Build your own dumb USB power strip


Here’s a USB charging center which [Kenneth Finnegan] built using parts from his junk bin. We’d like to reiterate our claim that he must have the most magical of junk bins (the last thing we saw him pull out of it was a 24-port managed Ethernet switch).

The jack on the side accepts the barrel connector from a 12V wall wart. [Kenneth] mentions that the 2.1mm jack is a standard he uses in all of his projects. Inside there’s a switch mode power supply that provides the regulated 5V to each USB port. We really like the fact that he added some protection; diy is no fun if you end up frying your beloved multi-hundred dollar devices. The yellow components are polyfuses which will cut the power if 600 mA of current is exceeded. This works great for almost all of his devices, but his iPod 4G doesn’t like the system. It sees the voltage dip just a bit and stops charging entirely.

Malicious Raspberry Pi power strip looks a bit scary

What you see here is a Raspberry Pi shoehorned into a power strip. The idea is to leverage the power and low-cost of this board into a stealthy network observation device. It packs a similar punch as the Power Pwn but should cost at least $1100 less!

The fact that when you plug your Ethernet into this ‘surge protector’ it starts sniffing your traffic doesn’t really scare us. It’s the mains wiring that traverses the RPi itself that’s a bit unnerving. Call us overly-protective, but we like to see some shielding between our high-voltage and low-voltage components. But that aside, the rest of the hack is pretty solid. That item wrapped in electrical tape is a power converter for the board itself. It’s not shown here, but the NIC is patched into the surge protector’s RJ-45 connector. The one thing that might be nice to include is a WiFi nub so that you can access the strip wirelessly. This would open the door for other snooping items, like a small microphone.

Bluetooth control in a power strip

[Mansour] had a ceramic space heater mounted near the ceiling of his room. Since heat rises this is not the best design. He upgraded to an infrared heater which works a lot better, but lacks the timer function he used on the old unit. His solution wasn’t just to add a timer. He ended up building a Bluetooth module into a power strip in order to control the device wirelessly. He ends up losing all but two outlets on the strip, but everything fits inside the original case so we think it’s a reasonable trade-off.

He uses relays on both the live and neutral wires to switch the two outlets. These are driven via MOSFETs to protect the ATmega168 which controls the board. The microcontroller and Bluetooth module both need a regulated DC power source, so he included a transformer and regulator in the mix. After the break you can see him demonstrating the system using two lamps. There’s even a terminal interface which lets you select different control commands by sending the appropriate character. This interface makes script a breeze.

At least this power strip doesn’t spy on you.

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Power Pwn’s price tag is as dangerous as it’s black-hat uses

This rather normal-looking power strip hides a secret inside. It’s called the Power Pwn, and it conceals hardware which facilitates remote penetration testing of a network. It really is the ultimate in drop hardware as you can quickly swap it with existing power strip. Who’s going to question it?

It’s got almost all the bells and whistles. There’s dual Ethernet ports, Bluetooth with 1000′ range, and WiFi with a high gain antenna. The SoC inside comes with Debian 6 and all the exploit tools you might want pre-loaded. There’s even a 3G adapter, but it’s external and not pictured above. The thing is, for a pre-order price-tag of  $1,295 we think that 3G should have been internalized and come with a lifetime unlimited data plan! That could be a bit overboard… our heads are still spinning from the sticker shock.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen hardware from this company. Their Pwn Plug was used in this project. We just didn’t catch the $595 price tag for that device until now.

[via Reddit via Zdnet]

Bench supply built in a power strip

Back in his college days [Print_Screen] grew tired of always building a power supply on his breadboard. To make prototyping quicker he came up with the bench supply that is build into a power strip. This one is using linear regulators for power, and create much less noise on the lines than a supply made from a switch-mode PSU.

First thing’s first, he needed to step down from mains voltage and rectify the AC into DC. He gutted the smallest adapter he could find and managed to fit it into the gutted power strip. It puts out 15V which will work perfectly for the regulators he’s chosen. Each one gets its own slot where an outlet is on the case. The ground hole has been plugged by a toggle switch which routes power to the free-formed regulator/capacitors/heat sink modules. There is a slot for 15V (coming directly off of the converter), 10V, 5V, 3.3V, and two variable regulators which are controlled by the knobs above the outlet. We’ve never seen anything like this and find it most excellent!

[Thanks OverFlow636 via Reddit]

DIY microcontroller-switched power strip


[Teknynja] was looking for a way to control several discrete AC-powered devices using a microcontroller, and while he did consider the Powerswitch tail 2 from Adafruit, handling 5 devices would get pretty expensive. Rather than buying a complete off the shelf solution, he decided to build his own 5-way switched outlet.

He picked up a sturdy metal power strip from a local hardware store along with some Sharp S201S06V relays he ordered online. After test fitting his relays inside the power strip’s chassis, he wired up 5 of the 6 outlets through them to allow for switching via a microcontroller. He configured the 6th outlet to be live at all times, providing a power source for the control system he planned on using to switch the other receptacles.

[Teknynja] pulled the connector from an old PS/2 mouse for use as a control wire, connecting one wire to each of the relays. He says that the strip is working quite well, and after a few months of use it is holding up nicely.

Monitoring and controlling your garage door from afar with an IP camera


Last year, [Mark Simonelli’s] wife asked him if he could design something that would allow her to remotely check if their garage door had been left open. [Mark] jumped at the chance to tinker with electronics and designed a system around an old TrendNet IP camera. When remotely connected to the camera using IP Cam Viewer Pro for his Android phone, [Mark] could watch the video stream and also trigger the garage door opener via a small relay circuit he built.

His remote opener worked well, but his camera unfortunately lacked any sort of IR vision/low light capabilities. Since his camera wasn’t very useful in the dark, he decided that he needed to add some way to trigger a light when remotely monitoring his garage. He figured the best way to do this would be to control a power strip-connected light using a circuit similar to the one he built to open the garage door itself.

He stopped by the hardware store and picked up a cheap power strip, disassembling it and removing the power toggle once he got home. He fitted it with a small 5v relay, which he connected to the camera’s terminal block. While he admits that it might not be the absolute safest solution, he can easily control both the light and the garage door with a simple swipe of his phone’s screen.

Continue reading to see his remote controlled power strip in action, and be sure to swing by his site to see more details about his camera-controlled garage door opener.

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