Cathode ray tube leads the way on this bot

[Daqq’s] latest creation is this little robot with a CRT mounted on the front. Obviously ‘why?’ is the wrong question here, but we know this is right up his alley considering his propensity for the less common like this plasma ball Nixie tube. The solidly-built bot uses two stepper motor controlled wheels and an omni-wheel on the front to create a trike. An ATmega128 controls the system but the real story here is the CRT. It requires a hefty voltage regulator for the -600V to +200V the Tungsram DG7-123 tube needs. Trouble along the way ranged from dealing with stray magnetic fields from the power supply, to mounting the fragile tube itself. Take a look at his detailed writeup linked above and join us after the break for the demo videos.

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Composing music with the Force Trainer

In the ongoing quest to make the Force Trainer useful [Hunter Scott] developed a music composition platform for your mind (channel Jack Black’s voice for the last half of that sentence). Using the Force Trainer’s serial port [Hunter] feeds the data stream into a computer via an FTDI cable and uses Processing to make the music. It’s good, and the demos on his site are worth the click, but we still can’t get enough of the shocking video from back in March. But we digress, let [Hunter] walk you through his setup in the video after the break. Continue reading “Composing music with the Force Trainer”

Command line video processing using FOSS

[Daniel Paluska] is getting away from the point-and-click by editing videos from the command line. Using the free open source software packages FFmpeg, Imagemagick, and Sox he produces new clips from multiple videos with effects like overlaying, slicing, and assigning each video to a different quadrant. The last option would be useful for displaying different angled shots of the same thing all at once but we’re sure you can find a way to use them all. He is using shell scripts to automate some of the process but the commands are still easy enough to understand if this is your first foray into these tools. After all, great video production will go a long way toward becoming an Internet sensation.

Modern car data systems lack security

Tomorrow a team of researchers will present their paper on Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile (PDF) at the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy. Much like the racing simulators we’ve seen they’re exploiting the ODB-II port to get at the vehicle’s Controller-area network, or CAN-bus. We’re not surprised at all that they can display custom text on the dashboard display or read sensor data from the car. What does surprise us is their exposé on how truly unsecured the system is. It seems that access to any device on the CAN-bus gives them unobstructed control of the car’s systems. Any device can send commands to any other device. They’ve even found a way to write malicious code to the car’s computer which can be programmed to erase itself in the event of a crash.

Much like RFID the security risks here are basically nill for the vast majority of consumers. We just find it a bit surprising that there’s apparently been little thought put into fortifying the communications between the safety systems such as the brakes on the vehicle. For instance, team experimented with sending random packets over the CAN-bus and stumbled across a way to lock the brake on just one wheel. To us it’s conceivable that a malfunctioning device on the network could start sending out damaged packets and cause a dangerous malfunction like this one.

The 14-page PDF linked above is a page-turner, check it out on your hacked ereader during lunch.

Super quick and cheap trackball

[Elgatoandaluz] has posted this guide on how to tear apart a standard optical mouse and build a custom trackball. He’s using a ping pong ball , mounted above the laser as the trackball itself, which seems like it would be a little lite, but functional. The case is scrap cardboard. We really like that you could toss this together relatively quickly and have a custom layout. He recommends using Sakasa Mouse for inverting the axes and X-control for mapping the buttons(direct download).