For as busy as things can get at the grocery store on a typical afternoon just before the dinner hour, at least the modern experience has one thing going for it: it’s relatively quiet. Aside from the mumbled greetings and “Paper or plastic?” questions from the cashier, and the occasional screaming baby in the next aisle, the only sound you tend to hear is the beeping of the barcode scanner as your purchase is tallied up.
Jump back just 40 years and the same scene was raucous, with cashiers reading price tags and pounding numbers into behemoth electromechanical cash registers. Back then, if you wanted help with any arithmetic with more than just a few operations, some kind of mechanical calculator was your only choice. From simple “one-banger” adding machines to complex analog computers, mechanical devices were surprisingly capable data processing tools. Here’s a brief look at how some of the simpler ones worked.
Continue reading “Inside Mechanical Calculators”
Over the last few years one thing has become abundantly clear: hackers love cramming the Raspberry Pi into stuff. From classic game systems to mirrors, there’s few places that haven’t been invaded by everyone’s favorite Linux SBC. From the inspired to the bizarre, we’ve brought such projects to your attention with minimal editorialization. As we’ve said before: it’s not the job of Hackaday to ask why, we’re here to examine how.
That said, some builds do stand out from the crowd. One such project is the “Pentesting BBU Dropbox” which [b1tbang3r] has recently posted to Hackaday.io. Noticing the battery bay in a cheap Cyberpower 350VA battery backup was just about the same size as the Raspberry Pi, he decided to convert it into a covert penetration testing device. Of course the illusion isn’t perfect as the battery backup function itself doesn’t work anymore. But if you hid this thing in an office or server room, there’s very little chance anyone would ever suspect it didn’t belong.
The key to the final device’s plausibility is that from stock it had dual RJ-11 jacks for analog modem surge protection. Swapping those jacks out for RJ-45 network connectors gives the BBU Dropbox an excuse to be plugged into the network. At a cursory glance, at least. Internally there is a TRENDnet Ethernet switch which allows the Pi to get on the network when an Ethernet cable is plugged into the battery backup.
We especially like the little details [b1tbang3r] put in to make the final device look as real as possible. The “Reset” button and “Wiring Fault” LED have been connected to the GPIO pins of the Pi, allowing for an exceptionally discrete user interface. For instance the LED could be setup to blink when a scan is complete, or the button could be used to wipe the device in an emergency.
This build reminds us of the Power Pwn released back in 2012 by Pwnie Express. That device was based around a relatively bulky power strip, and the only “feature” it looks like this DIY build is missing from the professional version is the $1,300 price.
At Hackaday we’re all about DIY. However, projects can have many components, and so there’s sometimes a choice between making something or buying it. In this case, [GreatScott!] wondered if it would be cheaper to make or buy a lithium-ion battery pack for his new eBike kit. To find out, he decided to make one.
After some calculations, he found he’d need thirteen 18650 cells in series but decided to double the capacity by connecting another thirteen in parallel. That gave him a 5 Ah capacity battery pack with a nominal voltage of 48.1 V and one capable of supplying a constant current of 40 A. Rather than connect them by soldering the nickel strips, he purchased a kWeld battery spot welder, adding to the cost of the build. He charged his new battery pack using his bench power supply but being concerned about uneven charging of the cells over the battery pack’s lifetime, he added a Battery Management System (BMS). The resulting battery pack powers his eBike motor just fine.
After adding up all the costs, he found it was only a tiny bit cheaper than prices for comparable battery packs on eBay, which were €24.4 per Ah (US$29.5 per Ah). The only way it would be cheaper is if he made multiple packs, spreading out the one-time cost of the battery spot welder. So that means it’s really up to your preference. See his video below to judge for yourself if you’d rather do it the DIY way. And then let us know what you’d do in the comments below.
Continue reading “Comparing Making To Buying A Lithium Ion Battery Pack”