Adding speech control to an old robotic arm

[Joris Laurenssen] has been hanging onto this robotic arm for about twenty years. His most recent project uses some familiar tools to add voice control for each of the arm’s joints.

The arm has its own controller which connects via a DB-25 port. [Joris'] first task was to figure out what type of commands are being sent through the connection. He did some testing to establish the levels of the signals, then hooked up his Arduino and had it read out the values coming through the standard parallel connection. This let him quickly establish the simple ASCII character syntax used to command movement from the device. There’s only eight command sets, and it didn’t take much work to whip up a sketch that can now drive the device.

The second portion of the project is to use voice commands to push these parallel signals to the arm. Instead of reinventing the wheel he decided to use the speech recognition feature of his Android phone. He used Scripting Layer for Android (SL4A) and a Python script to interpret commands, push them to his computer via Telnet, and finally drive the arm. We’ve embedded the video demo after the break. He gives the commands in Dutch but he overlaid comments in English so you can tell what’s going on.

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Hacking into your router’s administrative interface

zte_zxdsl_router_hack

[Arto] recently upgraded his home Internet subscription from an ADSL to VDSL, and with that change received a shiny new ZTE ZXDSL 931WII modem/wireless router. Once he had it installed, he started to go about his normal routine of changing the administrator password, setting up port forwarding, and configuring the wireless security settings…or at least he tried to.

It seems that he was completely unable to access the router’s configuration panel, and after sitting on the phone with his ISP’s “support” personnel, he was informed that there was no way for him to tweak even a single setting.

Undaunted, he cracked the router open and started poking around. He quickly identified a serial port, and after putting together a simple RS232 transceiver, was able to access the router’s telnet interface. It took quite a bit of experimentation and a good handful of help from online forums, but [Arto] was eventually able to upload an older firmware image to the device which gave him the configuration tools he was looking for.

Aside from a few Ethernet timeout issues, the router is now performing to his satisfaction. However, as a final bit of salt in his wounds, he recently read that the admin panel he was originally seeking can be accessed via the router’s WAN interface using a well-known default password – frustrating and incredibly insecure, all at the same time! He says that he learned quite a few things along the way, so not all was lost.

Samsung TV firmware hacking

tv-firmware-hacking

[Erdem] is leading up the efforts to reverse engineer Samsung TV firmware with a project called SamyGo. Official Samsung firmware uses the Linux kernel, making it a familiar system to work with for many developers. So far they’ve implemented NFS and SAMBA for sharing files over the network, improved playback from USB devices, and unlocked the ability to use non-Samsung WiFi dongles.

In order to make changes to the system, you need to enable a telnet connection on the device. The SamyGo team accomplished this by changing an official version of the firmware in a hex editor to start the telnet daemon at boot time. This altered firmware is then flashed using Samsung’s built in upgrade system. Once telnet is enabled, non-official firmware can be manually flashed.

We’d love to see this project expand to other TV Brands in the future. In fact, we were looking for something like this back in June when we realized that our Sony Bravia runs a Linux kernel and can be updated via USB drive.  Be careful if you want to try this out. We can only imagine the fallout after telling your significant other that you bricked a high-priced LCD.

Getting root on the G1

If you’ve been holding off on a T-Mobile G1 purchase because you didn’t like the apparent user restrictions, there’s some good news. The Android powered phone comes with an easy button for getting root. Install a terminal app and you can manually start the telnetd service. All that’s left is telenetting into the device and it’ll give you root level access.

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