The Hacklet #3

The Hacklet Issue 3

The third issue of The Hacklet has been released. In this issue, we start off with a roundup on the Sci-Fi Contest which recently concluded. After seeing the many great hacks you came up with for that contest, we’re looking forward to seeing what you think of for The Hackaday Prize.

Next up, we take a look at two hacks that deal with switching mains, which is a feature that most home automation projects need. These high voltage switches can be dangerous to build, but one hack finds a safe and cheap way to do it. The next looks at building your own high voltage circuitry.

Finally, we talk about two laser hacks. The first is practical: a device for exposing resins and masks using a laser. The second is just a really big laser, built from hardware store parts. Who doesn’t like big lasers? We definitely like big lasers, and so does the FAA.

The Hacklet #2

2

A new edition of The Hacklet is now available It covers some of our favorite stuff going on in the Hackaday Projects community.

In this edition, we round up a few hacks involving cars. There’s Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, vehicle telematics, and tools to hack into your car’s CAN bus. If you’ve ever wanted to clear that pesky check engine light without paying the dealer, or unlock your car with a smart watch, these are worth a look.

Next up are a bunch of LED hacks. This starts with a DIY theater light, then looks at a portable DJ booth, finishing off with our Evil Overlords’ own LED visualization platform.

Finally, we check out a new 3D printer design. This one uses polar coordinates instead of the Cartesian coordinate system that most printers use. This gives it the unique ability to print with multiple extruders at the same time.

Once again, let us know what you think of this edition in the comments. Our goal is to keep you entertained with some of the coolest hacks on the site.

Building a Final Key

Final Key

Remembering passwords is a pain, and there’s a number of devices out there to make it easier. If you’re looking to roll your own, this guide to building a Final Key will walk you through the process.

We talked about the Final Key before. It’s a one button password manager that encrypts and stores your password. It acts as a virtual serial port for configuration. When you hit the button, it becomes a keyboard and types in the correct password.

The creator has no intentions of making this a commercial project for a number of reasons. Instead, easy build instructions are provided based on the Arduino Pro Micro. The 24LC512 EEPROM can be soldered directly to the Arduino by bending out the DIP legs. A few resistors, a button, and an LED finish off the project. The last step is to fill it with hot glue to prevent tampering.

The Final Key firmware is available on Github, and the case can be ordered from Shapeways. If you’re interested in hardware password management, you can also check out the Mooltipass which is being developed on Hackaday.

[Thanks to Lars for the tip!]

What’s Inside a USB Isolator?

Coil Die

 

In this acid powered teardown, [Lindsay] decapped a USB isolator to take a look at how the isolation worked. The decapped part is an Analog Devices ADUM4160. Analog Devices explains that the device uses their iCoupler technology, which consists of on chip transformers.

[Lindsay] followed [Ben Krasnow]‘s video tutorial on how to decap chips, but replaced the nitric acid with concentrated sulphuric acid, which is a bit easier to obtain. The process involves heating the chip while applying an acid. Over time, the packaging material is dissolved leaving just the silicon. Sure enough, one of the three dies consisted of five coils that make up the isolation transformers. Each transformer has 15 windings, and the traces are only 4μm thick.

After the break, you can watch a time lapse video of the chip being eaten by hot acid. For further reading, Analog Devices has a paper on how iCoupler works [PDF warning].

[Thanks to Chris for the tip!]

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Sublime Text as an Arduino IDE

Stino IDE

If you’ve played with an Arduino, you’ve probably been frustrated by the IDE. It works, but it’s not the best editor. It’s especially painful for bigger files and larger projects. The Stino plugin for Sublime Text aims to solve this issue by bringing the full functionality of the Arduino IDE to the Sublime Text editor.

Sublime Text is a powerful text editor with support for most programming languages. What it’s missing is support for compiling and uploading code to an Arduino. Stino bridges that gap. Sublime is a commercial product, and retails for $70 USD. However Sublime does have an indefinite trial period, so Stino can be evaluated for free. Stino itself is an open source plugin written in Python, and you can contribute to the project on Github.

After installing Sublime and Stino, you point the plugin at an Arduino install folder. It then allows you to build and flash directly from the editor. For anyone who’s been frustrated with the Arduino IDE, this looks like a slick solution.

[Thanks to Matt for the tip!]

Sniffing Vending Machine Buses

Sniffing the Multidrop Bus

 

We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

Raspberry Pi Remote Audio Link

Hardware for remote audio link

 

In broadcast, lots of people are still using dedicated analog lines to connect remote sites. These operate like old telephone systems: you call up the operator and request to be patched through to a specific site. They’re also rather expensive.

For a hospital radio station, [Marc] wanted to replace the old system with something less costly. The result is his Raspberry Pi STL in a Box. Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi, PiFace display, a pair of meters, and some analog hardware for the audio.

On the software side, the system uses LiquidSoap to manage the stream. LiquidSoap uses a language to configure streams, and [Marc] has a write-up on how to configure LiquidSoap for this application. On the hardware side, SSM2142 ICs convert the signal from single-ended to balanced. The meters use the LM3915 bar drivers to control the meters.

The Python script that controls the box is provided, and could be helpful for anyone needing to build their own low-cost audio link.

 

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