Never Forget Your USB Stick Again

USB sticks are very handy. They are a very portable and relatively inexpensive means of storing data. Possibly the most annoying part about using one of these devices is when you inevitable leave it behind somewhere by accident. This is especially true if it contains sensitive information. [Eurekaguy] feels your pain, and he’s developed a solution to the problem.

[Eurekaguy] designed a custom cap for USB sticks that beeps approximately every minute after the USB stick has been plugged in for five minutes. The cap is 3D printed and then slightly modified with four 1mm holes. Two wires are routed between these holes to make contact points for the VCC and GND pins of the USB stick.

The beep circuit is comprised of a tiny PIC12F629 microcontroller along with a couple of other supporting components. The circuit is wired together dead bug style to conserve space. Three AG5 batteries power the circuit. A small piezo speaker provides the repeating beep to remind you to grab your USB stick before you walk away from the computer.

[Thanks Irish]

Animate Your Artichoke With A Lathe And Camera

Spirals, fractals, and even bone length proportions whisper of a consistent ratio woven into the universe. Math is hidden in the fabric of things, and when this fact is observed in art, magic happens. Professor, artist, and inventor [John Edmark] draws inspiration from geometric patterns found in nature and builds sculptures using the golden ratio as a standard for design. In this project, he expresses these characteristics through animated biomorphic zoetropes.

goldenratio2[John] modeled several 3D sculptures in Rhino containing similar geometric properties to those found in pinecones and palm tree fronds. As the segments grow from those objects in nature, they do so in approximately 137.5 degree intervals. This spacing produces a particular spiral appearance which [John] was aiming to recreate. To do so, he used a Python script which calculated a web of quads stretched over the surface of a sphere. From each of the divisions, stalk-like protrusions extend from the top center outward. Once these figures were 3D printed, they were mounted one at a time to the center of a spinning base and set to rotate at 550 RPM. A camera then films the shape as it’s in motion at a 1/2000 sec frame rate which captures stills of the object in just the right set of positions to produce the illusion that the tendrils are blooming from the top and pouring down the sides. The same effect could also be achieved with a strobe light instead of a camera.

[John] has more information on his instructables page. He also provides a video of this trick working with an actual artichoke; one of the living examples of the golden ratio which this project was inspired by. Thank you, [Charlie Nordstrom] for helping him document these awesome sculptures and for telling us about them!

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Choctopus Chocolate Printer X8

Valentine’s Day is about a month away, long enough for everyone to butcher upgrade their 3D printers to squirt out chocolate. Food printing was a hot item at this year’s CES, but it is hardly new. Before many of you were born [Hans] left his job at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to produce chocolate out of his garage in South Africa. This one prints 8 at a time!

HAD - Choctopus1Many years before he was extruding lawnmowers from raw pellets, [Hans] built the 8-tentacled Choctopus. He gets away with using only one chocolate pump – from some experience, by far the most challenging component – by simply splitting the ooze pipe with three tiers of T intersections. The whole design is actually patented and revolutionary for 19 years ago but to our readers probably unremarkable.

HAD - Choctopus4There is a business lesson here too. Once upon a time the Choctopus was a  3D printer but economic constraints have led to him downgrading to 2D. Any 3D requirements are served from an alternate RepRap. The purpose of an 8-armed printer is to mass produce, but for the price, most clients were only interested in a one-off. The products that pay the bills are the much more affordable 2d extrusions in bulk.

Any of our readers looking to impress their date make lots of money next month, consider this the kick in your pants to get started.

Check out these videos of the Choctopus churning out delicious delicatessens.

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Myst Linking Book

[Daniel] was looking for a special gift to make for his close friend. His friend is a huge fan of the Myst franchise which made the decision easy — why not make a Myst Linking Book?

After doing some research he discovered that the book in the game footage was a Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312 from 1877. He attempted to find one on eBay but they were pretty expensive — and in pretty rough shape. So instead he settled on a copy of Scribner’s Monthly Magazine,Volume XL, Nov 1875 to Apr 1876. Not quite identical but close enough!

His original plan was to embed a Raspberry Pi with an LCD screen to show off the Myst videos, but then discovered the cheap and easy to use video greeting card modules, which you can pick up for $10-20 from China. They typically let you store about five videos and use a magnetic reed switch to activate — almost like it was designed for this project!

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The Giant Flip-Dot Display At CES

Flip-dot displays are grand, especially this one which boasts 74,088 pixels! I once heard the hardware compared to e-ink. That’s actually a pretty good description since both use a pixel that is white on one side and black on the other, depend on a coil to change state, and only use electricity when flipping those bits.

What’s remarkable about this is the size of the installation. It occupied a huge curving wall on the ooVoo booth at 2015 CES. We wanted to hear more about the hardware so we reached out to them they didn’t disappoint. The ooVoo crew made time for a conference call which included [Pat Murray] who coordinated the build effort. That’s right, they built this thing — we had assumed it was a rental. [Matt Farrell] recounts that during conception, the team had asked themselves how an HD video chat for mobile company can show off display technology when juxtaposed with cutting edge 4k and 8k displays? We think the flip-dot was a perfect tack — I know I spent more time looking at this than at televisions.

Join us after the break for the skinny on how it was built, including pictures of the back side of the installation and video clips that you have to hear to believe.

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PortableSDR Makes It To Kickstarter

Last year’s Hackaday Prize saw a lot of projects that were crying out to be Kickstarter Campaigns, but non has seen people throwing money at their screens quite like [Michael]’s PortableSDR. It’s a small, handheld, battery-powered shortwave software defined transceiver that can do just about everything with coverage up to 30MHz. It’s the ultimate apocalypse radio, a contender for to the throne now held by the ‘my first radio’ Baofeng, and now, finally, a campaign on Kickstarter.

The PortableSDR (now called the PSDR) started off as [Michael]’s ideal radio. It just so happened the Hackaday Prize gave him the impetus design, develop, and build the radio that would eventually land him third place in The Hackaday Prize.

The radio itself is completely self-contained and battery-powered, implementing a software defined radio on an STM32F4 processor. The design includes an LCD for the waterfall display, vector network analysis, and the ability to receive GPS.

In keeping with its ham heritage, [Michael] is offering the PSDR as a kit, with a PCB, enclosure, and all the parts you can’t get on Digikey available for a $250 pledge. Get those toaster reflow ovens warm, because there’s a lot of SMD parts in this build.

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Keystroke Sniffer Hides As A Wall Wart, Is Scary

For those of us who worry about the security of our wireless devices, every now and then something comes along that scares even the already-paranoid. The latest is a device from [Samy] that is able to log the keystrokes from Microsoft keyboards by sniffing and decrypting the RF signals used in the keyboard’s wireless protocol. Oh, and the entire device is camouflaged as a USB wall wart-style power adapter.

The device is made possible by an Arduino or Teensy hooked up to an NRF24L01+ 2.4GHz RF chip that does the sniffing. Once the firmware for the Arduino is loaded, the two chips plus a USB charging circuit (for charging USB devices and maintaining the camouflage) are stuffed with a lithium battery into a plastic shell from a larger USB charger. The options for retrieving the sniffed data are either an SPI Serial Flash chip or a GSM module for sending the data automatically via SMS.

The scary thing here isn’t so much that this device exists, but that encryption for Microsoft keyboards was less than stellar and provides little more than a false sense of security. This also serves as a wake-up call that the things we don’t even give a passing glance at might be exactly where a less-honorable person might look to exploit whatever information they can get their hands on. Continue past the break for a video of this device in action, and be sure to check out the project in more detail, including source code and schematics, on [Samy]’s webpage.

Thanks to [Juddy] for the tip!

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