Badges Of 2022: EMF TiDAL

As we slowly return to a summer of getting together in fields for our festivals of hackery, it’s time to look at another of this year’s crop of badges. The UK’s Electromagnetic Field, or EMF, is normally a two-yearly event, but its return this year comes after a four year absence due to the pandemic. The EMF 2022 badge is a departure from previous outings, gone is the handheld game console form factor and in its place is a svelte USB-C stick with a nod to the first generation of EMF badges in its wave shape.

Physically the badge is formed of two PCBs that plug together with the LiPo battery sandwiched between them, the upper one carrying the display and battery while the lower holds the ESP32-S3 MCU and the various peripherals. These include a QMA7981 accelerometer, a QMC7983 magnetometer, and perhaps most intriguingly, an ATECC108A cryptographic accelerator. This last component gives it the potential to be a 2-factor authentication key, which we think is probably a first for a badge.

In use, the TFT display and joystick interface is usable, but hard to read for a Hackaday scribe whose eyes maybe aren’t as sharp as they used to be. Programming is via MicroPython, using an app format through the same online hatchery system that will be familiar to owners of other European badges. There are already quite a few apps, which we hope will help this badge have some longevity.

This is just the latest of a long line of EMF badges, of which the 2016 version is probably our favourite.

Screenshot of the RSA calculator, showing the fields that you can fill into and the results as they propagate through the calculation

Lift The Veil On RSA With This RSA Calculator

Encryption algorithms can be intimidating to approach, what’s with all the math involved. However, once you start digging into them, you can break the math apart into smaller steps, and get a feel of what goes into encryption being the modern-day magic we take for granted. Today, [Henry Schmale] writes to us about his small contribution to making cryptography easier to understand – lifting the veil on the RSA asymmetric encryption technique through an RSA calculator.

With [Henry]’s calculator, you can only encrypt and decrypt a single integer, but you’re able to view each individual step of an RSA calculation as you do so. If you want to understand what makes RSA and other similar algorithms tick, this site is an excellent starting point. Now, this is not something you should use when roll your crypto implementations – as cryptographers say in unison, writing your own crypto from scratch is extremely inadvisable. [Henry] does say that this calculator could be useful for CTF players, for instance, but it’s also undeniably an accessible learning tool for any hacker out there wishing to understand what goes on under the wraps of the libraries we use.

In modern day, cryptography is instrumental to protecting our freedoms, and it’s a joy to see people work towards explaining the algorithms used. The cryptography tools we use day-to-day are also highly valuable targets for governments and intelligence agencies, willing to go to great lengths to subvert our communication security – so it’s even more important that we get acquianted with the tools that protect us. After all, it only takes a piece of paper to encrypt your communications with someone.

Pulling A Chainsaw With Gravity

[Flowering Elbow] had a large ash log that needed to be milled. He had his chainsaw and shared an excellent technique for an easier cut. After cutting down a tree, letting it dry for a season, and then hauling it to your saw site, you’re ready to cut. However, cutting a humongous tree with a chainsaw is an enormous task. A few hacks make it better, like tilting your log slightly downhill, so the chainsaw flows downhill or using a jig to keep the cut straight. Some use a winch system to drag the jig along to assist, so it’s not just pure manpower. The problem is that a winch will exert more force if the saw hits a knot or challenging section. So you would want to slow down and let the saw work through the area.

[Flowering Elbow] uses a pulley and offcut from the log and hangs it from a tree. The log drops as the cut progresses and exerts a constant force. This means that the saw can slow down during challenging sections and take the time it needs, extending the blade’s life. There are other excellent tips in the video, and combined with his earlier chainsaw mill jig, you’ll be set to mill up logs with nothing but a chainsaw and some ingenuity.

Video after the break.

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A New Javascript Runtime Fresh Out Of The Oven

A sizable portion of the Hackaday audience groans and runs their eyes when some new-fangled Javascript thing comes out. So what makes Bun different? Bun is a runtime (like Node or Deno)t that offers a performant all-in-one approach. Much to the Spice Girl’s delight, it is written in Zig. It offers bundling, transpiling, module resolution, and a fantastic foreign-function interface.

Node.js and Deno run on the V8 Javascript engine and provide the Node-API to access different features, such as filesystems, that don’t apply to web browsers. However, vast amounts of tooling have built up around Node.js and NPM (node package manager). Many Javascript projects have a bundling and transpiling step that takes the source and packages it together in a more standard format. Typescript needs to be packaged into javascript, and modules need to be resolved. Continue reading “A New Javascript Runtime Fresh Out Of The Oven”

A tiny TV playing Super Mario All-Stars

The SF1 Mini Is A Homebrew Version Of An Obscure Nintendo Console

The Super NES is arguably the best known console of the 16-bit era. It typically came in the form of a grey box with either grey or purple buttons, and an angular or streamlined design, depending on whether you lived in North America, Europe or Asia. Compact and mini versions followed later, but there were also a few lesser-known models released during the SNES’s heyday in the early 1990s. One of these was the Sharp SF1: a CRT television with a built-in Super Nintendo. The cartridge slot was located at the top, with the controllers connecting at the front. The internal video connection even provided better image quality than a typical SNES setup.

Some light soldering required.

The SF1 was never sold outside Japan and is quite rare nowadays. But even if you can find one, the bulky CRT will take up a lot of space in your home. [Limone] therefore decided to build himself a smaller replica instead. His “SF1 mini” comes in a 3D printed case that holds a 5.5″ TFT screen, stereo speakers, and connections for game paks and game pads.

Thankfully, [Limone] didn’t sacrifice an original SNES to make this project: instead, he used a DIY Super Nintendo kit developed by a company called Columbus Circle. This kit contains a modern replica of a SNES motherboard and is intended for custom builds like this. However, the layout of the motherboard didn’t match [Limone]’s intended design, so he desoldered several components and re-attached them using a huge web of magnet wire. An RGB-to-HDMI converter connects the SNES’s video output to the TFT screen and provides for remarkably sharp graphics.

[Limone] explains the build process in detail in the video embedded below (in Korean, with English subs available). We’ve seen a couple of neat SNES replicas, some small and some particularly tiny, but this has to be the first SF1 replica.

Continue reading “The SF1 Mini Is A Homebrew Version Of An Obscure Nintendo Console”

Ceramic stove (credit: Felix Reimann)

Same Taste With Less Energy: Optimizing The Way We Cook Food

Preparing food is the fourth most energy-intensive activity in a household. While there has been a lot of effort on the first three — space heating, water heating, and electrical appliances — most houses still use stoves and ovens that are not too dissimilar to those from half a century ago.

More recent technologies that make cooking more efficient and pleasant have been developed, such as induction heating. Other well-known and common appliances are secretly power savers: microwaves and electric kettles. In addition, pressure cookers enable the shortening of cooking times, and for those who like dishes that take hours to simmer, vacuum-insulated pans can be a real energy-saver.

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Hackaday Podcast 176: Freezing Warm Water, Hacking Lenses, Hearing Data, And Watching YouTube On A PET

It’s podcast time again, and this week Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams sat down with Staff Writer Dan Maloney to review the best hacks on the planet, and a few from off. We’ll find out how best to capture lightning, debate the merits of freezing water — or ice cream — when it’s warm, and see if we can find out what R2D2 was really talking about with all those bleeps and bloops. Once we decode that, it’ll be time to find out what Tom Nardi was up to while the boss was away with his hidden message in episode 174, and how analog-encoded digital data survives the podcast production and publication chain. But surely you can’t watch a YouTube video on a Commodore PET, can you? As it turns out, that’s not a problem, and neither apparently is 3D printing a new ear.

The meat of Elliot’s “super secret mastering script”?  Use it on your videos too!

ffmpeg -i $infile.wav -c:v copy -af loudnorm=I=-17:LRA=5:tp=-1.5 -ar 44100 $outfile.flac

Direct download, record it to tape, and play it on your boombox.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 176: Freezing Warm Water, Hacking Lenses, Hearing Data, And Watching YouTube On A PET”