Bunnie Weighs In On Tariffs

[Bunnie] has penned his thoughts on the new 25% tariffs coming to many goods shipped from China to the US. Living and working both in the US and China, [Bunnie] has a unique view of manufacturing and trade between the two countries. The creator of Novena and Chumby, he’s also written the definitive guide on Shenzen electronics.

All the marked items are included in the new tariffs

The new US tariffs come into effect on July 6th. We covered the issue last week, but Bunnie has gone in-depth and really illustrates how these taxes will have a terrible impact on the maker community. Components like LEDs, resistors, capacitors, and PCBs will be taxed at the new higher rate. On the flip side, Tariffs on many finished consumer goods such as cell phone will remain unchanged.

As [Bunnie] illustrates, this hurts small companies buying components. Startups buying subassemblies from China will be hit as well. Educators buying parts kits for their classes also face the tax hike. Who won’t be impacted? Companies building finished goods. If the last screw of your device is installed in China, there is no tax. If it is installed in the USA, then you’ll pay 25% more on your Bill of Materials (BOM). This incentivizes moving assembly offshore.

What will be the end result of all these changes? [Bunnie] takes a note from Brazil’s history with a look at a PC ISA network card. With DIP chips and all through-hole discrete components, it looks like a typical 80’s design. As it turns out the card was made in 1992. Brazil had similar protectionist tariffs on high-tech goods back in the 1980’s. As a result, they lagged behind the rest of the world in technology. [Bunnie] hopes these new tariffs don’t cause the same thing to happen to America.

[Thanks to [Robert] and [Christian] for sending this in]

Friday Hack Chat: Making And Breaking Hardware With Bunnie

bunnie03-01This Friday, February 10th, at 9am PST, Hackaday.io will be graced with one of the greatest hardware creators in recent memory. [Bunnie Huang] will be talking about making and breaking hardware in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat.

[Bunnie] is a nearly peerless hardware hacker. He literally wrote the book on hacking the XBox, developed the Chumby, and developed the Novena, an open source Laptop. He’s torn down the Form 2 3D printer, explored the iPhone’s hackability with [Edward Snowden], wrote the book you want to have on your carryon when flying into Hong Kong, and recently released The Hardware Hacker, a retelling of his adventures in hardware hacking. He’s now working on the Love to Code platform.

[Bunnie] is a bridge across worlds. There is no one else so deeply embedded in the world of electronics manufacturing that is also willing to tell the world about what he’s found. If you want to learn about electronics, the Bunnie Studios blog is a mandatory read.

For this week’s Hack Chat, [Bunnie] will be taking questions from the Hackaday.io community. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it takes to build a few thousand things, this is the guy to ask.

Having trouble figuring out when 09:00 PST is in your local time zone? Here’s a countdown timer!

Here’s How To Take Part:

Buttons to join the project and enter the Hack Chat
Buttons to join the project and enter the Hack Chat

Our Hack Chats are live community events on Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. Log into Hackaday.io, visit that page, and look for the ‘Join this Project’ Button. Once you’re part of the project, the button will change to ‘Team Messaging’, which takes you directly to the Hack Chat.

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Upcoming Hack Chats

These Hack Chats are a weekly thing, and we have a few more on the books. Next week, we’ll be covering RF design with [Jenny List], and later going over mechanical manufacturing with Fictiv. You can check out all the upcoming Hack Chats on this project.

Bunnie And Snowden Explore IPhone’s Hackability

[Bunnie Huang] and [Edward Snowden] have teamed up to publish a paper exploring the possibility of introspection on the iPhone.

A rendering of the proposed introspection device attached to an iPhone6
A rendering of the proposed introspection device attached to an iPhone6

The idea is that phones are increasingly complex and potentially vulnerable to all kinds of digital surveillance. Even airplane mode is insufficient for knowing that your phone isn’t somehow transmitting information. The paper looks at the various radios on the iPhone, going so far as opening up the device and reading signals at each of the chips for cell, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC to determine whether the chip itself is doing anything, regardless of what the screen says. This introspection can then be used to be confident that the phone is not communicating when it shouldn’t be.

The paper goes on to propose a device that they will prototype in the coming year which uses an FPC that goes into the phone through the SIM card port. It would contain a battery, display, buttons, multiple SIM cards, and an FPGA to monitor the various buses and chips and report on activity.

Significant hacking of an iPhone will still be required, but the idea is to increase transparency and be certain that your device is only doing what you want it to.

Bunnie And EFF Sue US Government Over DMCA 1201

This morning Bunnie Huang wrote about his reasons for suing the US Government over Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The DMCA was enacted in 1996 and put in place far-reaching protections for copyright owners. Many, myself included, think these protections became far-overreaching. The DMCA, specifically section 1201 of the act which is known as the anti-circumvention provision, prohibits any action that goes around mechanisms designed to protect copyrighted material. So much has changed since ’96 — software is now in every device and that means section 1201 extends to almost all electronics sold today.

So protecting copyright is good, right? If that were the only way section 1201 was enforced that might be true. But common sense seems to have gone out the window on this one.

If you legally purchase media which is protected with DRM it is illegal for you to change the format of that media. Ripping your DVD to a digital file to view on your phone while on the plane (something usually seen as fair use) is a violation. Want to build an add-on for you home automation system but need to reverse engineer the communications protocol first? That’s a violation. Perhaps the most alarming violation: if you discover a security vulnerability in an existing system and report it, you can be sued under DMCA 1201 for doing so.

Cory Doctorow gave a great talk at DEF CON last year about the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s renewed push against DMCA 1201. The EFF is backing Bunnie on this lawsuit. Their tack argues both that section 1201 is stiffling innovation and discouraging meaningful security research.

If it’s illegal to write about, talk about, or even privately explore how electronics are built (and the ecosystem that lets them function) it’s hard to really master creating new technology. A successful lawsuit must show harm. Bunnie’s company, Alphamax LLC, is developing hardware that can add an overlay to an HDMI signal (which sounds like the continuation of the hack we saw from him a few years ago). But HDCP would prevent this.

Innovation aside, the security research angle is a huge reason for this law (or the enforcement of it) to change. The other plaintiff named in the suit, Matthew Green, had to seek an exemption from the DMCA in order to conduct his research without fear of prosecution. Currently there is a huge disincentive to report or even look for security vulnerabilities, and that is a disservice to all. Beneficial security research and responsible disclosure need to be the top priority in our society which is now totally dependent on an electronically augmented lifestyle.

Extremely Thorough Formlabs Form 2 Teardown By Bunnie

[Bunnie Huang] recently had the opportunity to do a thorough teardown of the new Formlabs Form 2 printer. It’s a long read, so just head over there and immerse yourself in every detail. If you want the cliff notes, though, read this but still go look at all the pretty pictures.

First, it’s a major upgrade with pretty much every component. The CPU is a huge step up, the interface went from monochrome to full color touch screen, the connectivity has been upgraded with WiFi and Ethernet, the optics are much better and safer, the power supply is integrated, there are lots of little improvements that handle things like bed leveling, calibration, resin stirring, pausing jobs, and resin refilling during a print. Bunnie practically gushes at all the features and impressive engineering that went into the Form 2.

You can compare the teardown of the Form 2 to [Bunnie’s] teardown of the Form 1 printer back in 2013.

Bunnie’s Guide To Shenzhen Electronics

[Bunnie Huang] is now officially the person who wrote the book on electronics manufacturing in Shenzhen, China. His Crowd Supply campaign for The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen has blown way past the initial goal. [Bunnie] is the first person who comes to mind for anyone needing help getting their electronics built in the region.

The books is meant as a travel companion. Hackaday was in China last June and toured the markets of Hua Qiang Bei. They are incredibly overwhelming, but people are very nice, willing to help, and none of them speak English. [Bunnie’s] approach is pages with squares you can point to in order to express your meaning. Standing at the capacitor stall? There’s a page for that. Gawking at a booth packed full of LEDs and need them in reels instead of tape? That’s in the book too. Even better, this isn’t a one-way thing. You should be able to understand well enough what they vendor is trying to convey as they point at the pages to answer your questions. This is certainly better than our method of trying to find pictures of addresses and Chinese characters on our phones. Everything is at the ready.

It doesn’t end there. The images of the book’s table of contents shows that you’ll get help with getting into the country, getting around once you’re there, and making the deal when you do find what you need. If you’re ever going to make the trip to Shenzhen, this is the first thing you should put in your backpack.

Since you’re already in the mood to purchase something made of paper, we think you’ll be interested you in this gorgeous Hackaday Omnibus Vol 02. It’s 128 pages of the best original content published on Hackaday over the past year, including the stunning artwork of Joe Kim.

Continue reading “Bunnie’s Guide To Shenzhen Electronics”

Deployable By Design With Bunnie Huang, Nadya Peek, And Joi Ito

We follow [bunnie]’s blog as he posts interesting and usable information quite regularly. [bunnie] posted about a video of a recent talk he did at MIT Media Lab with Nadya Peek and Joi Ito. This was in lieu of his monthly “name that ware” competition, which is worth looking into as well.

The talk is focused on small volume manufacturing and the experiences that the speakers have under their collective belt is large enough that the conversation takes a turn from how to do things in practice, to the theory and technique of manufacturing on a philosophical level.

[bunnie] prefaces the conversation with an explanation of some of the design and manufacturing processes involved when working on the circuit stickers project. He talks about the importance of testing the product and the complex test jig that is required to quality check a simple (in comparison to the test jig) product. [bunnie] shares an overview of the project timeline and where some extended design stages might be found in unexpected places.

The design and manufacturing process is discussed on many levels throughout the talk. Among the points that are insightful, we certainly found ourselves a little jelly of all the time [bunnie] gets to spend in Shenzhen.

If you’re not familiar with [bunnie]’s blog you can check it out at www.bunniestudios.com. Pro Tip: you can spend the better part of your workday browsing topics in the sidebar on the right.

We have covered the MIT Media Lab before, including a trip to Shenzhen that is discussed in the Media Lab talk by [Joi] and [bunnie]. Another interesting interview at SXSW earlier this year by [Sophi Kravitz] who spoke with [Sunanda Sharma] about mediated matter.