riotNAS: Mobile Storage for Street Photography

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You’re likely aware of the protests and demonstrations happening throughout Venezuela over the past few months, and as it has with similar public outcries in recent memory, technology can provide unique affordances to those out on the streets. [Alfredo] sent us this tip to let us know about riotNAS: a portable storage device for photos and videos taken by protesters (translated).

The premise is straightforward: social media is an ally for protesters on the ground in these situations, but phones and cameras are easily recognized and confiscated. riotNAS serves up portable backup storage via a router running OpenWRT and Samba. [Alfredo] then connected some USB memory for external storage and a battery that gives around 4 hours of operating time.

For now he’s put the equipment inside a soft, makeup-looking bag, which keeps it inconspicuous and doesn’t affect the signal.  Check out his website for future design plans—including stashing the device inside a hollowed out book—and some sample photos stored on the riotNAS system. If you’re curious what’s going on in Venezuela, hit up the Wikipedia page or visit some of the resources at the bottom of [Alfredo's] site.

More Drive Bays, Cooling, and Power for a DIY Raid Box

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We’ve actually been on the look-out for a Network Attached Storage solution for home use. We want an embedded option just for power saving, but have you seen what a commercially available embedded RAID systems costs? It might be better to find an energy friendly PSU and use it in a PC case RAID conversion like this one that [Samimy] pulled off. He started with an old computer case and modded it to house more hard drives.

The image above shows his mounting scheme. Most of us have defunct optical drives in the junk bin. Many times they end up as a way to play with CNC, but in this case [Samimy] got rid of the guts and used a couple of angle brackets to mount a hard disk inside of the enclosure. Now that he can bolt more drives to the case he needed to power them, as the PSU didn’t have enough SATA power connectors. He clipped off a daisy-chain of connectors from a broken supply and spliced it into this one. Finally he cut a hole in the top of the case to add a bit more cooling to the system.

He’s using Windows 7 to power a RAID0 and RAID1 array using four drives. To help increase performance of the system he also used USB thumb drives as cache. This is something we’re not familiar with and we’re glad he provided a link to ReadyBoost, the software which makes it possible.

[Read more...]

Adding Automatic Power-On to a Linksys NAS

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We feel [Jim's] pain in having to physically press the power button to boot his Network Attached Storage device after a power outage. If you live in an area with frequent brief but annoying power blinks it wouldn’t take long to brew up your own solution. Here you can see the ATtiny45 that he added for the auto-boot.

Aside from having to go upstairs in order to reboot the machine there is also a compulsory disk check that his Linksys NAS200 performs before files are available on the network. You can see that he used an 8-pin socket which lets him remove the chip for programming. The socket gets a ground connection from the shielding of the USB port, it pulls 5V off of the linear regulator right next to it, and the green wire connects to the power button’s conductor.

The sketch compiled for the chip starts a ten second timer are power up. When the timer goes off it pulls the pin low and then high, simulating a button press. In hobby electronics it’s a common problem that we have to invent issues to use as the next project. So it’s nice to see a real life application like this one.

Android stick mutates into a home server

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Kiss that energy hungry PC you’ve been using as a home server goodbye. [Vince Loschiavo] shows us how he squeezed a remarkable amount of functionality out of an inexpensive Android stick which manages his home’s digital empire.

He started off just wanting some network attached storage. For this he grabbed an MK802 Android Stick which you can get for a song if you find the right deal. To bend it to his will he said goodbye to the Android OS, installing Ubuntu for ARM instead. The stick (which is missing its case in the image above) connects to a USB hub in host mode, but does actually draw all of its power from the hub itself. This made it possible to attach a USB to Ethernet adapter to boost the speed which would have been limited by the WiFi connection. There’s a 320 gig USB hard drive for the storage. With that much space on hand it makes sense to add streaming media service as well which is simple since it’s running Linux. The last part of his work actually turns it into an Asterisk server by way of Google Voice and a SIP phone. An impressive outcome at a bargain price to be sure!

Hacked together NAS in a box

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[David] is serving up files on his home network thanks to this Frankenstein’s monster of a Network Attached Storage device. It looks like he raided all the good bits from his parts bin to bring it all together.

The case is a tin box which may have been for a card/board game or some holiday treats. The hardware started with an NS-K330 server which he picked up from Deal Extreme. It has a NIC and a couple of USB ports but it tends to run really hot so he added a heat sinks to the board’s main chips. The hard drives are both 2.5″ form factor from old laptops. He uses some 2.5″ to 3.5″ mounting adapters to attach them to the tin box. A pair of USB to IDE adapters shed their cases and were solder directly to the wires which make a connection with the server’s USB ports.

There is a Linux distro specifically for this hardware but [David] wasn’t impressed with it. He ended up compiling OpenWRT for it and is satisfied with the functionality that provides.

NAS-based transcoding facilitates security cam viewing on iPhone

[Zitt] has a security camera which will send him messages any time it detects motion. However annoying this might seem, we’re sure he has his reasons for needing this much immediate feedback. The real problem comes when he goes to view the feed on his iPhone. His solution is to turn the camera’s notifications off, and use his own script to transcode a clip and shoot off an email.

As you can see above, the end result is a concise email that includes the recently captured clip, as well as links to the live feed. He has been storing the clips on an LG N4B2 Network Storage Server (NAS) and since he’s got root access to the Linux system on the device it was an easy starting point for the new system. After he compiled FFmpeg from source (which handles the transcoding) he started work on the script which backs up the recordings and sends the email messages.

One thing he wants to add is a method to clear out the old backup videos. Having encountered a similar issue ourselves we decided to share our one-liner which solves the problem. Find it after the break.

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NAS firmware hack: Synology running on QNAP hardware

[XVortex] pulled off a pretty incredible firmware hack. He managed to get a firmware upgrade for Synology running on a QNAP machine. These are both Network Attached Storage devices, but apparently the Synology firmware is better than what QNAP supplies with their offerings.

The nice thing is that this is not a one-off hack. You can download the raw image and give it a spin for yourself. A few words of warning though. It will only work on models which use the Atom and ICH9R chipset, you’re out of luck if you have one sporting an ARM processor. You will also need to format the drives once the new firmware is flashed so do this before you fill them up.

This harkens back to the days when DD-WRT was first being run on Linksys routers. We don’t remember if that started with upgrade image hacks like this one uses, or if the source code was available (Linksys was compelled to release it once it was proven they were in violation of the GPL).

See a proof video of this hack after the break.

[Read more...]

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