Dead HDD smartphone stand still holds secret data

We’ve actually got a few dead hard drives collecting dust so when we hear about a project that finds a use for one we perk up a bit. But we were somewhat disappointed when we discovered this was a smartphone stand, pen holder, and LED lamp in one. We just don’t have a use for this kind of triple-tasker. But wait… the dead drive has a secret. It still serves as data storage, if you know how to enabling the drive within.

As you can seen, [Samimiy] removed all the guts of the HDD, repurposing the platters and mounting brackets as the phone holder, and mounting plate for a couple handfuls of LEDs. The lamp portion can be adjusted thanks to the articulated based from a small desk lamp he had in his parts bin. The device receives power from the USB connector you can see in the upper right. That’s where the first part of the secret comes in. This isn’t just supplying power, it provides a USB connection to the thumb drive hidden inside the HDD case. But just connecting it to your computer won’t mount it. [Samimy] took the light sensor from an automatic nightlight and set it up below the pen holder. If you shine a flashlight down the hole in that piece of wood it will routed power to the secret USB drive causing it to enumerate on your system. Pretty clever! Take a look at his build video after the break.

We wonder if there’s a way to incorporate this light-based lock system into that mouse-mounted thumb drive.

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This image contains a hidden audio track

This image contains a hidden audio track which you’re very familiar with. Well, it used to. We’d bet we messed up the careful encoding that [Chris McKenzie] used to hide data within an image when we resized the original.

He’s using a method called Steganography to hide a message in plain sight. Since digital images use millions of colors, you can mess with that color data just a bit and the eye will not really be able to pick up any difference. Each pixel has had the eight least significant bits swapped out for the data [Chris] is hiding. Since the image uses 24-bit color, the largest possible change (going from 0 to 255) in those bottom eight bits will only result in a color change of about 0.15%. And that’s only for one pixel; in most cases the change will be much less.

He shows his work, both decoding and encoding using Ruby, and even provides a one-liner which lets you playback the audio without downloading anything (just make sure you’ve got all of the dependencies installed). Never gonna give, you, up…

[via Reddit]

Hidden bookshelf switch

So you don’t have any secret passageways in your house, but if you’ve got a bookshelf this secret switch can add some fun to your routine. [Brandon] saw a commercially available version which was out of stock when he went to order so he set out to build his own.

He’s using the switch to operate a lamp. The donor part for the hack is a lamp dimmer which you’ll find at the big box store. This is really just a pass-through wall plug with an extension cord. By cutting the dimmer module off of the extension a push button can be used to connect and disconnect one of the conductors in the line. Make sure you use a push button rated or mains voltage!

To make the push switch work with a book [Brandon] bend a bracket which will slide into the spine of a hardcover. We love his homemade press brake (angle iron, a sturdy hinge, and a chunk of 2×4) used when shaping the bracket. Once everything’s in place nobody will ever know there’s anything special about those books.

DIY hidden bookshelf speakers

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[Steve] was tired of looking at the speakers in his workshop and began searching around for something a little more aesthetically pleasing. Having recently received a set of hollowed out books used for hiding things as a gift, he thought that he might be able to solve his speaker issue in a similar fashion.

He grabbed a couple of books from a local thrift store and promptly removed the pages. They were replaced with cloth-covered plywood to make the device more sturdy while simulating the look of pages.

He mounted his speaker inside one of the books, and in a second installed a small 7W Class A amplifier. A third book houses a padded compartment to hold his iPod, completing the set.

[Steve] reports that the speakers are pretty much undetectable, and the sound quality is decent too. In fact, we’ve started looking for some old books to re-purpose in our workshop as well.

Batman inspired hidden light switch

hidden_switch

[Chris] over at the New Hobbyist sent in his latest creation, a wireless light switch hidden within a statue bust. While shopping around for another project, he came across a wireless relay that can can be used to switch a standard 120v AC load. He bought the part without a project in mind, but inspiration quickly struck. Some of you young’uns might not remember the original Batman television series, but [Chris] certainly does. To access the Bat Cave, Bruce Wayne had to flip a secret switch located inside a bust of William Shakespeare that adorned his desk. While he doesn’t have a secret door to activate, [Chris] couldn’t think of any better way to switch on the lights in his man cave. He found a similar-looking bust of Beethoven and got to chopping his head off.

He fabricated a small mount for a push button, hiding the battery powered remote underneath, and an old 12v wall wart was repurposed to drive the wireless receiver. While not overly complicated, this is definitely a fun project and could make for a neat light switch in a kid’s room. Interested in some more Batman inspired hacks? Be sure to check out this Bat Cave-style entrance switch from a few years back.

Keep reading to see a video of his hidden light switch in action.

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USB mouse with storage added

[Thice] wanted to try his hand at incorporating a USB driving into other devices. He chose to add storage to his USB mouse but didn’t want to alter the factory look provided by a color-changing LED inside. To make things fit he ended up cutting a good portion of a USB hub’s circuit board off and placing it beneath the mouse circuitry. You can see the board from the thumb drive wedged into one end of the case in the image above.

He sees this as a way of hiding data in plain sight. This is true, and it’s along the same lines we’ve seen before with a WiFi dongle in a mouse, or the thumbdrive in a controller hacks. To be truly hidden we’d like to see someone incorporate a microcontroller that monitors the mouse buttons for a certain code, and then toggles the voltage to the USB storage. This would simulate plugging and unplugging the drive, hiding it virtually as well as physically.

Covert iPhone Moleskine case


Crafting isn’t really our thing, but just last week we were planning on doing this project. Thanks to the how-to singularity: the longer we wait, the more likely someone else will do our dirty work. The instructions are this:

  1. Cut a hole in a book.
  2. Stick your phone in that book.
  3. Let her open the book.

Wired’s write up has about 600 more words if you need clarification. The ebook on the screen is Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, so expect to see this on BoingBoing… and again when it’s fan translated into Polish. [bre] made a similar hidden compartment book last Fall for Make’s PDFcast.

In all seriousness, we do enjoy the idea of carrying an innocuous little book around that could be doing some covert WiFi scanning, acting as a mobile accesspoint, or live streaming our location to friends. Unfortunately, since it’s an iPhone, most of this isn’t possible yet; you can’t even voice dial from your headset, while leaving the notebook in your pocket. This case also blurs what is considered rude. Most people would be annoyed if you started txting mid conversation, but people taking notes in Moleskines don’t get the same treatment.