A subset of hackers have RFID implants, but there is a limited catalog. When [Miana] looked for a device that would open a secure door at her work, she did not find the implant she needed, even though the lock was susceptible to cloned-chip attacks. Since no one made the implant, she set herself to the task. [Miana] is no stranger to implants, with 26 at the time of her talk at DEFCON31, including a couple of custom glowing ones, but this was her first venture into electronic implants. Or electronics at all. The full video after the break describes the important terms.
The PCB antenna in an RFID circuit must be accurately tuned, which is this project’s crux. Simulators exist to design and test virtual antennas, but they are priced for corporations, not individuals. Even with simulators, you have to know the specifics of your chip, and [Miana] could not buy the bare chips or find a datasheet. She bought a pack of iCLASS cards from the manufacturer and dissolved the PVC with acetone to measure the chip’s capacitance. Later, she found the datasheet and confirmed her readings. There are calculators in lieu of a simulator, so there was enough information to design a PCB and place an order.
The first batch of units can only trigger the base station from one position. To make the second version, [Miana] bought a Vector Network Analyzer to see which frequency the chip and antenna resonated. The solution to making adjustments after printing is to add a capacitor to the circuit, and its size will tune the system. The updated design works so a populated board is coated and implanted, and you can see an animated loop of [Miana] opening the lock with her bare hand.
When you think of Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, now), you think of the nuclear accident, of course. But have you ever considered that where there is a nuclear reactor, there is a computer control system? What computers were in control of the infamous reactor? [Chornobyl Family] has the answer in a fascinating video documentary you can see below.
The video shows a bit of the history of Soviet-era control computers. The reactor’s V-30M computer descended from some of these earlier computers. With 20K of core memory, we won’t be impressed today, but that was respectable for the day. The SKALA system will look familiar if you are used to looking at 1970s-era computers.
Building this classic for the Apple Watch requires using the original Quake files and some work with Xcode to get a package together that will run on the wrist-bound computer. There are a few other minimum system requirements to meet as well, but with all of that out of the way the latest release runs fairly well on this small watch. The controls have been significantly modified to use the Apple’s touch screen and digital crown instead of any peripherals, and as a result it’s not likely you’d win any matches if it was possible to cross-play with PC users with a setup like this, but it’s definitely playable although still missing a few features compared to the PC version.
Although some of the first Android-powered smartphones had them and Blackberries were famous for them, physical keyboards on portable electronics like that quickly became a thing of the past. Presumably the cost to manufacture is too high and the margins too low regardless of consumer demand. Whatever the reason, if you want a small keyboard for your portable devices you’ll likely need to make one yourself like [Kārlis] did for the Steam Deck.
Unlike a more familiar mechanical keyboard build which prioritizes the feel and sound of the keyboard experience, this one sacrifices nearly every other design consideration in order to be thin enough to fit in the Steam Deck case. The PCB is designed to be flexible using copper tape cut to size with a vinyl cutter with all the traces running to a Raspberry Pi Pico which hosts the firmware and plugs into the Steam Deck’s USB port. The files for the PCB are available in KiCad and can be exported as SVG files for cutting.
In the end, [Kārlis] has a functioning keyboard that’s even a little more robust than was initially expected and which does fit alongside the Deck in its case. On the other hand, [Kārlis] describes the typing experience as “awful” due to its extreme thinness, but either way we applaud the amount of effort that went in to building a keyboard with this form factor. The Steam Deck itself is a platform which lends itself to all kinds of modifications as well, from the control sticks to the operating systems, and Valve will even show you how.
Typically when you’re replacing parts in an old computer it’s either for repairs or an upgrade. Upgrades like adding a more capable processor to an old computer are the most common, and can help bring an old computer a bit closer to the modern era. [Dr. Scott M. Baker] had a different idea, when he downgraded a Heathkit H8 from an 8080 to an 8008.
Despite the very similar numbers, the 8080 runs at four to nearly sixteen times the speed of its predecessor. In addition to this, the 8008 is far less capable on multiple fronts like address space, I/O ports, the stack and even interrupts. The 8008 does have one thing going for it though: the 8008 is widely known as the world’s first 8-bit microprocessor.
In the video after the break, [Scott] goes into great detail about the challenges presented in replacing the 8080 with the 8008, starting with the clock. The clock is two-phase, so that what would otherwise be a single oscillator now also has a clock divider and two NAND gates.
Boring clock stuff aside, he does some great hacking using the I/O ports including expanding the I/O port count from 32 to the full 256, bit-banging serial, implementing an interrupt controller and even memory mapping 64 KiB into 16 KiB of address space! With that and a few more special adapter circuits, we think [Scott] has done a great job of downgrading his H8 and the resulting CPU board looks fabulous.
If you’ve ever lived somewhere it gets properly cold, you’ll know that winter’s icy grasp brings the inevitable challenge of keeping roadways safe. While road salt and gritting have long been the go-to solutions, their detrimental environmental impact and the potential for infrastructure degradation are well-documented.
For best results, a build sheet for a 3D printer’s print bed should be handled and stored by the edges only. To help make that easier, [Whity] created the Expandable Steel Sheet Holder system that can store sheets efficiently without touching their main surfaces, and has a clever mechanism for ejecting them at the push of a button.
The design is 3D printable and made to be screwed to the bottom of a shelf, which is great for space saving. It can also be extended to accommodate as many sheets as one wishes, and there’s a clever method for doing that.
Once the first unit is fastened to a shelf, adding additional units later is as simple as screwing them to the previous one with a few M3 bolts, thanks to captive nuts in the previously-mounted unit. It’s a thoughtful feature that makes it easy to expand after the fact. Since build sheets come in a variety of different textures and surfaces for different purposes, one’s collection does tends to grow.