Build your own radar system

How we missed this one is anybody’s guess, but one of the presentations at DEFCON last year covers a DIY radar build. [Michael Scarito] talks about the concepts behind radar, and then goes on to show that it’s not too hard or expensive to build a setup of your own. We’ve embedded his 45 minute talk after the break.

The two large pieces of hardware above should look familiar. They’re descendents of a favorite hacking project, the cantenna. The can-based long-range antenna is most popular with WiFi applications, but we’ve seen it used for Bluetooth as well and it’s not surprising to see it here. The rest is a lot of sensing hardware and enough math crammed into the coding to make your ears droop.

If you make it far enough (exactly 39 minutes into the talk) [Michael] shares some links for more information on the build. We think living vicariously is enough for us, but if you manage to build your own setup don’t forget to post a project log!

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Amp Hour interviews [Joe Grand]

The Amp Hour, a podcast of electronics enthusiasts and professionals alike, just did an epic interview with [Joe Grand]. Along with hosts [Chris Gammell] and [Dave Jones], the discussion runs the gamut of points of interest in the hardware hacking world. The first vignette explores the rise, run, and fall of Prototype This, an engineering-centric TV show that [Joe] did along with a group of various engineers for the Discover Channel. He politely discusses some of the goods and bads of the TV business and how that affected the team’s ability to go into great detail about the projects they were building.

From there the guys discuss the development of Hackerspaces through the years. [Joe] has some concerns about the injection of corporate sponsorships in these DIY spaces and what that may mean in the long run. He then talks about the impending release of his 3-year-long laser range-finder project (we’ve seen a project using a prototype of this sensor). The show is rounded out with discussions about hardware fab houses that [Joe] uses and has used over the years for projects like the Defcon Badges (we loved his Defcon 18 badges).

It’s a great episode so download a copy and set aside about an hour to listen to the whole show.

Defcon 19 Call for Workshops

defcon

The crew at Defcon is hard at work getting things ready for this year’s event, taking place over the first weekend in August. While the typical call for papers has been out for almost two months now, the extra space afforded by the RIO hotel has given the organizers a chance to shake things up a bit and try something new.

Along side the call for papers, they have issued a call for workshops. Since they have about 8 spare rooms on hand, they have decided to allow people who consider themselves a leader, ‘leet hacker, or ninja in their particular field to share their knowledge in a small (30 person) workshop setting.

The organizers are not strict on content, though it should be compelling. They cite examples such as teaching people to build an impenetrable Linux installation, PS3 hacking, or even helping people prep for a Ham radio license exam.

If you have something interesting to share with the community, be sure to swing by the Defcon site and get your application started!

A look back at DefCon 18 badges

As he does every year, [Joe Grand] gave a talk explaining the development process for Defcon 18 badges. We looked in on these when details started trickling out back in July. They feature a neat bit of tech in the form of an LCD that acts much like ePaper. It doesn’t take any electricity to hold the image, only to change the display. This is a valuable feature for a battery powered device and allowed him to get about 9 days of juice out of a CR2032. This year’s badges also used laser-etched Aluminum as a substrate.

We’ve embedded the talk after the break and found it interesting enough to watch the entire hour. If you’re more interested in the hacks that came out of the badge, we’ve put together a playlist of videos [Joe] took while at the conference.

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A hacker’s marginal security helps return stolen computer

Gather round and hear the story of how a hacker outsmarts a criminal. [Zoz] was robbed and they got his desktop computer. Gone, right? Nope. Because of a peculiar combination of his computer’s configuration, and the stupidity of the criminal, he got it back. He shares the tale during his Defcon 18 talk (PDF), the video is embedded after the break.

[Zoz's] first bit of luck came because he had set up the machine to use a dynamic DNS service, updated via a script. Since the criminal didn’t wipe the hard drive he was able to find the machine online. From there he discovered that he could SSH into it, and even use VNC to eavesdrop on the new owner. This, along with a keylogger he installed, got him all the information he needed; the guy’s name, birth date, login and password information for websites, and most importantly his street address. He passed along this juicy data to police and they managed to recover the system.

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RGB stroboscopic guitar tuning

This is [Michael Ossmann's] RGB LED stroboscopic guitar tuner. If his name is familiar that’s because we mentioned he’d be giving a talk with [Travis Goodspeed] at ToorCon. But he went to DefCon as well and spent the weekend in his hotel room trying to win the badge hacking contest.

Despite adversity he did get his tuner working. It’s built into a toy guitar that he takes on road trips with him. By adding a row of RGB LEDs between two of the frets he can use the vibration frequency of an in-tune string to flash the three different colors. If the string is not in tune the three colors will dance around but matching it with the LED frequency produces a stable color. He then uses that big yellow button to advance to the next string. See his demonstration after the break.

This is basically a built-in plectrum tuner that uses one LED package instead of two.

[Read more...]

You’re stealing it wrong: a speech by Jason Scott

slipped disk in all of his glory

[Jason Scott], data historian extraordinaire gave this fantastic speech at Defcon 18 about the history of inter-pirate piracy. At an hour long, it is an enthralling journey through computer history, especially pertaining to piracy. Take a seat, no matter how much you know about security and piracy, you are likely to learn a few things. We find the lesser discussed issues like pirates stealing other pirates work interesting, as well as the part where pirates have to crack really boring software to have a release when there’s nothing better out there. Also worth noting, according to [Jason], the demoscene evolved from the little opening sequences from cracks. There are just too many interesting aspects to note here, even some porn related stories during the BBS days.

This is a great lesson from someone who is both knowledgeable and entertaining. [Jason] teaches this stuff without ever sounding stuffy, boring, or overly technical. Catch the video after the break.

[Read more...]

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