More POV fan message hacking

[Zach’s] company is all about the safety and to reinforce those ideals they handed out POV display fans to each employee. “Being Safe is Cool”, get it? Gimmicky… yes, but now [Zach’s] got a tiny little POV fan to hack. Although he may not have known it, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this hardware. These fans were handed out as a promotion at Black Hat a couple of years ago and prompted some reverse engineering action. The message is stored on an EEPROM and there’s even a female programming header that makes it easy to write reflash it with your own messages if you know how to craft the data.

This is where the two products diverge. The older project uses a serial connection and PonyProg to dump and data. [Zach] first tried using his Bus Pirate to dump the data but after having no success he grabbed his Arduino and managed to get the job done. Once the message encoding protocol was worked out, he wrote a sketch to flash the EEPROM. So if you can get your hands on one of these the work has already been done. See [Zach’s] custom messages in the video after the break.

But we’d like to see this taken to the next level. How about a wall-mounted device that waits for something, like an incoming email or tweet, then spins up the fan to display it?

23 thoughts on “More POV fan message hacking

  1. Nothing makes this site feel as hacked together as the spelling, grammar, and editing.. even if the crew only took a minute to figure out the difference between your/you’re, its/it’s, it would add a lot to the quality of this site!

  2. of course it shines a bad light on the author when even people like me whose first language isnt english see the mistakes. however in life shit happens and nobody is perfect. futhermore i dont see you give mike a pad on the back for every perfect articles he wrote so far so just stop complaining…..
    more on topic it definitively would be nice to be able to change the message at runtime…

    1. i’m sure he could re-use the connections and just replace the microcontroller and code his own POV stuff to work with it.

      1. replace the micro controller?
        wow..great idea …
        but, why not replace the fan?

        and..why use a fan? why not using a air conditioner?

  3. not > now
    some(first one) > saw
    two > to

    can we please get this commenter to chill out and find him/her a link to the commenter’s etiquette thread? :)

  4. You missed “employ” “employee” and “this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this hardware before.” “this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this hardware” or “we’ve seen this hardware before.”

    Can you guys at least send your posts to one other HAD writer for proofreading before posting?

  5. This is brilliant!
    I wish I could understand everything explained in the blog post so I could play with a similar fan in a mail notification project. Well done to this guy.
    Also, people complaining about grammar should better keep playing scrabble with their grandma instead of filling annoying comments here.
    Thank you

  6. I got pissed off trying to read the article. The quality of English used in the articles on HaD is notoriously bad, but this is the worst I’ve seen for quite some time.

    It’s a shame because I usually don’t even bother reading to the end when they’re written as badly as this.

  7. Looks like this whole “Don’t troll please” is over. So I have a hint for HaD team: if you can’t employ a corrector, maybe add a button “Report spelling errors” below article. This way we can report them without spamming comments section. This also could be connected with High Voltage Hacks and when there is more than three errors in a post, author get’s zapped.
    Also – when will you finish fixing you css styles?

  8. I write better in quick text messages than HAD writers do in their entries. Have a little pride in what you’re doing…

  9. I have one of these fans and I wondered about changing the propaganda to something with a little more gusto… :)

    Also to HaD, I quit reading your summary blurbs, I look at the pretty pictures, and then click the first link you include.

  10. Would like to see the actual pinout for the 5 pin connector.

    I got one of these and hope it will save me the risk of breaking it.

    1. If you position the hub so that the header is on the right side (with the fan pointed at you), the pins are (top->bottom) DATA,Vcc,CLK,GND,PA0.

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