Hackaday Links: September 28, 2014


Kyocera is vastly expanding their product lineup with the Shop Sink 3530. The perfect addition to your copiers, fax machines, and laser printers.

About a year and a half ago and with objections from the editorial staff, we did a Top 10 hacking fails in movies and TV post. The number one fail is, “Stupid crime shows like NCIS, CSI, and Bones.” A new show on CBS just topped this list. It’s named Scorpion, and wow. Dropping a Cat5 cable from an airplane doing an almost-touch-and-go because something is wrong with the computers in the tower. Four million adults age 18-49 watched this.

thing[Derek] found something that really looks like the Hackaday logo in a spacer of some kind. It’s been sitting on his shelf for a few months, and is only now sending it in. He picked it up in a pile of scrap metal, and he (and we) really have no idea what this thing is. Any guesses?

[Sheldon] has a teardown of a vintage voltage and current standard. Just look at those hand drawn traces on a single sided board. Beautiful.

[Art] has another, ‘what is this thing’. He has two of them, and he’s pretty sure it’s some sort of differential, but other than that he’s got nothing. The only real clue is that [Art] lives near a harbor on the N. Cali coast. Maybe from a navigation system, or a governor from a weird diesel?

So you have a Kinect sitting on a shelf somewhere. That’s fine, we completely understand that. Here’s something: freeze yourself in carbonite. Yeah, it turns out having a depth sensor is exactly what you need to make a carbonite copy of yourself.

46 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: September 28, 2014

  1. why does everyone continue expecting tv series to be realistic? i enjoyed scorpion, and intend to continue enjoying it.. it’s a decent show, even if they hung a cat5 out the plane, and the car had a post-processed manual transmission added to it(check jalopnik for this freak-out)…

  2. Without giving away spoilers (they mention it directly in the movie as what seems like a hand waving method of explaining why it would work), what the hell was that “infinite current” wire out of The Hunger Games? I know it’s set in “the future” but come on.

  3. “Dropping a Cat5 cable from an airplane doing an almost-touch-and-go because something is wrong with the computers in the tower. ”

    I mean yeah, it’s totally correct – I remember clearly doing exactly this thing almost daily when I was still a Sys Admin. Right before I gave up snorting LSD, brushing my teeth with PCP and huffing Propane…

    Even if I ignore ALL the problems with this idea, I’m still left with the “WTF!?” that is the Cat 5 cable – WHY in the hell would *anybody* leave such a ridiculously long network cable attached to a flight computer.?? What possible reason could there be for that!?
    * Aircraft maintenance techs*
    “Daryl, pass me wun ‘o those kitty cables – a short wun!”
    “Uh Dave, I only gots a wun that say ‘150 foot length’, that do?”
    “Well, I reckon it’s a bit small if they wants to cut out burnt bits later, but it’ll hef ta do.”
    *connects two patch sockets right next to each other, stuffs football size tangle of cable inside*

    Gargh, it’s so stupid, it hurts my brain! It’s worse than the time CSI Miami claimed that Propylene glycol was “boat cooking stove fuel” used as an explosive!

    1. Propylene glycol dinitrate is an explosive not unlike nitroglycerine, and diethylene glycol is used as a component in camping stove fuels. Why not propylene glycol as well – it’s not that different.

      Of course they couldn’t say that the explosive was just nitrated antifreeze or people would have started making it – in the same way that Fight Club said napalm is made with orange juice.

      1. And propylene glycol is used specifically for marine antifreeze because it’s not toxic to marine life like ethylene glycol is.

        So they swapped antifreeze for cooking fuel and left out the nitration part so kids wouldn’t try to make it at home, because it’s extremely simple. In a good mythbusters style, all you need is some BLOOP and a bit of HONK and carefully mix it with the antifreeze, and if you didn’t blow yourself up you got propylene glycol dinitrate.

        1. I quite understand why they did it, giving explosives recipes to the public is not a good idea for a TV show. But something as *obvious* as propylene glycol which is pretty common to most people, is just plain stupid. At least make it something people probably have never heard of. Hell, just make it up – it’s not like 90% of the viewers would even know it’s made up.

          Using something so common is a bit like saying “toilet paper will explode if you wipe your ass with it” as it contains Cellulose, an ingredient of “flash paper”. Well, It would ‘explode’ if it was nitrated (Nitrocellulose)… As long as you don’t also wash your ass with the right combination of acids, let it dry for several hours and then re-wipe, it isn’t going to happen, and nobody would actually believe it would, because it’s too obvious.

          It’s a made up TV drama, but if you spoil the illusion of reality with a statement that is so fundamentally wrong, it kind of ruins any entertainment value of the show when your brains screams “Wait…WHAT?!”. ;)

    2. I stopped watching CSI:(All of them) a LONG time ago when they claimed that meth labs “duct tape the breakers so the fuses don’t blow” when too much current is used. And that that’s the major cause of fires in meth labs. That, and that urea (not nitrate) is flammable, which is why they explode.

    1. vonskippy, I think you’ve misplaced your sense of humor. I had quite a chuckle when I realized what they’d done to make that.

      I also thought it was pretty clever. At least, I’d never have thought to plumb up an old copier like that — and I freely admit that I’ve got some pretty out-there ideas floating around in my head… ;)

  4. The hackaday shape also looks like the centre mount cast section of a motor.
    I have seen a few over the years on site that get a lot of use and it consist of an armature, 2 endplates, center section, 4 long bolts and a connector box that is held in place by two of the bolts.

  5. Doing some math on the Scorpion scene:
    -First off, the speed is actually fairly realistic, with a Boeing 767-900 landing at 141 Knots, or ~72.5 m/s, which translates into ~260 km/h or ~160 mph. The Ferrari 458 Italia soft top has a top speed of 320 km/h or 199 mph, so this part is not unrealistic.
    -However, the rest is less believable. By my measure, the airplane flies in sync with the car at what I’ve assumed is landing speed for ~90 seconds. This translates to a distance of ~6.6 km, or ~4.1 mi. According to Wikipedia, wide body airliners require ~2.5 km of runway, which is ~38% of the length required by this scene. Since the airport depicted isn’t exactly large, they probably would have crashed into the control tower (for the plane) and the end of runway barrier (for the car) in ~35 seconds (best case scenario, an A380 size runway (~5.5 km), which is a time of ~75 seconds).
    -As for drag, I’m not really sure of the drag coefficients of an Ethernet cable, but I doubt it hangs straight down at ~260 km/h. I also doubt that I could hold on to a laptop with one hand – while standing up – at those speeds, not to mention climbing down landing gear.

    Additional issues:
    -I’ve seen the inside of landing gear wells of various aircraft, and the only one that was close to accessible (from what I could tell) from inside the aircraft was a B-52, which would require you to climb down the bomb racks. Exiting through the door and climbing to the landing gear is probably not a feat you could accomplish on the ground, much less in the air.
    -What self-respecting hacker uses a laptop without a built in Ethernet Port (or 2)???!

    —Summer Glau

    1. Suspension of disbelief can carry a viewer pretty far. For me it broke down when the plane started overtaking the car for the go part of touch-and-go the laptop lifts out of her hands by a usb-ethernet adapter. Since WHEN has the removal force of a usb cable exceeded the weight + wind drag of a notebook being pulled at 160+MPH?

      1. Doing it Air Force One style by suspending a guy with a parachute on a rope from another aircraft flying above would have been much simpler, less dangerous and probably feasible IRL. Then the guys inside the 767 could open a door on the side and dude on parachute can deliver or take whatever data he wants on external HDD and jump out of plane afterwards.

    2. That was a laugh out loud moment. I assumed it was meant as an insider joke. Breaking into the backup center and identifying the backup drive were believable, having a car speaker wiping a shielded hard drive, not so much. ( those would be some drivers)
      I’m approaching that show as a scifi comedy and enjoying it that way. But all in all I’d rather be watching Almost Human.

  6. First is a cut section oof alloy extrusion screw holes at extremities
    Diff ? Its a differential unit . It sits in a housing with a bearing at the left end and to the right of the right planetary gear . You can see where they sit . The pinion is to the top of the pictures and is where the thing is driven from The output is the right shaft and it has a cotter pin /spring pin hole in it-Ty Tower

  7. Scorpion would be really boring if they stuck to real world physics, scenarios and dialogue. I watched it and really enjoyed it, knowing full well that they’re taking some serious liberties with the reality of such situations and how they solve problems.

    It’s an entertainment show, not a documentary.

    So where’s the post about the 64+ million year old metal in the new Transformers movie that can be reprogrammed to turn into any shape imaginable?

  8. Scorpion is a mixed bag. The writing is actually quite good. The acting is really quite good. The cinematography is decent for TV. Where it all falls apart for me is the writers taking such liberties with physics… everyone else has already beaten the dead horse, but the plane/car scene went from “huh?” to “wtf?” to “oh come on!?!”… I get that time compression is important now and then to some plots, but that scene just torpedo’d the whole premise. I mean, a big part of their marketing is that the show is “based on a true story”. If that’s the case, then make your first episode spectacular without shooting the premise (that there might be some truthiness somewhere inside) squarely in the foot.

    I’ll give it the requisite five episodes before I give up… and I hope it improves by then. If they manage to turn it into this decade’s Alias (I was happy to suspend disbelief for that show), I’m happy to stick around.

  9. As a guy who has done ( a small amount) of work in an airport tower, the idea that any
    of the computers in the tower needed to communicate with a planes computer must less be “restored” by one is beyond my belief.

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