Fake PS3 tracks thieves all the way home

ps3_tracking_system

One of [Wayne’s] relatives had their house robbed during a blizzard/extended power outage, and as is typically the case, none of the stolen items were recovered. His nephew’s PS3 was among the pilfered belongings, which didn’t sit well with him. Taking a cue from police “bait cars”, he thought it would be cool to fit a dummy game console with a tracking device, should anything similar happen in the future.

He bought a hollowed out PS3 shell on eBay, filling it with an Arduino, an accelerometer, a GPS sensor, a small GSM modem with a prepaid SIM card, and a reasonably sized LiPoly battery. The system usually sits in a sleeping state, but when the accelerometer senses motion, the Arduino powers up the GSM modem and sends an SMS security alert to his mobile phone. Using his phone to control the tracking system via SMS, he can request GPS coordinates and directional information, which can then be relayed to the police.

His tracking system is a great idea since hawking stolen game consoles are easy money for thieves. If there happens to be a string of robberies in your neighborhood, you could certainly rest a little bit easier knowing that your Playstation doppelganger will let you know if someone is looting your house.

Passive RFID tag cloning

Here’s an open source RFID cloner design that is about the same size as a standard RFID key card. It doesn’t need a battery to capture key codes, just the magnetic field generated by an RFID reader. You can see the functionality demonstrated in the video after the break. By holding the bottom button as the cloner is moved in range of the RFID reader, the microcontroller goes into learning mode. Now just hold up the card you wish to clone and the LED just above the buttons will light up when it has captured the code. Now the device will act just as the original RFID tag did.

This was developed by [Ramiro], the same person who built the barebones RFID emulator we saw a few days ago. When researching that story we complete skipped over this gem. He’s posted a ton of information on the tag itself. It doesn’t look like he has any PCBs or kits left, but the schematic and code are available for download. You should check in on the design considerations section because it discusses the read/write function that isn’t built into the current version. That’s why you see some add-on components on the hardware used in the demo video.

It seems like this is a lot more user-friendly than the last RFID spoofer we looked at.

[Read more...]

New BigDog video doesn’t fail to impress

Those following the evolution of quadrupedal assist robots will recognize the specimen seen above as a relative of BigDog. This is AlphaDog, one of the latest prototypes in Boston Dynamics’ Legged Squadron Support Systems program. It’s designed to carry 400 pounds of payload, which explains the disc weights seen on either side of the torso. Like its diminutive sibling, LittleDog, it’s able to take on all kinds of terrain. Here it’s being tested with boxes full of rocks.

The robot is capable of picking itself up and getting under way again without intervention. The first video after the break shows test footage where the robot starts nearly upside-down and has no trouble righting itself again. When we looked in on a biped version back in 2009 we also linked to the BigDog prototype which showed developers trying to tip it over mid stride. This version has the same balance resiliency.

Also embedded after the break is a video showing the evolution of the design over about seven years of development.

[Read more...]

Basic Micro ATOM Nano Giveaway

basic_micro_atom_nano_giveaway

UPDATE:
As several readers have already noted, these things sold out very quickly – in less than 15 minutes!  Big thanks to Basic Micro!

If you have been considering the purchase of a Basic ATOM Nano product, but you weren’t quite ready to lay down the cash for a dev board and Nano microcontroller, boy to we have a deal for you. The kind folks at Basic Micro informed us that they have 55 Basic ATOM Nano Development boards, complete with Nano 28 microcontrollers that they would like to give away to the Hack a Day community for the low, low cost of $0.

That’s right. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

The dev boards come complete with an LCD header, a small solderless breadboard, USB connectivity, a pair of servo connectors, and more! The Nano 28 is based on the PIC16F886 microcontroller, and features an 8MHz clock,  24 I/O pins, 14K of flash memory, 368 bytes of memory, and 256 bytes of EEPROM storage.

The total value of the package is just around $50, so this is an incredible deal! Basic Micro will even ship your kit to you for free via USPS.

Just add this item to your shopping cart on the Basic Micro site, and use the coupon code “freehack” at checkout – they’ll take care of the rest.

There are a few caveats to this giveaway, and they are as follows:

1) To participate, you must reside within the contiguous United States – i.e. anywhere in the lower 48 (Sorry readers from Alaska or Hawaii!)

2) The offer is limited to one kit per individual. Let’s not be greedy here, give your fellow hackers a chance at this deal as well.

3) Once these dev boards are sold out, they are gone for good. There are no rain checks or back orders available.

4) You must build something cool with your kit and share it with us in our forums or via the tip line*

*Not really, but it would be pretty cool if you did.

[Thanks to Dale at Basic Micro for putting this together for us!]

Get digital plastic surgery thanks to openFrameworks and some addons

[Kyle McDonald] is trying out a new look, at least in the digital world, with the help of some openFrameworks video plugins. He’s working with [Arturo Castro] to make real-time facial substitution as realistic as possible. You can see that [Arturo's] own video has a different take on shading and color of the facial alterations that makes them a bit less realistic than what [Kyle] was able to accomplish (see that clip after the break).

The setup depends on some facial tracking software developed by [Jason Saragih]. That package is wrapped in ofxFaceTracker (already linked at the top of this article) which makes it play nicely with openFrameworks. From there, it’s just a matter of image processing. If you think you’re up to the challenge, grab your own copies of the source code and get to work. We’re shocked by how real this looks, even when [Kyle] grabs his cheeks and stretches them out. If someone can fix some of the artifacts around the edges of the sampled faces this would be ready to use when video-conferencing.

It kind of makes us think of technology seen in The Running Man.

[Read more...]

Cocktail machine minces words

For those living in a magical land of candy, with orange-faced helpers to do their bidding, the ability to taste your words is nothing new. But for the rest of us, the ability to taste what you type in cocktail form is a novelty. [Morskoiboy] took some back-of-the-envelope ideas and made them into a real device that uses syringes as keys, and facilitates the injection of twenty-six different flavorings into a baseline liquid. He figures that you can make each letter as creative as you want to, like representing different alcohols with a letter (T for tequila) or matching them to colors (R for red). Check out the video after the break to see an ‘Any Word’ cocktail being mixed.

This setup is entirely mechanical, and makes us wonder if [Morskoiboy] works in the medical equipment design industry. Each letter for the keyboard is affixed to the plunger on a syringe. When depressed, they cause the liquid in an external vessel (not seen above) to travel through tubing until it fills the proper cavities on a 15-segment display to match the letter pressed. From there the additive is flushed out by the gravity-fed base liquid into the drinking glass. We can’t imagine the time that went into designing all of the plumbing!

[Read more...]

Recreating the first PC

If you’re looking for a simple Ardunio project, why not replicate the first personal computer?

After discovering the Arduino, [Mark] realized recreating really old computers would be a fun project. An Altair 8800 was on the table, but the sheer number of blinkenlights, switches and the Intel 8080 CPU made that a fairly difficult project. After a bit of searching, [Mark] discovered the Kenbak-1, widely regarded as the first personal computer. The Kenbak also had the added bonus of having a very minimal I/O compliment and was built entirely with TTL components.

Since the Kenbak-1 is an extremely simple computer, [Mark]‘s build ended up being fairly minimal. The schematic is only an ATmega328, a few shift registers and a real-time clock for a few added features the OG computer didn’t have. The completed build is programmed by pushing buttons to enter machine code into the mega’s RAM and then executed. [Mark] has a few programs already figured out – a program that counts in binary, a ‘Cylon eye’ and a BCD and binary clock. While the Kenbak-uno doesn’t have the awesome vintage case of the original, it’s still a remarkable build.

Check out the videos after the break for a walk through.

[Read more...]

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