When it comes to large systems, there are a lot more computers than there are people maintaining them. That’s not a big deal since you can simply use a KVM to connect one Keyboard/Video/Mouse terminal up to all of them, switching between each box simply and seamlessly. The side effect is that now the KVM has just as much access to all of those systems as the human who caresses the keyboard. [Yaniv Balmas] and [Lior Oppenheim] spent some time reverse engineering the firmware for one of these devices and demonstrated how shady firmware can pwn these systems, even when some of the systems themselves are air-gapped from the Internet. This was their first DEF CON talk and they did a great job of explaining what it took to hack these devices.
Every now and then a remote control acts up. Maybe you are trying to change the channel on your television and it’s just not working. A quick way to determine if the remote control is still working is by using a cell phone camera to try to see if the IR LED is still lighting up. That can work sometimes but not always. [Rui] had this problem and he decided to build his own circuit to make it easier to tell if a remote control was having problems.
The circuit uses a Vishay V34836 infrared receiver to pick up the invisible signals that are sent from a remote control. A Microchip 12F683 processes the data and has two main output modes. If the remote control is receiving data continuously, then a green LED lights up to indicate that the remote is functioning properly. If some data is received but not in a continuous stream, then a yellow LED lights up instead. This indicates that the batteries on the remote need to be replaced.
The circuit also includes a red LED as a power indicator as well as RS232 output of the actual received data. The PCB was cut using a milling machine. It’s glued to the top of a dual AAA battery holder, which provides plenty of current to run the circuit.
If you’ve ever looked into low-level parallel port access you may have learned that it only works with actual parallel port hardware, and not with USB parallel port adapters. But here’s a solution that will change your thinking. It borrows from the way printers communicate to allow USB to parallel port bit banging without a microcontroller (dead link, try Internet Archive).
Sure, adding a microcontroller would make this dead simple. All you need to do is program the chip to emulate the printer’s end of the communications scheme. But that’s not the approach taken here. Instead the USB to RS232 (serial) converter also pictured above is used as a reset signal. The strobe pin on the parallel port drives an inverter which triggers a thyristor connected to the busy pin. Thyristors are bistable switches so this solution alone will never clear the busy pin. That’s where the serial connection comes into play. By alternating the data transmitted from the computer between the bit-bang values sent to LP0 and 0xF0 sent to the serial connector the eight parallel data bits become fully addressable. See the project in action in the clip after the break.
As a learning experience [GeriBoss] put together an IR remote control receiver board for his PC. His want of volume control from across the room was reason enough to undertake the project, and he got to work with a 38 kHz receiver module and Manchester encoding in the process.
The decoder portion of the project is built around an ATtiny2313 chip. The external interrupt pin (INT0) is connected to a TSOP31238. When it decodes a valid remote code it pushes a character to the RS232 chip connecting to the computer’s serial port.
We think this is a wonderful accomplishment for [GeriBoss], but we encourage him to refine the design further. You’ll notice in the image there’s a USB port on the board which is only used to provide regulated power. We know it’s possible to use V-USB with the ATtiny2313 to add USB functionality and this would be a great way to learn about it. We’d also like to mention the resistor and capacitor suggested for filtering the IR receiver module signal. We’ve included the recommended application schematic for that part after the break.
Dust off that old GPIB hardware and hook it up to your modern computing platform using either of these two solutions. If you haven’t a clue what we’re talking about you probably don’t own any fifty-year-old test equipment. But the General Purpose Interface Bus (aka IEEE-488) was fairly common on 1960’s era test equipment like multimeters and logic analyzers.
To the lower right is a USB to GPIB converter board that [Steven Casagrande] developed. This one is PIC based, using the 18F4520 and an FTDI chip to handle the USB side of the equation.
Check out the connector that is used for this protocol. We’d bet that’s not the easiest part to source. But at least now you’ll know what you’re looking at when pawing through the flea market offerings.
[Fezoj] likes to play around with microcontrollers and decided that he wanted to try a Bus Pirate as a new tool in his adventures. Since it’s open hardware he had his own board made and populated it himself. The trouble is, he works only with AVR chips and doesn’t have a PIC programmer. No problem, he figured out how to flash the PIC24FJ using an ATmega8.
To get started, he grabbed a copy of the flash programming specifications from Microchip. Once he had implemented the protocol in the AVR code, it was just a matter of getting the downloaded PIC firmware to the AVR. An RS232 chip gives him the serial connection he needs, with the help of his own programming software written with Visual Studio.
It’s not a robust solution for prototyping on the PIC platform, but maybe it could be developed for that purpose. For now, all he needed was a bootloader so that he could flash the Bus Pirate via a USB connection.
[via Dangerous Prototypes]
Here’s a project that looks to eliminate the PC necessary for pushing weather station data to the Internet. When you think about it, getting data from your own weather sensing hardware to a site like Weather Underground doesn’t require very much processing at all. The largest chunk of the puzzle is a window to the Internet, and that can be easily accomplished with a microcontroller rather than an always-on computer.
In this case, [Boris Landoni] is using an Arduino along with an RS232 shield and an Ethernet shield. The weather station, a La Crosse WS23xx series, already has an RS232 serial port for grabbing the data. The shield is necessary to step the voltage down to levels that will play nicely with Arduino. It also gives you a D-Sub connector for easy hook up. From there he hit up the documentation for Weather Undeground API, writing code to build the necessary string which is pushed over the Ethernet connection at regular intervals.
If your weather station only offers a USB port you’re not out of luck. Using an embedded platform with USB host functionality you can achieve the same results as we see here.