Dear TSA: This is Why You Shouldn’t Post Pictures of Your Keys Online

We have to hand it to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They seem to have a perfect track record of screwing up – and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish if you think about it. If it’s not reports of TSA agents stealing valuables or inappropriately groping passengers, there is the fun fact that in all the years since it was created in 2001, the agency hasn’t caught a single person seeking to do harm in the friendly skies. We’re actually okay with that if it means nobody is trying to do anything shady.

The most recent TSA folly seemed to practically fall into the Internet’s lap when a reporter for the The Washington Post published a hi-res picture of the entire set of TSA master keys while writing an article about how the TSA handles your bags after checking them at the counter. Well, the lock picking community when nuts and in a short time had 3D printed versions available and working. You can see it in action in the (twitter) video after the break.

For those that are not familiar with travel in the US, you are not allowed to use just any old lock on your bags. It has to be approved by the TSA – and that means that they have to be able to open it. So the TSA agents have a set of master keys that can open any bag if they need to look inside for some reason. If you put a non-TSA approved lock on the bag, that can make them a little angry, and you risk having your bag delayed or even cut open.

Of course, you can get into just about any suitcase with a ball point pen, so maybe this isn’t a real “security” issue, but it sure isn’t what you want to see from the agency that is supposed to protect you. Who knew that you could make keys from a photograph? We did way back in 2009 and way more in depth this May… maybe the TSA should start reading Hackaday?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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