Metroid helmet takes Halloween costuming to a higher level

Hackaday writer [Ryan Fitzpatrick], aka [PlatinumFungi], recently put together this amazing Metroid Power Suit helmet as a prop for a [Mike n Gary], on youtube. How amazing is it? This image is an actual photograph of the helmet! It’s being modeled by [Kelly Johnson], who built a power suit costume for a previous Halloween. But she never made a helmet, which makes sense to us. After all, how are you supposed to talk to anyone while wearing a helmet? Practicality aside, it is a delight to walk through the fabrication process.

[Ryan] started with a motorcycle helmet, making paper templates based on images from the game. After he had a reasonable road map for the work that needed to be done he started cutting away the parts which he didn’t need. The ‘beak’ on the front was then fabricated from paperboard, with the fins on the side sculpted from rigid foam. But there’s still a lot of work to be done from that point. Sure, the internal lighting and colored visor are necessary touches, but it’s the paint job and ‘distressing’ steps that make this look so realistic.

Looks like we’ve exceeded his bandwidth due to the tons of pictures he had of the process. Check out the video after the break.

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Driving an LCD character display using custom HID codes

Here’s an external display meant to help you keep track of your computer’s status. It connects via USB and is driven by a PIC microcontroller. It listens for a small set of commands, using those to implement a simple control protocol to drive the screen.

[Andrew Gehringer] designed the device around a PIC 18F2550, which offers native USB control. He’s using Microchip’s USB stack to enumerate the module as an HID device. It listens for commands 0x10 through 0x23. These clear the display, write strings to each of the four lines of the display, and switch the LCD backlight. Of course the project includes a program [Andrew] wrote to feed the display. It  has a GUI which let’s him decide what information is displayed and how it is formatted. This helper app hangs out in the system tray for easy access.

Hacking Facebook to remove the social value facade

We see [Ben Grosser's] point that all the metrics found on the Facebook user interface make the experience somewhat of a game to see if you can better your high score. He thinks this detracts from the mission of having social interactions that themselves have a value. So he set out to remove the ‘scores’ from all Facebook pages with a project he calls the Facebook Demetricator.

You can see two UI blocks above. The upper offering is what a normal user will see. The lower is the page seen through the lens of the Demetricator. [Ben's] feels it doesn’t matter how many people like something or share something, but only that you are genuinely interested in it. With the numbers removed you’re unlikely to follow the herd mentality of only clicking through to things that are liked by a huge number of people. He explains this himself in the clip after the break.

The Demetricator works much like the Reddit Enhancement Suite. It’s a browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari that selectively strips out the metrics as the page renders.

Brute force used to crack a key logger’s security code

The USB device seen plugged in on the right of this image was found in between the keyboard and USB port of the company computer belonging to a Senior Executive. [Brad Antoniewicz] was hired by the company to figure out what it is and what kind of damage it may have done. He ended up brute forcing an unlock code to access the device, but not before taking some careful steps along the way.

From the design and placement the hardware was most likely a key logger and after some searching around the Internet [Brad] and his colleagues ordered what they thought was the same model of device. They wanted one to test with before taking on the actual target. The logger doesn’t enumerate when plugged in. Instead it acts as a pass-through, keeping track of the keystrokes but also listening for a three-key unlock code. [Brad] wrote a program for the Teensy microcontroller which would brute force all of the combinations. It’s a good thing he did, because one of the combinations is a device erase code hardwired by the manufacturer. After altering the program to avoid that wipe code he successfully unlocked the malicious device. An explanation of the process is found in the video after the break.

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Scratch-built motor uses a clever design

[Lou] is on a hot streak when it comes to interesting builds. This time around he made his own motor using wood, PVC, some fasteners, and a bunch of enameled wire.

His method of building a commutator is intriguing. He first builds a rotor by cutting two opposing sides off of a PVC four-way connector and pushing a short galvanized pipe through what’s left. After adding two PVC nubs with caps and nails as pivot points he wraps the PVC and metal pipe with a continuous length of enameled wire. The enamel is then sanded off the windings around the PVC, and half is covered with electrical tape. The spinning rotor will cause the brushes to contact the bare wire during half of the rotation, and be insulated by the tape during the other half. The video after the break shows the motor in action, then walks you through each step of the build.

If you liked this video you should check out [Lou's] water bottle rocket launcher, or his automated Ping Pong table topper which stores the game in the ceiling.

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.NET for the STM32 F4 Discovery board

Here’s a technique that will let you use the .NET framework on an STM32 Discovery board. [Singular Engineer] was happy to learn that the .NET Micro Framework had been ported for STM32 chips. It’s doesn’t look like the port has hit a stable version yet, but these instructions will be enough to get you up and running. This lets you use managed code in the C# language to program an embedded device: the STM32 F4 Discovery board.

After flashing a new bootloader to the board a driver needs to be added for Windows to communicate with it. Above you can see that the board will enumerate as ‘STM32 .Net Test’. Once the driver is installed the rest of the firmware can be loaded on the board using a GUI supplied with the NETMF for STM32 package. That takes care of prepping the hardware, the rest is a painless process of configuring Visual Studio to use the board as a target. The ‘Hello World’ application then uses C# to blink an LED.

Rewiring a free carnival sign

Late last September, Hackaday along with other hackerspaces including North Street Labs, 1.21 Jigawatts, Maker Twins, made their way to the NYC Maker Faire via the Red Bull Creation contest. The objectives of the contest were simple: build a game in 72 hours, have people vote on it, and join the Red Bull crew in Queens for a carnival-like atmosphere.

When the Maker Faire was over, Red Bull had some leftover props from their Midway at Maker Faire setup, including a few illuminated carnival signs. Without any use for them, they graciously gave Hackaday, North Street, Maker Twins and the Jigawatts the signs to their respective rides.

Now that things have settled down and the rides have returned to their home base, the folks over at North Street decided to improve their sign. At Maker Fair, these signs were illuminated by 50 incandescent bulbs, all wired on the same circuit. [Steve] over at North Street had the awesome idea of adding a persistence of vision aspect to the sign, so work began on wiring every fourth bulb in series.

To drive the light circuits, North Street repurposed the Arduino Relay shield originally used for the lights on the Centrifury, their competitive centrifuge and spinning hell of a game. In the video after the break, you can see the addition of POV lights really brings out the carnival atmosphere. A literally brilliant build, and a wonderful addition to the scariest game ever made.

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