Hackaday Links: Sunday, July 14th, 2013


Wanting to repair his much-used NES controllers [Michael Moffitt] sourced a replacement for the rubber button pads. They didn’t work all that well but he fixed that by using angle clippers on the part that contacts the PCB traces.

Here’s a neat Claw Game project show-and-tell video. [Thanks David]

We already know that [Bunnie] is building a laptop. Here’s an update on the project.

Hackaday alum [Caleb Kraft] continues his helpful hacking by adding an alternative to clicking an Xbox 360 stick.

[Blackbird] added a camera to the entry door of his house. He didn’t want to forget to shut it off (wasting power) so he built an automatic shutoff.

We’re not really sure what this computational photography project is all about. It takes pictures with the subject illuminated in different colors then combines individual color channels with a MATLAB script.

Finally, [Dave Jones] tears down a Nintendo 64 console on a recent EEVblog  episode.

“Hacking the Xbox” Released for Free in Honor of [Aaron Swartz]

Hacking the Xbox Cover

[Bunnie], the hardware hacker who first hacked into the original Xbox while at MIT, is releasing his book on the subject for free. The book was originally released in 2003, and delves into both the technical and legal aspects of hacking into the console.

The book is being released along with an open letter from [Bunnie]. He discusses the issues he faced with MIT legal and copyright law when working on the project, and explains that the book is being released to honor [Aaron Swartz]. [Swartz] committed suicide in January following aggressive prosecution by the US government.

The book is a great read on practical applications of hardware hacking. It starts off with simple hacks: installing a blue LED, building a USB adapter for the device’s controller ports, and replacing the power supply. The rest of the book goes over how the security on the device was compromised, and the legal implications of pulling off the hack.

[Bunnie]’s open letter is worth a read, it explains the legal bullying that hackers deal with from a first hand prospective. The book itself is a fantastic primer on hardware hacking, and with this release anyone who hasn’t read it should grab the free PDF.

MIT Media Lab’s month in Shenzhen


When you’ve got a month worth of blog postings it’s pretty difficult to choose one photograph that sums it all up. This one shows the tour group from MIT Media Lab in ESD garb ready for their tour of Okano SMT and Speaker Factory. It was part of a tour of Shenzhen aimed at bringing graduate students up to speed on what it means to manufacture products in the city. Luckily, Freaklabs member [Akiba] was one of the staff members of the program and blogged extensively about the experience. At first glance his page full of post abstracts looks really boring, but click through because both his recount and the commented images associated with each day are fun and fascinating ways to tag along with the group.

If you’re really good with faces you can pick [Bunnie Huang] out of the lineup above (he’s the third from the right). He had the original idea for the program and brought aboard a few others to help make the thing a success. The group toured a wide range of factories and parts markets in the city. This included your traditional electronics manufacturing venues but there was even a side trip to a diaper and feminine napkin plant to see the non-electronic factories in operation. In addition to tours there were lectures by industry members like HAXLR8R, a group that specializes in helping start-ups navigate the manufacturing jungle.

[Bunnie] builds a laptop for himself, hopefully us

Click to embiggen


[Bunnie Huang], creator of the Chumby and artisan of chips and electrons, is building his own completely open source laptop. It’s called the Novena, and is powered by a quad-core ARM CPU, it’s got enough bells and whistles to make any hacker happy including an on-board FPGA, dual Ethernet ports, and enough GPIO pins to do some crazy, crazy stuff.

[Bunnie]’s laptop is an attempt to create a completely open-source laptop capable of some light code development, and web browsing. Every single chip on [Bunnie]’s laptop has a datasheet available (without requiring an NDA, unlike the Raspberry Pi), meaning this laptop might be the beginning of a completely open source laptop.

Officially, this laptop is a one-off project made just for [Bunnie]. He’ll be spending the next few months validating all features on the board and making a proper case. [Bunnie] says a few people may be interested in their own Novena (smart one, that guy), so he might consider a Kickstarter campaign in a few months. Don’t expect it to be cheap, but if you’d like to try your hand at making your own, all the files are up on the Novena wiki.


[Phil Torrone] interviews [Bunnie Huang] about chumby and more

Over at Make, [Phil Torrone] has done an interview with [Bunnie Huang]. [Bunnie] has been a major contributor to the pages of Hackaday as far back as we can remember. He started in 2002 hacking X-boxes and sharing his findings with the world. It is this sharing that makes [Bunnie] stand out. He has always shared all his findings and pushed for open source wherever it would fit. We recently discussed how Chumby, a project to which [Bunnie] contributed is coming to an end. In this interview, he talks about what the future holds for himself and how he plans to spend his time. Most interestingly, he plans on spending a year just building things he’s wanted to see built. Be sure to check out the interview to see what he’s already accomplished.

[Bunnie] mods Chumby to capture epic time-lapse video

When [Bunny] moved into his apartment in Singapore he was surprised to find that a huge building project was just getting started on the other side of the block. Being the curious sort, he was always interested in what was going on, but just looking in on the project occasionally wasn’t enough. Instead, he set up a camera and made a time-lapse video.

This isn’t hard, you can find a slew of intervalometer projects which we’ve covered over the years. But being that [Bunnie] is one of the designers of the Chumby One, and frequently performs hacks on the hardware, it’s no surprise that he chose to use that hardware for the project.

Luckily, he’s sharing the steps he used to get Chumby capturing images. He mentions the hardest part is finding a compatible USB camera. If you have one that works with a 2008 Linux kernel you should be fine. The rest is done with shell scripts. Mplayer captures the images when the script is called from a cron job. Once all the frames are captured, he used mencoder to stitch the JPEGs into a movie. See the result after the break.

Continue reading “[Bunnie] mods Chumby to capture epic time-lapse video”

[Bunnie’s] archives: Unlocking protected microcontrollers

A few years back [Bunnie] took a crack at cracking the security fuses on a PIC microcontroller. Like most of the common 8-bit microcontrollers kicking around these days, the 18F1320 that he’s working with has a set of security fuses which prevent read back of the flash memory and EEPROM inside. The only way to reset those security fuses is by erasing the entire chip, which also means the data you sought in the first place would be wiped out. That is, if you were limited to using orthodox methods.

[Bunnie] had a set of the chips professionally uncapped, removing the plastic case without damaging the silicon die inside. He set to work inspecting the goodies inside with an electron microscope and managed to hammer out a rudimentary map of the layout. Turns out that flash memory can be erased with ultraviolet light, just like old EPROM chips. Microchip thought of that and placed some shielding over the security fuses to prevent them being reset in this manner. But [Bunnie] managed to do so anyway, creating an electrical tape mask to protect the rest of the data stored in the chip while bouncing UV light underneath the shielding at an angle.

Want to uncap some chips of your own without enlisting the help of others? Give this method a try.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]