Homebrew Stream Deck Pedal Emulates The Real Thing

Pedals are a great way to control functions on your computer. You’re rarely using your feet for anything else, so they can handle some tasks, freeing up your hands. This Elgato Stream Deck controller from [DDRBoxman] does just that.

[DDRBoxman] wanted to control Elgato Stream Deck much like the offical pedal sold by the company. Thus, some hacking was in order. Using Wireshark with the Elgato pedal helped to determine the communication method of the real hardware.

Once the protocol was figured out, it was just a task of getting the Raspberry Pi Pico to replicate the same functionality. With the help of the tinyusb library, [DDRBoxman] was able to emulate the real Elgato device successfully. Paired with a 3D-printed footswitch design from Adafruit, and the project was functional and complete.

We’ve seen great foot pedal devices over the years, from a simple macro device to a super-useful page turner for sheet music. If you’ve been hacking away at your own nifty input devices, be sure to drop us a line!

Visual Cryptography For Physical Keyrings

Visual cryptography is one of those unusual cases that kind of looks like a good idea, but it turns out is fraught with problems. The idea is straightforward enough — an image to encrypt is sampled and a series of sub-pixel patterns are produced which are distributed to multiple separate images. When individual images are printed to transparent film, and all films in the set are brought into alignment, an image appears out of the randomness. Without at least a minimum number of such images, the original image cannot be resolved. Well, sort of. [anfractuosity] wanted to play with the concept of visual cryptography in a slightly different medium, that of a set of metal plates, shaped as a set of keyrings.

Two image ‘share pairs’ needed as a minimum to form an image when combined

Metal blanks were laser cut, with the image being formed by transmitted light through coincident holes in both plate pairs, when correctly aligned. What, we hear you ask, is the problem with this cryptography technique? Well, one issue is that of faking messages. It is possible for a malicious third party, given either one of the keys in a pair, to construct a matching key composing an entirely different message, and then substitute this for the second key, duping both original parties. Obviously this would need both parties to be physically compromised, but neither would necessarily notice the substitution, if neither party knew the originally encrypted message.  For those interested in digging in a little deeper, do checkout this classic paper by Naor and Shamir [pdf] of the Wiezmann Institute. Still, despite the issues, for a visual hack it’s still a pretty fun technique!

Want to learn a little more about crypto techniques you can do at home? Here’s our guide. Encryption too hard to break, but need a way to eavesdrop? Just punt out a flawed system, and you’re good to go.

Continue reading “Visual Cryptography For Physical Keyrings”

This Jet Engine Will See You Through

Have you ever wished you could peer inside a complex machine while it was still running? We sort of can with simulations and the CAD tools we have today, but it isn’t the same as doing IRL. [Warped Perception] made a see-thru jet engine to experience the feeling. The effect, we dare say, is better than any simulation.

[Warped Perception] has a good bit of experience with jet engines and previously mounted them to his car. The first step was balancing, and while he didn’t use an oscilloscope, he could get it within a few thousands of a gram balanced. Then, after some light CAD work, it was all machining. Brackets were fabricated, and gaskets were laser cut to hold the large thick clear cover together. There are a few exciting things to see (and hear). The engine expands and contracts significantly due to pressure and heat, but it’s interesting to see it move physically as it ramps up and down.

Additionally, the sound as it goes through the various thrust levels is quite impressive. But, of course, what’s a jet engine test with an airflow test? Surprisingly, the engine didn’t pull in as much air as he thought. Eighty pounds of thrust doesn’t mean eighty pounds of air.

This 3D-printed water-cooled jet engine isn’t quite see-through, but it is interesting to see the thorough process of making the engine itself. Video after the break.

Continue reading “This Jet Engine Will See You Through”

A Linux Business Card You Can Build

It is a sign of the times that one of [Dmitry’s] design criteria for his new Linux on a business card is to use parts you can actually find during the current component shortage. The resulting board uses a ATSAMD21 chip and emulates a MIPS machine in order to boot Linux.

We like that in addition to the build details, [Dmitry] outlines a lot of the reasons for his decisions. There’s also a a fair amount of detail about how the whole system actually works. For example, by using a 0.8 mm PCB, the board can accept a USB-C cable with no additional connector. There is also a great explanation of the MIPS MMU and don’t forget that MIPS begat RISC-V, so many of the MIPS core details will apply to RISC-V as well (but not the MMU).  You’ll also find some critiques of the ATSAMD21’s DMA system. It seems to save chip real estate, the DMA system stores configuration data in user memory which it has to load and unload every time you switch channels.

By the end of the post you get the feeling this may be [Dimitry]’s last ATSAMD21 project. But we have to admit, it seems to have come out great. This isn’t the first business card Linux build we’ve seen. This one sure reminded us of a MIDI controller card we once saw.

Apple AirTags Hacked And Cloned With Voltage Glitching

Apple AirTags are useful little devices. They essentially use iPhones in the wild as a mesh network to tell the owner where the AirTag is. Now, researchers have shown that it’s possible to clone these devices, as reported by Hackster.io.

The research paper explains the cloning process, which requires physical access to the hardware. To achieve the hack, the Nordic nRF52832 inside the AirTag must be voltage glitched to enable its debug port. The researchers were able to achieve this with relatively simple tools, using a Pi Pico fitted with a few additional components.

With the debug interface enabled, it’s simple to extract the microcontroller’s firmware. It’s then possible to clone this firmware onto another tag. The team also experimented with other hacks, like having the AirTag regularly rotate its ID to avoid triggering anti-stalking warnings built into Apple’s tracing system.

As the researchers explain, it’s clear that AirTags can’t really be secure as long as they’re based on a microcontroller that is vulnerable to such attacks. It’s not the first AirTag cloning we’ve seen either. They’re an interesting device with some serious privacy and safety implications, so it pays to stay abreast of developments in this area.

[Thanks to Itay for the tip!]

Building A Better 3D Scanner With An IPhone, And Making Art

Apple’s FaceID system uses infrared depth-sensing technology to authenticate people via their faces. It can also be used for simple 3D scanning, and [Scott Yu-Jan] found a better way to do that.

The main problem with using an iPhone as a 3D scanner in this manner is that the sensor is built into the front side of the device. It’s great for scanning your own face, but if you’re trying to scan an object, you can no longer see the iPhone’s screen. [Scott] solved this problem by slapping together a handheld 3D printed device to hold the iPhone along with an external monitor. This allowed Scott to scan while still seeing what was going on.

Having noticed that some of the 3D scanning apps produced strange, glitchy results when scanning faces, [Scott] decided to innovate artistically. He employed [Andrea] to model, took some scans, and Photoshopped the results into some impressive posters.

Overall, [Scott] demonstrates that it’s relatively easy to repurposed the iPhone for improved 3D scanning. With a simple design, he has a handheld scanner that works way better than just the phone on its own. Alternatively, consider getting into photogrammetry instead.

Continue reading “Building A Better 3D Scanner With An IPhone, And Making Art”

Chinese Anti-Porn Helmet Raises Eyebrows, Questions

Did you know that pornography is completely illegal in China? Probably not surprising news, though, right? The country has already put measures in place to scour the Internet in search of explicit content, mostly using AI. But the government also employs human porn appraisers, called jian huang shi, whose job it is to judge images and videos to decide whether they contain explicit content. Also probably not surprising is that humans are better than AI at knowing porn when they see it — or at least, they are faster at identifying it. Weirdness and morality and everything else aside, these jian huang shi are regular people, and frankly, they get exhausted looking at this stuff all day.

So what is the answer to burnout in this particular field? Researchers at Beijing Jiaotong University have come up with a way to bring the technological and human aspects of their existing efforts together. They’ve created a helmet that can detect particular spikes in brainwaves that occur from exposure to explicit imagery. Basically, it flashes a combination of naughty and ho-hum images in rapid succession until a spike is detected, then it flags the offending image.

Continue reading “Chinese Anti-Porn Helmet Raises Eyebrows, Questions”