Hackaday Links: January 5, 2014


While we can’t condone the actual use of this device, [Husam]‘s portable WiFi jammer is actually pretty cool. It uses a Raspberry Pi and an Aircrack-ng compatible dongle to spam the airwaves with deauth packets. The entire device is packaged in a neat box with an Arduino-controlled LCD and RGB LEDs. Check out an imgur gallery here.

You can pick up a wireless phone charger real cheap from any of the usual internet outlets, but try finding one that’s also a phone stand. [Malcolm] created his own. He used a Qi charger from DealExtreme and attached it to a 3D printed phone stand.

A while back, [John] noticed an old tube radio in an antique store. No, he didn’t replace the guts with a Raspberry Pi and an SD card full of MP3s. He just brought it back to working condition. After fixing the wiring (no ground cord on these old things), repairing the speaker cone, putting some new twine on the tuner and replacing the caps, [John] has himself a new old radio. Here’s a video of the complete refurbishment.

Here’s a Sega Master System (pretty much a Game Gear) running on an STM32 dev board. Also included are some ROMs for some classic games – Sonic the Hedgehog, Castle of Illusion, and The Lion King. If you have this STM Discovery board you can grab the emulator right here.

[Spencer] wanted a longer battery life in his iPhone, so he did what any engineering student would do: he put another battery in parallel.

Breadboarding something with an AVR or MAX232? Print out some of these stickers and make sure you get the pinouts right. Thanks, [Marius].

Ask Hackaday: Can you Hack an Appliance into a Spy Device?


A story surfaced a few days before Halloween on Russian news site Rosbalt (yep, that’s in Russian), claiming Russian authorities intercepted Chinese-made electric irons and kettles: each equipped with microphones and WiFi. You can read a summary in English on the BBC’s website. The “threat” imposed by these “spy appliances” is likely the result of gross exaggeration if not downright fear mongering against Chinese-made products. It’s not worth our (or your) effort to speculate on what’s really happening here, but the situation does present a fun exercise.

Say you wanted to spice up your pen testing by altering a small home appliance: how easily could you build it? Let us know in the comments which appliance would serve as the best “host” for the modifications and what features you would include. Could you manage all the components listed in the article–a microphone, WiFi (any chance of cracking unsecured networks?), plus some vague indication that it “spreads viruses?” There’s a video below with a few glimpses of the electronics in question, but unless you speak Russian it probably won’t offer much insight.

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Making Use of the Trancend WiFi SD Card


[CNLohr] spends most of his time on the Internet, but sometimes real life drags him away from his keyboard. These “vacations”, as he calls them, don’t have a good Internet connection and forces him to rely on flaky cell phone connections that go up and down at the drop of a hat. Figuring this would be a great opportunity for some hardware hacking, [CNLohr] came up with an ‘Internet-o-mometer’ – a device powered by a Trancend WiFi SD card that uses an 8×8 LED display to show the current status of his phone’s Internet connection.

This build uses the Trancend WiFi SD card motherboard we’ve seen before. When the card boots, it tries to connect to his phone’s WiFi connection.  When it connects, a green smiley face is displayed on the LED matrix. When a whole lot of files are downloaded or, more specifically, the ping to google.com is more than 4 seconds, a red frowny face indicates the Internet connection is down.

In other Trancend WiFi SD card news, a whole lot of people including [Dan Krause] (thanks for the tip) have been working on a complete replacement OS for these neat little cards. Right now the OS is in very rough shape, but there is a pre-built system available should anyone want to experiment. [CNLohr] is also working on a compact, double-sided version of his SD card motherboard and we’ll be happy to feature a link to his Tindie store when he sends that in.

A Motherboard for a WiFi Enabled SD Card


Over the last few months, a few very capable hackers have had a hand in cracking open a Transcend WiFi-enable SD card that just happens to be running a small Linux system inside. The possibilities for a wireless Linux device you can lose in your pocket are immense, but so far no one has gotten any IO enabled on this neat piece of hardware. [CNLohr] just did us all a favor with his motherboard for these Transcend WiFi SD cards, allowing the small Linux systems to communicate with I2C devices.

This build is based upon [Dmitry]‘s custom kernel for the Transcend WiFiSD card. [CNLohr] did some poking around with this system and found he could use an AVR to speak to the card in its custom 4-bit protocol.

The ‘motherboard’ consists of some sort of ATMega, an AVR programming header, a power supply, and a breakout for the I2C bus. [Lohr] wired up a LED array to the I2C bus and used it to display some configuration settings for the WiFi card before connecting to the card over WiFi and issuing commands directly to the Linux system on the card. The end result was, obviously, a bunch of blinking LEDs.

While this is by far the most complex and overwrought way to blink a LED we’ve ever seen, this is a great proof of concept that makes the Transcend cards extremely interesting for a variety of hardware projects. If you want your own Transcend motherboard, [CNLohr] put all the files up for anyone who wants to etch their own board.

Wi-Fi Enabled Garage Door Opener


Normally, internet-controlled household devices are a cobbled together mashup of parts. This is great for a prototype, but if you’re looking for something that will last a decade in your garage, you’ll need something a little cleaner and more robust. [Phil]‘s Internet-enabled garage door opener is just that, replete with a custom-made enclosure for his Arduino powered system.

The main hardware for [Phil]‘s build is a Freetronix EtherTen, an Arduino clone with a built-in Ethernet interface. Aside from that, the electronics are simple: a relay, transistor, and diode provide the connection from the EtherTen to the garage door opener.

The software for this setup consists of a main file that sets up the web page, the serial monitor, and loops through the main program. There are a bunch of classes for initializing the web page, writing passwords to the EEPROM, activating the door, and setting the MAC and IP addresses.

Opening the door with this remote is a snap: with any WiFi enabled smartphone or tablet, [Phil] only needs to log onto his network, surf on over to the page hosted on the Arduino, and enter a password. From there, opening the door is just a press of a button. Passwords and other configuration settings cane be entered with MegunoLink. This software also includes a serial monitor to log who opened the door and when.

It’s an interesting and compact system, and handy to boot. You might sometimes forget your garage door opener, but we’re thinking if you ever find yourself without your phone, a closed garage door is the least of your problems.

Hackaday Links: September 22, 2013


First we start with some protection… for your USB charged devices. Here’s a USB Condom which acts as a pass-through for the power rails but not the data lines. This prevents untrusted charger security exploits. [Thanks Markus]

[OutKastz] seems to think he’s uncovered a price matching conspiracy at Best Buy. His post references an HDTV video wall he has built. But he also discovered that there are two different version of the same television sold as the same SKU. His theory is that this prevents the big box from matching prices on half of their inventory.

When you’re in need of some breadboarding action with your Raspberry Pi and want to make it as painless as possible you need to build your own Pi Cobbler. This is the diy version of an Adafruit product, built using a couple of pin headers, stripboard, and an IDE cable.

Speaking of Adafruit, did you see Ladyada’s teardown of an ICEdot crash sensor?

[Phineas] is showing off a really really small hexacopter. Check out the maiden flight, as well as first indoor and first outdoor tests.

Perhaps this coded entry system will inspire a future project for you. It uses piezo elements to enter a code which unlocks the back door to the company. The glass door already had a series of large dots painted on it. This turns out to be a nice interface for a four button code system.

Many projects use a Raspberry Pi as a web server. But there is more than just one flavor available. [Jeremy Morgan] performed a variety of Pi server benchmarks using Nginx, Monkey, Lighttpd, and Apache. [Thanks Walter]

Can an old TV antenna reflector be used to boost the range of a WiFi dongle? We’re a bit skeptical. Let us know what you think in the comments.

And finally, we do wish there was more information on this upright piano used to play Doom [Thanks Itay].


The Arduino YUN. YUN means cloud.


For the longest time, the creators of the Arduino have been looking at how to bring the Arduino platform into the cloud. Ethernet and WiFi shields technically work, but if you’re processing data scraped from a web page, a lowly microcontroller really isn’t the best option. Enter the Arduino YUN. At its core, it’s a regular old Arduino Leonardo. Underneath that metal plate on the board? That’s an SoC running Linux.

Basically, the Linux side of the Yun is pretty similar to a WiFi router running OpenWRT. There’s a USB port for plugging in peripherals, native WiFi support (802.11n, even!), an Ethernet connector, and enough RAM to do all the interesting stuff a small computer connected to the Internet can do.

To make all this web programming easier for Arduino neophytes, the YUN also includes a ‘bridge’ library that automates HTTP transactions between the Linux and microcontroller sides of the YUN. There’s also support for Temboo, an SDK for dozens of APIs that interact with Facebook, Dropbox, FedEx, and hundreds of other web services.

Below you can check out [Massimo] and [David] showing off their wares and going over how the YUN connects to the Internet and interacts with the microcontroller over the ‘bridge’. It’s an interesting device, and something we’ll surely check out at the World Maker Faire.

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