Hackaday Links: 👻 🎃 Spooky Edition, 2017

A few links posts ago, we wrote something about a company selling huge LED panels on eBay, ten panels for $50. Those panels are gone now, but a few lucky hackers got their hands on some cool hardware. Now there’s a project to reverse engineer these Barco NX-4 LED panels. Who’s going to be the first to figure out how to drive these things? Doesn’t matter — it’s a group project and we’re all made richer by the contributions of others.

Prague is getting a new hackerspace.

A year and a half ago, a $79 3D printer popped up on Kickstarter. I said I would eat a hat if it shipped by next year. Seeing as how it’s basically November, and they’re not selling a $79 printer anymore — it’s $99 — this might go down as one of my rare defeats, with an asterisk, of course. I’m going to go source some very large fruit roll-ups and do this at Supercon. Thanks, [Larry].

Speaking of bets, this week Amazon introduced the most idiotic thing ever invented. It’s called Amazon Key. It’s an electronic lock (dumb), connected to the Internet (dumber), so you let strangers into your house to deliver packages (dumbest). CCC is in a few months, so I don’t know if Amazon Key will be hacked by then, but I’m pretty confident this will be broken by March.

The Lulzbot Taz is one of the best printers on the market, and it is exceptionally Open Source. The Taz is also a great printer for low-volume production. It was only a matter of time until someone built this. The Twoolhead is a parallel extruder for the Taz 6. Instead of one extruder and nozzle, it’s two, and instead of printing one object at a time, it prints two. Of course it limits the build volume of the printer, but if you need smaller parts faster, this is the way to go.

Hey, did you hear? Hackaday is having a conference the weekend after next. This year, we’re opening up the doors a day early and having a party at the Evil Overlord’s offices. Tickets are free for Supercon attendees, so register here.

At CES this year, we caught wind of one of the coolest advances in backyard astronomy in decades. The eVscope is ‘astrophotography in the eyepiece’, and it’s basically a CCD, a ton of magic image processing, and a small display, all mounted inside a telescope. Point the scope at a nebula, and instead of seeing a blurry smudge, you’ll see tendrils and filaments of interstellar gas in almost real-time. Now the eVscope is on Kickstarter. It’s a 4.5 inch almost-Newtonian (the eyepiece is decoupled from the light path, so I don’t even know how telescope nomenclature works in this case), an OLED display, and a 10-hour battery life.

Is the fidget spinner fad over? Oh, we hope not. A technology is only perfected after it has been made obsolete. Case in point? We can play phonographs with lasers. The internal combustion engine will be obsolete in automobiles in twenty years, but track times will continue going down for forty. Fidget spinners may be dead, but now you can program them with JavaScript. What a time to be alive!

Audio tomphoolery even an idiot tech blogger can see through! I received a press kit for a USB DAC this week that included the line, “…low drop out voltage regulators running at 3.3 V, meaning the 5 V USB limit is well preserved.” Yes, because you’re running your system at 3.3 V, you won’t draw too much current from a USB port. That’s how it works, right?

[Peter Sripol] is building an ultralight in his basement. The last few weeks of his YouTube channel have been the must-watch videos of the season. He’s glassed the wings, installed all the hardware (correctly), and now he has the motors and props mounted. This is an electric ultralight, so he’s using a pair of ‘150 cc’ motors from HobbyKing. No, that’s not displacement, it’s just a replacement for a 150 cc gas engine. On a few YouTube Live streams, [Peter] did what was effectively a high-speed taxi test that got out of hand. It flew. Doing that at night was probably not the best idea, but we’re looking forward to the videos of the flight tests.

23 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: 👻 🎃 Spooky Edition, 2017

  1. August is a smart lock that lets you grant access to delivery folks, dog walkers and the like. It’s an ACL for your premises, and as such, that concept itself is not necessarily insecure – it’s the management of the ACL that’s insecure.

    Similarly, RF and/or Internet based access control is also a thing that *can* be done properly. The problem is that it seems like a lot of that industry runs afoul of either Kerckhoffs’ principle or Schneier’s law or both.

      1. Yup, ideal situation is a small mudroom (with a small fridge?) with the e-lock on the outside and a secondary traditional lock on the inside.

        Of course if a would be thief gets into the mud room easily he’d be shielded from public view and be at their leasure to pick the inside lock. Another good reason why nosey neighbors can be a very good thing.

  2. “I own several hats, and will eat one if this ships by next year.”
    From the wording, I think you are supposed to eat a hat that’s one of those that you owned at the moment of writing that blog post. It’s not like I want to see you eat an actual hat, but I think the way you put it was mildly misleading.

    1. Before eating that hat, you should monitor the comments section of that kickstarter.
      Despite the update from July 28th stating “everything is shipped” it seems lots of people never received their printer, so the shipping might not have actually happened. And the backers seem to loose faith…

      Good for your hats, sorry for the people who were – potentially – scammed.

    1. If you’ve got a frame strong enough to throw around the weight of a NEMA 17 (and the Taz surely does), then there’s no reason not to use a direct drive extruder. Especially given the headaches you can have with Bowden.

      Bowden is a good compromise if your printer is so spindly that moving the extruder motor around would introduce vibrations (example: Monoprice Mini). Or if you’re really trying to drop your weight to absolute minimum so you can push speed/accel (which is more likely to get you Internet points than a practical printer).

  3. “It’s a 4.5 inch almost-Newtonian (the eyepiece is decoupled from the light path, so I don’t even know how telescope nomenclature works in this case), an OLED display, and a 10-hour battery life.”

    It’s a prime focus telescope. Observer (the sensor) is at prime focus, so, prime focus telescope.

  4. I like that whatever software is stripping the punctuation from the article title to make the URL leaves the emoji in there. Whatever font chrome is using for the URL bar doesn’t have those glyphs, but it apparently isn’t causing any real issues.

  5. as comments elsewhere on the internet point out, amazon key could be extremely valuable for people with limited mobility, or in areas of extremely high porch-theft.

    i’ll note also that your bet on its insecurity does not mention any hat-eating, or other consequences.

    1. Right, in “areas of extremely high porch-theft” you’ll find the trusting people who will fall for this idiocy you figure.
      Perhaps it’s true, perhaps the world has fallen to that point.

  6. I don’t think an electronic lock is dumb at all, providing it’s used in the right context and for the right purposes. If you have a property you use exclusively for renting out short-term through AirBnB or similar venues (some of which have already introduced their own versions) it makes a lot of sense, and can save you a lot of hassle. Such properties don’t usually have a ton of easily movable and expensive items, and many are already located in buildings with their own onsite security. Under such circumstances cracking an e-lock presents no more risk than getting through your average commercial mechanical lock; if you have the time & tools & skills (which I personally don’t :) nothing prevents you from breaking into 99% of all households, regardless of how protected they are. Right or wrong, Western societies have been steadily marching away from long-term individual ownership towards short-term temporary leasing; this may be just another step in this direction.

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