On the latest episode of Systm, they talk to [David Calkins], founder of the RoboGames competition, about humanoid robotics. The robots featured in the episode are Hitec’s ROBONOVA-I. The ROBONOVA is about a foot high and has 16 servos with support for up to 24, all connected to an Atmel controller. The episode is quite long: At around 15 minutes, they demonstrate the programming enviroment. You can program it traditionally or pose the bot to work out the motions. At 30 minutes, [David] mentions that next year’s competition will allow airsoft weapons to be attached, but bots have to be controlled from a first person perspective. If you’re interested in one of these kits, they have a ROBONOVA special of $900 or as low as $500 for educational institutions (that’s us, right?). Now is the perfect time to get one since you’ll have nearly a full year to prepare for RoboGames.

Related: You’ll hear builder [Matt Bauer]‘s name mentioned several times.

[via BotJunkie]

DNS exploit in the wild

We’ve been tracking Metasploit commits since Matasano’s premature publication of [Dan Kaminsky]‘s DNS cache poisoning flaw on Monday knowing full well that a functional exploit would be coming soon. Only two hours ago [HD Moore] and [I)ruid] added a module to the Metasploit Project that will let anyone test the vulnerability (with comment: “ZOMG. What is this? >:-)“). [HD] told Threat Level that it doesn’t work yet for domains that are already cached by the DNS server, but it will automatically wait for the cached entry to expire and then complete the attack. You can read more about the bailiwicked_host.rb module in CAU’s advisory. For a more detailed description of how the attack works, see this mirror of Matason’s post. You can check if the DNS server you are using is vulnerable by using the tool on [Dan]‘s site.

[photo: mattdork]

Simple tracking in 3D space

[kylemcdonald] has posted this how to build a simple 3D tracking interface. Using 6 resisters, some wire, aluminum foil, an Arduino, and a cardboard box, he was able to do 3D capacitive sensing. Coupling that with Processing, he was able to overlay an interface using augmented reality. The video above shows a 3D tic tac toe application. While it seems less than perfect, its pretty amazing for how simple it is.

Seen anything similar to this out there? What applications would be fun with this?

Shih Chieh Huang’s recycled bots

We’re really sorry to have missed GLOW. It was a unique all-night art and music event that took place the evening of July 19, 2008, in Santa Monica, and lasted until dawn. We were most intrigued by [Shih Chieh Huang]‘s haunting robotic sculptures. They were eerily beautiful, and appeared to be alive and “breathing”. He took some unusual materials – plastic bags and bottles, computer fans and circuit boards, among others, and combined them all to give the creatures otherworldly auras. Simultaneously familiar and strange, the sculptures are designed to evoke marine life, yet they’re completely different, in both materials and structure. More coverage and pictures of the event can be found at LAist, NOTCOT, and on Flickr.

Modding the Oppo 980 for better audio output

There’s an interesting thread discussing mods to improve the inexpensive Oppo 980 DVD player for better performance. The power supply, capacitors and opamps can benefit from some higher end components. [Occam] suggests several replacement opamps options for upgrading the audio output. The realatively low cost of Oppo gear makes it a better risk than modding a multi-thousand dollar DVD player.