Cracking open a 24-port switch so you don’t have to

hp-procurve-ethernet-switch-teardown

[Kenneth Finnegan’s] post about this 24-Port HP ProCurve 2824 Ethernet Switch teardown was a delight to read. He’s taking an introduction to networking class at California Polytechnic State University. One of their labs included virtual machines shooting thousands of new MAC addresses at the thing all at once. Despite it’s ability to switch data at a blazing fast rate, it’s ability to deal with that many new hardware identifiers was less than impressive. He wanted to find out why and it just so happened he had one of these in his parts bin at home (which he refers to as if it’s a high-powered RPG character).

The mainboard is divided into three major blocks: the power supply, the switching hardware, and the processor that makes this a manged switch. Although he covers all of these pieces (and the switching stuff is very interesting to learn about) it is the processor section that was causing the aforementioned slowdown. It’s a 266MHz PowerPC chip with a measly 64 MB of RAM. Of course this doesn’t need to be any more powerful since all traffic from previously ‘learned’ MAC addresses gets handled by the switching block and never touches the processor portion.

Don’t miss the end of his post where he discusses how the filtering caps, and semi-isolated ground planes help to tame the beast created from all of this high-speed switching.

Kitchen scale key transplant

kitchen-scale-key-transplant

[Markus] is quite happy with his kitchen scale. It’s one of the tools he uses most frequently when cooking. But recently the button has begun to give him problems. He figures the years of spilling a little bit of this and that has mucked up the contacts. His solution was to bypass the button using a Cherry MX switch.

Really any replacement should do since the switch merely completes an electrical connection. But there’s a subset of hackers who swear by the Cherry MX switches that come in some keyboards. [Markus] had just such a keyboard on hand, which he was already using for parts, so he pulled out the switch and cut a hole in the scale’s case where he could mount it. After temporarily super gluing the switch in place he completed the task by filling the gap on the outside with hot glue, then running another bead of it along the inside. The addition of the ‘T’ key finishes the hack. The plastic key is easy to clean and will help shed flour, oil, or anything else he might spill during his culinary adventures.

This hack was fast and easy and may have convinced [Markus] to roll his own controller board for the device. We’ll keep a lookout for a follow-up post detailing those alterations.

Hackaday Links August 31, 2012

Landing a fixed-wing through hotel balcony french doors

As you can see, launching an RC airplane off of a hotel balcony is easy. But watch the video and you’ll find out trying to fly through the french doors for a landing is another story. [Team BlackSheep] hits (har, har) Thailand in this collection of breathtaking flights.

Quieting rack-mount switch for home use

[VictorB] got his hands on this switch to beef up his home network. Since the three fans on the back sound like a jet engine he did some cutting to use a larger, quieter fan.

Component package alphabet

Sure, you probably know what SOIC stands for, but what is a CSP? You can clear things up a bit by studying your IC Alphabet.

ZX Spectrum audio card

For those still looking to squeeze everything they can out of a classic ZX Spectrum, here’s a way to improve the audio with a custom sound card (translated).

AVR programmer reprogrammed as an NES controller interface

[Slack] modified his USBasp programmer to uses as an NES controller interface. The hardware can be had on eBay for under $10, and he was already using one as a dev board. After seeing this USB to NES dongle post it didn’t take long to make the programmer into a gaming tool.

Making a gigantic 18 pole 16 throw switch

When you’re building something that hasn’t been done before, sometimes the parts you need just don’t exist.

[Bacteria] over on the Made by Bacteria forum is building a huge all-in-one video game machine, combining hardware from 16 different consoles released through the years. This build requires a way to switch the video output between consoles, so [Bacteria] made a gigantic 18 pole 16 throw switch.

The build began with [Bacteria] sourcing a few 8-pole switches. Of course this switch was too small to toggle between the 16 output lines for each system, so these switches were doubled up and activated by a single button. This system worked, but the results weren’t ideal.

[Bacteria] gave in to the temptation of building his own switch by using spring-loaded metal nuts as the contacts for each part of the switch, allowing him to switch between consoles with a simple sliding contact.

So far, it looks like [Bacteria]’s Project Unity is shaping up nicely. We’ve seen a bit of the controller portion of [Bac]’s build, and already it’s shaping up to be a wonder of retro gaming.

You can check out [Bacteria]’s breakdown of his switch after the break and his Instructable here.

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Blinking light switch

In addition to being a great replacement for that aging eye patch, these specs act as a light switch. By watching your eyelids, they are able to kill the lights whenever you blink.

The installation is a shared experience piece conceived by [Michal Kohút]. He wanted to illustrate the constant blinking we all do but rarely think about. The system uses an Arduino to capture events from the blink sensors and switch the lights accordingly. This way the wearer doesn’t experience a loss of illumination, but the observer does. Check out the video after the break for a quick demonstration.

One of the commenters from the source article shared a video link to another blink-based light project. That one uses electrodes attached to skin around your eye in order to detect eyelid motion.

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Safe-Sync protects your camera from older high-voltage flash modules

Since we’re not high-end camera aficionados it was a surprise to us that the hot shoe that allows a camera to interface with a flash module has changed rather dramatically over the years. Apparently the interface used to be mchanical-electrical in that the camera would use mechanical means to connect two electrodes from the hot shoe. It didn’t matter the voltages it was switching because the camera didn’t have an electrical system connected to the interface. The problem is that connecting a modern camera to what [David Cook] calls ‘legacy’ flash hardware could damage it. So he developed the Safe-Sync to interface modern cameras with older flash modules.

You can see the board which he’s holding up in the image. It includes a lot of nice features, like the ability to be powered from the external flash, or from a battery. There’s also an optional momentary push switch which can be used to test the flash control (or hack it for other purposes). In addition to providing protection with older equipment, this could also be used to interface flash modules from different manufacturers with your camera.

Want a two person self destruct button, but tired of pesky microcontrollers?

We all know that our precious cruisers/warships/assets can not fall into the wrong hands, and what better way to assure that information security than incorporating a self destruct button into the design? While the general premise is simple enough the only real way to make sure some crazy space-virus can’t infect your captain and force him to destroy your ship is to add a two button security system! Wait, what if it’s a computer virus?! Well [Andrea] has it covered with this two hand hand control switch. We guess you could also just use the scheme to flip on a dangerous piece of equipment, since it forces the operator to remove both hands from the machine to operate the buttons, but where is the drama in that?

The buttons are timed using a combination of voltage dividers and caps to activate transistors, one to activate the 555 timer and another to disable the button input after a half second or so. Since it’s all resistor capacitor timing your circuit may require just a bit of tuning (or precision components) to get everything right.  There is a bit of an issue with using two people to trigger the output, as the second button actually operates the output relay directly. If the second button is held it will only remain active until the timer’s output is triggered, but if your second in command gets cold feet and releases the button before the core goes thermo, well, you’ll have an embarrassing jog to the escape pods.

Check the video after the jump to see [Andrea] fiddling around with the switch.

Continue reading “Want a two person self destruct button, but tired of pesky microcontrollers?”