Hackaday Links: February 18, 2024

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So it turns out that walking around with $4,000 worth of hardware on your head isn’t quite the peak technology experience that some people thought it would be. We’re talking about the recently released Apple Vision Pro headset, which early adopters are lining up in droves to return. Complaints run the gamut from totally foreseeable episodes of motion sickness to neck pain from supporting the heavy headset. Any eyeglass wearer can certainly attest to even lightweight frames and lenses becoming a burden by the end of the day. We can’t imagine what it would be like to wear a headset like that all day. Ergonomic woes aside, some people are feeling buyer’s remorse thanks to a lack of apps that do anything to justify the hefty price tag. The evidence for a wave of returns is mostly gleaned from social media posts, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. We wouldn’t expect Apple to be too forthcoming with official return figures, though, so the ultimate proof of uptake will probably be how often you spot one in the wild. Apart from a few cities and only for the next few weeks, we suspect sightings will be few and far between.

Whatever happened to the good old trick of spray paint on the lens? That’s one way to defeat a security camera, but perhaps not the most subtle as police deal with waves of WiFi-jammer-assisted burglaries. Thieves employing this technique typically wait for signs a house or business is unoccupied before deploying an easily obtainable jamming device to swamp WiFi signals. With the target network overwhelmed, cameras have a hard time connecting, sending any incriminating images off to the big bit bucket in the sky and allowing them to make off with the goods. WiFi jammers are illegal in the United States, but somehow this fact fails to deter burglars from procuring and using them, so if you’re relying on these cameras to catch a thief, you might want to consider wired cameras.

It seems like Jack Sweeney, the Florida college student who makes flight tracking data on the private jets of the rich and famous easily accessible, has run afoul of yet another billionaire. Previously having cheesed off Elon Musk, he’s now in the crosshairs of (the lawyers of) one Taylor Swift, who really, REALLY doesn’t like it when people know where she is. Her legal team has filed a cease-and-desist order that cites a laundry list of potential harms that could result from Sweeney continuing to provide publicly available ADS-B information to any and all. Given the lengths Ms. Swift goes to be seen and heard as much as possible, trying to keep the location of her jet a secret seems a bit disingenuous, to say the least.

How cool would it be to have a Ph.D. in hardware hacking? If it sounds as great to you as it does to us, you’ll want to check out this scholarship for “Repurposing Microelectronics for Gut Sensing, Delivery, and Sampling Devices.” The notice was sent to us by (Edwin) En-Te Hwu, a professor at the Technical University of Denmark who does some really cool work, including making old DVD players into atomic force microscopes and low-cost nanopositioners. We had him on the Hack Chat to talk about that last one and it was a super-interesting chat. The Ph.D. work sounds even more interesting since it involves developing ingestible devices for monitoring the intestinal tract. Check it out the video below for more coolness.

And finally, we wandered across a pretty cool YouTube channel that does a fantastic job visualizing the inner workings of helicopters. Through the magic of Blender, [Bzig] shows us how power is transmitted from a pair of gas turbine engines to both the main rotor and the tail rotor, no mean feat given the mechanical constraints and aerodynamic requirements. We’d always assumed that the swash plate mechanism would be the most interesting aspect of helicopter mechanics, but it turns out that the gear train has a lot going for it too. Especially fascinating was the freewheeling gears, which allow a failed engine to be decoupled from the rotor shaft, or both if autorotation is called for. Enjoy!

17 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: February 18, 2024

  1. “Any eyeglass wearer can certainly attest to even lightweight frames and lenses becoming a burden by the end of the day.”

    I dunno, I haven’t really noticed. The only time I really notice my glasses is when the lenses are dirty.

    1. Same. I’ve worn glasses for nearly 50 years so I am already used to them. I can’t see anything well without glasses so the only time I go without glasses is when I misplaced them or broke them.

    2. This is one of those things that is highly personal, depending upon the shape of your face, the thickness of your skin, and other issues. I’ve worn glasses for decades, and while it’s usually not something I notice, I have sometimes had pain from wearing them. It was often a problem when I first started wearing them, but lately it’s just an issue when my face is feeling more sensitive than usual, such as when I already have a headache. Switching from larger lenses to smaller lenses made a big improvement in the daily comfort of my glasses, due to the reduced weight. I’m nearsighted, so it made a big difference as the outer edges of the lenses are much thicker than the central area.

  2. Suggestion for those wanting to help catch crook with wifi jammer: use wired camera but glue on wifi antenna so it looks like wifi camera. This assumes you’re willing to risk damage to your home or business and already have important valuables locked up in an unmovable safe or somewhere else like bank’s safe deposit boxes.

    When the crooks are caught and they are shown evidence in the court including video footage of them breaking in, there will be mass shocked Pikachu face that their wifi jammer didn’t work.

    1. Small town “police suspect that”…

      I do wonder if this is really happening or if this is police paranoia (e.g. acorn shoot out).

      Certainly the cameras I use do both streaming and write data locally to SD-Card. I can see ring/nest might have over looked this, and the attack is relatively easy. But it doesn’t seem too hard for them to add local storage and have the cams sync up once the network is back online.

  3. I use wired Dahua cameras (none of the many I use have ever tried to ‘phone home’ in the years I used them, but they are firewalled on seperate networks regardless) and most, including both wired and wireless models have the provision for an internal SD card for local recording if connection is lost.

    I’d wager many other quality brands have the same thing.

  4. “WiFi jammers are illegal in the United States, but somehow this fact fails to deter burglars from procuring and using them”
    Now talk about how we need more/tougher gun laws!

    1. its illegal to use the frequencies and cause interference, ownership of the devices is ok.

      and the only gun law we need is mandatory ownership laws. the manors people have when everyone is caring heat. used to work in a pawn shop, i know. whole damn shop was armed. boss said i could use the shotgun on the wall until i got my own piece. woe to anyone who tries to rob a hock shop.

  5. The helicopter drive gear animation… surely there needs to be a differential to combine the power from the two turbines? otherwise if both aren’t at exactly the same speed then the two pinions trying to power the common gear would end up shredding the common gear. With a differential, if a catastrophe stops one turbine you still get half power to work with, with this setup one turbine stopping while the other spins would annhilate the gear teeth.

    1. If one of the two turbines is running at a lower RPM than the other, the freewheel clutches in the intermediate gears would mean they simply provide no power and also mean the other turbine shouldn’t be able to backdrive them (same as an autorotation scenario, where the main rotor shouldn’t be able to backdrive either engine). So either both engines are providing enough torque to keep the freewheel engaged or the engine not providing power is going to be basically spinning free until it reaches the same RPM, at which point the freewheel engages and both engines will spin at the same RPM. (since the output turbine is free spinning, this is fine. The RPM of the output shaft is dictated basically by torque demand)

  6. At least here in CA, the police have zero interest in investigating any home burglary. Literally zero. My friend in LA had video of the car with license plates used by burglars to break into his home. He was barely able to even get a police report for insurance let alone any chance of an investigation. I’ve been in a traffic accident that was 100% the other person’s fault also in LA. Plus he had no license, no insurance. Police dispatch on the phone tried to dissuade me from even having officers come, and argued w me about. After insisting, they sent a unit 1.5 hrs later. Why the other guy even stayed I’m clueless but when officers arrived they literally said “what do you want me to do about this?” I had to argue to even have them fill out a police report. They barely talked to the other guy and let him leave immediately. After causing a crash!
    All home security cameras are good for is watching someone break into your house while being entirely unable to do anything about it. Or maybe this is just a commentary on crap police here.
    And if someone breaks in while I’m home the last thing on earth I want is video of that. At least the right to defend your own house is a little better here in the Land of the “Free”

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