Infra is a television made of Infrared pixels

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This television is perfect except for its low resolution and the fact that it can’t be seen by the naked eye. [Chris Shen's] art installation, Infra, uses 625 television remotes as pixels for a TV screen. There’s a little bit of insight to be gained from the details which [Chris] shared with EMSL.

The remote controls were all throw-aways. Even if there are problems with the buttons, battery connectors, or cases, chances are the IR led in each was still functional. So [Chris] patched into them using about 500 meters of speaker wire.

Why 625 pixel? Because that’s how many LEDs the Peggy board can handle. We’ve seen this open source LED board driving video in other projects. Here it’s been connected to each remote using Molex connectors. Each of the headers has the same pitch as a through-hole 5mm LED. The entire board was filled with them, and a mating crimp connector terminates the end of the wire coming out of each remote. This makes setup quite easy as the remotes don’t have to be installed in any particular order as long as the physical location matches Peggy’s grid.

You can get a glimpse of the piece playing video in the clip after the break.

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12-axis sensor adds auto screen orientation to this older tablet PC

screen-orientation-sensors

[Mal'oo] has one of those laptop computers whose screen swivels to turn it into a tablet. But the thing is a few years old and didn’t come with an orientation sensor that changes the screen between landscape and desktop, but also knows which side is up. His solution was to add a 12-axis sensor via the mini PCI express header.

The hardware comes in two pieces. The first is a mini-PCIe card to USB interface. This is handy if you want to add a Bluetooth dongle permanently to your computer. But he’s got other things in mind for it. After hacking the BIOS (which for some reason limits what you can plug into this slot) he moved onto the second part which is a USB 12-axis sensor. This picture shows the wires before they were soldered to the USB card. [Mal'oo] couldn’t just plug it in because the sensor wouldn’t have been oriented correctly in relation to the computer. The final product is quite response, as shown in the clip after the jump. Continue reading “12-axis sensor adds auto screen orientation to this older tablet PC”

How a dial-up modem handshake works

If you’re old enough to have used a dial-up modem we’d bet you can do an imitation of the sounds it made while connecting. Those not-so-beautiful sounds heralded the dawning of a technological era. But few actually know what each of those distinct sounds were doing. Now’s your chance to learn. This post explains each step in the dail-up handshake process.

This may be the most useful infographic we’ve ever seen. Normally we just seem them as gimmicks, but [Oona Räisänen] really put together something special with this one. Her blog post includes an audio clip so that you can play back the full handshake sounds. The main box on the graphic shows the audio spectrum from that clip, with an explanation below it. But you’ll also want to read through her full write-up for a more narrative description.

The part we found the most interesting is that these modems needed to disable the echo suppression used by the telephone system in order to operate at full-duplex. Apparently land lines disabled the speaker while you were talking so that you didn’t hear your own voice. This was a problem if the modem was trying to send and receive at the same time.

[via Reddit]

Getting an Arduino to control a wireless outlet

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[Reza's] methodical investigation of this remote controlled outlet let him patch in with an Arduino using a 433 MHz transmitter. This is a single-device unit, but the techniques used here should allow you to take control of wireless rigs that have multiple modules to control many devices.

We’ve seen some folks at our local hackerspace try to patch into the remote control itself. That used some type of weird button scanning (not just connecting a pin to ground or voltage) and didn’t pan out. [Reza] doesn’t even crack open the case of either of the units seen above. Instead, he goes straight for a wireless receiver he had on hand, using a logic analyzer to capture the signals coming from the remote.

Once he had a good snapshot of the signals sent when pressing the on or off button of the remote he set out to replicate it in his Arduino code. His function called setStateWithDelay takes three parameters: the transmit pin, the level (high or low), and a number of milliseconds to delay. Each signal calls this function many times, but working the bugs out is pretty easy; just capture the signal with the logic sniffer and compare to the stock remote.

Turning the Belkin WeMo into a deathtrap

The Belkin WeMo is a small, WiFi connected outlet controlled by a mobile device that adds Internet control to a desk lamp, coffee maker, or, if you’re feeling daring, your home server. It’s an interesting device, but of course there are a few security implications of having your electric kettle connected to the Internet. [Daniel] was able to get root on his Belkin WeMo and with full control of his Internet-connected outlet was able to turn it into a deathtrap.

[Daniel] says his exploit could be developed into a virus that will scan for WeMo devices. Once these Internet-connected devices are found, it’s easy to turn these devices on and off really fast; something not too dangerous for a desk lamp, but potentially lethal if it’s plugged into a space heater.

In the video after the break, you can see [Daniel] exploiting the WeMo with a flaw in its UPnP implementation. There’s footage of his terminal hacking and of his desk lamp being turned on and off really fast, something that could be very dangerous for higher current devices.

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Letting people on the Internet control your dating experience

charismacheck

Like Cyrano giving advice to Christian from underneath Roxanne’s balcony, now you too can can advise young suitors trying to win the heart of the object of their affection.

[Lauren] had the idea of using objective, third-party observers checking in on her dating activities and giving advice as to what she should do next. Yes, she’s streaming her dates over the Internet and asking for advice from Mechanical Turk workers.

The idea behind this project isn’t that [Lauren] isn’t looking for advice from her own Cyrano, but rather to open up new, previously unexpected possibilities. Turk workers will watch the stream while [Lauren] presents them with options telling her to smile more, laugh, change the subject, or ask a question. [Lauren] receives these results as a text message, where she’ll comply with the Internet’s wishes and hope her date doesn’t go horribly awry.

It’s an interesting project to say the least, but we’ve got to wonder about the quality of the advice given from her online advisers. Turk workers do take their jobs more seriously than random people on the Internet, so barring an invasion from /b/, [Lauren]‘s night might just go alright.

Gas sensor suite built with Gadgeteer modules

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[Blake] just finished a gas sensor suite built from Gadgeteer parts. The three sensors are the cylindrical towers along the left hand side of the assembly. The one at the top (with the orange ring) is an alcohol sensor. The middle one senses ammonia and the lower sensor measures air quality. Also rolled into the mix are temperature and humidity sensors.

You can collect a lot of data with this type of setup. To keep it organized [Blake] used the ThingSpeak interface. Using the NIC in the upper right he uploads the measurements for real-time graphing. The setup is explained in detail in the video after the break, including a test with some cleaning ammonia.

We haven’t tried out the Gadgeteer system for ourselves yet. But you’ve got to admit that the ribbon cable connector system the family of parts uses really helps to keep a rather complicated setup like this one nice and tidy.

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