How to Reverse Engineer a Chip

Have you ever wondered how you could look at a chip and map out its schematic? [Robert Baruch] wants to show you how he does it and he does in a new video (see below).  The video assumes you know how to expose the die because he’s made a video about that before.

This video focuses on using his Beaglebone-driven microscope stage to get high-resolution micrographs stitched together from smaller shots. A 3D-printed sample holder keeps the part from moving around. Luckily, there’s software to stitch the images together. Once he has the die photo, he will etch away the metal to remove the passivation, the metal layer, and the silicon dioxide under the metal and takes another set of photos.

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Copper Foil Makes Music–With a Little Help

Craft stores are often the source of odd inspiration. In the stained glass section, we’ve seen the copper foil, and even used it to prototype some RF circuits on the tops of shoeboxes. However, we could never get a good method for connecting ICs to the relatively thick foil. [Bryan Cera] did it though. His paperSynth uses some paper and cardboard for a substrate, copper foil, and an ATtiny CPU to make music. You can see the device in operation in the video, below.

The copper foil is sticky and it isn’t conductive on the back, so anywhere the foil is supposed to touch, you need a blob of solder. We wouldn’t trust the insulation by itself to cross wires, but with a bit of insulating material between–a piece of paper or electrical tape, for example–you could probably cross with impunity. For an RF circuit, you might even make low-value capacitors like that.

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Thermal Panorama One Pixel At A Time

Inspiration can strike from the strangest places. Unearthing a forgotten Melexis MLX90614 thermopile from his  ‘inbox,’ [Saulius Lukse] used it to build a panoramic thermal camera.

[Lukse] made use of an ATmega328 to control the thermal sensor, and used the project to test a pair of two rotary stage motors he designed for tilt and pan, with some slip rings to keep it in motion as it captures a scene. That said, taking a 720 x 360 panoramic image one pixel at a time takes over an hour, and compiling all that information into an intelligible picture is no small feat either. An occasional hiccup are dead pixels in the image, but those are quickly filled in by averaging the temperature of adjoining pixels.

The camera  rig works — and it does turn out a nice picture — but [Lukse]  says an upgraded infrared camera to captured larger images at a time and higher resolution would not be unwelcome.

 

Another clever use of a thermopile might take you the route of this thermal flashlight. if you don’t build your own thermal camera outright.

[Thanks for the tip, Imn!]

Robotic Glockenspiel and Hacked HDD’s Make Music

[bd594] likes to make strange objects. This time it’s a robotic glockenspiel and hacked HDD‘s. [bd594] is no stranger to Hackaday either, as we have featured many of his past projects before including the useless candle or recreating the song Funky town from Old Junk.

His latest project is quite exciting. He has incorporated his robotic glockenspiel with a hacked hard drive rhythm section to play audio controlled via a PIC 16F84A microcontroller. The song choice is Axel-F. If you had a cell phone around the early 2000’s you were almost guaranteed to have used this song as a ringtone at some point or another. This is where music is headed these days anyway; the sooner we can replace the likes of Justin Bieber with a robot the better. Or maybe we already have?

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Seizure Detection by EEG

For those that suffer them, seizures are a dangerous thing. Outside the neurological effects, there is always the possibility of injury from the surrounding environment as well – consider the dangers of having a seizure near a busy road, or even simply a glass table. Some detection methods exist for seizure sufferers, but they are primarily based on detecting the jerking motion of the patient. [akhil2001us] thinks it’s possible to do better – by measuring brainwaves to detect the onset of seizures.

The build is centered around the Neurosky Mindwave headset. This is an off-the-shelf product designed specifically for capturing EEG data. It outputs raw brainwave data which is key for doing proper analysis. The project then uses an Arduino Mega to tie everything together, along with some Sparkfun Bluetooth modules to talk to a cell phone to send an SMS for help in the event of a seizure.

The real difficulty in a project like this comes from developing an algorithm that can reliably detect seizures, as well as a unit robust enough to work in the real world. It’s no use if your headset is detecting a seizure in progress, but the help message is never sent because a wire fell out of your breadboard. It’s considerations like this, combined with the threat of litigation, behind why medical devices are so rigorously engineered and certified. For a proof of concept, however, such concerns are not as important.

We’ve seen Mindwave builds before – brainwave research is an exciting field!

Scope Review: Keysight 1000 X-Series

A few weeks ago we published an article on the newly released Keysight 1000X, an oscilloscope that marks Keysight’s late but welcome entry into the hacker-centric entry-level market. Understandably, this scope is causing a lot of excitement as it promises to bring some of the high-end pedigree of the well-known 2000X and 3000X models down to a much affordable price. Now couple that with the possibility of hacking its bandwidth lock and all this fuss is well justified.

[Dave Jones] from the EEVblog got his hands on one, and while conducting a UART dump saw the scope report 200 MHz bandwidth despite being labelled as a 100 MHz model. He then proceeded to actually hack the main board to unlock an undocumented 200 MHz bandwidth mode. This created a lot of confusion: some said [Dave] got a “pre-hacked” version, others assumed all 100 MHz versions actually have a stock bandwidth of 200 MHz.

Alongside the question of bandwidth, many wondered how this would fare against the present entry-level standard, the Rigol 1054Z. Is the additional cost and fewer channels worth the Keysight badge?

Keysight’s response to our queries and confusion was the promise to send us a review unit. Well, after receiving it and playing around with it, clearly a lot of Keysight’s high-end excellence has trickled down to this lower end version. However, this machine was not without some silly firmware issues and damning system crashes! Read on the full review below. Continue reading “Scope Review: Keysight 1000 X-Series”

Have Chainsaw, Will Travel

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you strapped a chainsaw motor to a tricycle? Turns out the worst that happened to [ThisDustin] and his friends is that it turned out hilariously awesome.

This aptly-named ‘chainsawtrike’ isn’t much in the way of comfort, so a pair of foot pegs had to be welded onto the front forks, along with a mount for the chainsaw motor. The rear axle had to be replaced with 5/8″ keyed stock, trimmed to fit the trike wheel and secured with keyed hubs. [ThisDustin] and crew also needed an intermediate sprocket to act as a reduction gear.

After a test that saw the chain jump off the sprockets and working out a few kinks — like the ability to turn — the chainsawtrike  can haul around its rider at a pretty decent clip. Check out the video of it in action after the break.

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