Hackaday Links: January 17th, 2013

Free-formed VFD clock

links-free-formed-vfd-clock [James] doesn’t need a circuit board or even some protoboard to get the job done. He free-formed all the circuits for his VFD clock. Right now this is the only project hosted on his blog so click around to see how he got to this point.

DIY LED traffic light

links-diy-traffic-light

Here’s a scratch-build traffic light which [Jarle] uses to display information about his server. If you’re unable to find your own storm damaged original this is a pretty easy way to build one.

FPGA space attack game

links-classic-shooter-running-on-fpga

This game is running on an FPGA, but it’s not written in HDL. Instead, [Johan] wrote the game in C to run on a soft processor loaded on the gate array.

Hourglass entropy

links-hour-glass-entropy

This is a fascinating idea for generating random numbers. [Gijs] is shining a laser onto a light dependent transistor. The beam of the laser is broken by the falling sand of an hourglass. This technique could be use as an entropy source for random number generation.

GPS clock source for a digital timepiece

links-gps-clock

It seems like massive overkill, but you can’t beat the time accuracy of using a GPS module as a clock source. We don’t expect that [Jay] kept the clock in one piece after finishing the project. It’s just a good way to practice decoding the GPS data.

Brute forcing a GPS PIN

pin

[JJ] picked up a Garmin Nuvi 780 GPS from an auction recently. One of the more frustrating features [JJ] ran into is it’s PIN code; this GPS can’t be unlocked unless a four-digit code is entered, or it’s taken to a ‘safe location’. Not wanting to let his auction windfall go to waste, [JJ] rigged up an automated brute force cracking robot to unlock this GPS.

The robot is built around an old HP scanner and a DVD drive sled to move the GPS in the X and Y axes. A clever little device made out of an eraser tip and a servo taps out every code from 0000 to 9999 and waits a bit to see if the device unlocks. It takes around 8 seconds for [JJ]’s robot to enter a single code, so entering all 10,000 PINs will take about a day and a half.

Fortunately, the people who enter these codes don’t care too much about the security of their GPS devices. The code used to unlock [JJ]’s GPS was 0248. It only took a couple of hours for the robot to enter the right code; we’d call that time well spent.

You can check out the brute force robot in action after the break.

Continue reading “Brute forcing a GPS PIN”

Spare parts pulled together into a Nixie clock

We’d like to dig around in [Small Scale Research’s] parts bin. Apparently there’s good stuff in there because he managed to build this Nixie tube clock using mostly leftovers.

The chip driving the device is an ATtiny1634. We weren’t familiar with it so here’s a datasheet (pdf) if you’re curios as well. The microcontroller communicates with an old GPS module in order to keep perfect time. There is an external antenna for it which connects through the hole next to the red switch seen above. The high voltage driver is a repurposed backlight inverter which is fed 12V power from an old laptop supply.

The album linked above shows the build quite well and even includes full schematics. There are some fireworks when he encountered an issue with a pretty large cap shorting to a resistor leg. If this isn’t enough juicy detail for you there are a few more nuggets shared in the Reddit comments.

Arduino data logger maps out the potholes on your morning commute

Now you can prove that you have the bumpiest commute in the office by measuring how rough your ride actually is. [Techbitar] calls the project the Bump-O-Meter. It uses an Arduino, GPS, and accelerometer to map out rough roads.

The hardware was built on a breadboard and [Techbitar] goes into detail about connecting and communicating with each module used. Once it’s running, the logger will read up to six sensors and record them to an SD card. In the video after the break he shows the method used to dump and graph the data. He starts by looking at the data in a spreadsheet. There are many fields included in the file but only three of them are needed to graph what is seen above. After narrowing down the number of columns he heads over to GPS Visualizer and uploads the data set which is then automatically plotted on the map.

In a Utopian society all city owned vehicles would have a system like this and the bad sections of road would automatically appear on the road crew’s repair list.

Continue reading “Arduino data logger maps out the potholes on your morning commute”

Stacking GPS, GSM, and an SD card into an Arduino shield

A few years ago, [Phang Moh] and his compatriots were asked by a client if they could make a vehicle tracking device for oil tankers all around Indonesia. The request of putting thousands of trackers on tanks of explosives was a little beyond [Phang Moh]’s capability, but he did start tinkering around with GPS and GSM on an Arduino.

Now that tinkering has finally come to fruition with [Phang]’s TraLog shield, a single Arduino shield that combines GPS tracking with a GSM and GPRS transceiver. There’s also an SD card thrown in for good measure, making this one of the best tracking and data logging shields for the Arduino.

The shield can be configured to send GPS and sensor data from devices attached to an I2C bus to remote servers, or a really cool COSM server. [Phang] is selling his TraLog for $150, a fairly good deal if you consider what this thing can do.

Seems like the perfect piece of kit for just about any tracking project, whether you want to know the location of thousands of oil tankers or just a single high altitude balloon.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Brett] for finding this one.

Cellular vehicle information and control

This hardware, which was built as a Computer Engineering project by [Bryon] and his classmates, gives you feedback and control of a car though a cellular phone network. It uses text messages to communicate with a control device. This can be pretty much any cellphone, but in the clip after the break they show off an Android app which puts a pretty GUI in front of you and abstracts away the tedium of specially formatted messages.

At the heart of the system is an Arduino Mega board. It has a cellular shield with an external antennae for connectivity. A GPS device, relay board, and ODB-II module provide feedback and control to the system. The relays allow the car to be started and the doors to be locked. The GPS and ODB-II module can send back location and vehicle information (anything available from the car’s sensors). There were some issues with the text messages being blocked during testing. The team thinks that the automated back-and-forth triggered some kind of spam filter from the telecom.

There’s still more work to be done if they want to actually drive the car via remote control.

Continue reading “Cellular vehicle information and control”

Make cell phone calls with your Arduino

Cellular shields for the Arduino have been around for ages, but this is the first one we’ve seen that turns your Arduino into a proper cell phone.

The shield is based around the SIM900 GSM/GPRS radio module, and is compatible with the SIM908 GSM/GPRS module that adds a GPS receiver. Also on board this shield are a pair of 1/8″ audio jacks, perfect for connecting a microphone and headphones. Yes, you can actually make cell phone calls with your Arduino now.

The real star of this build is the new GSM Shield library. This library of code includes the methods necessary for an Arduino to function as a cell phone (answer, hang up, dial a number), but also includes a lot of improvements for TCP/IP communication.

Even though the cost of getting an Arduino communicating through a GSM or GPRS network is fairly high, we’re thinking this would be the perfect starting point for a completely open source, open hardware cell phone. A phone with the same functionality as an old Nokia brick that is also a MiFy would be an amazing piece of hardware, and would surely make for a profitable Kickstarter.