How-to: Thermite hard drive destruction

After the overwhelming response to the Hackit we posted about automated hard drive destruction last fall, we finally decided to test out some thermite hard drive destruction ourselves. This has been done on The Screen Savers but they did not show up close results of the platters. So, aluminum and black iron oxide were procured through eBay, and until it arrived we watched some YouTube videos that showed a lot of fire and no real results. We decided to see what it would take to completely obliterate a drive.

With the amount of personal data stored on your computer, we all understand the importance of destroying the data that is stored on the platters of a hard drive before disposing of it. There are many ways to destroy a hard drive; software, physical disassembly, drills, hammers, magnets/electromagnets, and acid, but none are quite as outrageous and dangerous as thermite. That’s what we’re going to do here today. Follow along for pictures and videos of the results.

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How-To: Hack a ThingamaKIT

The ThingamaKIT is an anthropomorphic analog synthesizer kit from Bleep Labs. Using “LEDacles”, photoresistors, knobs, and switches, it generates interesting high pitched vocalizations. Bleep Labs sent us a review unit and this article shares our experiences building and using the kit. We’ve also included a tutorial on making some hacks, modifications, and circuit bends to it. Skip to the end to see a video of our hacked kit in action.

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How-To: The Hacker’s Soldering Station


A good soldering station and fume extractor is a must for anyone interested in hacking and modding, but not everyone can afford the expensive professional models on the market. This How-To and the tips within it will guide you through the process of building an inexpensive homebrew fume hood complete with built-in time and temperature controlled soldering station and all the soldering tools you need.

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How-To: Make an RGB combination door lock (Part 2)


In part 1 we showed you how to build your own prototype RGB keypad. Today we’ll show off some new ideas we worked on to create the project and turn it from prototype to fully functional battle station er door lock.

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How-To: Make an RGB combination door lock (Part 1)


Part 2 can be found here

Putting a custom designed electronic lock on your space seems like a geek right of passage. For our latest workspace, we decided to skip the boring numbered keypad and build a custom RGB backlit keypad powered by an Arduino. Instead of typing in numbers, your password is a unique set of colors. In today’s How-To, we’ll show you how to build your own and give you the code to make it all work.

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How-To: Super simple serial terminal

This hack shows how to make a dumb terminal out of a keyboard, LCD screen, and an 8-bit microcontroller. From time to time, a portable dumb terminal can be handy for when you have to rescue a headless server that’s acting up or if you are building a minicomputer out of a WRT, or if you just want to learn how to run a keyboard and LCD screen with a microcontroller. This super simple serial terminal will use RS-232 to control a headless linux system. Additionally, you might want to check into some of the command line interface programs that allow web browsing, AIM and IRC chatting and more directly from the terminal, but nothing beats being able to track your pizzas with this device.

The Linux system in question here will be Linux Mint. It’s a young distro based on Ubuntu that’s gaining a lot of attention lately, though the principles can be used for other Linux distros.

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How-To: Expand your camera with CHDK

As anyone who has lusted over the technical specifications for Canon’s new Digital Rebel XSi knows, the capabilities of the average point and shoot camera are severely limited. Using the CHDK firmware hack, the features of Canon point and shoot cameras can be significantly expanded, allowing for ultra-high speed photography, very long exposures, time lapse photography, and RAW capture. This How-To provides a guide to our experiences using the CHDK firmware, and shows just how easy it is to get more out of a point and shoot than ever thought possible.

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