SparkFun open-sources latest kits

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SparkFun has started to release some of their kits as open-source hardware. Projects such as ClockIt, a simple alarm clock, have their schematics, board designs, and source code released under the CC-by-sa license. Although most of their widgets and projects already had example code and schematics available, they are now using an open-source license. They are joining adafruit and EMSL and others in pushing OSH, but it is interesting to see an established company turn to this. Normally, startups do this to encourage early adoption.

[via adafruit]

Self-portrait machine

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[Jen Hui Liao] created a device that guides the user into drawing a portrait of themselves. Dubbed Self-Portrait Machine, it comments on how much in society is created by machines and we are dependent on them. Unlike previous drawing robots, the user is part of the sketching process. The machine holds the users hands and uses stepper motors and servos to move them around like a LOGO turtle. Liao promises to have more details available soon. Video of the machine after the jump.

[Read more...]

Crack WEP using BackTrack

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Lifehacker wrote a guide for cracking a WiFi network’s WEP password using BackTrack. BackTrack is a Linux live CD used for security testing and comes with the tools needed to break WEP. Not just any wireless card will work for this; you need one that supports packet injection. The crack works by collecting legitimate packets then replaying them several times in order to generate data. They point out that this method can be hit-or-miss, especially if there are few other users on the network, as the crack requires authenticated packets. We covered cracking WEP before, but using BackTrack should smooth out compatibility issues.

Scratchbot: Whiskers to the rescue

Scratchbot is designed as a rescue bot, going places where there is low visibility. It’s defining feature is the fact that it uses “whiskers” to feel for things. We feel like this is a little gimmicky. If it is a low visibility situation, wouldn’t IR or audio, possibly sonar be a more effective? How would it differentiate between different physical obstacles? Are the whiskers really new? Aren’t they really just bump sensors? Maybe they have something a little more complicated going on. There was another recent bot that utilized whiskers and compared different tactile profiles to determine what it was touching.

How-to: Bus Pirate probe cable

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Update, Saturday July 4th, 2009: All preorders are closed.

A probe cable makes it easy to connect the Bus Pirate to a circuit and get hacking. Good test clips make quick connections on cramped PCBs without causing short circuits. We made two cables for the Bus Pirate v2, keep reading for an overview of our designs and list of part suppliers.

Friday, July 3, 2009 is the last day to pre-order a Bus Pirate. There’s only two days left to get your own Bus Pirate, fully assembled and shipped worldwide, for only $30.

[Read more...]

Clever stair climbing robot

Stairs are one of the most commonly faced mobility challenges for a robot. This robot’s design eliminates the need for a complex drive train or computer, and instead uses a clever mechanical design to climb stairs. Version three of the robot uses five servos modified for continuous rotation, a Picaxe28, sharp IR sensors, and bump sensors.

[via BotJunkie]

T.G.I.M.B.O.E.J. turns one

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The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk, or T.G.I.M.B.O.E.J. has turned one. In the last year, they’ve learned a lot of things. They learned that lots of people are willing to contribute. Hundreds have signed up on the site to participate. Theyve also learned that laziness is the key road block on this project. The boxes that have stalled generally sitcollecting dust, simply because someone hasn’t bothered to ship it off. If you’re curious what kinds of stuff ends up in one of these, check our initial post. There aren’t any guarantees though, it all depends on what people toss in.

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