Tricks For Mass-Producing Laser-Etched Art

Art is a funny thing. Sometimes, it’s best done in a one-off fashion and sold for a hugely inflated price. Othertimes, it’s more accessible, and it becomes desirable to sell it in great quantity. [Wesley Treat] has been doing just that, and he’s shared some of his tricks of the trade on YouTube.

The video concerns some retro-futuristic raygun artwork panels that [Wesley] made in a recent video. The panels proved mighty popular, which meant he had a new problem to contend with: how to make them in quantity. His initial process largely involved making them in a one-off fashion, and that simply wouldn’t scale.

[Wesley] starts right at the beginning, demonstrating first how he produces stacks of blanks for his art panels. For production scale, he used pre-painted matte aluminium panels to speed the process. It’s followed by a sanding step, before the panels go into a laser etching jig to get imprinted with [Wesley’s] maker’s mark. Panels are then drilled via CNC, etched with their front artwork, and then fitted with a front acrylic panel, similarly cut out on the laser cutter. Then it’s just a matter of packing and shipping, a logistical hurdle that many small businesses have had to overcome.

[Wesley] does a great job of examining what it takes to scale from building one of something to many. It’s a topic we’ve looked at a few times in the past. Video after the break.

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This Week In Security: Blastpass, MGM Heist, And Killer Themes

There’s yet another 0-day exploit chain discovered as part of NSO Group’s Pegasus malware suite. This one is known as BLASTPASS, and it’s a nasty one. There’s no user interaction required, just receiving an iMessage containing a malicious PassKit attachment.

We have two CVEs issued so far. CVE-2023-41064 is a classic buffer overflow in ImageIO, the Apple framework for universal file format read and write. Then CVE-2023-41061 is a problem in the iOS Wallet implementation. Release 16.6.1 of the mobile OS addresses these issues, and updates have rolled out for macOS 11, 12, and 13.

It’s worth noting that Apple’s Lockdown mode does seem to block this particular exploit chain. Citizen Lab suggests that high-risk users of Apple hardware enable Lockdown Mode for that extra measure of security. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Blastpass, MGM Heist, And Killer Themes”

New LoRA Distance Record: 830 Miles!

The LoRa radio communication system is useful for low-bandwidth communication, and as many readers will be aware its special skill lies in delivering long range. For most of us that range tops out at a few miles, but pushing the limits of what is possible for LoRa has resulted in some significant records falling. Most recently this has reached an impressive distance of 1336 kilometres, or 830 miles.

The record in question was set from near the Portuguese coast, from where LoRa beacons on a fishing boat and its buoys were able to open up a gateway on the Spanish Canary islands. The conductive surface of the sea makes an excellent aid to propagation, and from amateur radio experience we’d guess that tropospheric conditions aided by the summer weather would have something to do with it too.

Radio amateurs on those coasts and islands chase those conditions and live in hope of making a rare UHF contact across the ocean to the Americas or the Caribbean. The difference in their respective frequency allocations notwithstanding, we wonder whether the same might be possible using LoRa given a fortuitous atmosphere. We’re not quite sure whether a set of dual-band LoRa gateways could be made to test this idea though.

This record breaks a previous one set between Germany and Poland. If you think you’ve seen a far greater LoRa record here before you’d be correct, but only in the modulation scheme and not the frequency.

Reverse-engineering The Milwaukee M18 Redlink Protocol

In an ideal world, every single battery pack for power tools would use the same physical interface and speak a clearly documented protocol with chargers. Since we live in a decidedly less-than-ideal world, we get to enjoy the fun pastime of reverse-engineering the interfaces and protocols of said battery packs.

Hooking up a logic analyzer to a M18 battery and charger.

A recent video from the [Tool Scientist] goes over what is already known about the Milwaukee M18 Redlink protocol, used with the manufacturer’s M18-series of batteries, before diving into some prodding and poking of these packs’ sensitive parts to see what comes out of their interface.

Previously, [Buy It Fix It] shared their findings on Reddit, covering the basic protocol, including the checksum method, but without an in-depth analysis of the entire charging protocol. Meanwhile [Quagmire Repair] performed an in-depth teardown and reverse-engineering of the M18 hardware, including the circuitry of the BMS.

Putting these two things together, [Tool Scientist] was able to quickly get some of his M18 packs strapped down into the analysis chair for both passive analysis, as well as the effect of overvoltage, undervoltage, overheating and freezing the battery pack on the output reported by the battery’s BMS.

One of the lists of commands and response messages obtained by [Tool Scientist] on YouTube.
One of the lists of commands and response messages obtained by [Tool Scientist] on YouTube.
The result is a rather comprehensive list of instructions obtained under these various conditions, including a fault condition (05) returned by the BMS of one pack indicating its likely demise. Overall, it does not appear to be a particularly special (or well-designed) protocol, but it does make for a good reverse-engineering target, while adding to the body of collective knowledge on these widely available battery packs.

Hopefully the same inertia that prevents people from moving outside the designated power tool ecosystem due to the incompatible battery packs will also ensure that this level of  knowledge will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, especially since the manufacturers of knock-off battery packs seem rather unwilling to share the results of their own reverse-engineering efforts.

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