likely get to it before I will.  I’m cool with that, you go, people!  Take the whole liver situation.  We have to do better than transplants from corpses, or half-organ donations.  The liver is one organ we know can regenerate parts on its own!  3D printing, extracellular matrix + stem cells, it sounds like an there is an exploit, let’s hack it.  This would be #2 on my list if I felt I knew I could contribute enough – and really, it’s part of #1.  But from what I have read, this is well on its way without me. Which is good, because then I will be able to focus on biological robots of arbitrary form. Bishop to King 7. Checkmate, I think.

Request buffering.  That actually boils down to old-world etiquette, which, far from being an archaic system, simply defined rules of engagement, a standardized people interface.  The style may change, but the concept is valuable.  In modern speak, I try to be polite, and optimize my communication in harmony with the surrounding people and events. Human communication is like an RF mesh network. You need an organizing principle to maximize data transfer to all nodes. (Thanks for listening.) Also, statistics.

It is the one I live and breathe. Computers are tools.  They need to be useful, or step aside (or be upcycled into excellence). They are sophisticated enough now to know when they need extra time to prepare for a task, or when they are failing.  Those things need to be removed from the critical path of human activity, otherwise we are just going to spend our precious moments being maintainers of machines.  Forget that.  When I was younger, one statistic often cited was how many years of our lives the average person would spend in their car commuting.  Now many work from home, and the time taxes are smaller and distributed.  Waiting for machines to boot, to log in, web pages to refresh, “please wait while your updates are being installed”. Really?  Add them up, do the math.  It is worse than dying that much earlier, since you have to sit through it all.  I joke (sort of) that I am trying to make computers “go away” – that seems surprising to some people because I’ve been working with computers my whole life, and my solution to make them go away actually means having many, many more of them. But my project is about freedom of experience, and there are also aspects pertaining to personal data ownership.  It’s definitely in the spirit of the Hackaday Prize; when I read the bit about technology giving individuals the freedom to build the future, where once only large corporations could do something meaningful, I thought, yes, I will do this. I am often really jammed for time, so I started to use my manufacturing process knowledge to optimize it.  It has worked in some ways so far, and I am looking to expand its scope. I’m still as busy as ever, so it is hard to get this stuff documented, but making this a formal entry has forced me to be a bit more rigorous. I think it could benefit a lot of people..

Right now the thing that I would like to have help on is how to get reasonable integration with multiple Kinects, native on Debian.  Short term-goal obviously, but seems like a great sensor and integrable into my paradigm.  I’m sure it will be superseded soon by something 10X cheaper and 100X more awesome, but for now, this is what we have.

Sure, see my list above, any of them, but for this Prize the fusor is probably the most appropriate. I wouldn’t tackle it for the Prize because of the timeframe.  But if anyone is bold enough to go for it, I will gladly contribute! Maybe engineered organs is closer to practical already though.  Again, I will help if I can!

Just need time to think!

I’d like to explain my avatar. It’s a symbol related to the Schrödinger wave equation, applied to human and machine interfaces, instead of matter.  We expose our abilities and properties, what we are about, through our communication and cooperation. These interfaces can be harmonic, or vibrationally destructive, which consumes energy. That’s the same for matter, people, or computers. One curve represents machine interfaces, and the other human interfaces. The two together look like a double helix, a good metaphor for what I am trying to do with my THP entry.
Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Interviews, The Hackaday Prize

20,000 Hackers

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 22:30

What a pleasant thing to wake up and realize that we now have more than 20,000 Hackers on Hackaday.io. It wasn’t even two months ago that we celebrated passing the 10k mark. While we’re talking numbers, how about 2,075 projects, and 148 hackerspaces?

But what’s in a number? It’s what this stands for that really gets us excited! You took the leap and decided to show off what you’re working on while you’re still working on it. This is the key to pollinating ideas. One concept can result in many awesome spin-off projects. So if you haven’t yet written about that killer idea bouncing around in your head, do it now and be the inspiration for the next iteration of amazing hacks.

Much more to come

Our crew has been refining an overhaul of how the feed works to make it easier to know when and how your favorite hackers are updating their builds. You should see that functionality live in August. We’re also working on improving interactivity so that you can better find others with similar interests whether it’s just for casual conversation or to undertake an epic build as a team.

We’re certainly not above pointing out our own weaknesses. The Stack never took off. The idea seemed like a good one, but we need your help figuring out how to make it shine. Leave a comment below telling us what you think The Stack should be and how you think it should work.

Filed under: Featured

A Lesson in Blind Reverse Engineering – Signals Intelligence

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 21:01

In a fit of desperation, I turned to data mining tools and algorithms, but stepped back from the horror of that unspeakable knowledge before my mind was shattered. That way madness lies.

–[Rory O'hare]

Wise words. Wise words, indeed. Who among us hasn’t sat staring into the abyss of seemingly endless data without the slightest clue to what it means or even how to go about figuring out what it means? To literally feel the brain damage seeping in as you start to see ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’ reach out to you from every day electronic devices…like some ghost in the wires. But do not fear, wise hacker! For we have good news to report! [Rory O'hare] has dived into this very abyss, and has emerged successful.

While others were out and about playing games and doing whatever non-hackers do to entertain themselves, [Rory O'hare] decided to reach out and grab some random wireless signals for a little fun and excitement. And what he found was not just a strong, repeating signal at 433Mhz. Not just a signal that oozed with evidence of ASK. What he found was a challenge…a mystery that was begging to be solved. A way to test his skill set. Could he reverse engineer a signal by just looking at the signal alone? Read on, and find out.




Filed under: wireless hacks

Fantastic Tach Is Strangely Called Tachtastic

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 18:01

We all have projects from yesteryear that we wish had been documented better. [EjaadTech] is fighting back by creating a project page about a tachometer he built 3 years ago while in college. He’s done a great write-up documenting all the steps from bread-boarding to testing to finished project. All of the code necessary for this tachometer is available too, just in case you’d like to make one yourself.

At the heart of the project is an AVR ATMega8 chip that performs the calculations and controls the LCD output screen that displays both the immediate RPM as well as the average. To hold everything together, [EjaadTech] etched his own custom PCB board that we must say looks pretty good. In addition to holding all the necessary components, there is also an ISP connector for programming and re-programming.

There are two attachment options for sensing the RPM. One is a beam-break style where the IR emitter is on one side of the object and the receiver is on the other. This type of sensor would work well with something like a fan, where the blades would break the IR beam as they passed by. Then other attachment has the IR emitter and receiver on one board mounted next to each other. The emitter continually sends out a signal and the receiver counts how often it sees a reflection. This works for rotating objects such as shafts where there would not be a regular break in the IR beam. For this reflective-based setup to work there would have to be a small piece of reflective tape on the shaft providing a once-per-revolution reflection point. Notice the use of female headers to block any stray IR beams from causing an inaccurate reading… simple and effective.


Filed under: Microcontrollers

Zero-Dollar AC System Looks Funny But Works Well

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 15:00

Summer is here and with summer comes hot days. You probably know that us humans get uncomfortable if the temperature rises too much. Sure, we could turn on the loud and inefficient window AC unit and try to stay mildly comfortable while the electric company pick-pockets pennies from our change purse, but what is the fun in that? [Fran] had a better idea.

He noticed that his basement was always in the upper 50°F range regardless of how hot it was outside. He wanted the cool basement air to reside upstairs in the living area. After thinking long and hard about it he decided that a box fan and two long, skinny cardboard boxes assembled together would be enough to move the required amount of air. Both the fan and boxes were kicking around the house so was no cost and no risk to try this out.

The now one-unit assembly sits on the stairs and blows the cool air from the floor of the basement up the stairwell and into the house. For this to work the door leading to the basement must be open. At this point the system worked somewhat well but [Fran] wanted more airflow. Air was being blown into the house from the basement but the air already in the house didn’t have anywhere to go. [Fran] decided to open the attic hatch to let the air escape which resulted in a big improvement in airflow and decrease in living area temperature.

As funny or low-cost as this may look, [Fran] reports some impressive numbers, a reduction of 11 Kwh/day, which is 50% of his electrical usage during the summer months. He claims to have not used his wall-mounted AC in several years because this cooling system works so well.

Filed under: home hacks

Fishing for Radio Signals With the Moxon Antenna

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 12:01

[Bill Meara] has finished his latest project, a Moxon antenna for HF on 17 meters. [Bill] is well-known here on Hackaday. When not building awesome radios, he can be found ranting about ham radio. His new antenna turned out to be a true hack. He even used a hacksaw to build it!

The Moxon antenna is named for the late [Les Moxon, G6XN] who first described it in “Two-Element Driven Arrays”, a QST magazine article published in July of 1952.  [Bill] built his Moxon loosely based on [Jim/AE6AC's] excellent instructions. The design is incredibly simple – a two element directional antenna using crappie fishing poles as spreaders. That’s crappie as in the fish, not the quality of the pole. Crappie poles are typically made up of telescoping sections of graphite or fiberglass  in common lengths of 14, 16, and 20 feet. The poles can be bought for under $20 at sporting goods stores. [Bill] used 16 foot poles purchased from Amazon.

The antenna is created by connecting all four poles at their bases in an X shape. The wire elements are stretched across the ends of the poles. The entire antenna bends up as the stiff poles hold the driven and reflector elements in tension. [Bill] used some scrap wood and U-bolts to attach the fishing poles, and bungee cord ends at the tips. Since the antenna is directional, [Bill] added a TV antenna rotor to spin the beam around. The antenna is so light that one could get by with a couple of cords and the “Armstrong method” of antenna rotation.

Once up on the roof, [Bill] found his antenna really performed. He was easily able to cross the Atlantic from his Northern Virginia home to France, Belgium, and Latvia. The mostly horizontal antenna makes it a bit more unobtrusive than other directional designs. [Bill] mentions that his neighbors haven’t revolted yet, so he’s continuing to enjoy the fruits of his antenna labors.

Filed under: radio hacks

Red Bull Creation Winners: Maker Twins

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 09:01

This year’s Red Bull Creation theme “Reinvent the Wheel” was pretty broad, but the Maker Twins managed to incorporate it quite closely with their winning project which was completed in under 72 hours. They took the idea of urban farming and figured out one way to make farmer’s markets more feasible by helping to eliminate waste and spruce up the presentation of the produce.

The project amounts to a Ferris wheel. Instead of passenger compartments there are modular crates which are built with one wooden pallet each. The wheel itself is chain-driven and allows the system to track where each crate is in the rotation. This data is leveraged for a couple of different uses. One lets the customer select their produce on a tablet app and the crate will rotate into position so they may pick the individual items they want. The machine will also take care of automated watering to ensure the produce on display doesn’t get dried out. The icing on the cake is a separate station for washing and cutting the purchased veggies.

Thank you to Maker Twins for contributing some demonstration “b-roll” for use in this video.

Filed under: contests, green hacks

Hacked e-cigarette vaporizer can send smells…in space!

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 06:00

This 3D printed scent distributor was put together by eight people from three states during the 2014 NYC NASA Space Apps Challenge. The team went on to take 1st place in the competition.

The project is called Senti8 and uses a FLORA Arduino micro-controller and a Neopixel LED strip purchased from Adafruit. A smartphone mobile app then remotely connects to the device allowing the user to choose which scent they would like to send to their friend, who is also wearing one of the wristbands.

They came up with the idea by simply asking an American astronaut named [Doug Wheelock] what he missed the most while travelling through the boundless reaches of outer space. To their surprise, he said that the thing he missed the most was his sense of smell.

Originally, the project was envisioned to be a wearable technology for space tourism. But over time, the project morphed into a wristband that would allow people to remember places or planets visited. Even memories unique to those places through scent could be experimented with.

One of the team members, [Brooks], was spotted wearing the Senti8 at the Wearable Tech LA conference in Pasadena, CA on July 17, 2014. The LED lights lining the outside could be seen all the way across the large auditorium as she chatted up with local Crashspace members as they prepared to present their design-oriented hacks to the public.

She gave an interview demoing the wristband which can be seen in the video posted below:

The Senti8 Intro video can be see here as well:

Filed under: wearable hacks

New Round of Astronaut or Not: Most Outrageous Component

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 04:30


And so ends round 2 of Astronaut or Not. We asked you to vote for the projects “most likely to be used in other projects”. Again you didn’t disappoint. We had a mountain of votes, and happily gave away a Bukito portable 3D printer to one of the lucky voters.

You must vote at least once in this new round to be eligible for the voter lottery on Friday!

Vote for the project with “the most outrageous component”. Can’t figure out what we mean by that? Well, if you come across an entry that has a quarter-million-dollar hard drive in it… vote for that one.

Voter Lottery Prize:

How long have you been making do with a hacked together power supply?

Be sure you vote and you could kiss those days goodbye with this BK Precision 1760A bench supply. It has three channels; 0-30V 0-2A on the first two and 4-6.5V 0-5A on the third. We’re also throwing in some leads so that you can be up and running as soon as it arrives.

We’ll draw a random number on Friday morning. If you have voted at least one time in this current round (your participation in previous rounds doesn’t matter) and your hacker number is drawn you will win! But if your number is drawn and you haven’t voted… no bench supply for you.

Now for the results:

Congratulations to the second round winners of Astronaut or Not!

* 9 of these projects were voted to the top in the first round and already have T-shirts on the way to them. This time around those double-winners are awarded the prestige of being on top again. But we’ll just be sending shirts to the 15 projects that didn’t win earlier. Here’s nine that nearly made the top projects in this second round of voting:

Filed under: cons, The Hackaday Prize

THP Entry: Cut Energy Consumption by 30 percent with this WiFi XBee Setup

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 03:01

Let’s be honest. Paying electricity bills sucks. The amount paid is always too much, and the temperatures in the building are rarely set at a comfortable level. But now, with the help of this DIY Climate Control system, power-users can finally rejoice knowing that the heating and cooling process of their home (or commercial space) can be easily controlled through the utilization of an XBee Remote Kit and a process called zoning.

The team behind the project is [Doug], [Benjamin] and [Lucas]. They hope to solve the inconsistent temperature problems, which are caused by a moving sun, by open-sourcing their work into the community.

Their XBee system runs on a mesh network making it a perfect tool for sensing and communicating which areas in the house are too hot or too cold. Once the data is collected, XBee modules route the information wirelessly to each other until it reaches a central Arduino gatekeeper; which then decides if it wants to heat, ventilate, or air condition the room.

Not to mention all the added benefits posted below:

For one, you can hook-up temperature ICs like the TMP36 (PDF) without the need to buy extra parts. Better yet, the XBee can be programmed to fall asleep thus saving battery life. This means that the whole module can run on rechargeable AAA batteries.

Even further, it can be coded at its various ports to read other devices. This is great because it gives the setup the potential to turn on and off devices that are hooked to the module, transforming it into a networked hub of interconnected devices.

This approach not only allows you to be involved in saving the planet, but it keeps your home, warehouse, or office building at a much more comfortable level in the process, a real win-win.

The project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

Filed under: home hacks, The Hackaday Prize

Flight For Your Right (And Do It By Friday)

พฤ, 07/24/2014 - 00:00

About a month ago, the FAA – the governing body for nearly everything that flies in US airspace – proposed an interpretation of their rules governing model aircraft. The world hasn’t ended quite yet, but if the proposed rules go into effect, an entire hobby will be destroyed in the United States. While congress has given the FAA authority over nearly everything that flies, there are specific laws saying what the FAA has no jurisdiction over – model aircraft being one of the major exceptions.

Congress, however, is working on a definition of model aircraft that is at least 10 years out of date and doesn’t have any leeway for the huge advances in technology that have happened since then. Specifically, all FPV flight with video goggles would be banned under the proposed FAA rules. Also, because model aircraft are defined as being for, ‘hobby or recreational purposes,’ anyone who flies a model aircraft for money – a manufacturer conducting flight tests on a new piece of equipment, or even anyone who records a video of their flight, uploads it to YouTube, and hits the ‘monetize’ button – would be breaking the law.

The proposed FAA rules for model aircraft are not in effect yet, and you can still make a public comment on the proposal until 11:59 PM EDT Friday. If you leave a comment, please make a well-reasoned statement on why the FAA’s interpretation of the rules governing model aircraft are overly broad, do not take into account technological advances made since the drafting of Congress’ working definition of ‘model aircraft,’ and the effects of a complete ban flying model aircraft for any type of compensation.

This is not a good comment.

Of course, if the proposed rules for model aircraft go through, the only option will be to turn to the courts. Historically, the FAA simply does not lose court cases. Recently, cases involving drones have come up with successful defenses and judges deciding in favor of drone operators. The legal services for the eventual court case challenging the proposed FAA rules will most likely be funded by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, who just so happen to be offering membership at 50% off.

Below is a video of some RC people we really respect – [Josh] from Flite Test and [Trappy] of Team BlackSheep – talking about what the proposed rule change would do to the hobby. There’s also a great podcast featuring the first lawyer to successfully defend drone use in federal court that’s worth a listen.

Filed under: drone hacks, news

DIY Conductive Paint For All Your Wearable Needs

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 21:01

Conductive ink or paint is lots of fun. It opens up tons of possibilities for flexible and unique circuits — unfortunately, it’s pretty expensive. [Brian McEvoy] shows us how to make your own for cheap, and it works great!

He started trying to formulate his own recipe after playing with other Instructable guides and commercially available paint, and what he found is it’s really not that complex! Graphite powder, acrylic paint, and a jar with an airtight seal — seriously, it’s that simple! But, like any engineer worth their salt (he calls himself the 24 Hour Engineer), he had to do some tests to compare his formula.

In a detailed experiment he compares his formula to the commercially available Wire Glue, and two other recipes using Elmer’s Glue-All and graphite, and Titebond III with graphite. The results? Acrylic paint and graphite produce the most conductive material — and the cheapest!

Now that you can make conductive ink, why not 3D print a circuit stamp to make your very own SMD circuit board!

Filed under: how-to

HOPE X: Wireless Tor Proxies And Sharing TrueCrypt Volumes

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 18:00

When you’re at HOPE, of course you’re going to see a few Tor proxies, but [Jose]‘s is top-notch. It’s a completely portable Tor proxy (.br, Google translation), battery-powered, with a connection for 4G networks.

[Jose]‘s OnionPi setup is based on the Adafruit version, but adds a few interesting features that make it even more useful. It’s battery-powered with about a day of charge time, has a built-in battery charger, Ethernet pass through, external 4G and WiFi antennas, all in a sealed case that makes the entire build impervious to the elements.

While this isn’t much of a hack per se, the amount of integration is impressive. There are switches to turn off each individual networking port, and all the relevant plugs are broken out to the front panel, with the AC input and USB serial connection using screw connectors that are supposedly very popular in Brazil.

[Jose] also brought along a new device that isn’t documented anywhere else on the web. It’s called NNCFA, or Nothing New Crypto For All. Using a Cubieboard, an interesting ARM single board computer with a SATA connector, [Jose] created a device that will mount TrueCrypt volumes on a hard drive and share them via Samba.

Filed under: Network Hacks, security hacks

POV Display Does it on the Cheap

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 15:00

[Sholto] hacked together this ultra low-budget spinning display. He calls it a zoetrope, but we think it’s actually an LED based Persistence Of Vision (POV) affair. We’ve seen plenty of POV devices in the past, but this one proves that a hack doesn’t have to be expensive or pretty to work!

The major parts of the POV display were things that [Sholto] had lying around. A couple of candy tins, a simple brushed hobby motor, an Arduino Pro Mini, 7 green LEDs, and an old hall effect sensor were all that were required. Fancy displays might use commercial slip rings to transfer power, but [Sholto] made it work on the cheap!

The two tins provide a base for the display and the negative supply for the Arduino. The tins are soldered together and insulated from the motor, which is hot glued into the lower tin. A paper clip contacts the inside of the lid, making the entire assembly a slip ring for the negative side of the Arduino’s power supply. Some copper braid rubbing on the motor’s metal case forms the positive side.

[Sholto] chose his resistors to slightly overdrive his green LEDs. This makes the display appear brighter in POV use. During normal operation, the LEDs won’t be driven long enough to cause damage. If the software locks up with LEDs on though, all bets are off!

[Sholto] includes software for a pretty darn cool looking “saw wave” demo, and a simple numeric display. With a bit more work this could make a pretty cool POV clock, at least for as long as the motor brushes hold up!

[via Instructables]


Filed under: led hacks

Talking BeagleBoard with [Jason Kridner]

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 12:01

[Jason Kridner] is a member of the i3 Detroit hackerspace and during the Hackaday meet-up we were able to spend a few minutes talking about what’s going on with BeagleBoard right now. For those of you that don’t know, BeagleBoard is a non-profit foundation which guides the open hardware initiative of the same name. This includes BeagleBone which is the third iteration of the platform. [Jason's] a good guy to talk to about this as he co-founded the organization and has been the driving force in the community ever since.

Right now the organization is participating in the Google Summer of Code. This initiative allows students to propose open source coding projects which will help move the community forward. Students with accepted proposals were paired with mentors and are paid for the quality code which is produced. One of the projects this year is a 100 Megahertz, 14-channel Logic Analyzer which [Jason] is waving around in the video. It’s the GSoC project of [Kumar Abhishek] and you can learn more from his proposal.

Also of interest in the video is a discussion about the power of the BeagleBone’s PRUs, or Programmable Real-Time Units. They’re basically unused microcontrollers that have direct access to a lot of the processor’s features and are just waiting for you to bend them to your will. Having these is a huge boon for hardware hackers. If you haven’t played with them before, check out our earlier article on what PRUs are all about and then give it a whirl yourself.

After the break there’s a brief table of contents which maps the topics in the video above.

  • 0:40 – Discussion of the Programmable Real-Time Units (PRUs) on the BeagleBoard
  • 2:51 – BeagleBoard and the Google Summer of Code
  • 4:19 – 100 MHz, 14-channel Logic Analyzer which is a product of the Google Summer of Code

Filed under: Featured, Microcontrollers

Smart Hat Puts Your Head in the Game

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 09:01


[Arvind] has dropped his hat in the game of head mounted displays. With Google Glass pushing $1,500, it’s only natural for hackers to make a cheaper alternative. [Avind's] $80 version might not be pretty, but it gets the job done.

Using a Raspberry Pi loaded with speech recognition software, a webcam, 2.5 inch LCD display and a handful of other parts, [Arvind's] hat mounted display allows him to view email, Google Maps, videos or just about anything he wants.

An aspheric loupe magnifier lens lets him see the display even though it sits around 5cm from his eye. No outside light is allowed in. Only the guts of the webcam were used to give him the video and microphone. We’ve seen other head mounted displays before, and this one adds to the growing collection. Be sure to check out [Arvinds] site for a tutorial on how to build your own, and catch a video of it in action after the break.




Filed under: Raspberry Pi, wearable hacks

HOPE X: Creating Smart Spaces With ReelyActive

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 06:01

When we hear about the Internet of Things, we’re thinking it’s a portable device with a sensor of some kind, a radio module, and the ability to push data up to the Internet. There’s nothing that says a device that puts data on the Internet has to be portable, though, as [Jeff] from ReelyActive showed us at HOPE X last weekend.

[Jeff]‘s startup is working on a device that turns every space into a smart space. It does this with radio modules connected to a computer that listen to Bluetooth and the 868, 915 and 2400MHz bands. These modules turn every place into a smart space, identifying who just walked into a room, and who is at a specific location. Think of it as the invisible foundation for any truly smart house.

The radio modules themselves are daisychained with Cat5 cable, able to be plugged into a hub or existing Ethernet drops. The software that makes the whole thing work can run on just about anything; if you want a Raspi to turn on the lights when you enter a room, or turn off a thermostat when you leave a building, that’s just a few lines of code and a relay.

The software is open source, and [Jeff] and his team are looking at making the hardware open. It’s a great idea, and something that would be a good entry for The Hackaday Prize, but ReelyActive is located in Montréal, and like Syria and North Korea, we’re not allowed to run a contest in Quebec.

Filed under: radio hacks

USB Rotary Phone: A Lync to the Past

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 03:00

[Ivan] is fed up with all this rampant virtualization. When his company took away his physical desk phone in favor of using MS Lync, he was driven to build a USB rotary phone. His coworkers loved it and one of them asked [Ivan] to build another. The build log focuses on converting his coworker’s vintage brass and copper number that must weigh a ton.

He had to do a bit more work with this one because it had rusted out inside and a few of the contacts were bent. The good news is that the speaker and microphone were in working order and he was able to use them both. After restoring the stock functionality, he added a USB sound card and created a USB keyboard using a PIC32MX440F256H.

The rotary phone’s dial works using two switches, one that’s open and one that’s closed when no one is dialing. Once dialing is detected, the open switch closes and the closed switch clicks according to the dialed digit (ten clicks for 0). [Ivan] also reads the switch hook state and has added debouncing. This gave him some trouble because of the quick response expected by the PC bus, but he made use of interrupts and was allowed to keep his seat.

Please stay on the line. [Ivan]‘s videos will be with you shortly.


Filed under: phone hacks

Judge Spotlight: Andrew “Bunnie” Huang

พุธ, 07/23/2014 - 00:01

This week’s Judge Spotlight focuses on [Andrew "Bunnie" Huang]. If you haven’t heard of him you need to pay more attention. His hacker cred goes way back to the original Xbox, which he reverse engineered and laid bare its security flaws. Maintaining his hacker spirit he went on to design and hack the Chumby. More recently he took on the challenge of developing and Open laptop called Novena. All of this while continuing to explore and experiment with all kinds of electronics, posting about his adventures for those of us that care about an electronics ecosystem that doesn’t shut out the user from tinkering with the hardware. Join us after the break for our conversation with The Hackaday Prize judge [Bunnie Huang].

You will have eternal hacker fame for reverse-engineering the hardware security on the original Xbox. What were you doing in your life at the time and how did you settle on that piece of hardware for the challenge?

At the time, I was completing my PhD dissertation on computer architecture at MIT. My advisor encouraged our research group to study the current crop of video game consoles to see what we could learn about how they achieve such high performance at a low price. As such, the Xbox was one of the three main consoles at the time and as a result I set upon reverse engineering it.


You wrote a book called Hacking the Xbox that described your adventure. Did you have any concerns about the repercussions of making that knowledge public and what pushed you to follow through?

Yes, of course I had concerns. At the time, the DMCA was just a couple years old and the as-of-yet untested legislation stood as a major impediment to our freedom to research and to tinker. MIT’s institutional counsel even sent me a letter repudiating their involvement with my hacking activity, possibly in part because they saw a lot of legal risk in aiding the disclosure of my findings. It was convenient for them that the actual implementation of the hack was done on my personal Xbox using my own resources, and largely during a winter break period called IAP.

What pushed me to follow through? Hacking, and the freedom to hack, is an important part of me. I grew up with this freedom, and new legislation stood to take it away. I suppose as a result, I had nothing to lose — whether I stepped up or backed down, either way I could lose an important freedom. And I’d rather go down with a fight.


Can you describe your role in Chumby?


I was responsible for the design, manufacturing and operations of the consumer hardware half of the business.


Chumby surely holds the record as the hackable device which gained the widest public acceptance. What do you think of that part of Chumby and is there a good argument for increasing the number of hackable devices available to the average consumer?

Hackability is something that only a small fraction of the population actually takes advantage of; however, I think there is a certain peace of mind that a larger portion of users get knowing they have the *option* to hack and fully understand their technology. There is something vaguely disconcerting when you become so reliant upon black box technologies. So, sharing the designs and plans with your customers gives them back a sense of agency that I believe is meaningful.

Even though few people exercised their option to hack, I was pleased at the kinds of applications our hardware found. It ended up being used in applications as diverse as a braille terminal for the blind, to the controller for a walking robot, to a console for controlling A/V functions installed at a college campus. We couldn’t have predicted these hacks and the greatest pleasure of producing Chumby was always reading about the clever things people would do when you enable them to hack.

At the end of the day, I’d say the openness and hackability of Chumby had a neutral impact on the business end of things; it didn’t drive sales, but it also didn’t hurt it. But it did create a very loyal customer base and I’m extremely pleased to see that one of our other original founders has rebooted the Chumby servers and there are still lots of enthusiastic users who are delighted by its reincarnation.


The Novena Open Hardware Laptop has two points that stick out in our minds: it’s hackable and free of “black boxes” (like binary blobs on a video card). Did you have both in mind from the beginning of the project?

Yes, of course. Hackability and depth of openness were two major goals of the project. We took special pains, for example, to source a wifi card that is blob-free; the wifi card isn’t the cheapest or best performing one, but it also doesn’t require a blob.

Although, I do have to make a correction to your question: we went as open as we could, but that does still mean that individual sub-components still contain their firmware. The SSD and microSD memory card, for example, still contain the load of firmware permanently burned in there by the original manufacturer. On the other hand, firmware that is “burned in” to a device and not typically visible to the user is not considered a show-stopper by the standards of the broader Linux community.

Furthermore, there are some components which can accept a proprietary blob, which would cause some things to run faster, but they are not required to boot or to function well. For example, the decoding of video can be accelerated using a proprietary DSP built into the CPU, but we don’t include that blob in our distribution; instead, we opt for software decode running on the ARM CPU. Also, the 3D graphics engine is the subject of an on-going reverse engineering effort that we’ve partially funded from campaign proceeds, and with any luck by the time we ship we’ll have an open-source 3D-accelerated desktop environment.


Powerful, portable computing hardware that is extensible is obviously useful to any project that needs custom hardware as they don’t have to start from square one. Do you foresee changes or iterations in Novena’s future that will gain it wider adoption like the Chumby experienced?

Possibly. A large part of Novena’s future will depend of course on how the silicon that powers our machines evolve. If Freescale will do a new, more powerful processor with the same level of openness, I would be very enthusiastic to upgrade my personal laptop by building a new motherboard for it. There’s also some hope that there will be some other open SoC designs coming out in the future, which can give us more options in terms of cost and feature sets that can make the system more affordable to end users.

Filed under: Interviews, The Hackaday Prize

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