OpenVulture, software for unmanned vehicles


The first talk of ShmooCon was [Ethan O'Toole] and [Matt Davis] presenting their OpenVulture software for unmanned vehicles. In the initial stages, they had just planned on building software for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, but realized that with the proper planning it could be used with any vehicle: airplanes, cars, boats, and subs (or more specifically, their Barbie PowerWheels). The software is in two parts. First is a library that lets you communicate with each of the vehicle’s modules. The second half is the actual navigation software.

They’ve spent a lot of time sourcing hardware modules. They are looking for items that work well, aren’t too expensive, and have a fairly plug and play implementation. For their main processor, they wanted something that wasn’t a microcontroller and could run a full Linux system. The ARM based NSLU2 NAS seems to be the current frontrunner. You can find the opensource software and descriptions of the supported modules on their site.

They’re building the first test UAVs now. One has a 12 foot wingspan for greater lift and stability. We’ve covered the Arduino based Ardupilot and other UAVs in the past.

Fiber optic flash ring


For those who enjoy photography, a ring light is a nice tool to have. Being hackers, making your own seems only logical. This writeup will take you through the process of making one from fiber optics for super cheap. They basically gutted some fiber optic toys and strapped them to the lens. Sure there was a little more work involved, but that’s the gist of it. You may recall some more in depth fiber optic ring lights using LEDs or cold cathodes that we covered before.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Augmented FPS gaming


[MikeFez] sent in this info about his augmented FPS set ups. He started this project back with an original XBox in   2006. He wanted a more immersive way of interacting with his games. Pointing out that gaming visuals and interactivity have come leaps and bounds while the controllers themselves have basically just added a few buttons, he explains his goals. He wanted to have to move his body to move his character and possibly physically aim. The original project, for the XBox, was successful in that he used a floor pad to control his character. Since then, the Wii has come out and he has moved to the PC as his main platform. As expected, he is now using the Wiimote as the aiming device.

The 2009 ShmooBall gun


The registration desk hasn’t opened yet at ShmooCon 2009, but we’re already running into old friends. We found [Larry Pesce] and [Paul Asadoorian] from the PaulDotCom Security Weekly podcast showing off their latest ShmooBall gun. ShmooBalls have been a staple of ShmooCon from the very beginning. They’re soft foam balls distributed to each of the attendees who can then use them to pelt the speakers when they disagree. It’s a semi-anonymous way of expressing your dismay physically. [Larry] has been building bigger and better ways to shoot the ShmooBalls for the last couple years. You may remember seeing the 2008 model. This year the goal was to make the gun part much lighter. The CO2 supply is mounted remotely with a solenoid valve and coiled air line. The pistol grip has a light up arming switch and trigger. The gun is fairly easy to transport: the air line has a quick disconnect and the power is connected using ethernet jacks.