well engineered diy Segway


[Mark] wanted a Segway but why buy something if you can have more fun building it? His end product is an amazing homemade version of the self-balancing transportation package. We’ve seen several projects that include auto-balance, but this one is large enough to ride on and has a bit of an advantage in the design. The motors, batteries, and other components are mounted below the wheel hubs and are weight balanced. This means that the device wants to find balance naturally, even when the electronics are switched off.

The frame was modeled in CAD and then welded together. For propulsion [Mark] has installed two 750 Watt motors which will use sprockets and chains to turn the wheels. The machine balances based on data from both a gyroscope and an accelerometer, with the entire packaged tied together using an Arduino.

[Mark's] build log is well laid out and details each part of the build with a different post. His two most recent entries include video of the unit balancing and of him riding the 95% completed project. A big thanks to [Mark] for taking the time to document this so that we can share in the excitement of a well-executed project.

freeBOOT gives the Xbox 360 JTAG hack new life


There has been another development in the never-ending battle that is Microsoft trying to keep its gaming system closed to unauthorized use. Xbox-scene reports that a new hack called freeBOOT v0.01 allows the Xbox 360 to upgrade to the newer kernels, but allows the option of rebooting to an older kernel in order use the JTAG exploit and gain access to the hardware.

In case you missed it, the JTAG hack is a way to run homebrew code on an Xbox 360. Exploiting this hack makes it possible to boot a Linux kernel in about five seconds. We’ve long been fans of the homebrew work done with XBMC on the original Xbox and hope that advances like this will lead to that end. We want this because the older hardware cannot handle high definition content at full resolution but the Xbox 360 certainly can.

This exploit is still far from perfect. It currently requires that the Cygnos360 mod chip be installed on the system. A resistor also needs to be removed from the board to prevent accidental kernel updating. That being said, this is still progress. If you’re interested in step-by-step details, take a look at the text file instructions provided.

[Thanks wdfowty]

Boombox warns construction ahead


[Sam] built himself a boom box using salvaged parts and a car stereo. The case was cut using a CNC router he had access to at his school. The front panel is cut from a “Construction Ahead” road sign. The size of the case is based roughly on the rotting enclosures from which he pulled the speakers. He’s included connectors for external speakers as well as a USB charging port. The unit is powered by a gel battery and is recharged using an automotive battery charger.

A boom box lets you take the party anywhere. We like this one because of the pop art feel of the finished project.

Brain control for the Arduino


When we hear about a brain controlled Arduino project we immediately think about a coding nightmare. As always, the simple hacks are the best hacks. [Joel] and [Akshay] used hardware from a kid’s game as a brain interface for an Arduino.

We came across the video (embedded after the break) of their work and asked for more info on what we thought was an incredibly difficult hack. It turns out they purchased Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer which uses a headset to measure brain waves and has a base unit that reacts to these measurements. Hacking into this device didn’t require reverse engineering of anything. They took the easy route, and tapped into the five LEDs on the base unit. As the game measures greater levels of concentration, it lights up more LEDs.

So far tapping into the game is just a proof of concept. It’s up to you to implement a brain controlled beer bot.

[Read more...]

MIT rethinking popup books

We know the folks at MIT are the cutting edge scientists of tomorrow right? We’re always impressed by the stuff coming out of their labs. Well, almost always.  This rethinking of pop-up books does not let us down. We’ve seen some pretty complicated pop-up books. Some that made us really wonder how they pulled it off. But all of those were simply paper and card stock. At MIT, they’re wondering how we can improve the interactive experience now that the electronic components are so cheap and easily available. Even if you don’t have kids, or have no interest in pop-up books, consider this some inspiration for things like packaging and art. This looks fantastic and we know we would enjoy it. Then again, a few flashing LEDs always pique our interest.

[via Gizmodo]

Two-factor authentication using a hardware token


We ran into a friend a while back who was logging into her employer’s Virtual Private Network on the weekend. She caught our attention by whipping out her keys and typing in some information from a key-fob. It turns out that her work uses an additional layer of protection for logging into the network. They have implemented a username, pin number, as well as a hardware token system called SecurID.

The hardware consists of a key-fob with an LCD screen on it.  A code is displayed on the screen and changes frequently, usually every 60 seconds. The device is generating keys based on a 128-bit encryption seed. When this number is fed to a server that has a copy of that seed, it is used as an additional verification to the other login data.

This seems like a tech trickle-down of the code generating device from GoldenEye. It does get us thinking: with the problems free email services have been having with account theft, why aren’t they offering a fee-based service that includes a security fob? With the right pricing structure this could be a nice stream of income for the provider. We’re also wondering if this can be implemented with a microcontroller and used in our home network. As always, leave comments below and let us know if you’ve already built your own system using these principles.

Update: Thanks to Andre for his comment that tells us this type of security is available for Apache servers. The distribution includes a server side authentication system and a Java based token generator that can run on any handheld that supports Java.

RepRap – in space! (sorta)

We aren’t exactly sure how or even why you would need to RepRap in space, but we guess their team needed something to do while designing and printing their next version. They figure that if they can print completely upside down in -1G and then upside up in 1G, that 0G hopefully wont be a problem; hopefully being the keyword.

Even if it isn’t true space printing, the concept opens several new doors. Instead of having risky rocket or shuttle launches when the secondary air oscillator on the IIS is struck by an asteroid, print a new one. Or perhaps, the ocean floor research facilities’ external hull is punctured by an asteroid, print a new one. Or the HaD office chair breaks because [Mike] was hit by an asteroid, print a new one.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here. But alongside circuit board printing, perhaps in-home fabrication is the way of the future. What would you like to print? Before you answer, yes, we will release the [Mike©] plans.

[Thanks Julius]