Hack The Pentagon, Legally

The United States Department of Defense just launched the world’s first government-funded bug bounty program named HackThePentagon. Following the example of Facebook, Google, and other big US companies, the DoD finally provides “a legal avenue for the responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities”.

However, breaking into the Pentagon’s weapon programs will still get you in trouble. This pilot program has a very limited scope of the Pentagon’s cafeteria menu some non-critical systems and is open only between April 18 and May 12 this year. In total, about $150,000 of bounties may be rewarded to responsible hackers.

Anyone can take part in the program, but to receive financial rewards, you need to fulfill a list of criteria. Your profile will undergo a criminal background check and certain restrictions based on your country of residence may apply. Also, to hack into the government’s computer system and get a tax return, you must be a US taxpayer in the first place.

Even though this framework turns the initiative more into one-month hacking contest than a permanently installed bug bounty program, it is certainly a good start. The program itself is hosted on HackerOne, a platform that aims to streamline the process of distributing bug bounties.

NYC Maker Faire: The Logistics of Manufacturing Pentagons

Most of the Maker Faire attendees have spent weeks or months putting together their projects. [Matt] is doing things a little differently. He brought two thousand boards, each containing twelve pentagon PCBs with individually addressable LEDs mounted in the center. This weekend, he, his team, and anyone else who can wield a soldering iron will be assembling these pentagon panels into a gigantic glowing crystal.

Last year, [Matt] put together a Kickstarter for Blinkytape, a WS2812 LED strip with an Arduino on one end of the strip to generate patterns of colors. This year, [Matt] is moving into three dimensions with a system of pentagons with a single RGB LED mounted in the center. The pentagons can be soldered together into a regular polyhedra or a convoluted wall of LEDs that form a geometric crystal pattern of blinkyness. The Kickstarter for the BlinkyTile should be up before the faire is over.

[Matt] has a few tips for anyone wanting to run their own Kickstarter: don’t have a lot of SKUs. [Matt] only has to keep track of a single panel of twelve pentagons. Compare this to other failed Kickstarters with dozens of options, several colors, and a few stretch goals, and you quickly see why many, many Kickstarters fail. [Matt] is just selling one thing.

Hackaday Links: May 21, 2012

Turning anything into a touch sensor

Makey Makey is a small board with a USB plug and bunch of contact points for alligator clips. Plug the Makey into your computer and attach just about anything to the contacts, and you can make anything into a video game controller, a keyboard, a piano, or pretty much anything you can imagine. If [Sprite_tm] copied it, you know it has to be cool.

RepRaps will finally cost a million dollars

The Pentagon is throwing money at 3D printers. It’s “only” $60 Million the DoD is putting into 3d printer research, but hopefully our most brilliant researchers will help refine some of the ‘unsolved problems’ – like metal and circuit printing – the 3D printer community is facing.

Getting started with FPGAs

[Tim] found a neat little $40 FPGA board aimed right at the hobby hacker. The good news: It’s compatible with Arduino shields, and it’s very cheap. The bad news: it only has 1280 logic cells, so you probably won’t be emulating CPUs on this thing. If anyone has a teardown / project with this board, send it in.

Improving a Bluetooth dongle with a bit of wire

Unsurprisingly, the extremely cheap Bluetooth dongle [Mike] bought on eBay didn’t have great reception or range. No problem, because you can just replace the internal antenna with a piece of wire cut to length. Now bluetooth devices are recognized instantly, and there are no Bluetooth ‘dead spots’ around [Mike]’s computer.

Come to France, make stuff

The Toulouse Hackerspace is having a little shindig this coming weekend (May 25-27) featuring a conference, workshop, concerts and performances. If you’re in the area, drop on by,