Expired Certificate Causes German Payment Meltdown

For most Hackaday readers the process of buying groceries this weekend has been a relatively painless one, however we’re guessing some of our German friends will have found their cards unexpectedly declined. The reason? A popular model of payment card terminal, the Verifone H5000, has suffered what has been described as a “software malfunction”. So exactly what has happened? The answer is as simple as it is unfortunate: a security certificate for German transaction processing stored on the device has expired.

The full story exposes the flaws in assuming that a payment terminal is an appliance rather than a computer and its associated software that needs updating like any other. The H5000 is an old terminal that ceased production back in the last decade and has reached end-of-life, however it has remained in use and perhaps more seriously, remained in the supply chain to merchants buying a terminal. With updates requiring a site visit rather than an over-the-air upgrade, it’s likely that the effects of this mess could last a while.

In case the hardware for this type of equipment interests you, we’ve had a teardown on another Verifone terminal in the past.

Pikul Servo Powered Falling Dominoes Pushing a Cube

Domino Row Goes With The Flow

Around here, we’re always excited about a new actuator design. Linear actuators are particularly hard to make cheap, fast, and good, so it’s even better when something new that we can build ourselves slides onto the scene.

Researchers at U Penn’s Pikul Research Group took inspiration from the cascade of falling dominoes for an innovative take on linear motion. This article on IEEE Spectrum describes the similarity of the sequential tipping-over with the peristaltic motion of biological systems, including you, swallowing right now.

The motion propagation in falling dominoes, called a Soliton Wave, can be harnessed to push an object at the front of the wave, just like a surfer. See the videos after the break for examples of simple setups that any of us could recreate with laser-cut or 3D printed parts. Maybe you won’t be using them to help a robot swallow (a terrifying idea that the article suggests), but you might need a conveyor or a novel way to help a device crawl like a shrimp. The paper is behind a paywall on IEEE, though you readers likely see enough in the videos to get started, and we can’t wait to see where your dominoes will lead us next.


Can You Build An Industrial Grade CNC With Only DIY Resources?

[FloweringElbow] aka [Bongo] on YouTube is certainly having a go at this, and we reckon he’s onto a winner! This epic flatbed CNC build (video, embedded below) starts with some second hand structural I-beam, with welded-on I-beam legs, DIY cast aluminium side plates and plenty of concrete to give a strong and importantly, heavy structure.

The ideal machine is as rigid as possible, and heavy, to dampen out vibrations caused by high-feed speed cutting, or the forces due to cutting harder materials, so bigger really is better. For construction of the frame, steel is pretty strong, and the mass of the structure gives it additional damping, but triangulation was needed to counteract additional twisting. He stitch-welded the pre-heated frame in inch-long sections to limit the heat transferred into the metal, minimizing the subsequent warpage. [Bongo] used hacky Vibratory stress relief (VSR) constructed from a washing machine motor and eccentric weight, clamped to the frame, with feedback from a mobile phone app to find the resonant frequencies. There are other videos on the channel devoted to that topic of such stress relief techniques.

Precise enough to cut sticky-backed vinyl at half thickness!

When it came time for adding even more mass, a priming coat was made from a mixture of bonding epoxy and sharp grit, intended for non-slip flooring. The concrete mix used Portland cement, pozzolan (Silica fume) polycarboxylate superplasticiser and 1/2″ glass fiber threads. A second mix added crushed stone for additional mass. A neat trick was to make a handheld vibratory compactor from a plate welded onto the end of old drill bit, mounted in an SDS hammer drill.

Once the frame was flipped the right way up (collapsing the overloaded hoist in the process) it was necessary to level the top surface to accept the linear rails. This was done using a super runny, self-leveling epoxy, and checked by flowing water over it. Once the epoxy surfaces were adequately flat and coplanar (and much scraping later) the linear rails were attached, after creating some epoxy shoulders for them to butt up against. End plates to attach the Y axis lead screws, were added by bolting into the frame with a grit-loaded epoxy bond in between.

The gantry design was skipped for this video (but you can see that here) and once mounted a quick test showed the machine was viable. One curious task was making their own cable-chain from ply, on the machine itself, rather than buying something expensive off-the-peg. Why not? Once the machine was working well enough to mill a flat sheet of steel to nice reflective surface, it was used to mount a DIY drag-knife to cut out shapes in some vinyl, so it has the precision. We did like seeing an XBox controller used to manually jog the machine around! So much to see in this build and other related videos, we reckon this channel is one to watch!

We’ve featured CNC builds many a time, there’s a build whatever your needs and budget, but here’s a good starting point to build a machine, just good enough to build the tools you need. If you don’t happen to have a source of structural I-beam to hand, you can do something quite capable with wood, and if you fancy a go at 3D printing a knee mill, we’ve got that covered as well.

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3D Printing A Water-Cooled Jet Engine?

Everybody knows the trick to holding a candle flame to a balloon without it bursting — that of adding a little water before the air to absorb the heat from the relatively cool flame. So [Integza], in his quest to 3D print a jet engine wondered if the same principle could applied to a 3D printed combustion chamber. First things first, the little puddle of water was replaced with a pumped flow, from an external reservoir, giving the thin plastic inner surface at least a vague chance of survival. Whilst this whole plan might seem pretty bonkers (although we admit, not so much if you’ve seen any of other videos in the channel lately) the idea has some merit. Liquid cooling the combustion jacket is used in a great many rocket engine designs, we note, the German WWII V2 rocket used this idea with great success, along with many others. After all, some materials will only soften and become structurally weak if they get hot enough in any spot, so if it is sufficiently conductive, then the excess heat can be removed from the outer surface and keep the surface temperature within sensible bounds. Since resin is a thermoset plastic, and will burn, rather than melt, this behaviour will be different, but not necessarily better for this application.

The combustion chamber itself didn’t burn

The issue we can see, is balancing the thermal conductivity of the resin wall, with the rate of cooling from the water flow, whilst making it thick enough to withstand the pressure of combustion, and any shock components. Quite a complicated task if you ask us. Is resin the right material for the job? Probably not, but it’s fun finding out anyway! In the end [Integza] managed to come up with a design, that with the help of a metal injector separator plate, survived long enough to maintain some sort of combustion, until the plate overheated and burned the resin around its support. Better luck next time!

This isn’t the first time attempting to use 3D printed resin for such an application, here’s an attempt to use the air-multiplier type setup with a combustion chamber. Of course making a combustion chamber from a toilet roll holder is far more sensible, just as [colinfurze] will attest, don’t try this at home folks!

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picture of finished mp3 player that uses a cartridge to select songs

An MP3 Player That Gives Off Nintendo Vibez

We’re definitely pretty fond of the DIY MP3 players here at Hackaday, but we don’t think we’ve seen one like CartridgeMP3 from [jpet26] before.

All the electrical components are what we’ve come to expect. [jpet26] uses the popular VS1053 decoder to read MP3 files stored on an SD card. He also includes a potentiometer for adjusting volume, a USB C port for power and programming, a headphone jack for the audio output, a general-purpose status LED, and an on/off switch.

But what really caught our attention is the form factor [jpet26] selected for his MP3 player. Though the MP3 files are stored on an SD card, he uses a cartridge interface, similar to that of a Nintendo 64 or Game Boy of yesteryear, to choose which MP3 to play from the SD card. The cartridge interface is tied to a few GPIO pins and by reading the status of each pin, the device determines which MP3 to select.

You could say that the cartridge is a little unnecessary, and we wouldn’t argue with you. The cartridge doesn’t actually store the MP3 files, the SD card does. It might make a bit more sense if the cartridge housed the SD card itself with a few select MP3s stored on the card. That would be a quirky way of sharing your favorite playlists with your friends. So, yeah some clumsy handshaking there, but who isn’t guilty of that from time to time? We like it and thought you might appreciate it as well.

Cool MP3 player, [jpet26]! May we suggest a speaker for V2? And maybe some flex cables.

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Practical Wireless “Tele-Tennis” Build After Only 34 Years

Home-etched PCBs ready for drilling

Back in November 1974 the publication “Practical Wireless” produced a five-part article series showing the reader how to construct a version of the popular “pong” game that could be played on the television screen available in the typical British home. [Grant Searle] had wanted to build this project for years, but it took him until 2008 to find the opportunity to do so. The magazine article printed PCB layouts to 1:1 scale, with a bill of materials and assembly instructions. After each month, the reader would have an assembled the project a little more, with the final month dedicated to point-to-point wiring and final setup. Subsequent months contained some enhancements such as a scoring system and sound effects, but these are not yet part of the main build. In order to understand the build, you will need to download the PDF copy of the magazines prints. (And if you’re an electronics nerd like this scribe, you’ve already done that right?)

A tidy assembly job with an authentic retro style

The electronics are based upon pure discrete 7400-series logic, 741 opamp-based ramp generators and, you guessed it, 555 timers. The way the various boards have discrete functions is particularly interesting. For example, in part 3, the PCB described (board A) not only is the master field/line sync generator, but also generates the video signals for the ball, with its position and size determined in an analogue fashion. Signals coming into the board from Board C (top/bottom base) cause a discrete flip-flop to toggle, changing the ball’s direction as it ‘bounces’ off the edge of the screen. Each board generates its own video signal, which are then all combined in the final video mixer (board E) that simply wire-OR’s them all with the composite sync to generate the composite video needed. This would have been tapped off and fed to a UHF video modulator, but [Grant] chose not to install that for the build. The whole thing was wrapped up inside an MDF case, coated in that dubious fake-wood plastic wrap, for that very 70’s aesthetic some of us remember fondly.

Pong is such a popular classic game, that we’ve covered many, many variants over the years. Here’s one that’s purely mechanical, another that uses the original PCB with a visually appealing twist, and finally, a completely virtual simulation of the original arcade circuit, courtesy of Falstad. We’re sure there will be many more to come.

Thanks [JohnU] for the tip!

A small round NRF51822 board glued to the underside of a mailbox lid, with a small vibration sensor attached

Check Your Mailbox Using The AirTag Infrastructure

When a company creates an infrastructure of devices, we sometimes subvert this infrastructure and use it to solve tricky problems. For example, here’s a question that many a hacker has pondered – how do you detect when someone puts mail into your mailbox? Depending on the availability of power and wireless/wired connectivity options, this problem can range from “very easy” to “impractical to solve”. [dakhnod] just made this problem trivial for the vast majority of hackers, with the FakeTag project – piggybacking off the Apple’s AirTag infrastructure.

This project uses a cheap generic CR2032-powered NRF51822 board, sending the mailbox status over the FindMy system Apple has built for the AirTag devices. For the incoming mail detection, he uses a simple vibration sensor, glued to the flap lid – we imagine that, for flap-less mailboxes, an optical sensor or a different kind of mechanical sensor could be used instead. Every time someone with a FindMy-friendly iPhone passes by [dakhnod]’s mailbox, he gets an update on its status, with a counter of times the sensor has been triggered. [dakhnod] estimates that the device could run for up to a year on a single battery.

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