ESP32’s Freedom Output Lets You Do Anything

The ESP32 is Espressif’s new wonder-chip, and one of the most interesting aspects of its development has been the almost entirely open-source development strategy that they’re taking. But the “almost” in almost entirely open is important — there are still some binary blobs in the system, and some of them are exactly where a hacker wouldn’t want them to be. Case in point: the low-level WiFi firmware.

So that’s where [Jeija]’s reverse engineering work steps in. He’s managed to decode enough of a function called ieee80211_freedom_output to craft and send apparently arbitrary WiFi data and management frames, and to monitor them as well.

This ability is insanely useful for a WiFi device. With low-level access like this, one can implement custom protocols for mesh networking, low-bandwidth data transfers, or remove the requirement for handshaking entirely. One can also spam a system with so many fake SSIDs that it crashes, deauth everyone, or generally cause mayhem. Snoop on your neighbors, or build something new and cool: with great power comes great responsibility.

Anyway, we reported on [Jeija]’s long distance hack and the post may have read like it was all about the antenna, but that vastly underestimates the role played by this firmware reverse-engineering hack. Indeed, we’re so stoked about the hack that we thought it was worth reiterating: the ESP32 is now a WiFi hacker’s dream.

Hackaday Prize Entry: MCXY – Mini Laser Cut Aluminum 3D Printer

With the easy availability of cheap and 3D printers from the usual Chinese websites, you might think that there could be little room for another home-made 3D printer project. fortunately, the community of 3D printer making enthusiasts doesn’t see it that way.

[Bobricius] has a rather nice 3D printer design in the works that we think you’ll like. It follows the MakerBot/Ultimaker style of construction in that it is a box rather than a gantry, and it is assembled from CNC-cut aluminum for a sturdy and pleasing effect. Whar sets it apart though is its size, at only 190x190x251mm and with an 80x80x80mm print volume, it’s tiny. You might wonder why that could be an asset, but when you consider that he already has a much larger printer it becomes obvious that something small and portable for quick tiny prints could be an asset.

Unusually for a home-made 3D printer, it has no 3D printed parts, instead, it is laser cut throughout. And also unusually all the CAD work was done in EAGLE, better known for PCB work. It’s a work in progress we’re featuring today because it’s a Hackaday Prize entry, but it looks as though the finished item will be something of a little gem.

Homemade 3D printers can be particularly impressive, for example, we’ve shown you this excellent SLA printer.

Steve Evans Passes Away, Leaves an Inspiring Legacy

It is with great sadness that Hackaday learns of the passing of Steve Evans. He was one of the creators of Eyedrivomatic, the eye-controlled wheelchair project which was awarded the Grand Prize during the 2015 Hackaday Prize.

News of Steve’s passing was shared by his teammate Cody Barnes in a project update on Monday. For more than a decade Steve had been living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). He slowly lost the function of his body, but his mind remained intact throughout. We are inspired that despite his struggles he chose to spend his time creating a better world. Above you can see him test-driving an Eyedrivomatic prototype which is the blue 3D printed attachment seen on the arm of his chair.

The Eyedrivomatic is a hardware adapter for electric wheelchairs which bridges the physical controls of the chair with the eye-controlled computer used by people living with ALS/MND and in many other situations. The project is Open Hardware and Open Source Software and the team continues to work on making Eyedriveomatic more widely available by continuing to refine the design for ease of fabrication, and has even begun to sell kits so those who cannot build it themselves still have access.

The team will continue with the Eyedrivomatic project. If you are inspired by Steve’s story, now is a great time to look into helping out. Contact Cody Barnes if you would like to contribute to the project. Love and appreciation for Steve and his family may be left as comments on the project log.

PogoPlug Hacking: A Step by Step Guide to Owning The Device

[Films By Kris Hardware] has started quite an interesting YouTube series on hacking and owning a PogoPlug Mobile v4. While this has been done many times in the past, he gives a great step by step tutorial. The series so far is quite impressive, going into great detail on how to gain root access to the device through serial a serial connection.

PogoPlugs are remote-access devices sporting ARM processor running at 800 MHz, which is supported by the Linux Kernel.  The version in question (PogoPlug Mobile v4) have been re-purposed in the past for things like an inexpensive PBX, an OpenWrt router and even a squeezebox replacement. Even if you don’t have a PogoPlug, this could be a great introduction to hacking any Linux-based consumer device.

So far, we’re at part three of what will be an eight-part series, so there’s going to be more to learn if you follow along. His videos have already covered how to connect via a serial port to the device, how to send commands, set the device up, and stop it calling home. This will enable the budding hacker to make the PogoPlug do their bidding. In this age of the cheap single-board Linux computer, hacking this type of device may be going out of style, but the skills you learn here probably won’t any time soon.

Continue reading “PogoPlug Hacking: A Step by Step Guide to Owning The Device”

Behold the Many Builds of World Create Day

World Create Day was huge this year. Over 70 different groups on six continents got together on Saturday to work on projects as a global Hackaday community.

LearnOBots Labs in Islamabad, Pakistan

Perhaps the best documented World Create Day so far comes from our friends in Pakistan. LearnOBots hosted a day-long extravaganza of projects on everything from home automation, to wearable computing.

[Haziq] and [Rafay] didn’t just build an IoT lighting project together, they took the time to present their work in this excellent demo video. The build connects Arduino, a Bluetooth module, and a relay to drive the lightbulbs all controlled by an app they built with MIT app inventor to help a friend who is stuck on bed rest.

Browse through the event logs LearnOBots has posted and see a lot more of what went on. This image shows work on wearable interfaces. Fabric markers are used to draw out interesting designs which are then given interactivity using conductive thread and Lilypad boards. We also get a look at a user interface for Summer camp sign-up that was made using Raspberry Pi Zero and a 7″ screen. Other groups were working on custom input projects using Makey Makey and Arduino. The image at the top of this article shows some of the LearnOBots crew with a World Create Day poster, neat!

Appalachian Forge Works in Newland, North Carolina

World Create Day at Appalachian Forge Works brought a baby guitar amp to life on World Create Day. The basic circuit is built around an LM386 amp. It was designed using a whiteboard schematic before moving to the breadboard for prototyping.

For some folks that might be enough of a hacking sessions, but the effort didn’t stop there. An enclosure was designed and laser cut from plywood. This included etching labels for the power button and volume knob. There’s even fabric mesh for the speaker grill for a completely finished look that’s a showpiece even when not belting out some Black Keys.

Baltimore Hackerspace Breaks Out the Welder

Tiny wheels, big motors, and square tubing — it’s almost ready to hit the test track for some time trials. The gang over at Baltimore Hackerspace spent their World Create Day fabricating what surely will be the next championship entry in the Power Racing Series.

After this picture was snapped the team got to work on the control electronics for the racer, which end up in a transparent box between the motors. The team didn’t have time to install a driver’s seat but that didn’t prevent a late night test run.

Sounds of Sewing and Embedded Tinkering at The Bodgery in Madison

I celebrated World Create Day at The Bodgery in Madison, Wisconsin. There were a surprising variety of projects worked on at the meetup, at least three of them using something new to me:

[Josh Lange] brought along the driver boards he’s been designing. I was delighted to see the batteries used in the project. I didn’t realize you could buy 18650 Lithium cells in a consumer-friendly package (like AA batteries but larger) and there are battery holders to go along with them. I’m used to seeing these pulled out of old laptop batteries.

Hackaday’s own [Bob Baddeley] was on hand, working feverishly at the sewing machine. He’s fabricating an entire line of Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubemen costumes. They use those springy laundry baskets as the internal skeleton. Also being worked on at The Bodgery was an NES expansion port project that will make a custom cartridge hosting a Raspberry Pi Zero utilize the NES video hardware without altering the stock hardware. We also had a fun time working on embedded basics with a software engineer who is getting up to speed with embedded.

Tell Us About Your World Create Day!

We want to hear about what you did on World Create Day. We’ll be covering more events in the coming days so make sure you add your pictures and stories to your WCD event page. Event organizers get a special treat for making that effort. But mainly we want to show off the excitement and ingenuity that was abuzz around the world this past weekend.

Life on Contract: Hacking your Taxes

You’re a contractor and people are paying you to work in your pajamas. It’s a life of luxury, but when tax time comes, you are in a world of hurt and you wonder why you even do it. Taxes are tricky, but there are some tools you can use to make it less painful on your pocketbook. With planning and diligence, you can significantly increase the amount of money that stays in your bank account. Continue reading “Life on Contract: Hacking your Taxes”

Official Launch Of The Asus Tinker Board

Earlier this year, a new single board computer was announced, and subsequently made its way onto the market. The Tinker Board was a little different from the rest of the crop of Raspberry Pi lookalikes, it didn’t come from a no-name company or a crowdfunding site, instead it came from a trusted name, Asus. As a result, it is a very high quality piece of hardware, upon which we remarked when we reviewed it.

Unfortunately, though we were extremely impressed with the board itself, we panned the Asus software and support offering of the time, because it was so patchy as to be non-existent. We had reached out to Asus while writing the review but received no answer, but subsequently they contacted us with a sorry tale of some Tinker Boards finding their way onto the market early, before their official launch and before they had put together their support offering. We updated our review accordingly, after all it is a very good product and we didn’t like to have to pan it in our review.

This week then, news has come through from Asus that they have now launched the board officially. There is a new OS version based on Debian 9, which features hardware acceleration for both the Chromium web browser and the bundled UHD media player. There is also an upcoming Android release though it is still in beta at time of writing and there is little more information.

The Tinker Board is one of the best of the current crop of Raspberry Pi-like single board computers, and it easily trounces the Pi itself on most counts. To see it launched alongside a meaningful software and support offering will give it a chance to prove itself. In our original review we urged tech-savvy readers to buy one anyway, now it has some of the backup it deserves we’d urge you to buy one for your non-technical family members too.