Hackaday Links: November 29th, 2012

EMC2 CNC keyboard labels

If you’ve got a dedicated computer running EMC2 for CNC control you may be interested in these keyboard labels. [Rich] mentions that they use the labels for their engraver at the Connecticut Hackerspace. Just print them out and glue them in the face of the keys.

Dev board seminars and freebies

[Mike] wrote in to tell us STM is giving away samples of the STM32 F3 Discovery again. But you can also get in on some free seminars. One is an online webinar for TI’s Launchpad family, the other is for the F3 Discovery board and is being held all around the US.

Replacing batteries with USB power

[Johan] didn’t want to use batteries for the light on the microscope he uses when working with SMT parts. He added a few components with let him power the device from USB instead.

MSP430 VU meter uses FFT

Here’s an MSP430 using Fast Fourier Transform for signal processing. There’s very little explanation, but apparently this collection of FFT related material was used heavily in the project. [via Reddit]

Cell Racr

If you’re looking for a new office game you might consider Cell Racr. It pits your cellphone’s vibrating motor against everyone else’s. Just place the phone on an incline and repeatedly dial its number to advance toward the finish line.

Through hole plating and milling at home

Here’s a PCB fabrication process that makes us envious. It’s pretty darn close to fab-house quality at home. [Cpirius] is using a CNC mill and through hole plating technique to produce his double-sided circuit boards.

The video embedded after the break shows one board from start to finish. It begins with the mill drilling holes through some double-sided copper clad stock. Once the millings have been cleaned off the holes are coated with a mixture of waterproof ink and carbon. This prepares them for plating by making the holes themselves conductive. The board is then run through an electroplating process based on this guide.

Possibly the most interesting part of the process starts 52 seconds into the clip. The mill uses a conductive probe to generate a height map of the entire board. This allows it to vary the routing depth for perfectly cut isolation traces. That final routing process is pictured above.

[Read more...]

MariaMole – an alternate Arduino IDE aimed at advanced users

[Alex] has been working with Arduino for some time now, but always thought it lacked some features which advanced users would really find useful. He decided to devote some free time to fixing the problem and ended up coding an Arduino IDE for more advanced users. A screenshot of his work — called MariaMole — can be seen above. It is obviously different from the standard IDE, bot not so much as to scare off new users.

This is meant to complement the original IDE, so it actually uses those configuration settings as dependencies. Once running, the program allows you to have multiple projects open at once. These are managed with the tree in the left hand column and a series of tabs along the top of the code window. When it comes time to compile and load the sketch you can click one button like normal, or use the program to fine tune your compiler flags, libraries includes, and the like. It also allows for interaction through one or more serial terminal windows. We haven’t tried it ourselves, so please leave a comment with your thoughts after having given it a go.

thanks for the tip [Rodrigo].

phatIO uses file system to control external hardware

[Andrew Smallbone] wrote in with a link to his latest open source project. This is phatIO, a USB I/O device that uses a mass storage file system for control. The idea is that any operating system can manipulate files on a USB storage device. This enumerates as mass storage, and any alterations you make to its file system will result in pin manipulation on the I/O header.

We’ve long been Linux advocates and enjoy the fact that everything on a *nix system is a file. This simply extends the idea across multiple platforms. [Andrew's] guide for the hardware gives an overview of how the system is structured. The top ‘io’ directory contains sub-directories called mode, pins, status, and a few others. Inside the directories are files for each pin. Writing to these files has much the same effect as writing to a data direction register, port register, or reading a pin register on a microcontroller.

The board is not yet in production and the github link to his hardware files gives us a 404 error. But there is code available for several software demos. After the break we’ve included video of the phatIO driving a Larson scanner.

[Read more...]

Science fair project sorts recyclables

This crew of high schoolers built a sorting robot for the Smart Young Mindz challenge. We got pretty excited when hearing that it sorts plastic by its recycling code, but unfortunately this isn’t quite what it’s made out to be. The device uses an RFID code on each product to figure out where it goes. Their thinking is that at some point every product sold will have an embedded tag in it. For now this will not revolutionize the recycling industry, but the build is still impressive. We’re sure they learned a ton from all of the mechanical engineering that went into the project.

You can see the three laundry baskets that serve as the sorting bins. The white box above the bin on the right is the hopper in which a plastic container is placed. The box can then revolve around a central axis to position itself over the correct basket. The floor of the box is then retracted, dropping the refuse in the bin. Check out the video after the break for the satisfying cry of the servo motors at work.

We like seeing recycling robots, but so far most of what we’ve seen are aluminum can crushers.

[Read more...]

Burglar suspected of using Arduino-Onity hack to rob hotel rooms

Can anyone argue against this being the least-secure hotel room lock on the market? Regular readers will recognize it as an Onity key card lock. A few months back a glaring flaw in the security was exposed that allows these locks to be opened electronically in less than a second. So we are not surprised to hear that a series of hotel room robberies in Houston are suspected to have been performed using this technique.

The image above is from a demonstration video we saw back in October. That hack used an Arduino-compatible chip inside of a dry erase marker as an end-run around the lock’s electronics. It reinforced the warning sound by [Cody Brocious] when he presented the exploit at this year’s Blackhat conference. The barrel jack on the outside of the door lock doubles as a 1-wire communications port and that is how an attacker can gain access. Investigators can find no other means of entry for these thefts.

We applaud one of the victims in this story. At the end of the article she is asked if the information about the Onity flaw should have been kept secret. She said that if there’s a vulnerability that’s not being fixed people have a right to know about it. Bravo [Janet Wolf]!

[Thanks Andrew]

Printing puzzles with plastic parts

A decade or so ago, a line of jigsaw puzzles called Puzz3D brought the joys of fitting pieces of cardboard together into three dimensions. If you’ve ever put one together, you’ll remember being slightly disappointed at these 3D puzzles – they were made of two-dimensional foam board and only lived up to their expectations on the vertices of their 3D objects. Now that just about every hackerspace in the land has a 3D printer, it might just be time to create better 3D puzzles, and [Rich Olson]‘s OpenSCAD library is up to the task.

There are a few other tools that cut 3D models up into smaller objects, but none of these had the features [Rich] wanted. He created a library that is able to position the puzzle cuts anywhere on the X and Y axes, adjusts the kerf for a tighter or looser fit, and exports one piece at a time for 3D printers with a smaller build area.

Right now the library is limited to generating up to four interlocking pieces, but [Rich] says the code should be easy to modify for a truly absurd 500-piece puzzle of the Taj Mahal,

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