Getting a Nest thermostat to work in Europe

[Julian] was really excited to get his hands on a Nest learning thermostat. It’s round, modern design will make it a showpiece in his home, but he knew there would be a few hiccups when trying to take advantage of its online features. That’s because [Julian] lives in Spain, and Nest is only configured to work in North America. But as you can see above, he did a bit of hacking to get it displaying his actual location.

The Nest is web-connected and phones home to the company’s server to handle configuration. Since they’ve made the decision to only support a portion of the world [Julian] had to do a little bit of digging to bend it to his will. He used Wireshark to sniff the packets it was sending. The calls to the company’s server use SSL, but the device also contacts the Weather Underground for data and this is not encrypted. So he was able to intercept that with his router and inject custom information. It’s not a full solution, but he’s part way there.

We’d really like to see what is possible with this device so please send us a link to any Nest hacks of your own.

stcdude is Linux friendly ISP programming software for STC 8051 chips

[Andrew] picked up a handful of these big STC 8051 chips for a song and dance. The problem he has with them is the clunky VB6 programming software that only wants to run on a Windows box. He buckled down and wrote his own programming software called stcdude. As you have probably guessed, it’s meant to perform the same open-source functions that avrdude does for AVR chips. It can be used in conjunction with the Small Device C Compiler (SDCC).

It uses an API which is based on Lua script. We think this is to make it easy to interface your own hardware programmer with the software. The package is still quite early in development but it is working and even implements the ability to poll and identify the type of chip based on its stored hardware database. It sounds like he could use a hand. The stock software must still be used for setting the MCU options. We’re not really familiar with the 8051 family but we’d bet that is akin to setting the fuses on the AVR chips. Please let us know in the comments if we’re wrong about that.

There’s a friggin’ cellphone in the most recent Entertainment Weekly

Hackaday readers were stumbling over each other to send in a link about this Android cellphone inside of an Entertainment Weekly magazine. Thanks to all who sent it in, and keep them coming. We’d rather get too many tips than none at all!

The first thing we should address is the discomfort you will feel while watching the video after the break. If you’ve got any experience tearing open electronics to see what’s inside you will be physically uncomfortable watching this pair bumble through it. It makes us want to do some MST3K-style overdubbing of the video, but their content ownership claim in the description makes us sure we’d get an immediate take-down notice if we did so.

At any rate, what we have here is some really cool tech you almost certainly will not be able to get your hands on. In the image above you can see the small LCD screen to the right. It comes to life when the page is opened thanks to the sliding switch being pointed to in the image. A few television show promos will play before the device starts scrolling items from the CW Twitter feed. When the hardware is pulled out of the pages there’s some interesting tinkering to be done. Shorting the contacts on the keyboard overlay (about 8 minutes into the video) brings up an Asian-language menu which is pretty obviously Android.

This is not the first time the magazine has done something like this. CBS embedded video a few years back but we’re pretty sure that one didn’t use the full guts of a cellphone. It’s just too bad these issues are so rare (only 1000 are available in two cities) as we had a lot of fun hacking that Esquire issue with the epaper in it.

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Rube Goldeberg mixes in Freerunning; reminds us of human-sized game of Mouse Trap

Yep, those are just some shipping containers being used as dominoes in this very impressive Rube Goldberg machine. The apparatus includes a human element, with freerunners making their way through a whole bunch of obstacles. In fact, if you look closely you’ll see the outline of a man who just jumped from the top of each container to get to the ground. The project is a marketing device for Red Bull, who must have shelled out quite a bit for the setup. We’ve embedded the video after the break where you’ll see they went all out with the filming of the device.

To tell you the truth we kind of wish that a Rube-Goldberg build had been the goal of this year’s Redbull Creation Contest. It would have been all but impossible to go this big, but some of the stages (like a suspended bath tub slowly draining its reservoir of water) would have been easy to make happen. Well, there’s always next year!

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LED cyber eyes; more nerdy than just taping your glasses

Regular glasses are okay, but these light up and respond to your movement. [Dr. Iguana] is at it again, designing a very interestingly shaped PCB to augment your visual augmentation devices.

The circuit board has two thin curving wings which conform to the shape of a pair of glasses. In the middle there’s a larger area that holds most of the components but it’s still smaller than a common coin cell battery that powers the device. Over each eye there are a half dozen red LEDs which are driven by a PIC 12F1840. It can flash a bunch of patterns the but the interactivity is the real gem of the project. The doctor included an MMA8450 3-axis accelerometer. As you can see in the clip after the break, shaking your head this way and that will be reflected in the pattern of lights.

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[Ian's] Global Geek Tour: New York

[Ian Lesnet], founder of Dangerous Prototypes and Hackaday alumnus, entertains us once again with his Global Geek Tour. This time around he’s visited New York City for the Open Source Hardware Summit, Maker Faire, and a tour of the geeky attractions the city has to offer.

There’s a 25-minute video embedded after the break. [Ian] starts off with an homage to [Anthony Bourdain] but don’t worry, that subsides after a couple of minutes. This year he skipped the hotel and rented an apartment in the village for the same price. After making a survey of the local food offerings he heads off to the OSH Summit. There are interviews with a lot of big names in the industry, as well as a look at some distillery hardware and a mobile hackerspace built in an old ambulance acquired from Craig’s list (go figure). Next it’s a tour of Hack Manhattan, a hackerspace from which the screenshot above was pulled. We loved seeing the box labeled “abandoned projects” and were surprised to see the hackerspace is keeping bees. Are there any other spaces doing this? Before heading over to the Maker Faire [Ian] checks out some of the local shops. There’s a stop a Radio Shack, the Makerbot store where even the display cases are 3D printed, and finally a tour of some local component shops.

We’re always entertained by these world travelling videos. Here’s one he did in Seoul, South Korea.

Another Automatic Air Freshener Use

air-freshener-leds-red-on

We’ve seen air fresheners used for many hacks here at hackaday. This one is a bit different as it uses the PIR sensor assembly to turn on LEDs in sequence, rather than reversing a motor. Generally, the motor would be reversed by the fact that this assembly is reversing the voltage on a motor (see [H Bridge] on Wikipedia), but instead it turns on one set of LEDs and then the other.

This works because a diode (the “D” in LED) only allows current to flow one way. The LEDs are reversed with respect to the voltage source, making them come on in sequence. An Arduino or other microprocessor could of course be used to accomplish the same thing (see this [HAD] post about harvesting the PIR sensor only). However, if you had $10 or less to start your hardware hacking career, this is yet another way an air freshener can be hacked up to do your bidding.

Be sure to see the video of this simple hack after the break, used to “LED-ify” a Star Wars AT-ST painting. If you’re interested in using the gears and motor of an air fresher as well, why not check out this post on remotely triggering a camera with the internals from a time-based model? [Read more...]