How to Backup and Restore Your IP Camera Firmware

[Filipe] has been playing around with custom firmware for inexpensive IP cameras. Specifically, he has been using cameras based on a common HI3815 chip. When you are playing around with firmware like this, a major concern is that you may end up bricking the device and rendering it useless. [Filipe] has documented a relatively simple way to backup and restore the firmware on these cameras so you can hack to your heart’s content.

The first part of this hack is hardware oriented. [Filipe] cracked open the camera to reveal the PCB. The board has labeled serial TX and RX pads. After soldering a couple of wires to these pads, [Filipe] used a USB to serial dongle to hook his computer up to the camera’s serial port.

Any terminal program should now be able to connect to the camera at 115200 baud while the camera is booting up. The trick is to press “enter” during the boot phase. This allows you to log in as root with no password. Next you can reset the root password and reboot the camera. From now on you can simply connect to the phone via telnet and log in as root.

From here, [Filipe] copies all of the camera’s partitions over to an NFS share using the dd command. He mentions that you can also use FTP for this if you prefer. At this point, the firmware backup is completed.

Knowing how to restore the backup is just as important as knowing how to create it. [Filipe] built a simple TFTP server and copied the firmware image to it in two chunks, each less than 5MB. The final step is to tell the camera how to find the image. First you need to use the serial port to get the camera back to the U-Boot prompt. Then you configure the camera’s IP address and the TFTP server’s IP address. Finally, you copy each partition into RAM via TFTP and then copy that into flash memory. Once all five partitions are copied, your backup is safely restored and your camera can live to be hacked another day.

Go Vintage! Learn to Repair and Restore Mechanical Pocket and Wrist Watches.

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Until recently, watches have been entirely mechanical where each wheel, gear, and mechanism representing a milestone in our understanding of precision manufacturing and timekeeping.

One of the very first watches, created by a locksmith.
One of the very first watches, created by a locksmith.

Today it is nearly impossible to find watchmakers to service or repair vintage mechanical pocket and wristwatches, so we have to do it ourselves. Learn to repair vintage mechanical watches. You can do this and we’ll show you how.

They tick, mechanical watches have a pulse. First created in the 16th century by locksmiths, these early watches could only resolve time down to the hour and for this reason displayed time with only one hour hand.

By the 18th century fusee technology enabled watches to achieve accuracies to within seconds.

Continue reading “Go Vintage! Learn to Repair and Restore Mechanical Pocket and Wrist Watches.”

Restoring an Industrial Tractor

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[Nickolas] dropped us a tip about a Youtube channel where [stevewatr] documents the restoration of an Oliver 770 tractor through no less than 133 videos. These videos span the last year, starting with finding the tractor in fairly dense undergrowth. He spends quite a bit of time troubleshooting the engine, explaining his thought process, and showing all of the steps he takes to get the tractor running reliably again. He also delves into fixes for the electrical and hydraulic systems.

In his tip, [Nickolas] said he just couldn’t stop watching, and we agree, this is really a fascinating series. One of the things we love about these videos is that [stevewatr] doesn’t filter out his mistakes. That means we get to see his failures and successes… Everything from how jump starting wasn’t possible with a small jumper wire, to getting the engine to start cold without a primer. That’s the beauty of our fail-of-the-week posts. Absorb it all, and you’ll be prepared when you run into related problems yourself.

[stevewatr’s] last video doesn’t show a completed tractor, so we look forward to seeing what happens as the project progresses. Even if you aren’t interested in having a tractor of your own, you can certainly use some of this information while building your own personal mech. Give it a try!

Hacking your MacBook Air restore drive to install OSX Lion

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[Josh Wright] wrote in with a handy little hack just in time for today’s release of Mac OSX Lion. If you’re not familiar with the new version of the OS, Apple has decided to change things up this time around, completely eliminating physical distribution media.

In the event that you need to run a factory restore, this becomes an issue for some users. Computers with DVD drives can run a burned copy of the previously downloaded Lion installer, but MacBook Air owners are left hanging. Their restoration process is more time consuming, requiring a system restore and the download of OSX Lion, followed by the subsequent upgrade process. [Josh] thought it would be great if you skip the initial restore step and jump straight to installing Lion, so he hacked his USB restore media to do just that.

While copying the OS to a USB drive might sound trivial, the process is not as straightforward as it sounds – not surprisingly, Apple has put measures in place to prevent mere mortals from altering the contents of the drive. [Josh] put together an easy to follow tutorial that walks you through removing the drive’s protection and copying your brand new OSX Lion restore image to it.

While you might be asking, “Why jump through all these hoops when a normal flash drive would suffice?”, we think that his writeup is quite helpful. We see no reason to tie up a usable flash drive to store your restoration disc when you already have a perfectly good (albeit locked) drive at your disposal.

♦The only caveat to the process is that you need a Windows machine, virtual or otherwise, to complete the first step – a requirement that elicited a hearty chuckle from us.

Too much time, not enough pressure

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[Audin] got a hold of a pressure gauge and decided to turn it into a clock. We were under the impression that these types of gauges were filled with oil but he didn’t detail cleaning it up for his purposes. Once he gained access to the guts he replaced them with a stepper motor. The motor connects to an Arduino with the help of a Darlington array for handling the large load. [Audin’s] plans include using a real time clock (on order) and moving to an AVR ATmega8 microprocessor once the prototyping is finished. In the mean time, he has posted the code used in his current prototype.

Stay with us past the page break for some video of this in action. He’s got the needle dialed in for very precise movement and has coded a “jitter” effect as well. We’re not sure this would be the most convenient clock, but we’d love to affix it to our kitchen stove for a gnarly looking timer. [Audin] acquired the gauge at his local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a place we’ve used many times to source reclaimed and unused items of all kinds for our projects.

Continue reading “Too much time, not enough pressure”

Restoring yellowed computer plastics

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Many of our cherished computers and consoles from the past have not stood up well over time. It’s not the hardware as much as the color. From Commodores, Apples, to Super Nintendos, the machines have slowly drifted towards a sickly yellow and even brown. The culprit appears to be the fire retardant chemicals used in the plastics. Amiga enthusiasts have spent the last year perfecting a technique that restores the plastic of these machines to its original splendor. Dubbed ‘Retr0brite‘ it’s a gel made from hydrogen peroxide, xanthan gum, glycerine, and ‘Oxy’ style laundry booster. The results are really impressive. If you do start restoring your own machines, caution should be used since it requires strong concentrations of hydrogen peroxide typically employed in bleaching hair.

[via Waxy]