Friday, February 7, 2014 - 22:00Reverse Engineering A Bank’s Security Token
[Thiago]‘s bank uses a few methods besides passwords and PINs to verify accounts online and at ATMs. One of these is a ‘security card’ with 70 single use codes, while another is an Android app that generates a security token. [Thiago] changes phones and ROMs often enough that activating this app became a chore. This left only one thing to do: reverse engineer his bank’s security token and build a hardware device to replicate the app’s functionality.
After downloading the bank’s app off his phone and turning the .APK into a .JAR, [Thiago] needed to generate an authentication code for himself. He found a method that generates a timestamp which is the number of 36-second intervals since April 1st, 2007. The 36-second interval is how long each token lasts, and the 2007 date means this part of the code was probably developed in late 2007 or 2008. Reverse engineering this code allowed [Thiago] to glean the token generation process: it required a key, and the current timestamp.
[Thiago] found another class that reads his phone’s android_id, and derives the key from that. With the key and timestamp in hand, he figured out the generateToken method and found it was remarkably similar to Google Authenticator’s implementation; the only difference was the timestamp epoch and the period each token lasts.
With the generation of the security token complete, [Thiago] set out to put this code into a hardware device. He used a Stellaris Launchpad with the Criptosuite and RTClib libraries. The hardware doesn’t include a real-time clock, meaning the date and time needs to be reset at each startup. Still, with a few additions, [Thiago] can have a portable device that generates security tokens for his bank account. Great work, and great example of how seriously his bank takes account security.
Filed under: security hacks
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 19:00Hackaday Retro Edition: Retro Roundup
Inspired by the Palm Lifedrive in the previous retro roundup, [Bobby] dug out his Palm TX and loaded up the retro edition with the Blazer browser. Given this device has WiFi and a browser, it’s not much, but [Bobby] did run in to a bit of a problem: Palm never released WPA2 for personal use, and this device’s WPA abilities are buried away in a server somewhere. Interesting that a device that’s relatively young could run into problems so easily.
How about another Palm? [nezb]‘s first smartphone, back in 2003, was a Treo 600. He dug it out, got it activated (no WiFi), and was able to load the retro edition. Even the Palm-optimized edition of Slashdot works!
How about some Xenix action? [Lorenzo] had an Olivetti 386 box with 4MB of RAM with Xenix – Microsoft Unix – as the operating system. The connection was over Ethernet using a thinnet card. Here’s a video of it booting.
[Eugenio] sent in a twofer. The first is a Thinkpad 600, a neat little laptop that would make for a great portable DOS gaming rig. It’s running Mandrake Linux 9, his very first Linux. Next up is the venerable Mac SE/30 with a Kinetics Etherport network card. It’s using a telnet client to talk to a Debian box.
Here’s one that was cool enough for its own post: [Hudson] over at NYC Resistor salvaged an old Mac SE with a BeagleBone Black connected to the CRT. This effectively turns the SE into a modern (if low powered) ARM Linux box. Emulators are always an option, though, as is loading our retro edition in xterm.
Links to the pics below, and you’re always welcome to dust off your old boxxen, fire it up, and load up the retro edition. It’s new and improved! Every half hour or so, five classic hacks from the first 10,000 Hackaday posts are converted to pure HTML. Take a pic and send it in.
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 16:01Thumbs-Down Songs on Pandora with Your Mind
[Steven] likes music. Like many of us, he uses Pandora to enjoy the familiar and to discover new music. Now, Pandora means well, but she gets it wrong sometimes. [Steven] has had a Mindwave Mobile EEG headset lying around for a while and decided to put it to good use. With the aid of a Raspberry Pi and a bluetooth module, he built a brainwave-controlled Pandora track advancing system.
The idea is to recognize that you dislike a song based on your brainwaves. The Mindwave gives data for many different brainwaves as well as approximating your attention and meditation levels. Since [Steven] isn’t well-versed in brainwavery, he used Bayesian estimation to generate two multivariate Gaussian models. One represents good music, and the other represents bad music. The resulting algorithm is about 70% accurate, so [Steven]‘s Python script waits for four “bad music” estimations in a row before advancing the track.
[Steven] streams Pandora through pianobar and has a modified version of the control-pianobar script in his GitHub repo. His script will also alert you if the headset isn’t getting good skin contact, a variable that the Mindwave reports on a scale of 0 to 200.
Stick around for a demo of [Steven] controlling Pandora with his mind. If you don’t have an EEG headset, you can still control Pandora with a Pi, pianobar, and some nice clicky buttons.
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 13:00Hacking the Linksys WRT120N
[Craig Heffner] recently found himself on the case of the Linksys WRT120N router. The router’s firmware was using some previously unknown form of obfuscation, causing headaches for those wishing to run their own software. The WRT120N, being a 2009 model is somewhat out of date at this point. That didn’t stop [Craig] though, as he dove into reverse engineering the firmware obfuscation.
[Craig] started by running the firmware through his own Binwalk tool. Binwalk analyzes firmware files for known data, be it embedded filesystems, raw compression streams, or binary files. In this case Binwalk only found a small LZMA block which contained the compressed html files for the router’s web interface. The rest of the firmware was unknown data with a high level of entropy. [Craig] couldn’t do anything more with the firmware update file alone, so he ordered a router to attack from the hardware side. Inside he found typical low-end router components: An Atheros AR7240 SoC, a 2MB SPI flash chip, 32MB of RAM. He also found serial and JTAG headers.
[Craig] connected to the serial port and was greeted with a boot menu. This allowed him to run some commands on the router, but didn’t give him any way to dump memory. He had to go straight to the source – connecting directly to the router’s SPI flash with an FTDI C232HM cable. Using libmpsse, another of his open source tools, [Craig] was able to dump the flash. He now had the un-obfuscated bootloader code, albeit in MIPS assembly. [Craig] was then able to go after the bootloader with IDA Pro. After a bit of work, the obfuscation system was exposed. The system was simple – several byte and nibble swaps had been performed between the LZMA header block and the first few bytes of data. [Craig] finished out this part of his hack by writing a simple C program to de-obfuscate and decompress the firmware.
Filed under: peripherals hacks
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 10:00Robot Chameleon Teaches Little Girl About Camouflage
[Markus] has been teaching his daughter about animals using a big old animal encyclopedia. A few days ago, they stumbled upon the chameleon, and when he tried to explain its camouflage abilities, she didn’t quite understand. So he decided to make her a pet color-changing chameleon robot. The best part is he built it during her nap!
It’s a fairly simple circuit consisting of an Arduino Uno, a TCS3200 color sensor with breakout board, a ping pong ball, some resistors, and an RGB LED. He plans on adding temperature sensing as well as a capacitive sensor for touch later on. So far, his daughter loves it and plays with it all the time. She’s starting to learn how some chameleons can change their skin color in order to camouflage — and she’s learning the names of some new colors too!
As always, there’s a demonstration video following the break.
What an awesome dad!
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 07:01Turning a Broken Laptop’s LCD into a Fancy Monitor
Seems like you can find broken laptops everywhere these days — so why not do something with them? [Damutsch] shows us how to make a rather cool looking monitor from a laptop’s LCD display.
First, you’ll need to salvage a working LCD from a dead laptop. Once you have the panel out you can identify the serial key and order a controller board off eBay, which will allow you to plug a normal video input such as VGA or HDMI into the panel. We browsed around a bit and it looks like you can get driver boards from around $15-$30, so not too bad price-wise. It wasn’t so long ago that salvaged LCD panels were basically unusable because of a lack of these driver boards.
Now that you have an LCD panel and a controller board you’ll have to mount it somehow. [Damutsch] decided to use plexi-glass and we’re a fan of the result, kind of modern while still showing off the inside guts. You could also get fancy and bend the acrylic with a hot wire forming tool!
Filed under: computer hacks
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 04:00Plastic Recycling at Home Promises a Revolution In Local Plastic Production
[Dave Hakkens] graduated from the Design Academy of Eindhoven and decided to try his hand at making affordable plastic recycling machines.
“We recycle just 10% [of waste plastic],” says Hakkens. “I wondered why we recycle so little so I investigated it. I went to all these companies and I realized that they don’t really want to use recycled plastic. So I wanted to make my own tools so I could use recycled plastic locally.”
Typical plastic production, like injection molding, uses very large and expensive machines — so expensive that most of the time, companies don’t want to risk using inferior recycled plastic, as it might damage the machine, or slow production time. Not convinced that recycled plastic is “inferior”, [Dave] has built his own line of machines capable of making recycled plastic parts.
He’s built his own rotary molder, a lever-operated injection molding machine, an extruder, and even a plastic shredder capable of taking in most scrap plastic. The results are quite impressive, and the machines are relatively simple to build. He’s also decided to make the project open source to encourage others to help save the environment – He hasn’t released the plans online just yet, but promises they will come soon! To see the machines in action, and to see what they’re capable of, check out the following video:
Did Eindhoven ring any bells? Hack a Day actually visited Eindhoven during our Hackerspacing in Europe tour! We visited the city, the old factories, the university, and a children’s hackerspace called the De Ontdekfabriek!
Filed under: misc hacks
Friday, February 7, 2014 - 01:00Pi-Powered Radio Over IP
[KP4TR] connected a Raspberry Pi to a small, cheap handheld radio, allowing anyone within a few miles of his house to connect to amateur radio operators all around the world.
For the hardware, [KP4TR] is using a Raspi, a Baofeng BF-888s 400MHz – 470MHz walkie-talkie radio, a USB sound card, and a pair of transformers for the 5V and 3.7V lines. All this is tucked away in a remakably vintage-looking plate and standoff enclosure, complete with acorn nuts and an RGB LED connected to the Raspi’s GPIO to indicate whether the radio is transmitting or receiving.
The software used is SVXLink, a Linux port of the Echolink software. This app allows hams the world over to connect to very distant radios over the Internet. It’s basically VOIP for amateur radio, and with the Raspi and a $20 radio, [KP4TR] can put together a complete system for $70 or so.
You can check out the video demos of the system below.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 22:01Exploded Hardware Wall Art
The gang at Bolt.io realized that the walls in their office deserved some special attention, and they got it by mounting exploded hardware throughout the space. They sourced the used devices from eBay, then carefully broken them down into their components and mounted each on its own sheet of PETG. The result: exploded views of some of their favorite hardware, including a MacBook Pro, a Roomba, a Dyson Air Multiplier, and more.
Is it a hack? Eh, maybe. This is the first example we’ve seen of a collection of devices on display in this fashion. Regardless, it’s worth a mention considering what happened in the office as a result of the installation. Though the original purpose was simply to decorate the walls, it seems employees have been staring at them regularly, learning more about the designs, the plastics, and the component choices. Think of it as still life—depicting that moment you cracked open a device to inspect its guts—frozen in permanence and on display for both inspiration and convenience.
[via reddit | Thanks Buddy]
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 19:01Fail of the Week: Oil Expeller and Hasty PCB Layout
This Fail of the Week is a twofer. On the left we have an attempt to heat the output of an oil expeller. After a bountiful crop of sunflower seeds [Mark] picked up the oil expeller to make is own cooking oil. He tried to use the soldering gun as a heat source but after just a couple of minutes of on-time it melted the soldering iron’s plastic case. He’s looking for an alternate heat source but we wonder why he can’t just ditch the plastic and bolt this to a heat sink?
To the right is the product of hasty PCB layout. [Andrew] needed a USB to GPIO converter to use with his Android stick. He had built several of these before, etching the PCBs himself. But now he didn’t have the time to do his own etching and figured he could lay out a revision of the board and have it fabbed. Turns out this isn’t the time saver he had hoped. Problems with the location of silk screen labels aren’t a huge deal, but the ‘V’ in the board where his USB connector is located blocked any cable he tried to plug in. A bit of cutting solved that but he also had to deal with spring terminals whose leads wouldn’t fit the diameter of holes drilled in the board. We always print out the Gerbers and compare the footprints to our parts before submitting to the fab house. But we’re not sure we would have caught the USB cable clearance issue doing it that way. What checklists do you use before submitting your own boards?
Fail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story – or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 16:00Oculus Releases Open Source Hardware
Oculus VR, makers of the very cool Oculus Rift VR display, are making their first steps towards open hardware. Their first project is a latency tester, meant to precisely measure the latency of a VR setup or application. This is true open hardware with everything – the firmware, schematics, and mechanical parts all available on GitHub
Inside this neat bit of hardware is a STM32F102 microcontroller and a TCS3414 color sensor. The firmware is designed to measure changes in color and send that data back to a computer with a timestamp.
Not only are the schematics and board files available, there are also a few links to buy the PCBs at OSH Park: for about $24, you can get three copies of the main PCB and sensor board delivered to your door. If you have a 3D printer, Oculus has provided the .STL files to print out the enclosure for this device.
While this is a fairly niche product, we’re amazed at how well the Oculus folk have put together this open source hardware project. Everything you need to replicate this product, from board files, mechanical design, firmware, and instructions on how to build everything is just right there, sitting it a GitHub. Wonderful work.
Filed under: hardware
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 13:00Building a Cessna 172 Simulator
As anyone who has downloaded Microsoft Flight Simulator X or X-Plane knows, piloting an aircraft using a keyboard and mouse just doesn’t work. If you’re going to get in to the world of flight simulators, it’s best to go all-in. [Stevenarango] knows this and built a great Cessna 172 cockpit for his personal use.
All the gauges, instrument panels, and controls are from Saitek, one of the best manufacturers of home/hobbyist flight controls. The instruments were mounted on a 5mm piece of PVC, which is mounted on a C172 cockpit-sized wooden frame. All the instruments, from the throttle, pedals, yoke, trim wheel, individual LCD steam gauges, and multi panel are driven by USB.
As for the actual simulation, [Steven] is using a fairly powerful computer running Flight Simulator X with dual monitors – one for the glass cockpit and another for the windscreen. It’s not quite the same scale as building a 737 in your garage, but it’s more than sufficient for an awesome flight simulator experience at home.
Filed under: misc hacks
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 10:01Free Falling Quadcopter Experiments End With Splat
Don’t get too attached to the great picture up above, as the quad shooting it was in a death plunge when the frame was snapped. There’s just something tempting about free fall. Nearly every tri/quad/hex/multicopter pilot has the impulse to chop the throttle while flying around. Most quadcopters are fixed pitch, which means that as power drops, so does control authority. When power is cut, they fall like stones. A quick throttle chop usually results in a few feet of lost altitude and a quickened pulse for the pilot. Cut power for much longer than that, and things can get really interesting. [RcTestFlight] decided to study free fall in depth, and modified a test bed quadcopter just for this purpose.
First, a bit of a primer on free-falling quadcopters and their power systems. Quadcopters always have two motors spinning clockwise, and two spinning counterclockwise. This configuration counters torque and allows for yaw control. Most large quads these days use sensorless brushless motors, which can be finicky about startup conditions. Brushless controllers are generally programmed to kick a motor into spinning in the proper direction. If a motor is spinning in reverse at several hundred RPM, things can get interesting. There will often be several seconds of stuttering before the motor starts up, if it starts at all. The controller MOSFETS can even be destroyed in cases like this.
When a quadcopter loses power, the motors slow down and thrust drops off. The quad begins to drop. As the falling quadcopter picks up speed, the propellers begin to spin (windmill) due to the air rushing up from below. If the quadcopter started its fall in a normal attitude, all four of the propellers will rotate reverse of its normal direction. The now spinning props will actually act as something of an air brake, slowing the fall of the quad. This is similar to a falling maple seed, or autorotation in a helicopter. The spinning blades will also act as gyroscopes, which will add some level of stabilization to the falling quadcopter. Don’t get us wrong – the quadcopter can still be unstable as it falls, generally bobbing and weaving through the air. None of this is a guarantee that the quad won’t tip over onto its back – which will reverse the entire process. Through all of this bobbing, weaving, and falling the flight controller has been along for the ride. Most flight controllers we’ve worked with have not been programmed with free fall in mind, so there is no guarantee that they will come back on-line when the throttle is rolled on. Thankfully many controllers are open source, so testing and changes are only a matter of risking your quadcopter.
[RcTestFlight] found that his FPV h-quad quad was relatively stable in free fall, so he began experimenting with falls from high altitude. He found that many tests don’t end well. One crash managed to bend his aluminum frame badly enough that he replaced two of the arms with more forgiving wood. His quad originally had 9 inch props. In an attempt to go for a slower sink rate, [RcTestFlight] switched to 14 inch props. The larger props also needed slower motors with more torque. After these changes, the quad definitely fell slower, however he found the fall was actually less stable than the 9 inch props. Self deploying foam drag flaps slowed things down even further, but the flaps themselves became an issue when a particularly violent fall ripped them all off. After taking his quad up to 4142 feet, nearly losing his quad, and a number of rough crashes, [RcTestFlight] had has his fill of free fall. We’d love to see more testing, especially with collective pitch quadcopters. We’ll keep our own quads safe in powered flight though.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 07:00The Beginning of a DIY Vehicle Night Vision System
[Stephen] has just shared with us the current progress of his night vision vehicle system, and it’s looking quite promising!
The idea of the project is to provide the driver with a high contrast image of the road, pedestrians and any other obstacles that may not be immediately visible with headlights. It’s actually becoming a feature on many luxury cars including BMW, Audi, GM and Honda. This is what inspired [Stephen] to try making his own.
The current system consists of an infrared camera, two powerful IR light spot lights, and a dashboard LCD screen to view it. It may be considered “not a hack” by some of our more exuberant readers, but [Stephen] does such a great job explaining his future plans for it, which include object recognition using OpenCV, so we felt it was more than worth a share, even at this point.
You see, the idea of vehicle night vision is not to constantly watch a little screen instead of the road — it’s designed to be there when you need it — and to let you know when you need it, [Stephen's] planning on adding a Raspberry Pi to the mix running OpenCV to detect any anomalies on the road that could be of concern. We shudder at the amount of training a system like that might need — well, depending on the complexity of this image recognition.
Anyway, stick around after the break to hear [Stephen] explain it himself — it is a long video, but if you want to skip to the action there are clips of it on the road at 1:53 and 26:52.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 04:003D Printering: Making A Thing In FreeCAD, Part I
I’ve been writing these tutorials on making an object in popular 3D modeling programs for a while now, and each week I’ve put out a call for what software I should do next. There is one constant in all those comment threads: FreeCAD. I don’t know if these suggestions reflect the popularity
or difficulty of FreeCADnevermind, it’s totally the difficulty.
FreeCAD is an amazing tool that, if used correctly, can be used to make just about any part, and do it in a manufacturing context. If you need a bauble that’s three times the size of the original, FreeCAD’s parametric modeling makes it easy to scale it up. If you’re designing a thumbscrew and want the head larger while keeping the threads the same, FreeCAD is for you. Basically, you can think of this as a graphical extension of the Thingiverse Customizer. Very powerful, very cool, and unlike a lot of CAD packages out there, free.
Our in-house, overpaid SEO expert (he’s really just a monkey someone trained to use a bullwhip) demands I link to the previous ‘Making a Thing’ tutorials:
The tutorial for FreeCAD continues below.
We won’t be copying this thing exactly - there’s a small taper on the tab with the counterbored hole – but we’ll get close enough so our finished model should be functionally equivalent.
Starting Up, And An Overview
To use FreeCAD, you might want to download FreeCAD. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and OS X in 32 or 64-bit varieties. Pick your poison. After downloading and installing, you’ll end up with a “start center” that looks something like this:
FreeCAD is unique among 3D design programs in that it has many different workbenches, or modes, to draw and model in. For most of our thing we’ll be using the Part Design workbench. Under the Start A New Project tab in the start page, click on the Part Design button. Hit Create Sketch, Choose the XY-Plane, and marvel at your drawing grid.
Before you begin, you might as well change the grid size to 1mm and turn on grid snap.
A word of note: While the grid size says millimeters, FreeCAD doesn’t really have units. Well, it has units, where one FreeCAD unit is equal to one FreeCAD unit. This is fine, because now we can design our part in eighths of an inch, where one eighth of an inch is one unit. It’s simpler, and to print out a correctly sized part we’ll need to multiply anyway…
If you read nothing else, read these two paragraphs
FreeCAD is a parametric modeler. This means all lines, figures, and subassemblies are defined by parameters and constraints. parameters are pieces of information that define a property of a part – a 10cm cube would have a parameter for the X, Y, and Z axes equal to 10cm. Constraints define the relationship between parts of an object. Two lines can be constrained to being parallel; move one vertex of a line, and a vertex of the constrained line will move as well.
Modeling an object parametrically is how companies can design many similar, but differently sized objects. A company that makes shoes may have only one model for every size of shoe. With parametric models, fabricating the parts for a run of size 6 and size 10 shoes may be as simple as changing a single number – the length from toe to heel.
For most of our modeling, we’ll be working with two toolbars. They are the geometries and constraints toolbars:
The Geometries toolbar is what you would find in just about any CAD or drawing package. You have buttons for creating a point, an arc, a circle, lines and polylines, and even fillet and trim buttons.
The Constraints toolbar has buttons for locking an object (a line, circle, polyline, or what have you) onto the vertical axis and horizontal axis. In addition, lines can be made parallel, perpendicular, on a tangent to an arc, and the vertical, horizontal distances of a line, as well as the total length of a line or the radius of a circle may be constrained as well.
The first part of our ‘thing’ we’ll draw is the largest circle. Using the grid snap (or by pressing CTRL while moving the cursor around), draw a circle at 0,0 on the grid. This circle will have a radius of 9.5. We’re doing our units in eighths of an inch, and since the largest circle has a diameter of 2 3/8″, or 19/8″, the radius will be 9.5 units. Also add another circle with a radius of 4.
You can use the Geometries button to make these circles roughly to size, then use the radius constraint to make the circles the required sizes.
After you’ve drawn and constrained these circles, you should have something that looks like this:
Now for some detailing
There’s still a lot to add to our ‘thing’. Let’s start with the 3/8″ wide slot. Start by drawing two lines roughly going from the center of the circles through the larger circle. Constrain them to be parallel, and the angle of one (the far right button on the Constrain toolbar) to be 45 degrees.
Using the Trim tool on the geometry toolbar, trim off all the excess – the ends of both lines, and the cutout on both of the circles. Now you should have something that looks like the letter C.
With the “Fix a length” constraint tool, make the distance between both of the 45 degree lines to be 3. Finally, lock the upper, outer vertex of the slot with the ‘Lock’ constraint. You should have something that looks like the pic to the right. You’ll also notice on the left-hand toolbar of FreeCAD the “Solver messages” says it’s a fully constrained sketch.
This means we’ve done this properly. Well, in this case that’s a bit of a lie (we haven’t guaranteed the slot is lined up with the center of the circles), but it’s close enough. In FreeCAD, the object is to have a fully constrained object. That’s what we’ve done here.
Since I like to keep these tutorials down to about 1000 words, I’m going to end this here. In the next installment of this tutorial, we’re going to add the flanges on this washer-type part, extrude it into the third dimension, and add the bit with the countersunk hole.
To be continued, and I’ll probably put a link to Part II right here.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 01:01Robot Dominates Air Hockey, Frightens John Connor, Wayne Gretzky
We’ve all been disappointed at some point in our lives after yearning to play air hockey and not finding anyone to play against. This is no longer a problem at [Jose]‘s house. He has built a very amazing Air Hockey Playing Robot. This robot moves in 2 directions, can predict the movements of the puck and also decide to block, shoot or a do a combination of both.
Surprisingly, most of the ‘robotics’ parts are 3D printer left overs, which includes: NEMA17 stepper motors, an Arduino Mega, a RAMPS board, motor drivers, belts, bearings and rods. The bracketry, puck and paddle are all 3D printed. The air hockey table itself was built from scratch using off-the-shelf wood. Two standard 90mm PC fans are all that are responsible for creating the air pressure used to lift the puck. A PS3 camera monitors the action and is literally this robot’s eye in the sky.
Check out the video and learn more about this project after the break.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this build is the way that it works. The camera mounted above the table watches the puck and determines its trajectory. The the robot then moves the paddle to the appropriate position to block and return the puck. The trajectory prediction can even take into account bounces off the wall. In case you are a sore loser, it is easy to adjust the robot’s speed, acceleration and strategy algorithms in order to guarantee yourself a win.
This is a complicated build and [Jose] did indeed have some problems to solve along the way. Originally, the rails that spanned the table were made of steel and turned out to be too heavy for the performance characteristics required of the gantry. The steel rods were replaced with carbon fiber tubes intended for kites. The lower weight reduced the gantry’s inertia and allowed for faster movements with less effort from the motors.
If you would like to try your hand at building one of these robots, [Jose] has written an extremely detailed manual and makes all of the software and firmware files available on his site. If only he had developed this just a year ago, we are sure he would have taken home the cup at this tournament.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 22:01The 30th Anniversary Macintosh
It’s been just over thirty years since the original Macintosh was released, and [hudson] over at NYC Resistor thought it would be a good time to put some old hardware to use. He had found an all-in-one Mac SE “on the side of a road” a while ago (where exactly are these roads, we wonder), and the recent diamond anniversary for the original mac platform convinced him to do some major hardware hacking.
Inspired by a six-year-old project from a NYC Resistor founder aptly named the 24th anniversary Mac, [hudson] decided to replace the old hardware with more powerful components – in this case, a BeagleBone Black. Unlike the earlier build, though, the original CRT would be salvaged; the analog board on the Mac SE has pins for video, hsync, vsync, and power.
To get a picture on the old CRT, [hudson] needed to write a software video card that used the BeagleBone’s PRU. The CRT isn’t exactly “modern” tech, and everything must be clocked at exactly 60.1 Hz lest the CRT emit a terrible buzzing sound.
With a software video card written for the old CRT, the BeagleBone becomes the new brains of this beige box. It runs all the classic Linux GUI apps including XEyes and XScreenSaver, although flying toasters might be out of the question. He also managed to load up the Hackaday retro site with xterm, making this one of the best ways to make an old Mac SE useful.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 19:01Cassapa: Augmented Pool
No good at pool? Never fear, Cassapa is here! [Alex Porto] has created an augmented reality system for playing pool, and it means almost anyone can make those cool trick shots!
Ca-what? Cassapa (“caçapa”) is a Portuguese word for pool table pocket. The software works by placing a webcam directly above the pool table for image recognition. Dedicated software interprets the image and identifies the position of the holes, borders, balls and the cue which can then be used to calculate game physics. A projector then projects the forecast physics and allows you to make tiny adjustments — updated in real-time — to make the perfect shot.
Unfortunately, having a big projector shining down on your pool table won’t exactly make anyone believe you’re actually good at pool. Although if you could combine this with Google Glass or any other vision augmenting goggles… that would be pretty cool. Well, you’d still be terribly dishonest and a cheater — but anyway, take a look at the video after the break.
This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen augmented pool though — what if you hooked it up to a robot?
Filed under: Virtual Reality
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 16:01Software-Controlled Per-Port Power Switching for USB Hubs
[Befi] wanted to add a second stage backup disk to his ODROID embedded-board server, which typically draws ~1.5W at idle. After adding the disk, he saw power consumption increase by 2W when the new disk wasn’t spinning. He thought about using one of those USB hubs with the adorable little rocker switches for each port and replacing them with transistors, but that was going to be messy. After some poking around in the USB standard, he found that most support per-port power switching (PPPS), and set about to hack a USB hub to enable software-controlled per-port switching.
[Befi]‘s NEC hub uses a uPD720112 chip which supports PPPS according to the datasheet. After tying the configuration pin labeled GANG_B to +3.3V, the hub declared itself PPPS-compatible. Of course, the manufacturer saved a penny or two by omitting the individual switches, so [Befi] added an open-drain NMOS to each port. He is using this program to switch the port on and off and made the switching transparent with autofs. [Befi]‘s current script has the bus ID and device ID of the hub hard-coded, but he intends to update it to find them automatically. This hack saves him 10W on average, which is about 30€ ($40) per year.
If your hub is under powered, you could try adding an external power supply.
Filed under: green hacks
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 13:01Hidden Pantry Compartment Opens with a Puzzle!
What’s the number one thing kids always dream about for when they have their own house someday? Hidden passages? Revolving bookcases? Closets that lead to Narnia? Secret compartments? Well, [TracRat] has lived out at least one of those dreams by making his very own Myst inspired hidden pantry compartment!
His pantry is located under the stairs and to make use of the awkward space, he decided to build a wine rack. He still had a lot of unused space so he decided to take it a step further. He’s built a wooden puzzle combination lock consisting of four colored knobs that slide back and forth in grooves. When the correct combination is made, pressing on the square symbol at the top rolls the entire wine rack backwards, exposing a secret side cabinet. It’s an absolutely gorgeous piece of woodwork and we’re totally impressed by the perfect execution of it.
Do you love Myst too? Check out this awesome Myst inspired Myst(ery) box [Michael] made for his girlfriend’s birthday! Or how about a leather-bound Myst book that lets you play Myst on a computer inside of it!
Filed under: home hacks