Transparent rubber enclosures

This clear rubber puck serves as the enclosure for a diy mp3 player. The wires encapsulated in the rubber are just there for looks but the utility of using this material as a case is fascinating.  Alas, there’s no details on the material other than that it’s clear rubber. Update: [Reboots] picked up on some info that we originally missed. Looks like this is made from some Smooth-On PCM 780 urethane rubber.

We’ve looked into casting our own molds from silicone rubber in the past.  That may be the process used here but we can’t tell what allows the two halves to be pried apart. We’ve embedded video after the break that details casting rubber around a part in one solid block, then cutting the rubber off of that to create a mold. We’re also familiar with the mold making kits from Tap plastics but as far as we know, they’re always colored and never clear.

We keep our eyes peeled for new prototyping products and we want to know more about the materials and the process used to make this cylindrical elastomer. If you’ve got the goods on how this is done, please share them in the comments.

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Internet controlled scrolling numitron

How’s this for a first microcontroller project: a ticker that pulls messages from the Internet and scrolls them on a set of numitrons. [David Barton] built this using an mbed microcontroller. Tapping an ethernet library he got this to pull data from his server by connecting directly to the cat5 cables. The display consists of three numitrons which are incandescent 7-segment displays. In the video after the break you can see him sending messages to it from his iPod touch. This is just a PHP form that writes the submitted message to a file for the mbed to read. As [David] points out, there’s obvious Twittering applications here, but we just like the way it looks! [Read more...]

Spectrum analyzer wedged into a cellphone

[Miguel A. Vallejo] wanted a portable spectrum analyzer for the 2.4GHz ISM band. No problem, there’s modules for that are easy to interface with a microcontroller and LCD screen. But carrying around a black project box doesn’t exactly scream ‘cool’ so he fit his spectrum analyzer inside of a cell phone. This made a lot of things easier for him; he already had a few old phones, he was able to use both the original battery and the original LCD screen, and a lot of the mounting work is already done for you. The only challenge was to fit his custom circuitry inside. By hacking off part of the CYWM6935 module and cutting some protoboard in the same shape as the original PCB he managed to get everything into this tiny portable package. Now he’s looking for a way to incorporate a charger, and an on/off switch.

If you don’t have an old cell phone sitting around you can try building a spectrum analyzer that uses a character display. But we’d suggest hitting up your friends for their old cellphones.  The screens are used in all kinds of fun projects.

Precision Erector Set connects multiple cameras

Check out the exoskeleton that [Curt von Badinski] built for filming driving scenes. This extremely configurable wrap-around frame resembles a children’s toy from the past but allows an almost unlimited set of configurations. Five cameras simultaneous capture the driving scene. The current setup is used to shoot the television show 24.

[Thanks Robert]

Chip and pin broken and other security threats

Another exploit has been found in the Chip and PIN system.  The exploit is a man-in-the middle attack that wouldn’t take too much know-how to pull off. You can watch the BBC report on the issue or check out the paper (PDF) published by the team that found the vulnerability. A stolen card resides in a reader that connects to a dummy card via a small cable. When the dummy card is inserted into a card reader, any PIN can be used to complete the transaction. The chip on the original card gets confirmation that the sale was completed via signature and the vendor’s card reader gets confirmation that the pin was correct. The UK based Chip and PIN system seems like a great idea, but it has had its share of security loopholes. This makes us wonder how hard it is to roll out security patches to the hardware readers in the system.  Obviously this needs to be patch but does it take a technician visiting each terminal to flash an upgrade?

Switching to the topic of wide-scale attacks, we caught the NPR interview with [James Lewis] on Wednesday when they discussed the growing threat of Cyberterroism. He feels an attack on the US electrical grid is currently the biggest threat and will happen in the next ten years. Obviously taking the grid down would endanger lives and bring things to a standstill; traffic lights, refrigeration, heat, etc. We’re just glad that when asked if he thinks there is already malicious code residing in the control system, he doesn’t think that’s the case.

[Thanks to Whatsisface and Mcinnes]