[Balint]‘s GNU Radio Tutorials

Waterfall

[Balint] has a bit of history in dealing with software defined radios and cheap USB TV tuners turned into what would have been very expensive hardware a few years ago. Now [Balint] is finally posting a few really great GNU Radio tutorials, aimed at getting software defined radio beginners up and running with some of the coolest hardware around today.

[Balint] is well-known around these parts for being the first person to create a GNU Radio source block for the implausibly inexpensive USB TV tuners, allowing anyone with $20 and enough patience to wait for a package from China to listen in on everything from 22 to 2200 MHz. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in that band, including the ACARS messages between airliners and traffic control, something that allowed [Balint] to play air traffic controller with a minimal amount of hardware.

Right now the tutorials are geared towards the absolute beginner, starting at the beginning with getting GNU Radio up and running. From there the tutorials continue to receiving FM radio, and with a small hardware investment, even transmitting over multiple frequencies.

It’s not much of an understatement to say software defined radio is one of the most versatile and fun projects out there. [Balint] even demonstrated triggering restaurant pagers with a simple SDR project, a fun project that is sure to annoy his coworkers.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: The Valve Universe

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While most of the entries to our Sci-Fi contest come from movies and TV shows, a select few are based on the Valve universe, including a few builds based on Portal and Team Fortress 2.

Deadly neurotoxinGLADOS

Who wouldn’t want a gigantic articulated sociopathic robot hanging around? Two groups are building a clone of GLaDOs from the Portal series. and already the builds look really great.

[AmarOk], developed an open-source personal assistant called RORI that intends to be a more helpful version of GLaDOs, without all the testing and killing. He, along with [Peterb0y] and [n0m1s] are turning this personal assistant software into a GLaDOs replica.

Taking a slightly different tack, [Eric] and [jjyacovelli] built a GLaDOs-like robot with a camera in the ‘face’. This camera connects to a Google Glass and tracks the user’s head movements. There’s also a Nerf gun attached to the end of the robot body, triggered by double winking. Yep, it’s a heads-up display GLaDOs, perfect for punishing your test subjects.

Heavy load comin’ through!

Sentry

Not to be out done by a malevolent, hyper-intelligent artificial intelligence, [Tyler] and [Ryan] are building the cutest gat’ dern weapon in all of west Texas. It’s the level one sentry from Team Fortress 2, and the guys are turning one into a paintball sentry.

The TF2 sentry is a cute little bugger capable of motion tracking and perimeter defense, filling enemies with lead should they ever come too close.

While the end result probably won’t be as large or as heavy as the “official” real-life turret, a smaller table-top sized model is probably a little more practical. Even if it doesn’t live up to expectations, upgrading the sentry is simply a matter of whacking it with a wrench a few times.

 

There’s still time for you to cobble together an awesome Sci-Fi project and have a chance to win some awesome prizes.

Sniping 2.4GHz

sniper

A long time ago when WiFi and Bluetooth were new and ‘wardriving’ was still a word, a few guys put a big antenna on a rifle and brought it to DefCon. Times have changed, technology has improved, and now [Hunter] has built his own improved version.

The original sniper Yagi was a simple device with a 2.4 GHz directional antenna taped onto the barrel, but without any real computational power. Now that displays, ARM boards, and the software to put this project all together are cheap and readily available, [Hunter] looked towards ubiquitous computing platforms to make his Sniper Yagi a little more useful.

This version uses a high gain (25dBi) antenna, a slick fold-out screen, and a Raspberry Pi loaded up with Raspberry Pwn, the pentesting Raspi distro, to run the gun. There’s a button connected to the trigger that will automatically search the WiFi spectrum for the best candidate for cracking and… get cracking.

[Hunter] says he hasn’t taken this highly modified airsoft rifle outside, nor has he pointed out a window. This leaves us with the question of how he’s actually testing it, but at least it looks really, really cool.

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Stargate

stargate

The 90s were a remarkable time for Sci-Fi movies, in that there actually were sci-fi movies, and not sequels to a reboot of yet another comic book movie. One of the breakout hits from this era was Stargate, the film and three syndicated television series. With a corpus this large, a few Stargate builds made it into our Sci Fi contest, and from the looks of things, they’re pretty cool.

The Ma’Tok Staff

546381397503980641The Ma’Tok staff is an energy weapon used by Jaffa warriors that fires a concentrated plasma bust over 70 yards. While we question the utility of a weapon that’s only accurate to 70 yards on the battlefield (like, arrows are better, man) [frankstripod] is making his own version. Instead of plasma bolts, it’ll be a hairspray-powered PVC potato cannon.

It’s totally not a tricorder

scannerThe Ancients in Stargate Atlantis had a multifunction handheld device capable of detecting life signs, observing multiple frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, and finding power sources.  Basically, it’s a smartphone that’s not from Star Trek. This scanner became an important piece of commandeered technology, and these guys are building their own. Qi wireless charging, touch screen, IR transceiver, and everything a real tricorder should be.

Wait. Where did he get Naquadah?

Stargate

What good would a post on Stargate builds be without an actual Stargate? [shlonkin] and [dkopta] are doing just that, complete with a rotating right and light-up chevrons. Here’s a video. Video below, of course.

The Sci-Fi contest runs until the end of the month, so there’s still time for you to get in on the action and get your hands on some really great prizes. We’re giving away O’scopes, soldering stations, dev boards, some sweet Sci-Fi prizes, and awesome Hackaday T-shirts.

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The Computer Without A CPU

1bit

[Jeff Laughton] was contacted by a customer that was interested in adding some automated functions to a printing press. Before eventually settling on a microcontroller for the job, [Jeff] went old school and started looking at logic gates, counters, and flip-flops. This lead him to the Motorola 14500 industrial control unit, a minimal processor with only 16 instructions. After a few ‘back of the napkin’ sketches, he came up with an extremely minimal computer that doesn’t use a microprocessor. It’s an interesting design notable not only for its electronic brevity, but also because it only uses one instruction.

The only instruction this computer will ever execute is an input test, the result of which controls a two-way branch. Instructions consist of an input address, output address, and a single bit of data. If the data bit is true, the computer jumps to one location in ROM, and if the data bit is false, a jump to another location is executed.

A computer really isn’t a computer without some form of memory, and this design is no exception. [Jeff] managed to add two bits of data between the 8-bit latch and 8-bit multiplexer in the design. This is enough to call a few subroutines which test the I/O-mapped memory to decide what the next instruction should be.

It’s a truly bizarre design, but actually much closer to a true Turing machine than the computers in your pocket, on your wrist, on your desk, and in your car.

Thanks [James] for the tip!

 

A Light Painting Infrared Ray Gun

gun

[Noe] over at Adafruit has a really great build that combines the Internet’s love of blinkey LEDs and rayguns with the awesome technology behind extraordinarily expensive thermal imaging cameras. It’s a light painting infrared heat gun, used for taking long exposure photographs and ‘painting’ a scene red or blue, depending on the temperature of an object.

While this isn’t a proper FLIR camera, with a DSLR and a wide open shutter, it is possible to take pseudo-thermal images by simply ‘painting’ a scene with the light gun. This is an absurdly clever technique we’ve seen before and has the potential to be a useful tool if you’re looking for leaks around your windows, or just want to have a useful cosplay prop.

The circuit inside this raygun is based on a contactless infrared sensor connected to an Adafruit Gemma, with the LEDs provided by a NeoPixel ring. There are two 3D printable cases – your traditional raygun/blaster, and a more pragmatic wand enclosure. With either enclosure, it’s possible to take some pretty heat map pictures, as seen in the video below.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: The Voight-Kampff Machine

Voight-Kampff

You’re watching a stage play – a banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entrée consists of boiled dog stuffed with rice. The raw oysters are less acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog.

The Voight-Kampff Machine, or VK, from Blade Runner is an extremely advanced form of lie detector that functions on blush response, pupil dilation, respiration, heart rate, and other physiological factors in response to emotionally charged questions to determine if the interrogation subject does or does not dream of electric sheep. It’s also an awesome prop, making it a great subject for our Sci-Fi contest.

You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

[Aven] is building a Voight-Kampff Machine built around a Raspberry Pi with a few small LCDs to display simulated vital signs. There will, of course, be a small webcam showing the subjects face or eye, and a few LEDs that will flash with the same pattern the original had.

You’re reading a magazine. You come across a full-page nude photo of a girl.

[Aven] still has a little bit of work to complete the VK, but there’s still a week and a half left in the contest. More than enough time for you to come up with your own Sci-Fi project and get your grubby mitts on some really awesome prizes.