Hackaday Links: October 1, 2017

Remember when you first saw a USB port in a standard wall outlet? It was a really great idea at the time, but how’s that 500mA charge holding up now? Fresh from a random press release, here’s a USB 3.0 wall outlet, with USB A and C ports. 5A @ 5V. Future proof for at least several years, I guess.

This is what you call ‘pucker factor’. An Air France A380 traveling from CDG to LAX suffered an uncontained engine failure somewhere over Greenland. Everyone on board is fine, except for the fact they had to spend the night in Goose Bay, Canada. Want the best Twitter/YouTube account of being a passenger? Here you go. Want to know why it landed in Goose Bay? This video is about ETOPS which really doesn’t apply in this instance but it’s a sufficient introduction to diverting airplanes after engine failures.

There are mysterious pylons going up alongside bridges and tunnels in NYC (auto-playing video). No one knows what they are, and the transportation board for New York is hiding behind a cloud of secrecy. We do know there are ‘fiber optics necessary for Homeland Security items’ inside, so place your bets. It’s facial recognition, or at the very least license plate readers. You know, exactly what New York and dozens of other cities have been doing for years.

Did somebody lose a balloon? A Raspberry Pi high-altitude balloon was found on the beach in south-west Denmark.

[Peter] is building an ultralight in his basement. We’ve covered the first part of the build, and we’ve been keeping tabs on him with semi-weekly updates. Now he’s fiberglassed the fuselage and started construction of the wings. Updates of note this week: he’s found a shop with an 8-foot CNC hot wire cutter for the wings. That really cuts down on the build time and it’s actually pretty cheap. One interesting part of this build is a ‘landing gear ejection system’, or a spring thing that allows the landing gear to fall away with the tug of a wire. Why would anyone want a landing gear ejection system? In case he needs to land in a soybean field. A flat bottom means a smoother and more survivable landing. If anyone is still concerned about [Peter]’s safety, this is a put up or shut up situation. Pitch in ten bucks for a parachute if you’re so concerned.

Hoverbike Kalashnikov! What? It’s a guy’s name. No big deal.

Open Hardware Summit is this week in Denver. What will be the highlights of the event? Well, last year, OSHWA announced the creation of an Open Hardware license. This is an all-encompassing license for Open Source Hardware that’s trying to solve some very, very hard problems. Copyright doesn’t work with hardware (except for boat hulls) like it does with software, and this Open Hardware license is the best we’ve got going for us. We’re going to get an update on how well this license is propagating. Also on deck for Summit attendees is a field trip to Sparkfun and Lulzbot. Want to see the world’s second largest 3D printer bot farm? It’ll be awesome.

37 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 1, 2017

  1. We are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people. The Government considers these people irrelevant. We don’t. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up, we’ll find you.

  2. (Full disclosure, I’m the project maintainer/author of BotQueue)

    Second largest print farm? Is Josef Prusa’s fully operational? There’s a couple of others that never scaled up to that level, sadly, but 300 always seems to be the target when I see people trying to set up new bot farms. I’m pretty sure Lulzbot is still running their cluster with BotQueue (someone ask, I’m not allowed on premises anymore :P) but I don’t think Josef is. Is his the one who’s got the record for largest now? There was a Chinese group that wanted to scale up to 1500 printers. There’s got to be some point that, taking into account maintenance and failures, you’re either over producing, or leaving a bunch of your machines idle.

    I’ll also be at OSHWA, so if you’re curious about BotQueue, or want to visit my local hackerspace denhac, come visit! Tuesday night is our open house, at 8pm, so come visit if you get in Denver on Tuesday night!

      1. Nope! I was working on a separate branch in the background for a while, about 2+ years ago but had some stuff in my life I had to take care of that prevented me from working on it. I’ve recently picked back up on my efforts and have intentions to continue on with the project.

    1. Actually, it is the official term. Can lead to much worse outcomes – the United DC-10 crash at Sioux City (SUX – and that’s official, too) was caused by an uncontained fan failure that shrapneled the aircraft.

  3. Hm, those pylons are interesting. I’d be grabbing something like an RPi to sniff for wireless signals, and probably a NoIR camera to see if it’s using anything in a non-visible spectrum. Document the locations of every single one. We shouldn’t let “them” watch us without watching them back.

  4. If you look at those mystery towers you don’t see cameras/lenses but weird directional LED arrays of some sort, then you hear the ‘no comment’ and secrecy even towards officials I’m really curious what it is, but knowing NYC it can’t be good for privacy or be respectful of the general public. But I don’t think it’s license plate scanners, they already have those. And facial recognition? Seems a bit big and noticeable and excessive for that. Maybe a dispersal weapon that disorients people? Or aimed (as an excuse at least) at possible terrorist by disabling them through flashes or something? But then why the fiber? And does it come with a separate camera system in another spot?

    1. Addendum: there are 4 smaller circles around those arrays, but they don’t seem camera lenses. It reminds me a bit of a steam-VR base station actually.
      What they need to do is go out there at night and film it with an IR sensitive camera, and film it while shining a good UV light at those round things on top to see what lights up, instead of asking people who won’t talk and then giving up and calling that journalism. But hey at least CBS mentioned their existence and mentioned the mystery.

      1. Have you a non-CBS link?
        Or is those 4 smaller circles looking greenish or silverish?

        If so then they maybe Si windows for lower IR pass filter… i.e. possibly to detect heat, like that of a recently shot gun on the back seat of a car… or something like that?

        1. I saw the CBS one on youtube, where there are quite a few people discussing it btw, even has an alex jones item on it (although not by jones himself), but I guess we saw that one coming.

          Anyway your theory is an interesting one, but somehow those things on top don’t seem placed well for a good view, especially a good view inside cars, too high and slanted more downwards looking at the roofs of cars sooner than the inside. That’s from those short video segments though.
          The whole thing is curious.
          Incidentally, I noticed that there is a sort of metal looking cylinder way on top of the ‘spotlight’ looking things, but if there is a hidden camera in there it’s pretty damn high so I don’t think there is, but there likely is something in it, would be weird if it had no function.
          Maybe I should look at some video on the latest army experiments to see if there is a parallel in design.

          1. Maybe the Feds will spray paint the roofs of cars they want to track with a visibly clear, IR blocking or reflecting symbol(s).

            (Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean no one is out to get you!)
            B^)

    2. because of where they are being installed I feel like they are related to the ‘shot locator’ systems. I would bet that they are taking it further by also trying to scan for any kind of useful data in the area at the same time.

      I.E. Detect gunshot. Record time/place. Attempt to auto-discover ALL people in the area of the shot at the time. Partially to see who might have information.. Partially to track you. I am willing that some of the data they are hunting would be things like contactless cards (lots of mass-transit use these for both toll roads as well as user pass cards). Imagine the amount of personal tracking you can do even without tracking user cell phones in range. It is staggering. That isnt even considering facial/license plate tracking.

      1. NYC is known to scan for all kinds of RFID already (even HaD covered it), so I’m not sure the thing you describe isn’t already there and this is jet another extension on the intrusion of privacy going for something new.
        It’s also so oddly large, I mean cameras and RFID scanners and even shot detectors are a fraction of the size of these monstrosities. And yet, they mention fiber connection and hint at security, so you would think it’s something that needs to send a lot of fast data. So some kind of live monitoring.
        It’s also interesting that they have these grills on them, is there something in there that needs cooling?

  5. ” If anyone is still concerned about [Peter]’s safety, this is a put up or shut up situation. Pitch in ten bucks for a parachute if you’re so concerned.”
    Hmmm
    Check top
    Yup
    a BB post

    Wouldn’t it be better if he did some more research on adequate engineering?
    Many of the potential failures (and some it’s a matter of time: will he detect and repair before it goes under operation) can happen in the air – and during the last 20 feet or during ground handling (low speed or high speed), where a parachute won’t do anything to save his butt or prevent injury. But it will put some cloth out for the medevac to find the site somewhat easier.

    1. I agree there may be some steps he is shortcutting, but he has a dream and has obviously been thinking about this a long time. (just my opinion) He is open to criticism and seems to be realistic about the risks. I agree that even the ballistic chute is probably not going to cover very many of the foreseeable issues. On the flip side, he is inspiring for people whose compulsion to create is barely contained by the overstretched plastic wrap of common sense. If you see issues that he hasn’t addressed then saying something is far more useful than contributing to the chute fund. Even if you speak from ignorance maybe it will trigger a useful discussion. If you have seen many part 103 legal ultralights you might understand that even machines which are out there are full of compromises that are a result of their speed and weight restrictions. Also I have talked to those involved in the industry a couple of times and as a result have just as much confidence that Peter will do a good enough job not to get killed.

  6. “Copyright doesn’t work with hardware (except for boat hulls) like it does with software, and this Open Hardware license is the best we’ve got going for us. We’re going to get an update on how well this license is propagating.”

    Design patents.

    1. You can see one on the picture… But I’m pretty sure Farnell maintains a ‘image is for illustrative purposes only’ policy, and that is no way a guarantee that there will be one. The datasheet however lists the product codes with the C-only and A&C combo plates, and it seems that the product numbers match the farnell parts for the first few I checked.

      Bottom line, check the datasheet product # against the farnell product # and ensure you order the right ones.

  7. Sniffer pylons. Radiation and explosives. Bet your ass if you drive a source past one you get pulled over on the other side….no wait… I am being informed they are just full of candy. I repeat…candy. Move along… nothing to see here.

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