DIY Telescope Courtesy Of IKEA

Some of the most expensive hobbies have some of the more ingenious hacks on display, generally to lower the cost of entry to various parts the hobby itself. Amateur astronomy has expensive, necessary equipment such as telescopes and other optics, but also has a large group of people willing to build their own gear out of some surprising materials rather than buy pre-built equipment.

One of the latest telescopes from [The Amateur Engineer] uses several bowls from IKEA to build the mirror mount. It’s a variation of a Portaball telescope, which is similar to a Dobsonian telescope except that it is much easier to adjust and point in any direction. This “Portabowl” telescope uses two bowls epoxied together and weighted at the bottom as the core of the build. The mirror mounts inside the ball, and some supports are attached to it to hold the eyepiece and mount. With some paint and some minor adjustments it’s ready to go stargazing.

There are a few improvements to this build planned for the future, such as the creation of a larger ball that will make operating the scope easier. All in all, though, it’s an excellent example of amateur astronomy even without needing to go as far as grinding one’s own mirrors.

This Week In Security: APT Targeting Researchers, And Someone Watching All The Cameras

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday just passed, and it’s a humdinger. To add the cherry on top, two seperate BSOD inducing issues led to Microsoft temporarily pulling the update.

Among the security vulnerabilities fixed is CVE-2021-26897, another remote code exploit in the Windows DNS server. It’s considered a low-complexity attack, but does require local network access to pull off. CVE-2021-26867 is another of the patched vulnerabilities that sounds very serious, allowing an attacker on a Hyper-V virtual machine to pierce the barrier and run code on the hypervisor. The catch here is that the vulnerability is only present when using the Plan 9 filesystem, which surely limits the scope of the problem to a small handful of machines.

The most interesting fixed flaw was CVE-2021-26411 a vulnerability that allowed remote code execution when loading a malicious web page in either IE or pre-chromium Edge. That flaw was actively being exploited in a unique APT campaign, which we’ll cover right after the break.

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E-Ink Laptop, First Steps

[Alexander Soto] prefers the reduced eye-strain of an e-ink display, but he doesn’t have a portable solution to use at different work stations. The solution? Make your own e-ink laptop. Once you see his plan, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

[Alexander] got his inspiration from an earlier Dasung Paperlike Pro teardown that we covered back in 2018. His plan is to shoehorn the e-ink panel into a “headless” Thinkpad T480 laptop. This particular model ES133TT3 display is 13.3 inches (about 40 cm) with a much-better-than-normal laptop resolution of 2200 x 1650 pixels. It is driven over HDMI and is perfect fit for the Thinkpad enclosure.

Unfortunately, these displays haven’t gone down in price since 2018. They’re still in the $1000+ price range, more expensive than many laptops. But if you really want the reduced eye-strain of e-ink in a laptop format, you’re going to have to shell out for it.

It’s a pretty ambitious project. We’re looking forward to following his progress and see how the finished laptop goes together. Do check out the extensive list of e-ink references on his project page, too. If you want to experiment with a less expensive e-ink project, have a look at the PaperTTY project for your Raspberry Pi.


Growing The World’s Largest Snowflake

Plenty of areas around the world don’t get any snowfall, so if you live in one of these places you’ll need to travel to experience the true joy of winter. If you’re not willing to travel, though, you could make some similar ice crystals yourself instead. While this build from [Brian] aka [AlphaPhoenix] doesn’t generate a flurry of small ice crystals, it does generate a single enormous one in a very specific way.

The ice that [Brian] is growing is created in a pressure chamber that has been set up specifically for this hexagonal crystal. Unlike common ice that is made up of randomly arranged and varying crystals frozen together, this enormous block of ice is actually one single crystal. When the air is pumped out of the pressure chamber, the only thing left in the vessel is the seed crystal and water vapor. A custom peltier cooler inside with an attached heat sink serves a double purpose, both to keep the ice crystal cold (and growing) and to heat up a small pool of water at the bottom of the vessel to increase the amount of water vapor in the chamber, which will eventually be deposited onto the crystal in the specific hexagonal shape.

The build is interesting to watch, and since the ice crystal growth had to be filmed inside of a freezer there’s perhaps a second hack here which involved getting the camera gear set up in that unusual environment. Either way, the giant snowball of an ice crystal eventually came out of the freezer after many tries, and isn’t the first time we’ve seen interesting applications for custom peltier coolers, either.

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