Ice Tube Clock GPS

Our favorite Soviet-Era display that found its way into a present-day kit now displays time from orbiting satellites. A GPS module patched into an Ice Tube Clock with modified firmware will be able to provide a satellite-synced time. The firmware, modified by yours truly, parses the GPS module’s NMEA RMC sentences for the time and date information and then updates the clock’s time and date. Fun was had making sure the alarm went off at the correct times when the time was updated by the GPS. Overall, it was a fun project and we look forward to seeing additional Ice Tube Clock hacks.

Solar MintyBoost

We first wrote about the MintyBoost back in 2006. Today, Adafruit has created a tutorial for making a solar powered MintyBoost. Using a MintyBoost, a solar panel, LiPo battery and a charger, they built on their Solar LiPoly tutorial. They fed the power tap output of the LiPoly charger into the battery input of the MintyBoost to perform the voltage step-up for USB devices. Based on an instructable that used SparkFun parts, this tutorial shows how to use parts that are available from one source. We hear that there will be some evolution of the MintyBoost coming down the line that will including charging capabilities.

3D Printed MakerBot

[Webca] has made a 3D printed MakerBot with his MakerBot. Using five pounds of plastic, the design replaces all of the plywood used to create a regular MakerBot. This complements the existing designs for the 3D printed extruders, dinos, and other parts already on Thingiverse. An interesting mile marker in the history of 3D printing. We might make one after we make a Mendel and tons of Hack a Day Badges. We also look forward to improvements people will contribute to the design such as using less plastic or a parameterized design to make a really big (or small) MakerBot.

Parallax RFID Reader for Ten Bucks

We  received a tip about Radio Shack putting Parallax’s RFID reader on clearance for around $10. The only reference we could find that indicated Radio Shack sold the reader was a review page. The reader originally sold for around $50 in the stores, so getting it for $10 made it worth a curiosity trip to a local Radio Shack. The store we visited did not have the reader marked down in the drawer, but it rang up for $9.97. It is too bad that the reader was so expensive in the first place, otherwise Radio Shack might still be selling them at full price. This is by no means a promotion, we just though we would share the information in case you were interested in getting one yourself. If Radio Shack is out, you could always build your own reader.

The reader we purchased only came with one tag, perhaps that is why the they have been on clearance. Hooked up to an FTDI USB to serial cable, it would repeatedly send out the tag’s number whenever it was in range. We tried an HID-labeled card and a tag of the kind that can be found in books and DVD cases. Neither worked with the reader, but we’ll keep looking.

Thanks to [bluewraith] for the tip.

Hack Your Crystal’s Frequency

[Drone] tipped us off about [Joachim]‘s efforts to alter a crystal’s frequency. Through a process called penning, a crystal’s resonant frequency is lowered by painting the crystal with an indelible ink marker. Our curiosity piqued, we went off  and found more information about penning crystals. It turns out this technique has been around for nearly as long as there have been amateur radio operators. Outside of your local oscillator, and radio jammer, how might you best use a hacked crystal?

SNES Controller + USB + Accelerometer

As we posted about [Atarity]‘s XBMC hiding in an SNES controller, we were finishing work on a tutorial for [Adafruit]. The tutorial combines a Teensy USB development board with a 3D accelerometer inside of an SNES controller. The Teensy is programmed to poll the SNES controller buttons and read the accelerometer values. The buttons are set to keystrokes and mouse buttons, and the accelerometer values are processed into mouse movement. Programmed to play Portal, we created a video showing how to use the device. You can see it after the break.

It was not quite as easy or quick as the typical PC gamer left hand: WASD, right hand: mouse stance. However, we can think of a number of other games that could be improved with the use of a device that, with a bit of hacking, could time keystrokes as the user needed. With a bit more hacking, the device could be made to brute-force passwords. What else would you do with this?

[Read more...]

How-to: Make a Mains Crossover Cable

Update: This How-To was written for April Fools’ Day. It is not advised  you attempt to make or even use this cable. The comments have made it very clear how dangerous to you and others using this cable can be. The image above is not of a full male-to-male cable, only the ground is connected, and the generator is not running.

We all know Ethernet has the crossover cable, cars have jumper cables, and RS232 has the null modem. Well, it is about time our wall sockets get their own crossover cable. This crossover cable is great for running power to a circuit disconnected from power. Maybe you are out of fuses, the breaker is broken or you just don’t want to go check the fuse box when there is a murderer about. This cable makes a great gift for even the most loathsome of acquaintances. [Read more...]