Before you start cutting up that ‘negative ion’ health bracelet or personal massager, be aware that these are highly likely to contain thorium oxide or similar radioactive powder, as this research video by [Justin Atkin] (also embedded after the break) over at The Thought Emporium YouTube channel shows. Even ignoring the irony that thorium oxide is primarily an alpha (He+) emitter and thus not a ‘negative ion’ source (which would be beta decay, with e–), thorium oxide isn’t something you want on your skin, or inside your lungs.
These bracelets and similar items appear to embed grains of thorium oxide into the usual silicon-polymer-based bracelet material, without any measures to prevent grains from falling out over time. More dangerous are the items such as the massage wand, which is essentially a metal tube that is filled with thorium oxide powder. This is not the kind of item you want to open on your kitchen table and have it spill everywhere.
Considering that these items are readily available for sale on Amazon, EBay and elsewhere, giving items like these a quick check with the ol’ Geiger counter before ripping them open or cutting them up for a project seems like a healthy idea. Nobody wants to cause a radiological incident in their workshop, after all.
Continue reading “Be Wary Of Radioactive Bracelets And Similar”
This year for Hallowe’en, [Scott] went out dressed as a Comcast xfinity hotspot. Funny, yes, but there’s a deeper meaning here. [Scott] really went as a walking PSA that illustrates the dangers of making assumptions about the relative safety of WiFi networks based solely on their broadcast names.
[Scott] could have gone chaotic evil with this setup, but he didn’t. No one could actually get on the Internet through him. Inside the “hotspot” are a Wi-Fi adapter and a Pi Zero running a captive portal. It broadcasts the default ‘XFINITY’ and ‘xfinitywifi’ SSIDs, plus a bunch of other common network names. Whenever anyone tries to connect, or worse, their phone automatically connects, they’ll hear a sad tuba cadence. This comes courtesy of a multi-sound effects box that’s controlled by the Pi through a relay board.
Meanwhile, the mark’s device is redirected to an internally-hosted “xfinity” login page. Anyone who actually goes on to enter their login credentials is treated to a classic horror film scream sample while the evil hotspot quietly stores their name and password and displays them on an e-ink display for all to see — a walking e-ink wall of sheep. Check out the demo after the break.
[Scott]’s evil hotspot is powered by a huge battery that can run it for 24 hours. Here’s a wind- and solar-powered WAP we covered several years ago.
Continue reading “Evil Hotspot Costume Makes Valuable Connections”
We get a lot of press releases at Hackaday, but this one was horrific enough that we thought it was worth sharing. Apparently, some kids are accidentally eating lithium coin cell batteries. When this happens with bigger cells, usually greater than 20 millimeters (CR2032, CR2025, and CR2016) really bad things happen. Like burning esophaguses, and even death.
The National Capital Poison Center has done some research on this, and found that 14% of batteries swallowed over the past two years came from flameless candles like the ones above. We know some of our readers also deal with batteries in open trays, which are apparently pretty dangerous for children.
The National Capital Poison Center’s website has an entire page dedicated to battery safety, which is probably worth a read if you deal with batteries and small children on a regular basis. Should an incident occur, there’s even a hotline to call for assistance.
So, please, don’t swallow batteries, or let children put them in their mouths. After the break, a Canadian PSA song about not putting things in your mouth.
Continue reading “PSA: Don’t Let Kids Eat Lithium Batteries”
Wooden pallets are a versatile and widely-available starting point for a multitude of projects. Best of all, they can usually be acquired free of charge. But choose the wrong kind of pallet and you could end up paying dearly. [Eric] has compiled a great deal of useful information about pallets that will help you find ideal candidates and prepare them for whatever project you have in mind, be it a coffee table or a backyard roller coaster.
Pallets come in several styles and loader configurations. Some are made with space between the boards, and others are closed. If you take nothing else away from his article, just remember to look for plain, untinted pallets with no markings and you’ll be fine.
No markings means the pallet was used domestically, so markings aren’t required. Marked pallets from abroad should feature the IPPC logo as well as a treatment code indicating the method used on the material. Debarked (DB), heat treated (HT), and pallets with the European Pallet Association logo (EPAL) are all safe choices. Pallets labeled (MB) were treated with methyl bromide, which is a poisonous fungicide. Colored pallets should be avoided as well. If you find one in a cool color, take a picture of it and find some paint in a similar hue.
Safe pallets can be had from many places ranging from hardware stores to feed and tack supply stores. Find someone you can ask for permission to take pallets—they might even help you load them. Keep some gloves in your trunk to avoid splinters.