Hackaday Podcast Ep22: King Of Power Banks, Great SDR Hacks, Sand Reflow, And Rat Rod Mower

Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys dig through the most interesting hacks from the past week. On this episode we take a look at a portable power bank build that defies belief. We discuss an all-in-one SDR portable, messing with restaurant pagers, and the software that’s common to both of these pursuits. There’s a hopping robot that is one heck of a PID challenge, and another robot that does nothing but stare you down. We bring it on home with great articles on pianos with floppy disks, and that satellite cluster you should be watching for in the night sky.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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StrollerController Free Parents From Menial Labor

Raising young children is hard work, and parents need all the help they can get. There’s a whole industry catering to parents who are willing to pay to make their lives a little easier. Then, we have hacker minded parents like [Sam Pearce] who build his own solutions like joystick-controlled motorized strollers. His kids have fun taking their first steps into independent autonomy, dad has freed up his hands from pushing strollers, and everyone wins!

We were impressed when we saw [Sam] and his StrollerController zipping along at Maker Faire Bay Area 2019. Normally the only way young children get to control their own vehicle is in a field of bumper cars or a constrained track like Autopia. These lucky kids can drive around without being constrained by pen or track. This will give them a great early start on their driver’s license test, assuming autonomous vehicles haven’t taken over by the time they grow up.

The StrollerController we saw is a two part affair, each capable of independent operation:

StrollerController v1 is a stroller enhanced with motor gearbox from cordless drills driving rear wheels. Its top speed can be constrained by a limiter depending on the child pilot’s driving proficiency. It also has a bright red emergency stop button on top, plus a remote controlled kill switch held by a supervising adult.

StrollerController v2 is a pusher module equipped with much faster wheelchair motors under an grownup-sized standing platform. Welded to the front is a pair of brackets to dock with either a regular non-motorized stroller or StrollerController v1. The linked system delivers expedient travel for both parent and child.

For such a display of inventive ingenuity and resourcefulness, this project won a well-deserved Editor’s Choice ribbon from Maker Faire. We hope such recognition and enthusiasm from other Maker Faire attendees helped motivate [Sam] as he continues to improve StrollerController.

This Week In Security: Nvidia, Ransomware Retirement, And A TOCTOU Bug In Docker

Nvidia’s GeForce Experience (GFE) is the companion application for the Nvidia drivers, keeping said drivers up to date, as well as adding features around live streaming and media capture. The application runs as two parts, a GUI, and a system service, using an HTTP API to communicate. [David Yesland] from Rhino Security Labs decided to look into this API, searching for interesting, undocumented behavior, and shared the results on Sunday the 2nd.

The first interesting finding was that the service was written in Javascript and run using Node.js. Javascript is a scripting language, not a compiled language — the source code of the service was open for studying. This led to the revelation that API requests would be accepted from any origin, so long as the request included the proper security token. The application includes an update mechanism, which allows an authorized API call to execute an arbitrary system command. So long as the authentication token isn’t leaked to an attacker, this still isn’t a problem, right? Continue reading “This Week In Security: Nvidia, Ransomware Retirement, And A TOCTOU Bug In Docker”

Mech Warfare: Like Driving A Building-Sized Robot Through A Busy City

The sound a set of machined robot legs tapping on concrete make is remarkable. If for nothing more, the video after the break is worth watching just for this. It’s what caught my attention when I first wandered by the Mech Warfare area at Maker Faire, as one of the competitors had their bot out wandering around as a demo during the setup day.

This is truly a hacker’s robotics competition. There are constraints, but there’s also a lot of room for freedom. Meet a dozen or so requirements and you be as creative as you want with the rest. My favorite part is that this is not a destructive event like many the battle-based robot TV shows that tend to turn my stomach. Instead, these robots each carry an electric AirSoft gun and seek to hit any of four target panels on their competitor’s robot. Continue reading “Mech Warfare: Like Driving A Building-Sized Robot Through A Busy City”

Spectrum Chiptunes On An STM

Some of us here at Hackaday are suckers for a bit of chiptune music as the backdrop for many excellent times. The authentic way to create chiptunes is of course the original hardware, but in 2019 it’s far more common to do so with an emulator on a modern computer. That computer doesn’t have to sport a high-end processor and desktop operating system though, as [Deater] shows us with his ZX spectrum chiptune player on an STM32L46G Discovery board.

The impetus for the project came he tells us while teaching students to code simple sine wave music players, having code already in the bag for emulating the classic AY-3-8910 sound chip on the Raspberry Pi and the Apple II he decided to port that to the STM32L476 dev board. An earlier version used the internal DAC, but this was refined to send I2S data to an external DAC. The code can be had from GitHub (confusingly buried among code for an LED driver), and we’ve attached a video below of it playing some chiptune goodness.

Of course, Sinclair chiptunes don’t grab all the limelight. There have been plenty of Nintendo and Sega players too. You might also recognize [Deater] from his non-chiptune work, porting Portal to the Apple ][.

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