Back in May we mentioned AcidMods’ spitfire mod that enabled rapid fire (amongst other things) and was undetectable by Xbox Live. The parts list was quite low, needing just a PIC16F84A and a few other components, which led to third parties selling controller mod kits on eBay. The AcidMods team has figured out a new way to enable rapid fire using just a momentary switch and the necessary wire to hook it up. All you need to do is wire in the switch between the ground on the controller LED and the middle pin on the trigger. The only caveat is that because it’s hardwired to the LED, you can only use the mod on the particular port you’re using the controller on.
The reason it’s so simple is because the Xbox 360 controller uses pulse width modulation to “dim” the LED on the controller, creating a rapid high/low signal. When the momentary button is depressed, it routes this rapid high/low signal to the trigger input on the controller, which is then input to the Xbox 360. Hit the read link for a couple more videos explaining this hack.
While this modification is undetectable by Xbox Live, it does create an unfair advantage in multiplayer gaming and could result in your account being banned.
Slate is running an interesting article about taking new security approaches to lock vulnerabilities. In the past, lock makers such as Medeco have been able to quietly update their product lines to strengthen their security, but as movements such as Locksport International gain popularity and lock picking videos on YouTube become dime a dozen, lock makers can no longer rely on security through obscurity. It’s no question that an increased interest in this field helps lock manufacturers to create more secure products, but because patching these flaws often means changing critical features of the lock, it becomes a very expensive game of cat-and-mouse.
Traditional lock picking has employed the use of picksets, like the credit card sized setgiven out sold at The Last HOPE, but more recent methods of lock hacking have used bump keys or even magnets. However, as manufacturers make their locks less susceptible to picking and bumping, not even high-security locks will ward off someone determined enough to create a copy of the key, either by observing the original or using impressioning, as [Barry Wels] covered in a recent talk at HOPE 2008.
Making a PCB is very simple; it does not consume a lot of time and the results look professional. After reading this How-To and watching the step by step video, you will be able to make your own PCB in your workshop using just a few inexpensive materials.
Many people use protoboard and point-to-point wire everything, but needing multiple copies of the same circuit is the reason that forces many away from using protoboard. After making your first circuit board, you might not point-to-point wire anything again!
[Eduard] sent in his IR webcam whiteboard project. He wanted something like the Wiimote version, but without the expense of a Wiimote. He added some film negative to the camera to reduce the amount of visible light picked up by the CCD. (He notes that you might need to pull the IR filter from your camera to get a decent signal.) The pen is the usual IR LED with a power supply. To do the actual work, he wrote a custom application in Java.
MightyOhm’s laboratories have recently decided to start tackling more surface mount work. As part of this upgrade to SMD hot air reflow stations, they’re handling a lot of solder paste. Solder paste is happy at less than 50degF and above freezing, and [Jeff] didn’t want to chance that lead infiltrating his Manwich, so he built this solder paste fridge. The main unit is a standard 12V peltier based travel cooler. He attached a surplus PID controller with a K-type thermocouple to maintain the temperature while preventing the cooler from being always on. The only adjustment he really had to make was adding a bleed resistor to force the MOSFET to turn off. You can find more pictures of his project on Flickr.
Here’s something for those of you who always wanted your projects to attract more shotgun blasts. [courtney] built two RC duck decoys. The decoys were only $10 to begin with and the RC submarines were an additional $20 at RadioShack. The construction is fairly clever, using a heat gun to conform the duck body to the submarine. We think the most surprising bit is that this has been done many times over: RC duck with rocket launcher, RC duck cam, and someone is producing commercial ones. Whatever you end up putting in your remotely operated duck, we’ll be sure to include it in our next movie plot threat entry.
Power monitoring and home automation systems are coming to mainstream consumers. The New York Times covers the latest technologies (annoying login required) that improve and monitor energy efficiency in the home. As energy use and costs continue to increase, companies are popping up to offer cheaper solutions that will help consumers monitor energy usage, and decrease it simultaneously. Companies like Zigbee offer wireless protocols to track usage, and “smart metering” systems can communicate with appliances to reduce unnecessary energy usage.
Home automation systems can be set up to control a single system, such as a home theater, or multiple systems throughout a home, like audio, lighting, and temperature. Control4 offers controllers that will allow consumers to regulate their lighting, blinds, and temperature in their homes. Smart meters such as Echelon’s NES system offers users some great features, such as the ability to provide automated reads of electric and gas meters, and enabling load shedding during peak consumption periods, by controlling appliances like air conditioners and water heaters. By allowing the consumers to determine and control how much energy they use, they can successfully reduce their energy consumption levels a significant amount, but whether it’s worth the cost of investment remains to be seen. Although the prices of home automation systems have dropped from over $30,000 to about $5,000, it’s still much more than most consumers can afford.
We’ve covered homeautomationtools before. We like them because they’re still way more affordable than the offerings available, and the technology is more transparent. If you’ve got a creative and cheap solution to monitoring energy consumption, we’d love to hear it.