Launchpad takes ultra low power to the extreme

We’ve all known the MSP430s under the Launchpad are designed to be low power, but who wants to bet how long the chip can last on only 20F worth of capacitors? A couple of hours? A day at max? [Kenneth Finnegan] setup a MSP430 with supercaps to find out. To make sure the chip is actually running, [Kenneth] programmed it to count from 0 to 9 over a period of 10 seconds, and then reset. To get it ultra low power, the chip is in sleep mode most of the time, and a raw low current LCD is used to display the output. While [Kenneth] simply checks the chip every few hours to see if it’s still counting, a setup much like the Flash Destroyer, tracking a clock and then storing the current value would get a more exact time of death. Either way, it’s been over 3 weeks…and still counting. Video after the rift.

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Porting CHDK to new cameras

While researching the CHDK How-To, we came across the team’s instructions for porting the firmware to entirely new cameras. In theory, CHDK should work on any Canon running the DIGIC II or III processor since most of them are running the same VxWorks OS. A dump of the camera’s firmware is required before porting work can begin. On some cameras, the firmware was retrieved using software, but others required a hardware route. Pictured above is a Canon A610 that’s slowly flashing out every bit of its firmware using the built in LED. The photodiode is hooked up to a soundcard where the entire bitstream is recorded. It takes 1-7 hours to read the entire firmware. Once the sound file has been captured, it’s reverted to the original bytes and can then be decompiled with something like IDApro.

Read every bit on a DVD

If you are curious about reading all the bits on a DVD, [tmbinc] has devised a hardware hack that uses a Pioneer DVD drive with leads soldered onto it and a Cypress FX2 microcontroller board to grab the flow of bits and push them over USB2.0. My favorite part of this tutorial is when you slow the spinning DVD down very slightly with your finger with a scope hooked up over what you believe to be the raw data stream from the disk. If the data rate slows when you physically slow down the disk, you probably are grabbing data from the correct pin. [tmbinc] even put together a software tool to process the resulting raw DVD data.