There was a time when any electronics student would have a slide rule hanging off their belt. By the 1970s, the slide rule changed over to an electronic calculator which was a pricy item. Today you can buy calculators at the dollar store. [JohnAudioTech] pulled out an old Radio Shack vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) calculator and found it didn’t work. Obviously, that means it is time to open it up.
It is fun to see one of these old devices opened up again. Consumer electronics with big through-hole ICs! Troubleshooting the device wound up being anti-climatic, as a broken wire to the battery compartment explained the whole thing.
As a teardown, though, this is a fun video. Not only are all the parts through-hole, but the PCB is clearly a manual layout with serpentine traces flowing across the board like some sort of art piece. Continue reading “An Old Calculator Lives Again”
When [0xRickSanchez] found some D-Link firmware he couldn’t unpack, he was curious to find out why. The firmware had a new encryption method which was doing its job of preventing tampering and static analysis. Of course, he had to figure out how to get around it and is documenting his work in a series of blog posts.
Looking at the entropy analysis showed the data to be totally random, a good sign it was either encrypted or compressed. The target router cost about $200, but a similar cheaper router used the same encryption and thus this model became the hardware of choice for testing.
Continue reading “Hacking D-Link Firmware”
Phillips Ambilight technology is a curious thing, never quite catching on in the mainstream due to its proprietary nature. Consisting of an LED array that sits behind a television screen, it projects colours relevant to the content on screen to create a greater feeling of ambience. [Ed Chamberlain]’s reactive pixel lamps aim to do much the same thing in a more distributed way.
Each pixel lamp consists of a Wemos D1 controller fitted with an old-school 4-wire RGB LED. The components are placed in a 3D printed translucent cube, which serves as an attractive enclosure and diffuser. With WiFi connectivity on board, it’s possible to connect the individual cubes up to a Raspberry Pi serving as a Phillips Hue bridge thanks to DIYHue. Once setup, the lights can be configured as an Ambilight system within the Phillips Hue app.
It’s an impressive way to give a room reactive lighting on a budget, without resorting to costly off-the-shelf solutions. We’d love to see this expanded further, as we’re sure a room full of reactive lights would be truly a sight to behold. Other methods to recreate the Ambilight technology are possible, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Reactive Pixel Lamps Create Colourful Vibes On Command”
Spectrophotometry is an important scientific tool, most commonly used in biology and chemistry. It’s a method to measure the amount of light absorbed by a chemical solution at various different wavelengths. While it’s typically the preserve of expensive lab equipment, [Daniel Hingston] built a rig to do the job at home.
The heart of the rig is a normal filament-based flashlight bulb, which produces good-quality white light containing all colors. A prism is then used to split the light into its component wavelengths, so that the sample can be tested across the whole light spectrum. The prism is rotated by a servo motor, which exposes the sample to the full rainbow, while an Arduino uses a light-dependent resistor to measure how much light makes it through the sample. Thus, the amount of light absorbed by the sample can be calculated, relative to calibrations made with no sample present.
It’s a simple build that can be achieved with fairly common materials, barring the prism which may need to be specially ordered. It would be a great way to teach highschool students about advanced scientific concepts, as well as showing them behind the curtain of how lab equipment works.
We see all kinds of DIY science gear around here; this lantern-based bioreactor is a great example. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Arduino Rig Does Spectrophotometry”
We have to hand it to this team, their entry for the 2020 Hackaday Prize is a classic pincer maneuver. A team from [The University of Auckland] in New Zealand and [New Dexterity] is designing a couple of gloves for both rehabilitation and human augmentation. One style is a human-powered prosthetic for someone who has lost mobility in their hand. The other form uses soft robotics and Bluetooth control to move the thumb, fingers, and an extra thumb (!).
The human-powered exoskeleton places the user’s hand inside a cabled glove. When they are in place, they arch their shoulders and tighten an artificial tendon across their back, which pulls their hand close. To pull the fingers evenly, there is a differential box which ensures pressure goes where it is needed, naturally. Once they’ve gripped firmly, the cables stay locked, and they can relax their shoulders. Another big stretch and the cords relax.
In the soft-robotic model, a glove is covered in inflatable bladders. One set spreads the fingers, a vital physical therapy movement. Another bladder acts as a second thumb for keeping objects centered in the palm. A cable system draws the fingers closed like the previous glove, but to lock them they evacuate air from the bladders, so jamming layers retain their shape, like food in a vacuum bag.
We are excited to see what other handy inventions appear in this year’s Hackaday Prize, like the thumbMouse, or how about more assistive tech that uses hoverboards to help move people?
Continue reading “Assistive Gloves Come In Pairs”
You could say 2020 is The Year That Didn’t Happen, or perhaps even The Year That Everything Happened Online. All the international cons and camps have been cancelled, and we’ve spent our time instead seeing our friends in Jitsi, or Zoom.
But there was one camp that wasn’t cancelled. The yearly Danish hacker camp BornHack has gone ahead this year with significantly reduced numbers and amid social distancing, turning it from what is normally one of the smaller and more intimate events into the only real-world event of 2020.
I bought my ticket early in the year and long before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, so on a sunny day in August I found myself in my car with my friend Dani from FizzPop hackerspace in Birmingham taking the ferry for the long drive through the Netherlands and Germany to Denmark.
Continue reading “Running A Successful Hacker Camp In A Pandemic: BornHack 2020”
Join us on Wednesday, August 26 at noon Pacific for the CNC on the Desktop Hack Chat with Matt Hertel and John Allwine!
Once limited to multi-million dollar machines on the floors of cavernous factories, CNC technology has moved so far downscale in terms of machine size that it’s often easy to lose track of where it pops up. Everything from 3D-printers to laser engravers use computer numeric control to move a tool to some point in three-dimensional space, and do it with unmatched precision and reproducibility.
CNC has gotten so pervasive that chances are pretty good that there’s a CNC machine of some sort pretty close to everyone reading this, with many of those machines being homebrew designs. That’s the backstory of Pocket NC, a company that was literally started in a one-bedroom apartment in 2011 by Matt and Michelle Hertel. After a successful Kickstarter that delivered 100 of their flagship five-axis desktop CNC mills to backers, they geared up for production and now turn out affordable machine tools for the masses. We’ve even seen some very complex parts made on these mills show up in projects we’ve featured.
For this Hack Chat, we’ll be joined by Pocket NC CTO and co-founder Matt Hertel and John Allwine, who recently joined the company as Principal Software Engineer. We’ll discuss not only Pocket NC’s success and future plans, but the desktop CNC landscape in general. Drop by with your questions regarding both the hardware and the software side of CNC, about turning an idea into a business, and where the CNC world and next-generation manufacturing will be heading in the future.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, August 26 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones baffle you as much as us, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.