Two motor walking robot with a TI Launchpad

Last month, [Vinod] bought a pair of hobby servos on a whim. These servos sat on the shelf for a while until [Vinod] asked his friend what he should use them for. [Achu] suggested using the servos for a walking robot, so after checking out a few YouTube videos of some servo-powered walkers, [Vinod] built his own.

The robot is built around a TI Launchpad housing an MSP430 microcontroller. An extremely simple circuit (just some servos and a cap) power the robot along by alternating the direction the servos turn.

[Vinod]‘s two-servo locomotion mechanism is very reminiscent of BEAM robots, extremely simple walking (or rolling) robots made out of just a few logic circuits. This TI Launchpad is in some ways even simpler; where [Mark Tilden]‘s Walkman robot used several 74-series octal buffers, [Vinod]‘s project is just a Lanuchpad and a pair of servos.

All the code is available on [Vinod]‘s blog. Check out the demo video after the break.

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Turning an IBM Selectric into a printer.

In the days when computers took up an entire room, a CRT monitor was a luxury. Most of the time, input and output was handled with a teletype – a typewriter connected directly to the computer. [Josh] wanted his own typewriter terminal, so he took apart an IBM Selectric II and got to work.

Instead of an electronic keyboard, the IBM Selectric II uses and electromechanical keyboard to tilt and rotate the Selectric’s typeball. In normal operation, a series of shafts underneath the keyboard are engaged. [Josh] added parts of an erector set to those levers and tied each one to one of 16 solenoids.

With a set of solenoids able to print any key with the help of an Arduino, [Josh] had a fully automated typewriter from the early 1970s. [Josh has been printing out a lot of ASCII art lately in preparation for the Kansas City Maker Faire later this month. You can check out the build videos after the break.

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Scraping blogs for fun and profit

Sometimes when you’re working on a problem, a solution is thrown right at your face. We found ourselves in this exact situation a few days ago while putting together Hackaday’s new retro edition; a way to select a random Hackaday article was needed and [Alexander van Teijlingen] of codepanel.net just handed us the solution.

To grab every Hackaday URL ever, [Alex] wrote a small Python script using the Beautiful Soup screen scraping library. The program starts on Hackaday’s main page and grabs every link to a Hackaday post before going to the next page. It’s not a terribly complex build, but we’re gobsmacked a solution to a problem we’re working on would magically show up in our inbox.

Thanks to [Alex], writing a cron job to automatically update our new retro edition just got a whole lot easier. If you’d like to check out a list of every Hackaday post ever (or at least through two days ago), you can grab 10,693 line text file here.

Brute forcing the password on a terribly insecure hard drive

While at work one day, [Marco] was approached by a colleague holding a portable USB hard drive. This hard drive – a Freecom ToughDrive – has a built-in security system requiring a password every time the drive is mounted. Somewhat predictably, the password on this hard drive had been lost, so [Marco] brute forced the password out of this drive.

The Freecom ToughDrive requires a password whenever the drive is plugged in, but only allows 5 attempts before it needs to be power cycled. Entering the passwords was easy to automate, but there was still the issue of unplugging the drive after five failed attempts. [Marco] called upon his friend [Alex] to build a small USB extension cable with a relay inserted into the 5 V line. An easy enough solution after which the only thing needed was the time to crack the password.

The rig successfully guessed the password after 500 attempts, or after cycling the power 100 times. This number is incredibly low for getting a password via brute force, but then again the owner of the hard drive was somewhat predictable as to what passwords they used.

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