66% or better

Bench equipment tip: Screenshot of old oscilloscopes

oscillocam-oscilloscope-camera-accessory

Here’s a quick tip on capturing the output of oscilloscopes that don’t have that native feature. [Paulo Renato] used a cookie tin as a camera cowl for capturing CRT oscilloscope screenshots.

We figure if you’ve got any kind of functioning oscilloscope you’re lucky. And although it’s nice to pull down the measurements to your PC on the newer models, the results [Paul] gets with this rig are still satisfactory. The plastic cookie box he used blocks out ambient light while holding the camera at a consistent focal length. He used some flat black spray paint to make sure the obnoxious yellow plastic didn’t interfere with the image, then drilled a hole which fits tightly around his camera lens.

You’ll need to monkey with the exposure settings to get the best image. But once you’ve got it dialed in it should be the same every time you want to take a picture of the screen.

HP16500B Logic Analyzer controlled with RS-232 and more

hp16500b-logic-analyzer

We’re pretty spoiled these days in that hobby electronics has made a lot of cool tools available on a budget. It’s hard to think of a better example than a logic analyzer, which you can get for a day or two of pay. Consumer-level devices just didn’t exist until a few years ago. [Jouko S] has this HP16500B industrial grade logic analyzer in his shop. It’s from the early 1990′s and it’s got a ton of features. Grabbing a still functional yet super-old model used to be the only way for hobbyists. But one thing you won’t find on it is the ability to connect it to your USB port to get screen captures. Younger readers might not recognize the slot at the top for magnetic media called a floppy disk which is the in-built way of recording your sessions. He set out to find an easier way to get color screen captures and ended up adding RS-232 control to the old hardware.

There is a 25-pin port on the back of the old hulk. But it is a female connector and he didn’t have the adapters on hand to make it work with his serial-to-USB converter. During development he used a breadboard and solder-tail connector to patch into the necessary signals. This was all hooked up to a Raspberry Pi which he planned to dedicate to the system. It worked, and he was able to use an interactive terminal for the rest of his sleuthing. With much trial and error he figured out the commands, and wrote some Python code for the Pi side of the equation. He can now pull color screenshots with ease thanks to the utilities available in the Python Imaging Module.

One minute review of your wasted time

It’s easy to throw around the accusation that you waste time throughout the day. Now you can prove it by reviewing everything you did on your computer, all in just one minute. [Dan Paluska] ground out some code to take screenshots and assemble them into a video.

His script ties together the open source tools FFmpeg, ImageMagick, and scrot. It takes a snap every 15 seconds in a 10 hour period for a total of 2400 frames. He even outlines the process to automatically upload these clips to YouTube. Just remember, if you’re doing something naughty, there’ll be a record of it.

Palin email hack post mortem

A few days ago a lone individual decided to crack [Governor Sarah Palin]‘s private Yahoo! email account. He did this by navigating the password reset procedure. [Gov. Palin]‘s birthday was publicly available and Wasilla only had two zip codes to guess. The follow up question “Where did you meet your spouse” required some more research. They met in high school so a few more guesses turned up “Wasilla high” as the answer. The original poster then read every single email only to discover that there really wasn’t anything of interest there. Frustrated, he posted the details to 4chan to let any wonk have at it. /b/ members began posting screenshots of the account, but very little came of it.

One screenshot of her inbox even revealed her daughter Bristol’s cell phone number. While there was no groundbreaking political information revealed, it is important to point out that it appears that Gov. Palin was using this private account to correspond to her assistants about potentially sensitive government information. This security breach should serve as a wake-up call to many public officials by showing how dangerous it can be to have a private e-mail account, especially when a free web-based service such as Yahoo! is used.