Hacking into your router’s administrative interface


[Arto] recently upgraded his home Internet subscription from an ADSL to VDSL, and with that change received a shiny new ZTE ZXDSL 931WII modem/wireless router. Once he had it installed, he started to go about his normal routine of changing the administrator password, setting up port forwarding, and configuring the wireless security settings…or at least he tried to.

It seems that he was completely unable to access the router’s configuration panel, and after sitting on the phone with his ISP’s “support” personnel, he was informed that there was no way for him to tweak even a single setting.

Undaunted, he cracked the router open and started poking around. He quickly identified a serial port, and after putting together a simple RS232 transceiver, was able to access the router’s telnet interface. It took quite a bit of experimentation and a good handful of help from online forums, but [Arto] was eventually able to upload an older firmware image to the device which gave him the configuration tools he was looking for.

Aside from a few Ethernet timeout issues, the router is now performing to his satisfaction. However, as a final bit of salt in his wounds, he recently read that the admin panel he was originally seeking can be accessed via the router’s WAN interface using a well-known default password – frustrating and incredibly insecure, all at the same time! He says that he learned quite a few things along the way, so not all was lost.

Compaq Portable III rises again for a noble cause

[Autuin] found a Compaq Portable III destined for the scrap bin at Free Geek Vancouver. Upon seeing it he realized that it could still fight;  fight against the tyranny of hipsters and their shiny Macbook Pros at his  local coffee shop. Unfortunately, being a 286, the computer couldn’t do much. He could take the usual route; which is to remove all the internals, and use the vast amount of space to fit a more modern computer inside. However, he decided to go a different path and save the internals, leaving it in original working order. The computer didn’t have enough power to browse the web, but it had just enough room to fit a small single-board computer inside; to which he could connect through serial. He hasn’t taken it down to the coffee shop yet, but we’re hoping for a few horrified hipsters and a full mission report when he does.

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Turning a router into an APRS gateway

[Chris Kantarjiev] is an amateur radio enthusiast (call sign K6DBG) and does a lot with the APRS. We think his build, turning a WRT54gl router into an APRS gateway will be very useful for the APRS tracker builds we’ve been covering.

Setting up an Internet Gateway, or igate, on APRS usually requires a ‘real’ computer. [Chris] didn’t like that idea, so he took aprs4r, igate software for embedded devices, and pruned it down to fit on the 4MB of flash and 16MB of RAM in the WRT.

The actual APRS hardware is connected though headers soldered onto the WRT54gl’s board which go to a small PIC-Based TNC. [Chris] argues that the APRS ‘backbone’ is great, but there aren’t enough nodes on the network for full coverage. We thing this would be a great way to put cheap hardware out in the wild to cover those gaps in the APRS network.

Check out the video for a rundown of the modded WRT54g after the break. If you’re interested amateur radio, Field Day is coming up in just 2 weeks. Find a local club and check out what’s possible with amateur radio.

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Repairing a broken microwave keypad


[Alexandre Souza] needed a microwave pretty badly, but he didn’t have a lot of cash on hand. He located one for a great price, but once he got home he found that things weren’t working quite like they should be (Google translation).

After some investigation, he narrowed the problem down to a bad keypad membrane. Unfortunately for him, this model of microwave was never sold in Brazil (who knows how it got there) and the only membrane he could track down had to be shipped in from the US at a cost of $80.

Rather than pay such a high price for a simple membrane, he opted to fix the microwave himself. He dismantled the control panel and thoroughly traced the keypad matrix to get an understanding of which pins toggled which functions. With a piece of protoboard and almost two dozen push buttons in hand, he built his own keypad and wired it directly into the microwave’s control board.

With labels written in marker it might not be the nicest looking thing you have ever seen, but it works a treat and is a great money-saving hack.

Experimental music iPad dock

You can buy nice audio breakout equipment for your iPod if you don’t mind breaking the bank. This is partly because the demand is not incredibly high so commercial breakout hardware doesn’t benefit from volume discounts. But it’s also because Apple charges licensing fees for third-party accessories (often referred to as the “Apple Tax”). [Reed Ghazala] decided to side-step the whole situation by building his own accessory which he calls the iPad Audio Desk.

It all starts with a breakout board. The PodBreakout Mini provides an easy to solder interface for the iPad, and ensures that the repetitive act of plugging and unplugging the connection doesn’t break a solder connection. From there [Reed's] enclosure finishing skills take over. The shape and curve of the aluminum sheet give the look befitting an expensive tablet device. Along the back you can see the jacks for line-in, line-out, video, mic/guitar, and headphones that make the dock useful. It wouldn’t be hard to make one… but it might be hard to make one look this great. See for yourself after the break.

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DIY CNC touch probe


[Dennis] recently invested some money in the Tormach Tooling System for his CNC’d Sieg SX3 mill in order to make his tool changes easier. While the kit allows him to easily account for height offsets while changing tools, he has no quick, reliable means of locating the spindle in relation to his workpiece. Tired of manually finding the edges of his workpiece for each axis, he built himself a DIY touch probe to automate the process.

The theory behind the probe’s operation is pretty simple. In the probe’s housing, three conductive rods are mounted perpendicular to the probe tip. Each rod rests between two metal balls forming a complete circuit. When the probe touches the edge of his milling material, the circuit is broken, sending a signal to his CNC control box.

The probe is comprised of several different parts, milled from either aluminum or black delrin. [Dennis] says that after everything was assembled, the runout on the probe was unacceptable, so he made a few tweaks, and now the runout has been reduced to about 0.00025” – well within acceptable tolerance limits for any work he will be doing.

Be sure to check out his site, as there are plenty more pictures of the probe’s construction, as well as additional video.

In the meantime, continue reading to see a quick video of the finished probe in action.

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IOIO now supports Android Open Accessory

After the announcement of the Android Open Accessory ADK, [Ytai] decided he should get the the ADK running on the IOIO Android breakout board.

The first batch of Android ADK boards sold for about $400. While that price has come down considerably, the IOIO is still cheaper and smaller. [Ytai] put the source and all the technical info on his wiki.

Interestingly, this beta build is a little more capable than the Google offering. The IOIO supports the Android Debug Bridge, so it’s able to work with any Android device made since the beginning of time. The IOIO will try to communicate with the device using the Open Accessory standard because of the much better throughput and latency, but will seamlessly fall back to ADB if the device doesn’t support Open Accessory. Open Accessory boards are only comparable with devices running Android 2.3.4 and higher, so it looks like we’ve got a standard breakout board for the $99 Android tablets that fly off the shelves during Christmas.

[Ytai] has gotten a few of his projects on Hack a Day, like his PICMAN prototyping setup and his awesome 2 foot POV globe, so we’re happy to see this very skilled builder finally get his Hack a Day hat trick and enters the ranks of giants like [Sprite_tm]. If you’ve got a great build, send it in and you might be able to join the pantheon of great builders.