Hack a Day
Ask around and chances are you can find a friend or family member that still has their early generation Kindle but doesn’t use it anymore. There are quite a number of different things you can do with them, and now there’s a single Launcher that works for all models of hacked Kindles. KUAL is the Kindle Unified Application Launcher.
Loading the launcher on your device does require that it be Jailbroken/Rooted, but that’s really the entire point, right? Once on your device the system is easy to configure. Menus themselves can be customized by editing the XML and JSON pair for each list. The screenshot on the left illustrates some of the applications you might want to run. We could see a VNC viewer being useful, and everyone likes to have games – like Doom II or the entire Z-machine library – on hand when they unexpectedly get stuck somewhere. But MPlayer? Does anyone actually use their ePaper device to watch videos?
Filed under: Kindle hacks
Get serious about your shell scripting skills and maybe you can pull this one off. It’s a game of snake played in a BASH shell. It seems like a coding nightmare, but the final product turns out to be organized well enough for us to understand and took less than 250 lines of code.
[Martin Bruchanov] started on the project after pining for an old DOS game called Housenka. It’s another version of the classic Snake game which we’ve coded ourselves and seen in several projects including this head-to-head version using musical recorders as controllers. When using a terminal emulator capable of ANSI sequences the game is displayed in color using extended characters.
We give [Martin] bonus points for the way he wrote about his project. It describes the mechanics most would be interested in, like how the user input is captured and what drives the update function and food generation. The rest of the details can be gleaned by reading through the code itself.
Filed under: linux hacks
The goal of The Deconstruction is to bring people together (physically and digitally) to share ideas, collaborate, create, problem solve, and have a good time. The event is open to anyone, anywhere, of any age and skill level.
If you enjoy a bit of good competition and feel like taking on a little bit of a challenge, you should definitely check out The Deconstruction. This event pits a bunch of teams from all over the place against each other in a timed hack-a-thon. The whole time they are building their project, they’re broadcasting live using their webcams too.
If this brings to mind the Red Bull Creation contest, it is because the root idea is from the same guy [Jason Naumoff]. When I met with him last year in New York, he clued me in that he was working on something much more open ended and inclusive. The Deconstruction is that thing. He explained that they’re really hoping to reach out to families, clubs, and high school groups as well as the usual hackerspaces.
Join up, make something cool, have fun.
Filed under: news
Check out the toy this solder is using. It’s a tiny remote-controlled helicopter. The thing comes in a kit that includes a small tablet through which the nose-mounted camera image can be viewed. These are in use in Afghanistan by the UK Military. The purpose is to help protect foot soldiers by allowing them to perform discrete reconnaissance. What would you pay for this type of life saving technology? How does $31 million for 160 units sound? For that price we expect eight propellers and a cinema quality camera.
The drone is manufactured by Prox Dynamics. They’ve been in development since 2008 and you can bet that a lot of that time went into making it “inaudible” which is the main difference we see between this and hobby-built versions. For now you’ll have to deal with trying to make your own since they will only sell to the government.
The best we can do for you when it comes to video of the thing is prototyping footage from 2009 (after the break). If you have a link to a newer clip we’d love to see it in the comments.
Filed under: weapons hacks
[John] was looking for a project for his newly acquired Raspberry Pi and decided to include his dog in the fun. although his finished project looks a lot like an old time camera, it’s actually a web-connected treat dispenser that uses his dog’s email address for dispensation.
Let’s take a look at the hardware from top to bottom. There’s a camera with a eagle’s eye shot of his furry friend waiting for treats. The cylinder below that is the motor which drives the treat dispenser. You can see the chain tensioner on the back which connects the motor to the tube dispenser in the center of the box. Just above that outlet is the character display which gives feedback to anyone watching the dispenser. Nearing the bottom is a hopper that catches the treats, then flips over to dump them onto the floor. And finally at the bottom is a slot for the Raspberry Pi which drives everything.
Most of [John's] projects revolve around CNC work. In addition to the demo video found after the break there’s a second that focuses on CAD design. About half way through that clip he gives us a close-up tour of all the hardware.
Filed under: cnc hacks, Raspberry Pi
The 6502 was in a lot of early equipment. In addition to the previously mentioned Atari they can be found in the Commodore 64, Apple II, and the original NES. You can even find folks building their own computers around the chip these days (most notable to us is the Veronica project). The guide starts off slowly, providing a working program and challenging the reader to play with to code in order to alter the outcomes. It moves on to an overview of registers and instructions, operators and branching, and culminates in the creation of a simple game.
Filed under: computer hacks, how-to
It’s a real bummer when injection molded plastic parts break. We’ve never found a gluing technique that works for a part which is exposed to force like the clamp on this camera tripod. But [Matthias Wandel] may be on to something. Here he’s using nichrome wire to reinforce the broken plastic part.
The repair process is demonstrated in full in the video after the break. He scavenged the wire from the heating element of broken hair driers. the idea is to wrap the wire across the broken piece, then apply power from a bench supply. This heats the wire, which can then be pulled beneath the surface of the plastic. [Matthias] likens it to using rebar in concrete.
His implementation could be improved just a bit. Getting the wire to embed evenly is a problem, but using a pair of pliers instead of just alligator clips may yield better results.
Filed under: repair hacks
This Space Invaders game does more with less. [Rjk79] managed to make a video game using a two-line character display. The game consists of a wave of invaders on the top line, with the defender cannon on the bottom. The invader isn’t just stationary, but randomly moves to the left and the right. The image above captured a little bit of motion blur from the defender moving into position before firing on the enemy.
An Arduino board controls the 16×2 HD44780 character display. The game also includes sounds generated by the piezo buzzer seen on the breadboard. All the way to the right you can see the Wii Nunchuk breakout board which provides directional control and the firing trigger. If you want to recreate this one for yourself [Rjk79] is sharing the source code on Pastebin. There’s also a demo video found after the jump.
If you don’t have a character LCD on hand you might try this other Space Invaders clone that uses an 8×8 led matrix.
Filed under: arduino hacks
We admit that this project doesn’t have very many details available, but it was just too neat for us to pass up. It’s a small linear motor which [ligonapProduktion] built after seeing a very brief description of a commercially available version.
The video after the break shows him testing the motor. In this screenshot he’s holding the center shaft while the coil assembly moves back and forth. But it works with a stationary coil moving the rod as well. The motor is basically a modified solenoid. There are sixteen neodymium magnets inside the shaft. The set of four coils is driven by an ATtiny44. Just like a stepper motor, energizing the coils in the correct order pushes against the rare earth magnets creating motion.
We’re not sure if he has any use in mind for this build. For us we just like to see the concept in practice (we feel the same way about a homopolar motor build).
Filed under: classic hacks
Here’s an LED and Button shield for the Stellaris Launchpad (translated) which you can fabricate at home. It gives you access to a 5×5 matrix of LEDs, and adds four more buttons. In order to cut down on the number of I/O pins required to operate the lights [Cosimo] is using the concept of Charlieplexing. This lets him get away with just six driver pins and four button pins.
It’s not just the finished product that interests us here. The fabrication itself is worth clicking through to his project post. What initially caught our eye is the use of Kapton tape as an insulator so that clipped off LEDs could be used as jumpers flat against the top side of the board before populating the LEDs themselves. After those are soldered in place he masks them off, as well as the button footprints, and uses spray paint to protect the top side of the board. The final look is more polished than most at-home project boards.
Filed under: ARM
[Adam Outler] tipped us off about a cross-platform Android hacking suite he’s been working on. The project, which is called CASUAL, brings several things to the table. First and foremost it breaks down the OS requirements seen on some hacks. It can perform pretty much any Android hack out there and it doesn’t care if you’re using Linux, OS X, or Windows.
We’ve embedded two videos after the break. The screenshot seen above is from the first clip where [Adam] demonstrates the package rooting the Oppo Find5 Android phone. He then goes on to show off the scripting language CASUAL uses. This layer of abstraction should make it easier to deploy hacking packages, as CASUAL handles all of the underlying tools like the Android Debug Bridge, fastboot, and Heimdall (an open source Odin replacement which brings the low level tool to all OS platforms) . The second video demonstrates a Galaxy Note II being rooted, and having a new recovery image flashed.
Filed under: android hacks
This gentleman is using electrical impulses from his neck muscles to fly a toy helicopter around the room. The project is a demonstration of the AsTeRICS project which seeks to reduce the complexity of adapting the set of skills a disabled person can use to do a wide range of functions. In this case, controlling the helicopter could easily be switched to other tasks without changing the user interface hardware.
One of the plugins for the AsTeRICS project uses the OpenEEG library. This reads the signals coming from a pair of electrodes on top of each shoulder. In the video after the break you can see that as he flexes these muscles the changes in signal are mapped to the altitude of the helicopter. This is just one example of a wide range of inputs that include things like building a webcam-based mouse or using facial recognition.
The toy itself is being driven by an Arduino sending IR commands. We’ve seen quite a few project where the helicopter communications protocols are laid bare.
[Thanks Peter and David]
Filed under: lifehacks, Medical hacks, misc hacks
Next time you’re in a Nerf gun battle, you better hope you’ve got this absurdly powerful ping pong ball gun. It shoots common celluloid spheres at over 400 meters per second, or Mach 1.2.
This ping pong gun is the work of [Mark French], [Craig Zehrung], and [Jim Stratton] at Purdue University. As you would expect, the gun is powered by compressed air housed in a length of 3 inch schedule 80 PVC pipe. One end of the pressure vessel is sealed with a PVC end cap, while the other is closed off with a doubled up piece of duct tape to contain the pressure.
The interesting bit of the build is a de Laval nozzle between the pressure vessel and the barrel. Just like a rocket engine nozzle, this bit of machined PVC compresses the air coming through the burst duct tape seal and allows it to expand again, propelling the muzzle-loaded ping pong ball at supersonic speeds.
The guys have written a report on their gun, you can grab that over on arxiv.
Filed under: news, weapons hacks
One day, [Adam] was asked if he would like to take part in a little project. A mad scientist come engineer at [Adam]‘s job had just removed the plastic casing from a IC, and wanted a little help decoding the information on a masked ROM. These ROMs are basically just data etched directly into silicon, so the only way to actually read the data is with some nitric acid and a microscope. [Adam] was more than up for the challenge, but not wanting to count out thousands of 1s and 0s etched into a chip, he figured out a way to let a computer do it with some clever programming and computer vision.
[Adam] has used OpenCV before, but the macro image of the masked ROM had a lot of extraneous information; there were gaps in the columns of bits, and letting a computer do all the work would result in crap data. His solution was to semi-automate the process of counting 1s and 0s by selecting a grid by hand and letting image processing software do the rest of the work.
This work resulted in rompar, a tool to decode the data on de-packaged ROMs. It works very well – [Adam] was able to successfully decode the ROM and netted the machine codes for the object of his reverse engineering.
Filed under: digital cameras hacks
[Dan] is an element collector, someone who gets his socks knocked off by bismuth crystals and the orange vapor of bromine. Of course every element collector needs a proper display case, and since the periodic table table idea is cliché, [Dan] decided to build an elemental display that’s also a really awesome LED wall.
The build started off as most do with a few sheets of plywood and 120 acrylic shelves for each item in [Dan]‘s collection. The real magic happened when [Dan]‘s buddy [Bill] was called in to make the display a little more interesting.
Behind each acrylic shelf is a three-LED section of a LED strip, each part of the periodic table having a different color. The 120 individual shelving units are broken down into 16-shelf groups, each driven by a custom LED driver board. These driver boards are connected to a master Arduino with phone cables and make wonderful use of a very neat TCL5940 Arduino library.
The elemental display has a few options; all-on, twinkling, an Apple ‘breathing’ mode, and a graphic eq, as shown in the video after the break.
Filed under: led hacks
Even if you’ve overcome your fear diddling about with tiny SMD components, applying solder paste – especially if you’re populating more than one board at a time – is still a chore. The pros use very expensive laser cut stainless steel solder paste stencils, something still a bit out of reach to the casual hobbyist. [Felix] solved this problem by making his own solder paste stencils very cheaply using empty soda cans.
The process begins just like any other home etching tutorial by lightly sanding the un-bent aluminum can and applying the etch resist via the toner transfer method. Etching is done with off-the-shelf HCl and hydrogen peroxide, resulting in an amazingly clean stencil comparable in quality with a professional stencil.
Sure, going through a dozen-step process to make a solder paste stencil may not be as convienent as [Cnlohr]‘s toothpick and tweezers method, but [Felix]‘ method is just about up to par with extraordinarily expensive laser cut stainless steel stencils. Not bad for something that came from the recycling bin.
Filed under: tool hacks
Hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff you can pick up from a drug store or beauty supply store – is one of those very interesting chemicals that belongs on every maker’s cabinet. At concentrations of about 30%, it’s perfect for etching PCB boards, and at even higher concentrations – about 70% – it can be used as rocket fuel. Unfortunately for the home hacker, it’s very difficult and expensive to obtain peroxide in concentrations above 3% or so. That’s alright with [Charlie], though, because he’s come up with a way to concentrate peroxide and measure the concentration once he’s done.
There are a few YouTube videos of kitchen chemists concentrating peroxide by heating it on a stove to just under 100°C. Because hydrogen peroxide boils at 150°C, they’re simply boiling off the water and increasing the concentration of peroxide. This is a qualitative method, and you’ll never know what concentration you’re getting. [Charlie] rigged up a small-scale with a pipette to measure the weight of his concentrated peroxide per unit of volume, giving him the density of his concoction and thus the concentration.
We have to note that concentrated peroxide is dangerous stuff, but the results of [Charlie]‘s lab work aren’t much more dangerous than what hair stylists work with every day. If you’re going for high-test peroxide, good job, that’s awesome, but do be aware of the risks.
Filed under: chemistry hacks
Home automation has existed in one form or another for quite some time, but we thought this take on controlling lights was quite interesting. Instead of having a menu of lights that you can turn on and off, this Android app lets you point your phone at the device and turn it on or of. Undoubtedly similar to how [Darth Vader] controls his lights at home.
Although the really technical details of this project aren’t listed, this setup reads the compass and GPS output of the Android device to figure out where it’s pointed in space. Combined with a script that understands the layout of the room, and an [X10] automation controller, it’s able to control lights accurately.
Be sure to check out the video of this device in action, or check out [Mike]‘s [Project Rita] blog to see the other interesting projects that he’s working on!
Filed under: android hacks
Sometimes you need a power supply that can be thrown into the back of a car and taken into the field. [BadWolf] didn’t want to take his bench supply, so he whipped up this very portable power supply made from a computer PSU. To ruggedize his build a little, he put it in a 50 caliber ammo can making it more than able to handle the roughest field work.
While not a proper adjustable power supply, this ammo can is more than capable of delivering a whole lot of current in a number of different voltages. There are a few bells and whistles – a ‘plugged in’ and ‘on’ light, as well as a few very cool looking toggle switches that are sure to arouse the suspicions of unsuspecting bystanders.
[BadWolf] kept all the safety features built-in to the computer PSU, so this ammo box power supply is still protected from short circuits, and over-current, making it much safer than its appearance belies. It’s also a great example of what can be done if you don’t have a proper bench supply, so we’ve got to tip our hat to [BadWolf] for that.
Filed under: tool hacks
By now you might have a bit weary of your small and inexpensive TV tuner dongle software defined radio. Yes, using a USB TV dongle is a great introduction to SDR, but it has limited bandwidth, limited frequency range, and can’t transmit. Enter the bladeRF, the SDR that makes up for all the shortcomings of a USB dongle, and also serves as a great wireless development platform.
The bladeRF is able to receive and transmit on any frequency between 300 MHz and 3.8 GHz. This, along with a powerful FPGA, ARM CPU, and very good ADCs and DACs makes it possible to build your own software defined WiFi adapter, Bluetooth module, ZigBee radio, GPS receiver, or GSM and 4G LTE modem.
It’s an impressive bit of kit, but it doesn’t exactly come cheap; the bladeRF is available on the Kickstarter for $400. The folks behind the bladeRF seem to be doing things right, though, and are using their Kickstarter windfall for all the right things like a USB vendor ID.
There’s a video of two bladeRFs being used as a full duplex modem. You can check that out after the break.
Filed under: kickstarter, radio hacks