External GPS for iPod and iPhone

ipod_touch_gps

Ever wish your iPod touch or older generation iPhone had GPS capability? Now it can by using a Bluetooth GPS module along with the roqyGPS app.

In April we saw a pretty creative way to add GPS to an iPod by using a homebrew accessory. The new app is a better solution because it utilizes the larger screen and more functional UI of the iPod touch. We’re glad to see this come along because we’d rather not upgrade to the iPhone 3G just to get GPS support. roqyGPS has a fairly long supported hardware list, which should make it relatively inexpensive to pick up a GPS module either on sale or second-hand.

We’ve got a video of the release candidate after the break. As always, we’d like to hear from anyone already using this so please leave your thoughts in the comments.

[Read more...]

POV fan EEPROM hack

pov_fan_eeprom_hacking

Hacking with Gum got their hands on one of the persistence of vision display fans that Cenzic was giving away at Blackhat this year. It’s not the biggest fan-based POV display we’ve seen but it’s still a fun device to tinker with. They hacked into the EEPROM on the device in order to change the message the fan displayed.

This is very similar to the other EEPROM reading/writing we’ve seen recently. Hacking with Gum read the data off of the EEPROM and then disassembled it to discover how the message data is stored on the chip. This was made easier by noting the messages displayed when the fan is running. The first byte of data shows the number of words in the message, then each chunk of word data is preceded by one byte that represents the number of letters in that work. Data length was calculated based on the number of pixels in each display character. Once he knew the data-storage scheme, it was just a matter of formatting his own messages in the same way and overwriting the chip.

This is a great write-up if you’re looking for a primer on reverse engineering an unknown hardware system. If you had fun trying out our barcode challenges perhaps deciphering EEPROM data from a simple device should be your next quest.

[Thanks James]

Safelock: biometric typing security

We’ve seen some ways to bypass biometric security measures but here’s a new offering that we think will be hard to fool. The Safelock system is used in conjunction with a password to identify a specific user. This software records your typing style including the time between keystrokes, the time keys are held, and key pressure data. This information is then normalized and compared to the information stored about the user when the password was originally set. If you don’t fall within specifications that match the stored data, you won’t get in even with the right password.

The icing on the cake is that Safelock will look for malicious users. If you enter the wrong password, it will begin to record and analyze your typing style. If you make enough incorrect attempts you will be labeled as a security threat and locked out of the system altogether. We can only think of one reliable way to circumvent this and that’s using a man-in-the-middle method of recording the keyboard inputs of the legitimate user for playback later.

This is an innovative user identification system and we’re not the only ones that think so. [Jeff Allen] and [John Howard], students at SMU won first prize for the Student Innovation Contest at the 2009 User Interface Software and Technology Symposium.

Portable, digital stereoscopic image viewer

FSI6C3BFZWXORMT.MEDIUM[madaeon] couldn’t find a digital viewer for his stereoscopic 3D images. He felt that he could probably build one, so he did.  He found two identical digital picture frames and made a custom rig to hold the two frames.  The method he is using involves polarized lenses, so you do have to put glasses on to see it. Being polarized though, you get full color, like modern 3D movies. We think it would be even nicer to see them without glasses, but some people have a really hard time with this style of 3d image.

$4500 book about a car you can’t afford

4500-aluminum-car-book.jpg

The folks over at Kirkham Motorsports have turned out two things of beauty. The first is a sky’s-the-limit milled aluminum car. The second is a book about the making of the car that runs $4500 per copy. Why so much for a book? The binding is milled out of a 35 pound aluminum billet.

The project spans a 2 1/2 year build cycle and showcases the gamut of craftsmanship. The extremely detailed build log is available at their website in PDF form. Of particular interest to us is Chapter 10: Milling. The sheer volume of machined parts for this roadster is mind-boggling. There’s also plenty of CNC pipe bending involved with the body work in Chapter 18.

Finish up your work this morning and spend the rest of the day with this fantasy creation. If you’ve got too much to do, why not shell out for the hard-copy version and devote your weekend to metal-working romance?

[via Makezine]

Metal Race combines operation and calculator game

metal_race

[Greg] was feeling nostalgic about the game RACE for to TI-83 graphing calculator. In the game, your car is stationary with controls to move the scrolling maze from side to side in order to avoid a crash. He set out to build a physical version of the game with a don’t-touch-the-side concept that reminds us of Operation.

The game board is a wire frame constructed from paperclips then attached to a motorized frame. The vehicle is also metal and is attached to the lens sled from a scrapped CD-ROM drive. The maze scrolls from left to right with up and down vehicle motion controlled by two arcade buttons. An Arduino controls the motors and monitors the button inputs. He has plans to add a buzzer that sounds when the metal car “crashes” in to the wire walls of the maze. We’ve embedded video of the working game after the break. For more build photos take a look at his flickr set. [Read more...]

Adding a keypad to a key card lock

keypad

[Colin Merkel] had a little problem: he was continually forgetting his electronic key card, locking himself out of his own dorm room. Like any normal Hack a Day reader, rather than getting in the habit of always carrying his card, the natural impulse of course is to build this elaborate rig of electronics and duct tape. Right?

The result is an additional keypad that can be used to gain access…not by altering the existing electronic lock, but with a secondary mechanism that operates the inside door handle. An 8-bit PIC microcontroller scans the outside keypad (connected by a thin ribbon cable), and when a correct access code is entered, engages a 12 volt DC motor to turn the handle. It’s a great little writeup that includes a parts list, source code, and explains the process of keypad scanning.

It’s similar to the RFID-based dorm hack we previously posted. By physically operating the handle, most any approach could be used: facial recognition, other biometrics, DDR pad, or whatever inspired lunacy you can dream up.