Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Mad Model M

Hand-Wired Hell Help

Do you dream of building a curvy ergonomic keyboard or macro pad, even though the idea of hand wiring gives you nightmares? You can make it a bit less troublesome with a tiny PCB for each key switch, as long as you have a reflow oven or you’re okay with a bit of surface-mount soldering for the diode, LED, and capacitor.

As a bonus, these should make switches a bit more secure against movement, and you could probably even get away with using hot swap sockets if you wanted. [Pedro Barbero] has the Gerber files available if you want to get some fabbed. We sort of wish we had used these on our dactyl, though the case is awfully tight and they might not fit.

Ultra-Mechanical Keyboard Angles with Lifter Motors

Lots of people prefer an angled keyboard, but plenty of new keebs, especially mechanical ones, just don’t offer that at all. Well, the wait for an adjustable 75% is over, at least. Okay, that’s not exactly true. The wait for a group buy to begin for an adjustable 75% is almost over.

Nestled in between the arrow cluster and the menu key of the Besides Studios M-One is a rocker switch that angles the keyboard from 3° to 7° slowly but surely, like an adjustable bed. This is going to be a bare-bones group buy, meaning that it won’t come with any switches, stabs, or keycaps, but that doesn’t mean it will be cheap at $299. [BadSeed Tech] got an early prototype and built it out with Gateron Ink Black V2 switches in the video below in order to give it a proper spin.

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Hands-On Review: TCam-Mini WiFi Thermal Imager

A thermal camera is a tool I have been wanting to add to my workbench for quite a while, so when I learned about the tCam-Mini, a wireless thermal camera by Dan Julio, I placed an order. A thermal imager is a camera whose images represent temperatures, making it easy to see things like hot and cold spots, or read the temperature of any point within the camera’s view. The main (and most expensive) component of the tCam-Mini is the Lepton 3.5 sensor, which sits in a socket in the middle of the board. The sensor is sold separately, but the campaign made it available as an add-on.

Want to see how evenly a 3D printer’s heat bed is warming up, or check whether a hot plate is actually reflowing PCBs at the optimal temperature? How about just seeing how weird your pets would look if you had heat vision instead of normal eyes? A thermal imager like the tCam-mini is the tool for that, but it’s important to understand exactly how the tCam-mini works. While it may look like a webcam, it does not work like one.

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Linux Fu: Superpowers For Mere Mortals

You can hardly mention the sudo command without recalling the hilarious XKCD strip about making sandwiches. It does seem like sudo is the magic power to make a Linux system do what you want. The only problem is that those superpowers are not something to be taken lightly.

CC-BY-NC-2.5 by [XKCD]
If you are surfing the web, for example, you really don’t want to be root, because if someone naughty takes over your computer they could do a lot more harm with your root password. But still, there are times when you want to run certain commands that are normally root-only and don’t want to bother with a password. Luckily, sudo can handle that use case very easily.

Why?

As a simple example, suppose you like to shut your computer down at the end of the day. You run the shutdown command from the terminal but it doesn’t work because you aren’t root. You then have to do it again with sudo and if you haven’t logged in lately, provide your password. Ugh.

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RNA Therapeutics And Fighting Diseases By Working With The Immune System

Before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic took hold, few people were aware of the existence of mRNA vaccines. Yet after months of vaccinations from Moderna and BioNTech and clear indications of robust protection to millions of people, it now seems hard to imagine a world without mRNA vaccine technology, especially as more traditional vaccines seem to falter against the new COVID-19 variants and the ravages of so-called ‘Long COVID’ become more apparent.

Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that Moderna and BioNTech were merely a bunch of start-ups, trying to develop profitable therapies for a variety of diseases, using the brand-new and largely unproven field of RNA therapeutics. Although the use of mRNA in particular for treatments has been investigated since 1989, even as recently as 2017 there were still many questions about safe and effective ways to deliver mRNA into cells, as per Khalid A. Hajj et al.

Clearly those issues have been resolved now in 2021, which makes one wonder about the other exciting possibilities that mRNA delivery offers, from vaccines for malaria, cancer, HIV, as well as curing autoimmune diseases. How did the field of mRNA vaccines develop so quickly, and what can we expect to see the coming years?

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Learning To Desolder Gracefully

When you’re just learning to sketch, you use graphite. Why? It’s cheap, great at training you to recognize different shades, and most of all, it’s erasable. When you’re learning, you’re going to make mistakes, and un-making them is an important part of the game. Same goes for electronics, of course, so when you’re teaching someone to solder, don’t neglect teaching them to desolder.

I want these!

We could argue all day about the best ways of pressing the molten-metal undo button, but the truth is that it’s horses for courses. I’ve had really good luck with solder braid and maybe a little heat gun to pull up reluctant SOIC surface-mount chips, but nothing beats a solder sucker for clearing out a few through-holes. (I haven’t tried the questionable, but time-tested practice of blasting the joint with compressed air.)

For bulk part removal, all you really have to do is heat the board up, and there’s plenty of ways to do that, ranging from fancy to foolish. Low-temperature alloys help out in really tough cases. And for removing rows of pinheaders, it can help to add more solder along the row until it’s one molten blob, and then tap the PCB and watch the part — and hot liquid metal! — just drop out.

But the bigger point is that an important step in learning a new technique is learning to undo your mistakes. It makes it all a lot less intimidating when you know that you can just pull out the solder braid and call “do-over”. And don’t forget the flux.

This Week In Security: NSO, Print Spooler, And A Mysterious Decryptor

The NSO Group has been in the news again recently, with multiple stories reporting on their Pegasus spyware product. The research and reporting spearheaded by Amnesty International is collectively known as “The Pegasus project”. This project made waves on the 18th, when multiple news outlets reported on a list of 50,000 phone numbers that are reported as “potential surveillance targets.” There are plenty of interesting people to be found on this list, like 14 heads of state and many journalists.

There are plenty of questions, too. Like what exactly is this list, and where did it come from? Amnesty international has pointed out that it is not a list of people actively being targeted. They’ve reported that of the devices associated with an entry on the list that they have been able to check, roughly 50% have shown signs of Pegasus spyware. The Guardian was part of the initial coordinated release, and has some impressive non-details to add:

The presence of a phone number in the data does not reveal whether a device was infected with Pegasus or subject to an attempted hack. However, the consortium believes the data is indicative of the potential targets NSO’s government clients identified in advance of possible surveillance attempts.

Amazon’s AWS was named as part of the C&C structure of Pegasus, and in response, they have pulled the plug on accounts linked to NSO. For their part, NSO denies the validity of the list altogether. Continue reading “This Week In Security: NSO, Print Spooler, And A Mysterious Decryptor”

Who Flew Across The Atlantic First? The Airborne Boats Of 1919

Aviation history is a bit strange. People tend to remember some firsts but not others and — sometimes — not even firsts. For example, everyone knows Amelia Earhart attempted to be the first woman to fly around the globe. She failed, but do you know who succeeded? It was Jerrie Mock. How about the first person to do it? Wiley Post, a name largely forgotten by the public. Charles Lindbergh is another great example. He was the first person to fly across the Atlantic, right? Not exactly. The story of the real first transatlantic flight is one of aviation hacking by the United States Navy.

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