Reverse Engineering a Blu-ray Drive for Laser Graffiti

There’s a whole lot of interesting mechanics, optics, and electronics inside a Blu-ray drive, and [scanlime] a.k.a. [Micah Scott] thinks those bits can be reused for some interesting project. [Micah] is reverse engineering one of these drives, with the goal of turning it into a source of cheap, open source holograms and laser installations – something these devices were never meant to do. This means reverse engineering the 3 CPUs inside an external Blu-ray drive, making sense of the firmware, and making this drive do whatever [Micah] wants.

When the idea of reverse engineering a Blu-ray drive struck [Micah], she hopped on Amazon and found the most popular drive out there. It turns out, this is an excellent drive to reverse engineer – there are multiple firmware updates for this drive, an excellent source for the raw data that would be required to reverse engineer it.

[Micah]’s first effort to reverse engineer the drive seems a little bit odd; she turned the firmware image into a black and white graphic. Figuring out exactly what’s happening in the firmware with that is a fool’s errand, but by looking at the pure black and pure white parts of the graphic, [Micah] was able guess where the bootloader was, and how the firmware image is segmented. In other parts of the code, [Micah] saw thing vertical lines she recognized as ARM code. In another section, thin horizontal black bands revealed code for an 8051. These lines are only a product of how each architecture accesses code, and really only something [Micah] recognizes from doing this a few times before.

The current state of the project is a backdoor that is able to upload new firmware to the drive. It’s in no way a complete project; only the memory for the ARM processor is running new code, and [Micah] still has no idea what’s going on inside some of the other chips. Still, it’s a start, and the beginning of an open source firmware for a Blu-ray drive.

While [Micah] want’s to use these Blu-ray drives for laser graffiti, there are a number of other slightly more useful reasons for the build. With a DVD drive, you can hold a red blood cell in suspension, or use the laser inside to make graphene. Video below.

Continue reading “Reverse Engineering a Blu-ray Drive for Laser Graffiti”

Fail of the Week: Project Frosty Mug is Merely Chilly

Like many of us, [C] enjoys an ice-cold, refreshing soda while coding. Driven by a strong desire to keep a soda ice-cold indefinitely without using ice, [C] started Project Frosty Mug.

[C]’s stated goal is to keep a 20oz plastic bottle of soda at ~35F indefinitely while it sits in a room temperature environment. He started with a thermoelectric unit to cool an aluminium disc, like a cold coaster. Builds one and two made him realize that dealing with the generated heat was a big issue: it got so hot that it deformed the PLA frame. [C] also realized that bottom-only cooling wasn’t going to get the job done.

This project is now in its third build, which is pictured above. As you can see, it’s more koozie than coaster. That 3-D printed holster is lined with aluminium sheeting. Another flat piece covers the opening and attaches to the cooling element. A beefy CPU heat sink does its best, and a couple of U-brackets hold it all together.

[C]’s tested it with a glass bottle of Diet Sun Drop chilled to 38F. After 30 minutes in an ambient temperature of ~70F, the soda measured 45F. [C] lamented having not used a control bottle for comparison and reports that the power supply became quite warm. [C] isn’t going to give up that easily. Do you have any ideas for the fourth build?

Editor’s Note: This is one of the last Fail of the Week tips we have stored up. If you want to see the series continue on a weekly basis, we need help finding more documented fails! Please look back through your projects and document the ones that didn’t go quite right. We also encourage you to send in links to other fails you’ve found. Just drop the links in our tips line. Thanks!


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Thursday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

 

Palatable Pallet Procurement Procedures

Wooden pallets are a versatile and widely-available starting point for a multitude of projects. Best of all, they can usually be acquired free of charge. But choose the wrong kind of pallet and you could end up paying dearly. [Eric] has compiled a great deal of useful information about pallets that will help you find ideal candidates and prepare them for whatever project you have in mind, be it a coffee table or a backyard roller coaster.

Pallets come in several styles and loader configurations. Some are made with space between the boards, and others are closed. If you take nothing else away from his article, just remember to look for plain, untinted pallets with no markings and you’ll be fine.

No markings means the pallet was used domestically, so markings aren’t required. Marked pallets from abroad should feature the IPPC logo as well as a treatment code indicating the method used on the material. Debarked (DB), heat treated (HT), and pallets with the European Pallet Association logo (EPAL) are all safe choices. Pallets labeled (MB) were treated with methyl bromide, which is a poisonous fungicide. Colored pallets should be avoided as well. If you find one in a cool color, take a picture of it and find some paint in a similar hue.

Safe pallets can be had from many places ranging from hardware stores to feed and tack supply stores. Find someone you can ask for permission to take pallets—they might even help you load them. Keep some gloves in your trunk to avoid splinters.

PVC Percussion Pipe Organ Sounds Surprisingly Good!

PVC Instrument

Using over 20′ feet of PVC pipe, a whole bunch of 2 x 4’s and a few nuts and bolts, [Jeremy] and his cousin put together a rather unique percussion pipe organ.

[Jackson], his cousin who is a musician is always looking for different ways to make music. They had a rough idea of what they wanted to do with a few sketches, but after a day of tinkering, they ended up with something completely different — but it sounds awesome.

The frame is made of a combination of 2 x 6’s and 2 x 4’s which hold the PVC tubes in place. PVC elbows and varying lengths of pipe create a wide range of rather deep bass notes. It can be played with just your hands, or even a pair of sandals for better effect. You’d be surprised how good it sounds.

Continue reading “PVC Percussion Pipe Organ Sounds Surprisingly Good!”

Hackaday Links: May 11, 2014

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North Korean drones! Yes, your local hobby shop has the same aerial reconnaissance abilities as North Korea. Props to Pyongyang for getting v-tail mixing down.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the look of a well laid out resistor array, and the folks at Boldport have taken this to a new level. It’s an art piece, yes, but these would make fabulous drink coasters.

Here’s something even more artistic. [cpurola] found a bunch of cerdip EPROMs and bent the pins in a weird chainmaille-esque way. The end result is an EPROM bracelet, just in time for mother’s day. It’s a better use for these chips than tearing them apart and plundering them for the few cents worth of gold in each.

[John] still uses his original Xbox for xmbc, but he’d like to use the controllers with his computer. He never uses the third and fourth controller ports, so he stuck those in his computer. It’s as simple as soldering the controller port module to a connector and plugging it into an internal USB port. Ubuntu worked great, but Windows required XBCD.

[Kerry] has modified an FT232 USB/UART thingy as an Arduino programmer before. The CP2102 USB/UART is almost as popular on eBay, a little less expensive, and equally suited for ‘duino programming. It requires desoldering a resistor and soldering a jumper on a leadless package, but with a fine solder tip, it’s not too bad.

Sci-Fi Contest Winners

We’re happy to announce 16 winners of the Sci-Fi Contest! The Hackaday Crew is thoroughly impressed with pretty much everything that was entered. The 50 projects which were marked as “complete” spanned a wide range of Science Fiction universes, and showed off the talent of the hackers who posted them.

As a quick side note: Some people have confused this contest with The Hackaday Prize. That one is still on, runs into November, and offers a trip into space as the grand prize. Get hacking!

Prizes

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We have a range of prizes for the winners. The Grand Prize winning team can choose between two packages, one is anchored by a pair of oscilloscopes (an OWON DS7102 and a Rigol DS1052E), the other swaps out the OWAN for a soldering station and a rework station. Top Prize winners can choose between three packages which offer a rework station, a soldering station, or a collection of dev boards. And finally, the community favorites can choose from several Sci-Fi themed prizes like Blu-Ray, DVD, coasters, toothbrushes, and other kitsch.  For a complete list of the prizes, check out the contest announcement.

Grand Prize: Demolition Man Verbal Morality Statute Monitor

Demolition Man Verbal Morality MonitorThe Verbal Morality Statute Monitor project was an early favorite of ours because the choice of Sci-Fi tech was perfect; a symbolic centerpiece of a dystopian future that can be perfectly replicated with current technology.

[tdicola] and his suspect partner [colabot] moved far beyond that favored status with a solid build that included mechanical design (which was quite a hack), hardware, and software.

The shiny unit hangs on the wall and listens for profanity, sounding an alarm and printing a citation whenever one is detected. We do hope that this ends up in a public space — perhaps a hackerspace full of foul-mouthed members. The delight of the Morality Monitor is that it can generate extra revenue and we suspect offenders will be happy to pay-up… well, maybe at first.

Second Place: Animatronic Iron Man MKIII suit

Animatronic Iron Man SuitThe scope of this project, which is the work of [Jerome Kelty] and [Greg Hatter], is impressive. The full-size Iron Man suit is wearable, true to the look of the film version, and packed full of animatronics. It won’t stop bullets, blow up bad guys, or fly… but it looks as if it can do all of that.

From helmet to boots the exoskeleton is packed with electronics. These are comprised mostly of things that light up, and things that move parts of the suit. But you also need a way to control that functionality and this is one of the most clever aspects of the design.

Each glove has an RFID tag reader in the palm area, with tags on the fingertips of the third and fourth finger. Closing your fingertip to your palm initiates a programmed sequence. All of this is well-documented in the Project Details section, with code and schematics for each subsystem shared as Build Logs.

Third Place: M.A.R.S.

sci-fi-winner-3-MARS-roverThis rover looks like an elegant insect. In a world full of clunky-looking robotics projects that’s high praise. The name of the project is an acronym for the MADspace Advanced Robtics System; a project which, from the start, sought to recreate an Open Design version of the NASA Rovers known as Spirit and Opportunity.

[Guus van der Sluijs], [Paul Wagener], and [Tom Geelen] turned this project into a showcase of what today’s widely available design software and fabrication tools can accomplish. Most of the connecting pieces were 3D printed (check out all of them in the components list), with 10mm aluminum tubing making up the rest of the chassis, and rockers to support the six wheels. Speaking of wheels, check out all the fab work that went into those! And we haven’t even mentioned the hw/sw which drives the thing!

Fourth Place: Back To The Future Time Circuit Clock

sci-fi-winner-4-BttF-ClockThis one has a very visceral hacked feeling which immediately made us take note. When you start to dig into the work which [Atheros] and [bwa] put into the Time Circuit Clock from the movie Back to the Future, the project really stands in a place of its own. Inspiration to build this came from a design which was posted by Hackaday alum [Phil Burgess] over at Adafruit.

The large collection of 14 and 7 segment display modules which make up the three parts of the clock are all hosted on about 23 PCBs which were etched as part of the development process. The electronic assembly is solid, with ribbon cables and modular design to keep it as tidy as possible. The frames for the displays are cut out of wood and the entire thing is controlled from a keypad. The clock, alarm, and FM radio make this a perfect bedside device — if you can abide being blasted by three colors of LED displays as you try to sleep.

Fifth Place: Marauder’s Map

sci-fi-winner-5-Marauders-MapThis one is hard to sum up with a single image, because The Marauder’s Map uses radio frequency communication to track beacon locations of boards like the one pictured here. Well, they tried to use this custom hardware but were unable to work out all the bugs and ended up showing the proof of concept using some EZ430-RF2500 dev boards.

We’re certainly not holding that against [phreaknik] and [ wahwahweewahh]. The amount of software that went into the mapping system is arguably more impressive than a bug-free prototype board would have been. The system can take the dimensions for any room, as well as locations of the base stations. It then polls the base stations to triangulate relative position of the beacons with great accuracy.
We have confidence that the custom boards will work at some point (this would actually make a great entry for The Hackaday Prize, right?).

Honorable Mentions

Glasses block light when they sense dangerIt was heartbreaking that these Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses didn’t make it into the top five. This, and the five projects above, were all in a tight race for the prizes. Since this project isn’t going to make the list of Skulled or Followed projects we’ve decided to award it one of those prize packages anyway in recognition of the wonderful work [Minimum Effective Dose] and his AI partner [Colabot] pulled off. The project is, of course, based on [Douglas Adams’] Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tech which allows the wearer to avoid getting upset in times of peril. The shutter glasses originally meant for 3D television viewing have been modified to sense danger and block the wear’s view of it.

The rest of the Honorable Mentions are awarded the honor of being mentioned (in alphabetical order):

Community Favorites

There are also prizes for the most Skulled and most Followed projects. Here are those winners in rank order. This list was a snapshot from Wednesday, May 7th, and since Hackaday.io is a living site the totals will change over time. The five top winners are excluded from these prizes; Skulled winners cannot also win for Followers:

Most Skulled:

Most Followers:

Complete Entries Get Shirts

All hackers who submitted what we deem to be a complete entry will receive a shirt. We’ll email with instructions on how to tell us your shirt size and mailing address.

Another Arduino clone is the last thing the world needs

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One might think the last thing the world needs is for The Great Old Ones to rise from their near-death sleep deep in the Pacific ocean, and begin again their reign over Earth.  Actually, the last thing the world needs is another Arduino clone. Here’s this one. Fittingly, it’s called the Ktuluino.

Actually, this isn’t yet another attempt to build an Arduino clone that adds nothing to existing designs; it’s just [Jeff]’s attempt at PCB design. He needed something to practice on, so why not something that ends in -uino?

The board is just about as simple as Arduinos come – an ATMega328P is the brains of the outfit and also the most expensive component, closely followed by either the power jack or the header pins. As an exercise in PCB design, we’ll give this a thumbs up, but this could also be used for an ‘introduction to soldering’ workshop at a hackerspace, or alternatively a coaster.