I need someone to explain this to me.

Hacking cakes with LEDs

led_cake

A large part of science is making mistakes and learning from them in order to make each subsequent design that much better. When your experimentation involves hacking cakes, each failure is an exercise in deliciousness.

[Craig] and his group of research partners often bake electronics-related cakes whenever part of the team departs in search of other opportunities. Over the years, farewell parties have seen renditions of anything from multimeters to quantum computers. This time around, he wanted to make something that contained actual electronics parts, while still remaining edible.

He settled on making an LED matrix inside of a cake, using silver foil wrapped licorice for wires. In the end however, he found the silver foil to be incredibly difficult to work with, and the matrix ended up being little more than a few randomly blinking LEDs.

Even though things didn’t work out quite how he planned, he is not discouraged. The cake was still quite tasty, and through this process he has discovered edible silver paint, which will undoubtedly make it into the next farewell cake.

Hacking analog phones for VOIP

analog_phone

[Tyler] has been using Google Voice extensively for some time now, but he hasn’t quite found a microphone/speaker setup he is happy with. He tried a headset, but that just didn’t do it for him.

While browsing around at his local thrift store, he came across an old Model 500 rotary phone for just a few dollars and decided it just might do the trick. Once disassembled, he mapped out the circuitry and got busy wiring up the handset to a pair of 3.5 mm stereo plugs – one each for the earpiece and microphone.

Once everything was reassembled, he hooked it up to his computer and gave it a spin – success!

While he is happy with how the phone works at the moment, he already has plans for improving it. He is currently looking for a way to use the handset hook to disconnect calls as well as a way to implement the rotary dial for number entry. We think that hacking a Bluetooth headset would easily take care of the first part, as well as eliminate the need for any sort of wired interface to his PC. It would also make it dead simple to use with any other Bluetooth-enabled device such as a cell phone.

We’re pretty sure he is open to implementation suggestions, so let us know what you think.

The LayerOne Hacking conference is around the corner

We just wanted to give a heads up to everyone to remind them that the annual layerOne hacking and security conference is coming up soon. They have announced their speaker line-up which includes talks on home monitoring, lockpicking, mobile malware and tons more. The event is located in Anaheim California on May 28-29.

They sent us sort of a press release with some information on the event and some details on the badge. You can read their email after the break.

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Simple AVR based GPS tracker

The latest project from Lucidscience.com is a simple AVR based GPS tracker. As usual, the instructions here are quite in-depth including schematics and step by step procedures all the way down to modifying cables when necessary. What we found interesting is that the GPS module he’s using is so simple. It only requires 3 wires, one for power, one for serial communication, and one for a heartbeat.

For the microprocessor, he’s using an ATMega 324, which is a bit of processing overkill but he needed the SRAM for the GPS point storage. You could obviously expand to external storage but the goal here was to keep it extremely simple. Actually, there just isn’t a whole lot here other than the microprocessor, the GPS module, and a level converter. After wrapping up the circuit he goes on to explain how to get the data into Google Earth for display. After a few trips around the block you can see the results are quite nice.