Detroit Meetup this Friday

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The plans are made, the swag has shipped, are you going to show up or what? Friday night at 8pm we’re having a Hackaday Meetup at i3 Detroit. That link is how you get your free ticket.

You can come for the hacking, the leisure time, or just to score a free shirt and enough stickers to avoid actually repainting that 1991 POS you call a car.

i3 is offering up their facilities for those that want to work on projects or just hang out. They share a roof with B Nektar so there are an amazing array for tasty beverages available (part of the reason we’re calling this an 18+ event). There’s even talk of parking a food truck out front for the night but they’re still working on that.

Bring some hardware to show off and see if you can keep up with the yarns that [Brian Benchoff], [Chris Gammell], and [Mike Szczys] are known to spin.

Two Weeks To HOPE X, And We’re Going

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In a little less than two weeks, the biannual HOPE conference in NYC will be in full swing. Attendance is more than likely to put you on a list somewhere, so of course we’ll be setting up shop, enjoying the sights and sounds, and throwing swag at hundreds of attendees.

Highlights of HOPE X include a keynote from [Daniel Ellisburg], a video conference with [Edward Snowden], a Q&A with the EFF, a talk I’ll certainly be attending, and the always popular talk on social engineering headed up by [Emmanuel Goldstein].

As with all our extracurriculars, Hackaday will be giving out some swag (200+ tshirts, stickers, and THP goodies), and manning a vendor booth. Look for the eight foot Hackaday flag held up with duct tape. We’ll also be doing the usual video and blog thing from HOPE, for all of you who can’t attend thanks to your company’s security reviews, and some super secret things I can’t believe the overlords signed off on.

In other 2600 news, they ain’t doin too good, with tens of thousands of dollars of debt thanks to rather crappy legal stuff with their distributors. Buying a ticket would help the 2600 guys out, as would buying July’s issue (also on Kindle).

2600 And Why Publishing Sucks

26002600: The Hacker Quarterly is the premier (print) infosec publication out there, and depending on who you talk to, the best publication out there that has anything to do with modifying electronics, infiltrating networks, and all the other goodies we post on a daily basis. They’ve also been around for longer than most of our readership, and to lose them would be a terrible loss for anyone who calls themselves a hacker.

Being a print publication, they are completely at the mercy of their distributors. Any sort of media is a very, very dirty business, so when 2600’s distributors recently decided to not pay them for a few previous issues… well, that’s a problem.

2600’s most recent distributor, Source Interlink, was recently dropped as the distributor for Time, throwing the entire company into panic mode. Source Interlink then rebranded itself as TEN: The Enthusiast Network, distributing a disturbing amount of hotrod magazines to bookstores across the country. With this change in names and a little corporatespeak, TEN: The Enthusiast Network has yet to pay 2600 what they’re due.

This isn’t the first time 2600 has faced near oblivion thanks to a distributor. They almost went out of business in 1997 when their distributor declared bankruptcy. 2600 have proven themselves to be resilient folk, though, and all bets are on them making it through this little impasse. Still, they’re still out six months worth of revenue, deep in debt, and they’re putting on a huge conference in a few weeks. It’s really not good timing.

If you’d like to help 2600, buy July’s issue, make them number 1 on Kindle, or buy a ticket for HOPE X. Hackaday is going to have a booth there (awesome!), and we’ll be putting a post up on that when  the already amazing list of speakers is finalized.

Hackaday Reddit AMA (ask me anything) Happening Right Now

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Today we’re interacting on an “Ask Me Anything” over at Reddit.

Now’s the time to ask your question about all-things-Hackaday. No topic is off limits. Wonder how the Blog operates? What’s the deal with Hackaday Projects? Need an answer to questions about The Hackaday Prize? Just ask!

[Mike Szczys] started the thread and I’ve provided proof as seen here, but most of the writing staff are Reddit regulars so questions for specific writers are welcome as well. What’s on your mind?

Congress Destroys A Hobby, FAA Gets The Blame

As ordered by the US Congress, the FAA is gearing up to set forth a standard for commercial UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and commercial drones operating in America’s airspace. While they’ve been dragging their feet, and the laws and rules for these commercial drones probably won’t be ready by 2015, that doesn’t mean the FAA can’t figure out what the rules are for model aircraft in the meantime.

This week, the FAA released its interpretation (PDF) of what model aircraft operators can and can’t do, and the news isn’t good: FPV flights with quadcopters and model airplanes are now effectively banned, an entire industry centered around manufacturing and selling FPV equipment and autopilots will be highly regulated, and a great YouTube channel could soon be breaking the law.

The FAA’s interpretation of what model aircraft can and cannot do, and to a larger extent, what model aircraft are comes from the FAA Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 (PDF). While this law states the, “…Federal Aviation Administration may
not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…” it defines model aircraft as, “an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” The FAA has concluded that anything not meeting this definition, for example, a remote controlled airplane with an FPV setup, or a camera, video Tx and Rx, and video goggles, is therefore not a model aircraft, and falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA.

In addition, the FAA spent a great deal of verbiage defining what, “hobby or recreational purposes” in regards to model aircraft are. A cited example of a realtor using a model aircraft to take videos of a property they are selling is listed as not a hobby or recreation, as is a farmer using a model aircraft to see if crops need water. Interestingly, receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft is also not allowed under the proposed FAA guidelines, a rule that when broadly interpreted could mean uploading a video of yourself flying a model plane, uploading that to YouTube, and clicking the ‘monetize’ button could soon be against the law. This means the awesome folks at Flite Test could soon be out of a job.

The AMA, the Academy Of Model Aeronautics, and traditionally the organization that sets the ‘community-based set of safety guidelines’ referred to in every law dealing with model aircraft, are not happy with the FAA’s proposed rules (PDF). However, their objection is a breathless emotional appeal calls the proposed rules a, “a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of our youth and elderly members.” Other than offering comments per the FAA rulemaking process there are, unfortunately, no possible legal objections to the proposed FAA rules, simply because the FAA is doing exactly what congress told them to do.

The FAA is simply interpreting the Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 as any person would: FPV goggles interfere with the line of sight of an aircraft, thus anyone flying something via FPV goggles falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA. Flying over the horizon is obviously not line of sight, and therefore not a model aircraft. Flying a model aircraft for money is not a hobby or recreation, and if you’re surprised about this, you simply aren’t familiar with FAA rules about money, work, and person-sized aircraft.

While the proposed FAA rules are not yet in effect, and the FAA is seeking public comment on these rules, if passed there will, unfortunately, exactly two ways to fix this. The first is with a change in federal law to redefine what a model aircraft is. Here’s how to find your congresscritter, with the usual rules applying: campaign donations are better than in-person visits which are better than letters which are better than phone calls which are better than emails. They’ll also look up if you have voted in the last few elections.

If passed, the only other way these rules will align with the privileges model aircraft enthusiasts have enjoyed for decades is through a court ruling. The lawsuit objecting to these rules will most likely be filed by the AMA, and if these rules pass, a donation or membership wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Hackaday AMA: Thursday Morning at 10am Eastern Time

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Come one, come all, to an epic Reddit AMA.

It’s been almost two years since our last “Ask Me Anything” and it’s an understatement that ‘sort of a lot has happened’ since then. We changed parent companies, expanded our writing staff, hosted our first live event (and a few smaller ones since), launched Hackaday Projects, and now we’re in the middle of The Hackaday Prize.

Any question is fair game (that’s why they call it an AMA) so now’s the time to get that query that’s been bugging you answered.

You will need a Reddit account to ask questions or to vote them up and down. But anyone can read the thread without logging in. Speaking of threads, we can’t give you a link yet because it won’t be available until we start at 10am Eastern Time on Thursday, June 26th. But watch the top of the blog, we’ll publish another post as soon as the link is ready!

UPDATE 6/26/14 9:25am Eastern: The Reddit thread is now live. Please feel free to start adding questions. Answers will start in 35 minutes.

Meet the WIDGEDUINO

diagram of the widgets for the widgeduino

Arduino has made a name for itself by being easy to use and has become an excellent tool for rapid prototyping of an idea. If one wakes up in the middle of the night in a eureka moment and hammers out a contraption – using an Arduino as the brains is about as fast and easy as it gets.

With that said, the WIDGEDUINO aims at making this process even faster and easier. Bristling with an array of meters, graphs and data entry widgets, the WIDGEDUINO is sure to be a hit with hackers, makers and engineers alike.

It’s based on the .NET framework and was designed with Visual Studio Windows Presentation Foundation. The user simply writes a sketch using the WIDGEDUINO library, and connects to a PC via serial or Ethernet to gain access to the assortment of awesome widgets.

You can find a few examples here. We hope the creators will keep us updated on the progress of this impressive project. Be sure to stick around after the break for a video demonstrating what the WIDGEUINO can do.

[Read more...]

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