A Backlit Calendar For All Eternity

The advantage of the irregularities in the Gregorian calendar combined with the seven-day week is that they provide a constant source of yearly revenue for the paper calendar industry. Long before sustainability became a trending topic, people invented reusable, perpetual calendars, but the non-digital versions of these are sometimes complicated tables that are hard to interpret. [andrei.erdei] created an automated perpetual calendar that is mostly hardware but uses some digital tricks to overcome these problems.

The calendar consists of sandwiched panels of smoked acrylic which are backlit by some strips of WS2812Bs. Although the panels could have been processed with a laser cutter, [andrei.erdei] used a CNC which gave him the possibility to mill some grooves in the back panel to hold the LED strips. The stencil for the numbers was simply printed out on paper and the background made opaque by printing several times over the same piece of paper. The electronics consist of an ESP8266 which takes the date from an NTP server and lights up the corresponding LEDs in different colors for weekdays and weekends.

The classic version of this type of perpetual calendar uses a sliding frame but we have also seen completely different versions based on moving gears.

Video after the break.

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Teardown: Mini GPS Jammer

If you spend enough time trolling eBay for interesting electronic devices to take apart, you’re bound to start seeing suggestions for some questionable gadgets. Which is how I recently became aware of these tiny GPS jammers that plug directly into an automotive 12 V outlet. Shipped to your door for under $10 USD, it seemed like a perfect device to rip open in the name of science.

Now, you might be wondering what legitimate uses such a device might have. Well, as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any. The only reason you’d want to jam GPS signals in and around a vehicle is if you’re trying to get away with something you shouldn’t be doing. Maybe you’re out driving a tracked company car and want to enjoy a quick two hour nap in a parking lot, or perhaps you’re looking to disable the integrated GPS on the car you just stole long enough for you to take it to the chop shop. You know, as one does.

But we won’t dwell on the potentially nefarious reasons that this device exists. Hackers have never been too choosy about the devices they investigate and experiment with, and there’s no reason we should start now. Instead, let’s take this piece of gray-area hardware for a test drive and see what makes it tick.

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ESP32 Hash Monster Fills Pockets With Packets

Unless you’re reading this from the middle of the ocean or deep in the forest, it’s a pretty safe bet there’s WiFi packets zipping all around you right now. Capturing them is just a matter of having the right hardware and software, and from there, you can get to work on cracking the key used to encrypt them. While such things can obviously have nefarious connotations, there are certainly legitimate reasons for auditing the strength of the wireless networks in the area.

It might not have the computational horsepower to crack any encryption itself, but the ESP32 M5Stack is more than up to the task of capturing WiFi packets if you install the Hash Monster firmware developed by [G4lile0]. Even if you don’t intend on taking things farther, this project makes finding WiFi access points and grabbing their packets a fascinating diversion with the addition of a few graphs and an animated character (the eponymous monster itself) that feeds on all those invisible 1s and 0s in the air.

There’s some excellent documentation floating around that shows you the start to finish process of popping open a WiFi network with the help of Hash Monster, but that’s only the beginning of what’s possible with this gadget. A quick search uncovers a number of software projects that make use of the specific advantages of the M5Stack compared to more traditional ESP32 boards, namely the built-in screen, buttons, and battery. We’ve even seen it used in a few builds here on Hackaday, such as this DIY thermal camera and custom shipboard computer system.

[Thanks to Manuel for the tip.]