Multitouch patched into Android


[Luke Hutchison] has come up with a rather clever hack to get multitouch support on the G1. He wrote a patch against the Synaptics touchscreen driver. When two fingers are placed, the driver reports the x/y of the midpoint and a radius for the size field. If only one finger is used, the size is reported as zero. The nice thing about this approach is that it’s backwards compatible; the extra data will be ignored by current apps. Unfortunately, Google’s Android team says that if multitouch is ever added, it would identify individual fingers and definitely not using this method.

[via ABN]

[photo: tnkgrl]

Automated protocol analysis


[I)ruid] from BreakingPoint Labs has been doing quite a bit of protocol reverse engineering as part of his work. He put together a post covering some of the tools that have been useful for this task. Text-based protocols have a lot of human readable characters that can help you identify fields. Binary protocols don’t have this luxury though. He recommends the Protocol Informatics Project for tackling these situations. It applies bioinformatics algorithms to network traffic. You give it a packet dump of the protocol and it compares them to find similarities the same way genetic sequences are compared. It can be confused by protocols that waste a lot of space, but it’s still a very clever approach to reversing.

[photo: slashcrisis]

Rickshaw pulling robot


[Wu Yulu] is a Chinese farmer with no formal mechanical training. He’s been building various contraptions over the years and even accidentally burned down his house at one point. Pictured above is a walking, talking rickshaw pulling robot he built to haul himself around town. You can see a video of the mechanical man on Reuters.

The design reminds us of [Bob Schneeveis]‘ Schwarzenegger towed solar chariot we saw at Maker Faire.

[via DVICE thanks cnelson]

A history of SparkFun prototypes


If you haven’t checked out SparkFun Electronics’ prototype collection yet, you’re missing out. They unearthed many of their old prototypes and published them to show what kind of mistakes could be made. You’ll see plenty of errors and get hints on what to look for while developing your own hardware. This pairs well with their Design for Manufacture post. Along with the pile of broken board iterations, they also walk through how the company developed. Finally, they specifically cover the individual iterations of the BlueSMiRF.

One of the interesting modules in the gallery that never saw full release was the SparkFun Toys line pictured above. The individual units used the standoffs as the power and data bus. The four posts were arranged so they could only be connected in one orientation: power, ground, TX, and RX. It’s an interesting idea that seems like it might be worth exploring further. SparkFun says that it worked fine, but didn’t feel they had the resources to market it to the intended audience.

Hand made triode


[Claude Paillard] makes his own triodes (google translated) for short wave radios. The site doesn’t have a lot of details itself, but links to entire books on the history of radio tubes and manufacturing of them.  [Claude] takes us through the entire process of building a triode in a 17 minute long video. Even if you aren’t into them, this is fascinating. From the looks of it, several of us might only be a pump or two short of being able to cobble one together.

[thanks Dieter]