Hackaday Links: June 3, 2012

When pigs fly…. close enough.

There are too many jokes to be made about this one. It’s a quadcopter made out of a dead cat. [Bert Jansen], the artist behind this, calls him Orville. He died from natural causes, and what better way to remember a feline friend that liked chasing birds?

Refurbishing an Apple ][

That thirty year old computer in your parent’s attic isn’t going to clean itself, is it? [Todd] put up a series of videos tearing down a 1982 Apple ][ plus, cleaning everything along the way, and doing a very nice demo of AppleSoft BASIC. This is where the revolution started, people.

Ohm sweet Ωhm

Cross stitch isn’t for grandmothers anymore. Adafruit put up a cross stitch tutorial to go along with their resistor color code cross stitch kit. Now down to Hobby Lobby to find black cross stitch cloth and make the ‘ol skull ‘n wrenches.

Welcome! To the world of yesterday!

Boing Boing found an amazing cyberpunk photo spread that appeared in the Mondo 2000 ‘zine back around 1992 or 1993. Even when keeping in mind that this is a self-parody, it’s still incredible. Hackers have laser pointers? And pagers?

Making Arduino projects smaller

[Scott] caught wind of a way to shrinkify Arduino projects, so he turned an Arduino protoboard into an ATtiny85 programmer. As a neat bonus, [Scott] can use the attached breadboard to build circuits around the ’85.

 

Giving a Powerpoint presentation with an Apple ][

When [Vince] saw a coworker give a presentation with an iPad, he thought to himself what a tremendous waste of computing resources he was witnessing; an iPad is just as powerful as an early Cray supercomputer, and displaying slides isn’t a computationally intensive task. We’re assuming [Vince]‘s train of thought went off the rails at that point, because he came up with a neat way to give a presentation with an Apple ][.

To get his slides onto his Apple ][, [Vince] created a tool to convert the text and images for a presentation to an Applesoft BASIC program. Yes, six-color images are supported in a wonderful 280×192 resolution. The presentation was transferred onto a CompactFlash card and loaded onto the Apple with the help of a CFFA card, making it much faster to load images during the presentation than a 5.25″ disk would allow.

Of course, after the presentation some of [Vince]‘s coworkers wanted to play Oregon Trail, a request easily handled by the voluminous CF card loaded with Apple ][ programs. You can check out video demo/walkthrough of his presentation after the break.

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: April 18, 2012

Sandcasting at the beach

[mkb] sent in a video he found of [Max Lamb] sandcasting a stool at a beach in England. The material is pewter, or >90% tin with a little bit copper and antimony thrown in for good measure. While we’re sure there will be a few complaints from environmentalists, it’s still a cool video to see.

Your project needs an OLED display

Here’s a Kickstarter for a tiny 96×16 OLED display. Connect this thing to any I2C bus and you get a 15×2 character display (or a graphic display if that’s your inclination) very easily. Thanks to [Chris] for sending this one in.

Here’s one for a larf

[Ryan Inman] is suing 20 companies because he got mercury poisoning from vacuum tubes. Read that last line again. Most of the companies that sell antique/repro/hard-to-find components like Angela Instruments, Antique Electronic Supply, and even eBay are listed as defendants in the case. This might put at least one company out of business even though they never sold [Ryan] a vacuum tube edit: they did sell him a neon bulb, and courts are generally idiotic when it comes to technological issues. It’s hilarious and sad, so we’ll keep you updated if we get more info.

Nostalgia, the pain from an old wound

The Adafruit blog posted an excellent piece on the Apple ][ game Rocky’s Boots, an educational game from 1982 that teaches kids how to connect logic gates. You can play this game in your browser, but we’d like to hear our stories of ancient video games that teach you engineering concepts like The Incredible Machine or Widget Workshop. Leave a note in the comments if we’re leaving any out.

A question posed to the community

A company is giving away credit card readers that plug into the headphone jack of an iDevice. [J Smith] writes in to ask us if anyone has gotten one of these and opened them up. Like [J Smith] we’re expecting something a repeat of the CueCat where free hardware is opened up to everybody. If you’ve done a teardown of one of these card readers, send it in.

3DS homebrew

[Mike] sent us a link to [neimod]‘s Flickr photostream. It looks like we’re on the cusp of tearing open the Nintendo 3DS for homebrew apps. Someone who uses this much hot glue must know what they’re doing, right?

Hacking [Steve Jobs]: A retrospective

 

steve_jobs_steps_down_as_ceo_world_panics

Provided you haven’t been toiling away in a secret lair somewhere (we’re looking at you [Jack]), odds are you may have seen the news that [Steve Jobs] stepped down as CEO of Apple this past Wednesday.

This earth-shattering news even eclipsed that of the East Coast Megaquakeapocalypse. It sent the blogosphere into a tizzy, sparking a whirlwind of news posts and retrospectives on his career. It’s been impossible to ignore the coverage (we’ve tried), and since we see everyone else writing about it, we feel the need to be at least somewhat up on our current events as well.

At the end of the day though, we don’t care how many patents [Steve] owns, how many failed products he has dreamed up over the years, or that he and [Woz] used to wear matching thongs to the beach in the 80s*.

Nope, we just care about the hacks. So here’s a trip down memory lane highlighting the Apple-related hacks we’ve seen so far in 2011, which will forever be known as the year [Steve Jobs] gave up the reigns at Apple (again).

*Bald-faced lie

XBMC on iOS Devices

Overhauling an old Apple keyboard

Mac Pro serial terminal

Taking secret photos of Apple Store patrons

Apple ][ USB keyboard conversion

Apple ][ Weather Display Parts 1, 2, 3

Apple laptop batteries vulnerable to firmware hack

dead_and_busted_macbook_batteries

When you think about hacking laptops, it’s highly unlikely that you would ever consider the battery as a viable attack vector. Security researcher [Charlie Miller] however, has been hard at work showing just how big a vulnerability they can be.

As we have been discussing recently, the care and feeding of many batteries, big and small, is handled by some sort of microcontroller. [Charlie] found that a 2009 update issued by Apple to fix some lingering MacBook power issues used one of two passwords to write data to the battery controllers. From what he has seen, it seems these same passwords have been used on all batteries manufactured since that time as well. Using this data, he was subsequently able to gain access to the chips, allowing him to remotely brick the batteries, falsify data sent to the OS, and completely replace the stock firmware with that of his own.

He says that it would be possible for an attacker to inject malware into the battery itself, which would covertly re-infect the machine, despite all traditional removal attempts. Of course, replacing the battery would rectify the issue in these situations, but he says that it would likely be the last thing anyone would suspect as the source of infection. While using the battery to proliferate malware or cause irreversible damage to the computer would take quite a bit of work, [Charlie] claims that either scenario is completely plausible.

He plans on presenting his research at this year’s Black Hat security conference in August, but in the meantime he has created a utility that generates a completely random password for your Mac’s battery. He says that he has already contacted Apple to in order to help them construct a permanent fix for the issue, so an official patch may be available in the near future.

[Thanks, Sergio]

iPhone to Arduino communications sans jailbreak

iphone_to_arduino

When Google released their ADK allowing Android smart phones to interact with Arduino-based devices, we’re sure there were at least one or two iPhone users who felt left out. Thanks to the folks over at Redpark, those people can now interact with an Arduino without having to jailbreak their phone.

For anyone looking to do any sort of iPhone/Arduino interaction, this is a good thing – except for the price. The 30-pin to serial cable is currently available over at Make for $59, which honestly seems pretty steep to us. When we first saw this announced, our initial thoughts were that we would see an open-source version in no time.

Unfortunately, that idea was short-lived, as we were quickly reminded of Apple’s MFI program. If you are not familiar, MFI (aka Made for iStuff) program limits what can be connected to an iDevice via licensing fees and a boatload of legal agreements. While we won’t be picking up this dongle any time soon, we’re all ears if someone has done any reverse-engineering of those pesky MFI chips.

G-men pay [Kyle McDonald] a visit

Looks like the men in black have paid [Kyle McDonald] a little visit. The United States Secret Service is investigating him for fraud and related activity for his People Staring At Computers project. We just took a look at that one yesterday, and were thankful that all he was doing was taking people’s pictures and not stealing their information. Looks like [Uncle Sam] wasn’t being as lenient–or it could have been Apple that did the complaining since mums the word from the corporate giant. [Kyle's] also keeping his mouth shut after soliciting the advice of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Since details are scarce, it’s time to play armchair lawyer. Let us know in the comments what you think [Kyle] might be up against, and whether we’ll see this thing hit the courts or not. And remember not to take those comments as legal advice since none of us actually know what we’re talking about.

By the way, the gentleman seen above isn’t [Kyle], he’s one of the unsuspecting ‘victims’ with some wikimedia commons slapped in for effect.

[Thanks Craig, David, and others]

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