HOPE X: Lock Picking and Lock Sport

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HOPE X is happening. There are tons of people here. Tons. So many that people (including me) have been turned away at the door for popular talks. Overall, we are having a great time and meeting some interesting people.

I admit to having zero lock picking experience. It’s something I’ve thought would be neat to learn about for a long time. Well, today was the day…. I attended the “Lockpicking, A Primer” presentation and it was great. They started with the basics, discussing the appeal of lock picking and where organized Lock Sport started. The presentation consisted of excellent graphics and clear explanations of the lock picking process. They went over the anatomy of a lock and how they work as well as the tools used and tool types. The talk also progressed into more advanced topics. There is even a lock picking village where you give it a go. I’ll be trying it out for sure.

Couldn’t make it to NYC for the event? All of the talks are streamed live. You’ve probably heard that Hackaday has a booth at HOPE this year. Swing by and say hi. You could probably convince us to give you a shirt!

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Apple ][ Graphics as your Screensaver or Second Screen

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Hipsters rejoice, you can actually make those high-tech IPS panels look like crap. Really nostalgic crap. [Kaveen Rodrigo] wrote in to show how he displays weather data as his Apple ][ emulated screensaver.

2014-07-08-234300_1366x768_scrotHe’s building on the Apple2 package that is part of the xscreensaver available on Linux systems. The program has an option flag that allows you to run another program inside of it. This can be just about anything including using it as your terminal emulator. [Adrian] recently sent us the screenshot shown here for our retro edition. He is running bash and loaded up freenet just to enjoy what it used to be like in the good old days.

In this case, [Kaveen] is using Python to pull in, parse, and print out a Yahoo weather json packet. Since it’s just a program that is called when the screensaver is launched, you can use it as such or just launch it manually and fill your second monitor whenever not in use.

We gave it a whirl, altering his code to take a tuple of zip codes. Every hour it will pull down the data and redraw the screen. But we’ve put enough in there that you’ll be able to replace it with your own data in a matter of minutes. If you do, post a screenshot and what you’re using it for in the comments.

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Beamboarder Lets You Skate at Night; Won’t Blind Oncoming Traffic

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Whether you use your longboard as transportation or pleasure riding, night-time sessions can be harrowing if you’re screaming through poorly-lit places. The Beamboarder is a solution that is simple to build and easy to throw in a backpack whenever that giant ball of fire is above the horizon.

Boiled down it’s a high-power LED and a Lithium battery. How’s that for a hack? Actually it’s the “garbage” feel of it ([Lyon's] words, not ours) that makes us smile. An old hard drive with as high of a capacity as possible was raided for parts. That sounded like a joke at first but the point is that early, large drives have bigger magnets inside. You need a really strong one because that’s all that will hold the LED to the front truck of our board. From there it’s a matter of attaching a CREE LED with thermal adhesive and wiring it up to the Lithium pack that has been covered in shrink tube to keep the elements out.

The headlight is under the board, which is courteous to oncoming traffic. Once you pull off this hack we’re sure you’ll want to go further so we suggest wheels with LED POV displays and there’s always the option of going full electric.

Quick and Dirty RFID Door Locks Clean up Nice

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[Shawn] recently overhauled his access control by fitting the doors with some RFID readers. Though the building already had electronic switches in place, unlocking the doors required mashing an aging keypad or pestering someone in an adjacent office to press a button to unlock them for you. [Shawn] tapped into that system by running some wires up into the attic and connecting them to one of two control boxes, each with an ATMega328 inside. Everything functions as you would expect: presenting the right RFID card to the wall-mounted reader sends a signal to the microcontroller, which clicks an accompanying relay that drives the locks.

You may recall [Shawn's] RFID phone tag hack from last month; the addition of the readers is the second act of the project. If you’re looking to recreate this build, you shouldn’t have any trouble sourcing the same Parallax readers or building out your own Arduino on a stick, either. Check out a quick walkthrough video after the jump.

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We’re at HOPE X

For the next three days, Hackaday will be live, in the flesh, at Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. It’s HOPE X, the biennial conference for hackers, code crackers, and slackers put on by the awesome folks at 2600.

Highlights of the event include a keynote from [Daniel Ellisburg]a video conference with [Edward Snowden], and a whole bunch of other stuff. Hackaday has a booth (thanks, overlords!) on the mezzanine right with the other vendors, right behind the Club-Mate table.

We’ll be putting up random updates from HOPE the entire weekend. If you’re visiting, stop by and we might have a t-shirt for you.

The Hackaday Prize Rules Update and Entry Date Extension

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AMENDMENT TO HACKADAY CONTEST OFFICIAL RULES

Hackaday has been hard at work making sure the requirements to qualify for The Hackaday Prize are well understood. Recently we published a FAQ to help answer questions, and we updated the main contest page to make information easier to find. We are also publishing a pair of “walkthrough” videos that show just how easy it is meet these requirements. In light of these clarifications, and the availability of these helpful resources, we have decided to extend the deadline for entries from 8/4/14 to 8/20/14, and to make minor changes to a couple of requirements in the Official Rules. Here’s a summary:

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Backyard Brains: Controlling Cockroaches, Fruit Flys, And People

[Greg Gage] and some of the other crew at Backyard Brains have done a TED talk, had a few successful Kickstarters, and most surprisingly given that pedigree, are actually doing something interesting, fun, and educational. They’re bringing neuroscience to everyone with a series of projects and kits that mutilate cockroaches and send PETA into a tizzy.

[Greg] demonstrated some of his highly modified cockroaches by putting a small Bluetooth backpack on one. The roach had previously been ‘prepared’ by attaching small electrodes to each of its two front antennas. The backpack sends a small electrical signal to the antennae every time I swiped the screen of an iPhone. The roach thinks it’s hitting a wall and turns in the direction I’m swiping, turning it into a roboroach. We seen something like this before but it never gets old.

Far from being your one stop shop for cockroach torture devices, Backyard Brains also has a fairly impressive lab in the basement of their building filled with grad students and genetically modified organisms. [Cort Thompson] is working with fruit flies genetically modified so a neuron will activate when they’re exposed to a specific pulse of light. It’s called optogenetics, and [Cort] has a few of these guys who have an ‘I’m tasting something sweet’ neuron activated when exposed to a pulse of red light.

Of course controlling cockroaches is one thing, and genetically engineering fruit flies is a little more impressive. How about controlling other people? After being hooked up to an EMG box to turn muscle actuation in my arm into static on a speaker, [Greg] asked for a volunteer. [Jason Kridner], the guy behind the BeagleBone, was tagging along with us, and stepped up to have two electrodes attached to his ulnar nerve. With a little bit of circuitry that is available in the Backyard Brains store, I was able to control [Jason]‘s wrist with my mind. Extraordinarily cool stuff.

There was far too much awesome stuff at Backyard Brains for a video of reasonable length. Not shown includes projects with scorpions, and an improved version of the roboroach that gives a roach a little bit of encouragement to move forward. We’ll put up a ‘cutting room floor’ video of that a bit later.

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