Limiting Factor Submersible Is In A League Of Its Own

Space may be the final frontier, but there are still Earthly frontiers that a select few have visited — the deepest depths of the high seas. Victor Vescovo, a Texas businessman and former Naval officer, is one of those few. Last spring, Vescovo realized his dream of becoming the first person to scrape the bottoms of all five oceans.

Vescovo descended alone in Limiting Factor, a $37 million two-seater submersible he commissioned from Triton, a private manufacturer who made this feat of engineering come to life. Vescovo and the crew discovered over 40 new species of aquatic lifeforms throughout the course of their Five Deeps expedition. But the attention-getting takeaway came when Vescovo visited the absolute lowest point on Earth. In the Challenger Deep portion of the Marianas Trench, seven miles below sea level, he saw a plastic bag drift by in the abyss.

One normal-sounding quirk sets this sub apart from others: it’s made to be reusable. You read that right, most super-deep divers never manage to dive over and over again.

Continue reading “Limiting Factor Submersible Is In A League Of Its Own”

New Part Day: The MSC313E Is A Computer On A Chip

As the onward march of technology delivers ever more powerful semiconductors, it can be instructive to keep an eye on the periphery of the system-on-chip market for niche-application devices which may have an application in our sphere. Just such a chip is the Mstar MSC313E, a SoC designed for use in IP cameras that packs an ARM Cortex A7 and 64 MB of memory, 16 MB of flash, Ethernet, USB, and all the other usual interfaces you’d expect from a microprocessor. It’s available in a QFN package which makes it tantalisingly within the reach of the hardware hacker community, so naturally there is significant interest in unlocking its secrets. A cheap and accessible part with enough power to run a stripped-out GNU/Linux operating system has to be worth a second look!

QFNs are not the easiest packages to hand solder, but if you also find yourself in that position there is at least the prospect of a ready to go development board. The BreadBee is a small PCB that packs in the chip with all its interfaces including Ethernet and USB brought out for experimentation. If you don’t fancy building one, you don’t even have to: it’s soon to be crowdfunded.

One might ask what the point is of Yet Another Linux Capable Microcontroller Platform, given the plethora of Raspberry-pi and competitor boards. The answer to that is simple enough and contains within it the essence of hardware hacking: because it is there. We might never see it again save for in a few outlying projects, or perhaps it might find a niche in our world and become popular, without this early work we’ll never know. While we’re at it, this isn’t the first such SoC that’s emerged; we’ve previously seen an action cam chip give us a hand-solderable Linux single board computer.

Thanks [anonymouse] for the tip.

Program Guesses Your Regular Expression

We aren’t sure how we feel about [pemistahl’s] grex program. On the one hand, we applaud a program that can take some input samples and produce a regular expression. On the other hand, it might be just as hard to gather example data that produces the correct regular expression. Still, it is an interesting piece of code.

Even the author suggests not to use this as an excuse to not learn regular expressions, since you’ll need to check the program’s output. It is certain that the results will match your test cases, but it isn’t certain that it won’t accept things you didn’t expect. Bad regular expressions have been the source of some deeply buried bugs.

Continue reading “Program Guesses Your Regular Expression”