Hack a Day
[Hahabird] uses this screwdriver to start his car. Despite what it may look like, only this particular screwdriver will start the ignition because it still uses the key lock. What he’s done is alter the screwdriver to act as an extension for the key. It’s purely aesthetic, but you have to admit it looks pretty gnarly hanging off of the steering column.
The hack merely involved cutting off the unneeded parts of the key and screwdriver. With the shaft of the tool cut down to size he clamped it in a vice and cut a slot into it using a hack saw. From there he headed over to the grinding wheel and smoothed out the sharp edges.
The key itself had the handle portion cut off and was thinned on the grinding wheel to fit snugly in the screwdriver slot. To permanently mate the two pieces he used a torch and some silver solder.
Filed under: security hacks
[Thor's] hammer, Mjolnir, is pretty freaking awesome. It can only be picked up by [Thor], he can use it to fly, and probably the coolest part, it can summon lightning. After watching the first movie, and goofing around with the guys at ArcAttack, I had this idea that I could stuff a tiny tesla coil into a mjolnir and end up with a really cool prop.
At this point, I had to make a decision. I was either going to go portable and live with small arcs, or make this a stationary piece and hide a giant tesla coil in a base. It would have bigger arcs, but I couldn’t carry it around. While I may re-visit the stationary version at some point, I ultimately decided I wanted to be able to wander around and play with this thing.
I had seen some videos of [Staci Elaan] showing off her battery-powered coils and I really liked her results. I figured, with her experience, she could probably do a better job than I could on getting the most bang out of a small package. She was happy to be involved and delivered a small 12v powered coil for me to work with. I should also point out that the coils [Staci] makes are usually donated to educational groups. This woman is awesome.
She had built this big flat head on it, with the initial plan being that it would be the front “face” of the hammer. It didn’t really work out that way though. I ended up having to increase the size of the head a bit and change the orientation of the coil. I experimented with different types of foam and you can see in the “making of” video what I finally ended up using. The blue insulation board you see in the pictures melted way too easily.
After the hammer was all constructed, and ready to film, we shipped it to California. As you might know, Hackaday is connected to a studio there, now called inside.com. When it arrived, it had suffered a tiny bit of damage and the arcs were a bit smaller. They had gone from roughly 4 inches down to maybe 3. We filmed a few videos and had a ton of fun. Unfortunately, I learned a month later that all the footage for [Thor's] hammer was lost.
I had them ship the hammer back to me in Missouri, and this time it was very damaged when it arrived. I modified the design a little bit, re-assembled it, and tested it out. The arcs were still roughly 3″ when going to another piece of metal and I was finally going to be able to share this project. I cobbled together a quick costume out of a t-shirt, some foam board, and hot glue and now you see the result!
For those who would like to learn more about the coil itself, you can find the circuit and an entire lesson on solid state coils here(pdf 8MB).
Lets jump into some pictures!
[Staci] supplied pictures of the various parts of the coil during construction. Keep in mind, she didn’t have a lot of time and I asked her to get this done pretty quickly.
The Boost converter:
The controller card:
The HV coil:
This was all initially going to fit in the handle, but I gave her the wrong dimensions. It ended up being millimeters too wide. It now resides in the head of the hammer with the coil.
The initial design that was way too melty and didn’t work very well:
The final design, big but functional:
The whole time, I was scared someone else would beat me to the punch. It is such a simple idea. I think a stationary one that could do arcs of several feet would be fun to see as well, but I’ll have to save that for another time.
Filed under: classic hacks, Featured
This AM radio looks a bit like it did coming out of the factory. But there are a lot of changes under the hood and that faceplate is a completely new addition. The project really is a restoration with some augmentation and [Michael Ross] did a great job of documenting the project.
The Kenyon radio was built in 1946 and uses vacuum tubes for the amplifier. Considering its age this was in relatively good shape and the first thing that [Michael] set out to do was to get the electronics working again. It involved replacing the messy collection of capacitors inside. He then cleaned up the tubes, checking for any problems, and put the electronics back together to find they work great!
He cleaned up the chassis and gave it a new coat of finish. The original dial plate was missing so he built a wood frame to match a dial scale he ordered. The bell-shaped brass cover hides the light that illuminates the dial.
He could have stopped there but how much do people really listen to AM radio these days? To make sure he would actually use the thing he added an Arduino with an MP3 shield. It patches into the antenna port via a relay, injecting modern tunes into the old amplifier circuit. Catch a glimpse of the final project in the video after the break.
Filed under: digital audio hacks
It was time for some new T-shirts so [Andreas Hölldorfer] built a laser cutter. Wait, what? That’s the excuse he’s going with, and in the end this scratch built laser cutter did come in handy by cutting stencils to use when decorating his garments.
The first thing we thought when looking at the cutter is where’s the tube? [Andreas] didn’t use a CO2 laser, so this ends up being rather low-powered. The cutting head is a 1W blue laser diode which manages to slice the three-ring binder separator pages he’s using for the stencils. The two-axis machine is mounted inside a wooden box to protect his eyes while it’s cutting. He plans to add a drawer later on so that the cutting bed will slide in and out to swap out material for the next project. He already does a lot of 3D printing work and had an old RepRap driver board on hand to use for this projects. He designed and printed the red mounting brackets which make all of the junk-bin components work together. Not bad!
If you’d like to try this out on a smaller scale try using optical drive parts for the axes.
Filed under: laser hacks
This hack makes the virtual real by displaying your video game character’s health meter as a column of illuminated water.
The build video, which you’ll find embedded after the break, is really quite remarkable. The column is a clear piece of pipe anchored at one end by hand-tightened plumbing drain fittings. This allows [Bfayer] to attach a flexible bladder which he constructed for the project. An actuator pushes a hinged board up against the bladder to raise and lower the water level in the tube.
Alone that’s pretty impressive, but [Bfayer] went the extra mile and then some. He uses a four-way fitting at the bottom of the meter. One fork connects to the bladder, another allows air to be injected using an aquarium pump. The bottom of the fitting has a clear window so that an RGB LED array can shine into the water which was doped with highlighter ink to pick up the colored glow. To pull the whole thing together he coded the custom control interface seen above.
Filed under: classic hacks
[Dan] salvaged some parts from an old printer a while back and finally found some time to play with them. One of the things he was most interested in is the geared stepper motor seen above. He was able to get it running with an Arduino in no time so he decided to take the project a little bit further. What he ended up with is a stepper motor driver which can be controlled over Bluetooth.
The motor can’t be driven directly, but with a simple motor driver like the L293 chip [Dan] used it’s not hard to interface them with your control hardware of choice. From there he added an ATtiny85 which will take care of the stepping protocol necessary to move the motor. The Bluetooth module he’s using functions as a serial device, making it really simple to interface with the uC. [Dan] uses a pin header to connect the module, so switching to a different type of serial device in the future will be quick and painless.
After the break you can see him sending step commands to the driver board.
Filed under: Microcontrollers
On this installment of Retrotechtacular we’re taking a look at the history of the United States Antiballistic Missile System. The cold war was a huge driver of technological development, and this missile defense is a good example. At its most basic this is a radar system capable of tracking objects in three dimensions. It utilizes separate transmitters and receivers which are synchronized to rotate at the same time.
The movie, which is about forty-five minutes, came to our attention because of [Dammitd's] interest in the Luneburg Lens used by the system. At about 11:10 into the video after the break this component is discussed. Inside a dome like the one seen above is a reflector made of blocks of polystyrene foam which has been laced with bits of metal. This lens is stationary, with the receiver rotating around it to collect the transmitter’s waves as the echos bouncing off an object in the sky are focused by the lens.
Filed under: radio hacks
We’ve got some friends who have two sump pumps. One is a backup and sounds an alarm when it is switched on. But this only works as long as they’re home to hear it. [Felix Rusu] came up with a solution what will text him if the sump pump fails. This way he can head home, or call someone to check in on the problem if he’s away.
We saw a pretty complicated monitoring system back in January. This one uses a single ultrasonic rangefinder which we think is much simpler. It’s accurate to about 1cm and is simple to use — it’s very popular with the hobby electronics crowd which helps with price and availability of sample code. We hem and haw about the use of a Raspberry Pi board with the project. On the one hand it’s a cheap way to get the sensor on the network and provides the infrastructure you need to send any number of alerts. On the other hand, it’s a lot of power for this particular application. But we figure it can be extended to monitor other utilities in [Felix's] home, like a sensor to alert him of a leaking water heater. And we think everyone can argue that a monitor like this is well worth the time and effort he spent to develop it.
Filed under: home hacks
These days it’s super-easy (not super-cheap) to go out and buy a 3D printer. But if you’ve got the mad skills like [Mario Lukas] maybe you can build a 3D print using a bunch of scavenged parts (translated). He’s published six posts on the build, and put together an overview video which you can watch after the break.
A pile of salvaged parts were found in a scanner and four different printers. He’s also powering the thing with an old PC PSU. The hot bed and extruder are brand new, which is a wise investment. We’re not sure about the threaded rod and bearings but we’d bet those are new as well. When it came time to work on the electronics he chose an Arduino board as the go-between for the printer and computer. It uses four stepper motor driver boards to drive the axes. Connections can be a bit complicated and he actually ‘smoked’ one of the boards during the development phase.
One of the mechanical build posts shows a belt routed in a T-shape. We wonder if it’s function is similar to what this H-bot style printer uses?
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks
[Joe's] wife grew up playing Sega games and he wanted to help her unwind by reliving the experience. Since the work computer she uses when travelling isn’t a good place to install emulators he built this plug-and-play emulator inside of a Sega controller.
We’ve seen this type of thing a few times before (even with XBMC in a SNES controller) but there is one thing we hadn’t thought of lately. Newer versions of Windows have auto-launch disabled for USB drives. But [Joe] knew that there were still some USB sticks that manage to auto-launch anyway so he researched how those work. It turns out that they have two partitions, one is formatted as a CDFS which looks like a CD-ROM to Windows and allows auto-launch. He used this method of partitioning a USB stick, storing the ROMs on the mass storage partition and the emulator and the CDFS partition. To finish the hack he cracked open the controller and found room for a USB hub and the PCB from the thumb drive.
If you still have cartridges lying around you can pull the ROMs off of them over USB.
Filed under: peripherals hacks
We’ve seen this small, cheap, and powerful WiFi router before. But this time it’s up to no good. [Andy] used a TP-Link WR703N to build an upgraded WiFi Pineapple hacking tool.
A WiFi Pineapple is a device spawned years ago by the Hak5 team (here’s a clip showing off the device). It uses a WiFi router that will answer to any SSID request. Basically if your computer or smart phone has an AP SSID saved and broadcasts a request to connect the pineapple will pretend to be that device and start the handshake. This provides the chance to sniff all the data passing through in a classic man-in-the-middle attack.
[Andy] is recreating the device but at a rock bottom price. He picked up this router for about $20 and added an $8 USB drive to it. The only other thing you would need is a power source and a way to hide the hardware. The code used in the Hak5 version is available for download and that’s what he worked on after flashing OpenWrt to the device.
Filed under: security hacks, wireless hacks
[Michael Kohn] only accomplished about half of what he set out to, but we still think his TV channel switcher from a Chromebook turned out nicely. When starting the project he wanted to include a grid of listing so that he could choose a specific program, but decided that scraping the data was too much work for this go-round.
The Chromebook doesn’t include an IR transmitter so he built one using an MSP430 chip. He had previously built a little transmitter around an AVR chip and was surprised to find that the internal oscillator on that was quite a bit more accurate than on the MSP430. Timing is everything with the Manchester encoded signals used for IR remote controls so he used his oscilloscope to tune the DCO as accurately as possible.
Filed under: computer hacks, home entertainment hacks
Another week has gone by and we hope you’ve been happily hacking away in your underground lairs. If not, here’s some inspiration that didn’t quite make it to the front page this week:
[Razr] used a CFL ballast to replace the mechanical one in his fluorescent tube light fixture.
To make the drawers of his workbench more awesome [Rhys] used the faceplates from some servers.
This week saw some changes in the hobby PCB market. Looks like BatchPCB is being sold to OSH Park starting May 1st. [Thanks Brad]
[Rich Olson] shouldn’t have any trouble getting out of bed now that his alarm clock literally shreds cash if he doesn’t shut it off.
We faced the same problem as [Kremmel] when we first got a Raspberry Pi, no USB keyboard. We bought one but he simply hacked his laptop to work. [Thanks Roth]
And finally, if you need help reading a quadrature encoder from a microcontroller this lengthy technical post is the place to look.
Filed under: news
Here’s a wristwatch concept we haven’t seen before. Instead of trying to sandwich everything inside of a case it uses a stack of PCBs as the body of the watch.
[Mats Engstrom] wrote in to tip us off about his build. The design goes with LEDs which is nothing new. But unlike previous offerings [Mats] didn’t go with one LED for each minute. When the touch sensor in the middle of the watch is activated the twelve LEDs on the face will let you know the hour and the nearest five minutes. A video of this is embedded after the break.
The design uses three different circuit boards. The bottom board is the largest and provides slots through which the wrist bands can connect. It also serves as one of the two battery connectors. The second PCB is a spacer with a cutout for the coin cell that powers the device. The top board is where all the magic happens. It’s dual sided to host the LEDs and touch senor, with the PIC microcontroller and support circuitry on the other side.
Filed under: clock hacks
What a strange message to read on the digital dashboard display of your car. This is proof that [Kristoffer Smith] was able to control the ODB-II bus on his Eagle Grand Cherokee.
He’s not just doing this for the heck of it. It stems from his goal of adding an Android tablet on the dashboard which has been a popular hack as of late. This left [Kristoffer] with steering wheel controls that did nothing. They originally operated the radio, so he set out to make them control the tablet.
He had seen an Arduino used to control the CAN bus, but decided to go a different route. He grabbed a USB CAN bus interface for around $25. The first order of business was to use it with his computer to sniff the data available. From there he was able to decode the traffic and figure out the commands he needed to monitor. The last piece of the puzzle was to write his own Android code to watch for and react to the steering wheel buttons. You can check out the code at his repository and see the demo after the break.
Filed under: android hacks, transportation hacks
[Michael] loves this old organ of his, but recently he wondered if it would be possible to add MIDI out without altering its original functionality. With a bit of research and more than a bit of hard work he accomplished his goal.
The nice thing about working on a quality piece of hardware like this is the resources you can find regarding how they work (which we bet is tailored for how to repair them when they break). [Michael] found a website with plenty of info on the circuit boards and how they work. From this he was able to locate a few chips which stream serial data regarding which keys have been pressed. Bingo!
Once he located the three signals he was after he built a board to translate them to the MIDI protocol. His circuit is based around an ATtiny2313. It is supported by a liner voltage regulator circuit as well as a buffer chip which converts the incoming signals to the 5V levels needed. His home etched board is clean and well mounted, and the success of the project can be heard in the clip after the jump.
Filed under: musical hacks
We think it’s pretty impressive to see a Stellaris Launchpad playing back Video and Audio at the same time with a respectable frame rate. It must be a popular time of year for these projects because we just saw another video playback hack yesterday. But for this project [Vinod] had a lot less horsepower to work with.
He’s using a 320×240 display which we ourselves have tried out with this board. It’s plenty fast enough to push image data in parallel, but if you’re looking for full motion video and audio we would have told you tough luck. [Vinod's] math shows that it is possible with a bit of file hacking. First off, since the source file is widescreen he gets away with only writing to a 320×140 set of pixels at 25 fps. The audio is pushed at 22,400 bytes per second. This leaves him very few cycles to actually do anything between frames. So he encoded the clip as a raw file, interlacing the video and audio information so that the file can be read as a single stream. From the demo after the break it looks and sounds fantastic!
Filed under: ARM, video hacks
It’s a stretch to call this one a hack, but USB thumb drives are around us constantly and we always assumed that the boards inside were machine populated (like with a pick and place machine). [Bunnie] tells us otherwise. He recently had the chance to tour a factory where USB flash drives are made.
The image above shows a worker populating a set of boards with the flash memory dies. The waffle-grid to the right holds the dies. Each is a tiny glint of a component. The worker is not in a clean room, and is using a bamboo tool to pick up the pieces. [Bunnie] explains that he’s seen the tools before but doesn’t fully comprehend how they work. He figures that the hand-cut manipulator has just the right amount of grab to pick up the die, but will also release it when it touches down on the dot of glue applied to the landing zone on the board.
If you’re into this sort of thing you should check out the PCB factory tour we saw a couple of years back. The article link is dead but the embedded tour video still works.
Filed under: misc hacks
[Sprite_TM] is was sent an old LED Marquee by an anonymous fan of his hacking projects. The display isn’t full color, but it’s large — 224 by 48 pixels — and he figured he could render some okay images with the bi-color diodes. In the end, he replaced the controller and turned it into a video player.
The original system work well enough, but the 100 MHz 486 industrial style PC that drove the display seems a little comical these days. After giving it a spin and testing out how it drives the display [Sprite] hooked up an FTDI chip and managed to get it playing video from his computer. Above you can see part of the opening sequence of The Simpsons.
Now that he had learned its secrets he set out to give it an embedded controller. His first attempt was with a Carambola board which he’s worked with before. That proved to be a little slow for all the pixel data he was pushing so he upgraded to a Raspberry Pi and never looked back. You can see the demo video after the jump.
Filed under: led hacks, Raspberry Pi
[Chris Nafis] crunched the numbers and found out he could get filament for his 3D printer in bulk for about one-fifth the cost of the cartridges the company sells. This led him to print a feeder for his Cube 3D printer.
We’re skeptical about the Cube 3D printer’s cartridges. They contain a spool of filament, but also include a chip which reports back the filament color and length remaining. We’re sure this provides some nice functionality for those looking to press a button and walk away. But we see it as an annoyance like the laser toner cartridges that stop working based on page count rather than remaining toner.
The solution [Chris] went with still uses the cartridges to ‘trick’ the machine into printing. Basically the interface will tell you that you don’t have enough filament left, but as long as there’s a cartridge in place you can tell it to print anyway. The green adapter he printed has a pass-through for the stock cartridge as well as the bulk spool you see to the left.
Filed under: 3d Printer hacks