Hackit: Crap modding

When Boing Boing Gadgets posted about this $13 robot hand music box, we immediately thought “OH EXPLOITABLE!”. Over the years, we’ve acquired quite a bit of cheap trash just operating under the assumption that we would turn it into something else. Most of our acquisitions are Woot‘s fault. Just this morning we were dismayed to find out that the purveyor of cheap electronics had already sold out of animatronic Elvis heads. Now that would have been fun. We’ve purchased things like Tony Hawk helmet cams, jumbo remotes, Bluetooth headphones, Gyration mice, IMFree chatpads, and many other items of questionable use thinking that some day we’d use it. How about you? What sort of irrational purchases have you made and what would you do with a $13 mechanized hand?

[Just as we were wrapping this up, Woot posted a $49 HMD; you better believe we bought that.]

Digital wall harp


[Alison Lewis] has posted this fantastic digital wall harp project at My Home 2.0. They built an infrared MIDI instrument into a wall, using a MidiTron and some IR sensors. It all connects to a computer running a MIDI sequencer via a MIDI to USB converter. The project was built for a family home. They wanted something musical that they could play as easily as waiving their hand. They got it! Simply run your hand under the sensors and play some music!

[via Instructables]

NYC Soldering Championships tonight


The NYC Soldering Championships are happening tonight at Ignite in M1-5. It looks like there might still be some slots open if you want to compete. You can bring your own iron, it’s all through-hole, but you can’t use helping hands. Good luck, and we can’t wait to see how this inaugural event turns out!

[photo: Nick Bilton]

The liquid display


[Nicolas] sent in his liquid display project.Think of it as the opposite of a fountain display. Instead of water, it releases bubbles into a flat panel filled with liquid. There aren’t many details on the site, but it’s a nice twist on an classic concept. He also created an odd sort of liquid interface. Touching the liquid in any of the three chambers in front causes changes in the reaction of the display.

Medeco high security lock picking


Despite, Hack a Day seeming to be fairly lock heavy lately, we’ve yet to cover a major story from The Last HOPE. At the conference, [Jon King] talked about vulnerabilities in Medeco locks and presented his Medecoder tool. Medeco is really what makes this story interesting; unlike the EU, the US has very few high security lock manufacturers. You pretty much have to use Medeco and it’s found in many government agencies.

The Medeco locks have a vertical row of six pins arranged like most pin tumbler locks. Unlike your average lock, the rotation of the pins is important. When the key is placed in the lock, it not only moves the pins to the correct height, it also rotates them to the correct orientation. A sidebar blocks the cylinder unless the pins are rotated properly. Each pin has three possible orientations. They’re biaxial as well, which means the pin’s offset point allows for three more possible positions.

[Read more...]

Found: Artifacts From the Future


MetaFilter is reporting that Wired magazine (available on paper) has killed one of our favorite features. Found: Artifacts From the Future was a back page that asked artists and designers to create possible future products. While the magazine generally had a positive view, even in its sloppy use of infoporn, Found always seemed to have a comforting cynicism. Products appeared helpful on the surface, but still exhibited modern pitfalls: Even if you took the big leap to get a Bluetooth implant, it still required a two year contract. The Responsibeer could tell exactly how drunk you were, but did nothing to prevent localized debauchery. A Smart Windshield provided info on unsafe drivers… while obscuring your view.

The short of it is: Found was our kind of futurism. It was excited about new technology while emphasizing all the frustrations we currently have trying to get consumer products to do what we want. It’s sad to see something that got people thinking beyond the now go away. MeFi has conveniently assembled links to all the online Found features.

[via Waxy]

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