True Networked KVM Without Breaking The Bank

For administering many computers at once, an IP KVM is an invaluable piece of equipment that makes it possible to get the job done over the network without having to haul a keyboard, monitor, and mouse around to each computer. The only downside is that they can get pricey, unless of course you can roll one out based on the Raspberry Pi and the PiKVM image for little more than the cost of the Pi itself.

The video linked below shows how to set all of this up, which involves flashing the image and then setting up the necessary hardware. The build shows an option for using HDMI over USB, but another option using the CSI bus would allow for control over options like video resolution and color that a USB HDMI dongle doesn’t allow for. It also makes it possible to restart the computer and do things like configure BIOS or boot from removable media, which is something that would be impossible with a remote desktop solution like VNC.

The creator of PiKVM was mentioned in a previous post about the creation of the CSI bus capture card, and a Pi hat based on this build will be available soon which would include options for ATX controls as well. Right now, though, it’s possible to build all of this on your own without the hat, and is part of what makes the Pi-KVM impressive, as well as its very low cost.

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Real Spectrum Analysis Goes Virtual

One of the hard things about electronics is that you can’t really see the working parts without some sort of tool. If you work on car engines, fashion swords, or sculpt clay, you can see with your unaided eye what’s going on. Electronic components are just abstract pieces and the real action requires a meter or oscilloscope to understand. Maybe that’s what [José] was thinking of when he built a-radio. This “humble experiment” pipes a scan from a software-defined radio into VR goggles, which can be as simple as a smartphone and some cardboard glasses.

The resulting image shows you what the radio spectrum looks like. Granted, so will a spectrum analyzer, but perhaps the immersion will provide a different kind of insight into radio frequency analysis.

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DIY Camera Motion Rig Is Mostly 3D Printed

These days, Youtube is more competitive than ever. Creators put out videos of wildly expensive, complex projects with equally pricy camera gear. [Do It Whenever?] wanted to join the arms race, building his own camera rig for smooth, swooping shots.

The rig consists of a series of 3D printed axes all joined together into a 6-axis motion rig. Additionally, actuators attached to the lens of the camera allow zoom and focus to be be controlled programmatically too. An Arduino runs the show, interpreting G-code and running the various axes, with a Raspberry Pi acting as a gateway to allow the rig to be commanded from PCs or smartphones.

Currently, control is largely manual, by entering G-code commands to move the rig in various ways. The rig can also have its motors temporarily disengaged by a button, allowing the camera to be aimed by hand, before holding the position. In this way, it acts as a highly versatile tripod. Future plans involve more automation if suitable open-source software can be found.

It’s an impressive rig, even if it hasn’t quite found the perfect software to fully exploit its capabilities yet. We’ve seen similar builds before, too. Video after the break.

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Digispark Spoofs IR To Get Speakers Under Control

The Microlab 6C are a pretty nice pair of speakers, but [Michał Słomkowski] wasn’t too thrilled with the 8 watts they consume when on standby. The easy fix is to just unplug them when they aren’t in use, but unfortunately the digital controls on the front panel mean he’s got to turn them on, select the correct input, and turn the volume up to the appropriate level every time they’re plugged back in. Surely there must be a better way.

His solution was to use a Digispark to fire off the appropriate IR remote codes so they’d automatically be put back into a usable configuration. But rather than putting an IR LED on one of the GPIO pins, he simply spliced it into the wire leading back from the speaker’s IR receiver. All his code needs to do is generate the appropriate pulses on the line, and the speaker’s electronics think its a signal coming in from the remote.

Distinctive patterns on the IR sensor wires.

Power for the Digispark is pulled from the speaker itself, so it turns on once [Michał] plugs them back in. The code waits five seconds to make sure the hardware has had time to start up, then proceeds with the “Power On”, “Change Input”, and “Volume Up” commands with a few seconds in between each for good measure.

Not only was it easier to skip the IR and inject the signals directly, but it also made for a cleaner installation. Since the microcontroller doesn’t need line of sight to the IR receiver, [Michał] was able to hide it inside the speaker’s enclosure. From the outside, the modification is completely invisible.

We’ve seen similar code injection tricks used before, and it’s definitely one of those techniques you should file away mentally for future reference. Even though more and more modern devices are embracing WiFi and Bluetooth control, the old school IR remote doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon.

Alfred Jones Talks About The Challenges Of Designing Fully Self-Driving Vehicles

The leap to self-driving cars could be as game-changing as the one from horse power to engine power. If cars prove able to drive themselves better than humans do, the safety gains could be enormous: auto accidents were the #8 cause of death worldwide in 2016. And who doesn’t want to turn travel time into something either truly restful or alternatively productive?

But getting there is a big challenge, as Alfred Jones knows all too well. The Head of Mechanical Engineering at Lyft’s level-5 self-driving division, his team is building the roof racks and other gear that gives the vehicles their sensors and computational hardware. In his keynote talk at Hackaday Remoticon, Alfred Jones walks us through what each level of self-driving means, how the problem is being approached, and where the sticking points are found between what’s being tested now and a truly steering-wheel-free future.

Check out the video below, and take a deeper dive into the details of his talk.

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Garrett Augustus Morgan Made The World Safer

Some people invent with the intent of seeking fame and prestige. Few inventors seem to truly care about other people the way that Garrett Augustus Morgan did. His inventions saved many lives, including those of a few people who were rescued by Garrett himself after an explosion tore through a tunnel beneath Lake Erie.

Though he had little formal education, Garrett’s curiosity took him into many fields from sewing machine repair to gas masks to transportation problems. He achieved great success and improved many lives along the way.

Of Seams and Straighteners

Image via Wikipedia

Garrett Augustus Morgan was born March 4th, 1877 in Claysville, Kentucky. He was the seventh of eleven children born to Sydney and Elizabeth Morgan, who had both been slaves. His mother was part Native American.

Armed with a sixth grade education and ten cents in his pocket, Garrett left home at fourteen look for work, which was common for kids his age at the time. He first landed in Cincinnati and spent a few years working as a handyman.

In 1895 he moved to Cleveland and started repairing sewing machines. This is where he developed his taste for the way things work. After a decade or so, he opened his own sewing machine shop. He had gotten married in the meantime, and a few years later, he and his wife Mary Anne, a seamstress, opened a discount ladies clothing store and hired thirty-two employees to make all the suits, coats, and dresses in-house.

One day Garrett was sewing a woolen fabric that kept getting scorched by the extremely high speed of the sewing machine needle. He experimented with a few chemicals to coat the needle and keep it cool. As the story goes, he wiped his hands off on a piece of cloth and went to lunch. When he came back, the wavy fibers in the fabric had been completely straightened by the chemical.

Curious, he tried the solution on his neighbor’s dog’s fur, and it straightened that, too. Then he worked up the nerve to try it on his own hair, and discovered the hair relaxer. He turned the solution into a cream and established the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company to sell his hair relaxer to African Americans. The company was terrifically successful and Garrett earned enough money from sales to keep inventing.

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Over-the-Top Cyberdeck Is Really A Geiger-Deck

If you like it when a hack has a little backstory, then you’re going to love this cyberdeck build log, the first half of which reads like a [Tom Clancy] novel. And the build itself looks the part, like something that fell off a military helicopter as the Special Forces operators were fast-roping into a hot LZ. Or something like that.

The yarn that [Paul Hoets] spins around his cyberdeck, dubbed RATIS for Remote Assault and Tactical Intelligence System, is pretty good reading and pretty imaginative. The cyberdeck itself looks very much the part, built into a Pelican-style air travel case as such things usually are. Based on a Raspberry Pi 4, the lid of the case serves as a housing for keyboard and controls, while the body houses the computer, an LCD display, and an unusual peripheral: a Geiger counter, which is very much in keeping with the device’s “mission profile”. The handheld pancake probe and stout coiled cord with its MILSPEC connectors really sell the look, too.

Imaginative backstory aside, the construction method here is what really shines. Lacking access to a 3D-printer to produce the necessary greebling, [Paul] instead used a laser cutter to make acrylic panels with cutouts. The contrast between the black panels and the yellow backgrounds makes it all look official, and it’s a technique to keep in mind for builds of a more serious nature, too.

Feel free to look through our fine collection of cyberdeck builds. Some have a fanciful backstory like [Paul]’s, others are intended for more practical purposes. Build whatever you want, just make sure to tip us off when you’re done.