Thermal Vision HUD Isn’t Only for Fighter-Jets!

In case you weren’t aware, thermal vision units have seen huge price reductions lately. There’s a few on the market for under $300! While that might still seem expensive, remember, it’s thermal-freaking-vision. [Tim] bought a Seek Thermal as soon as it was available, and just recently finished his first project with it — giving his car a thermal HUD for driving at night.

The Seek Thermal is a small thermal imaging unit that has a micro USB attachment for phones. Simply plug it in, and your phone becomes the preview window. But for mounting on your car, you can’t have it behind a window, because most glass is not transparent to heat wavelengths, so [Tim] had to get creative.

He designed and 3D printed a magnetic mount for it to sit on the hood of his car. But in the case any debris from the road hit it, he wanted to protect the lens. So he started looking up thermally transparent materials — turns out they’re really expensive.

Continue reading “Thermal Vision HUD Isn’t Only for Fighter-Jets!”

Press Amazon Dash Button, Summon Uber

Modern life is complicated. When you want to call an Uber car to pick you up, you have to open the app, sign in and set your pickup location. [Geoffrey Tisserand] uses Uber to commute to his job in San Francisco every day, so he came up with a neat way to automate this process, by reprogramming an Amazon Dash button to call an Uber. All he has to do is to hit the button, and a few minutes later an Uber rolls up to his door.

To do this, he used the intercept method, where a Python script running on another computer notices the Amazon Dash button joining his home WiFi network and posts the request to Uber. Because Uber uses the OAuth authentication system, he was able to easily log into the system using Expressjs. And because he is always following the same route, he could also automate the posting of the pickup and dropoff locations, as they don’t change. It’s a neat hack that saves him time, but it doesn’t get around the issue of letting you know how long the car will take to arrive, or if Uber is in Surge Pricing. Perhaps that would work for version 2: a small button with an LCD screen and a warning light.

Better Racing With Power Wheels

For the last few months, teams across the US have taken old Power Wheels and other electric vehicles meant for children and turned them into racing machines capable of flying around the track at speeds pf over 30 miles per hour. How do you take the plastic chassis of a kid’s toy and turn it into a Power Racer? [Dane] from team Chibi-Atomic-Thing tells us how.

In classic Power Racing Series fashion, this year’s build began with last year’s chassis. At the 2014 NYC Maker Faire, a weld on the steering linkages failed, necessitating some quick work to replace some bad welds. Poor fabrication wasn’t the only shortcoming of last year’s car; the rear axle was fixed, the brakes were terrible, and the gearbox wasn’t quite as good as it could be.

The team had a few months to make the necessary changes for this season’s races. Because they were adding advanced and arcane technology known as a differential this year, a second disc brake holster would need to be fabricated for the other rear wheel. A new motor controller was added, but the team is mum on why exactly they need an eight-speed gearbox when the longest straight on the track is about fifty feet.

The answer to why a tiny electric car needs more gears than a clock is for now, at least, unknown. Hopefully it will be revealed at the next Power Racing Series race at the NYC Maker Faire in a few weeks. Until then, check out the video of the 2015 Detroit race below.

Continue reading “Better Racing With Power Wheels”

Being Picked up by a Swarm of Drones May Become Reality

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this video has been taking the internet by storm. The YouTube user [Gasturbine101] has successfully taken flight in his home made multi-rotor flying machine.

It’s a massive array of high powered brushless motors with props, fifty-four in fact, all counter-rotating. It has a weight of 148kg (we assume this includes the inventor), and produces a maximum lift of 164kg. Apparently it’ll even last for about 10 minutes. The props are grouped into six, using Hobbyking stabilizers to balance the flight.

He calls it the Swarm.

Continue reading “Being Picked up by a Swarm of Drones May Become Reality”

V2V: A Safer Commute with Cars Sharing Status Updates

Every year, more than 30,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents in the US, and many many more are injured. Humans, in general, aren’t great drivers. Until dependable self-driving cars make their way into garages and driveways across the country, there is still a great amount of work that can be done to improve the safety of automobiles, and the best hope on the horizon is Vehicle to Vehicle communications (V2V). We keep hearing this technology mentioned in news stories, but the underlying technology is almost never discussed. So I decided to take a look at what hardware we can expect in early V2V, and the features you can expect to see when your car begins to build a social network with the others around it.

Continue reading “V2V: A Safer Commute with Cars Sharing Status Updates”

The Year of the Car Hacks

With the summer’s big security conferences over, now is a good time to take a look back on automotive security. With talks about attacks on Chrysler, GM and Tesla, and a whole new Car Hacking village at DEF CON, it’s becoming clear that autosec is a theme that isn’t going away.

Up until this year, the main theme of autosec has been the in-vehicle network. This is the connection between the controllers that run your engine, pulse your anti-lock brakes, fire your airbags, and play your tunes. In most vehicles, they communicate over a protocol called Controller Area Network (CAN).

An early paper on this research [PDF] was published back in 2010 by The Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security,a joint research effort between University of California San Diego and the University of Washington. They showed a number of vulnerabilities that could be exploited with physical access to a vehicle’s networks.

A number of talks were given on in-vehicle network security, which revealed a common theme: access to the internal network gives control of the vehicle. We even had a series about it here on Hackaday.

The response from the automotive industry was a collective “yeah, we already knew that.” These networks were never designed to be secure, but focused on providing reliable, real-time data transfer between controllers. With data transfer as the main design goal, it was inevitable there would be a few interesting exploits.

Continue reading “The Year of the Car Hacks”

RC Lawnmower Has No Grass to Cut

They say laziness and necessity is one of the greatest drives for invention. Whoever said that didn’t think about what happens when inventors are bored. [The Random Mechanic] decided to build himself a remote-controlled lawnmower, despite the terrible drought he’s been having — resulting in literally no grass to cut.

To make the lawn mower remote-controlled, he cobbled together a gas lawn mower, with the remains of an electric wheelchair. This ended up working really well. He’s using an old RC car remote and its two servos to remotely control the original wheel chair’s joystick. Simple, but super effective.

The wheelchair mower is fast, nice and heavy thanks to some lead acid batteries, and very maneuverable with the front wheels being casters. It’s a shame he doesn’t have any grass to cut!

Continue reading “RC Lawnmower Has No Grass to Cut”