With all the salacious stories about a cheating scandal rocking the world of championship-level chess, you’d think that we’d have delved into the story at least a bit here on Hackaday, especially given the story’s technical angle. But we haven’t, and it’s not because we’re squeamish about the details of the alleged cheat; rather, it’s because it’s just too easy to pun your way through a story like this. The lowest-hanging fruit isn’t always the sweetest.
But, we’ll give it a go, and play this one completely straight as we look at an experiment to determine if it’s even possible to cheat in the specific way that has been alleged. For the uninitiated, 19-year-old grandmaster [Hans Niemann] stands accused of cheating, possible through the use of a remote-controlled sex toy secreted in his rectum. The idea would be for an accomplice to use the toy, which contains a vibrating motor that’s controlled by an app either via Bluetooth or WiFi, to send suggested moves to [Niemann] based on a chess-playing AI’s analysis of the game.
Whether [Niemann] cheated or not is not the concern here, but rather [Captain Steel]’s experiment is just a first-pass look at whether it would be possible to cheat using the proposed technology — and most importantly, not get caught. He tried to replicate the scanning regime [Niemann] is now subject to at tournaments based on the allegations to see if a stand-in for the sex toy — a haptic motor attached to an ESP32 — would be detectable through various thicknesses of flesh. Rather than showing the same dedication to craft that [Niemann] is alleged to have shown, [Captain Steel] used slices of baloney as a stand-in for human flesh. He then tried scanning for RF emissions from the device through increasing layers of luncheon meat. We won’t spoil the results, other than to say that baloney turns out to actually be good for something.
We’ve covered another less-invasive method of cheating before, which given the results above is probably more likely to be discovered.
Continue reading “Seeing If Cheating At Chess The Hard Way Is Even Possible” →
The movie version of lockpicking tends to emphasize the meticulous, delicate image of the craft. The hero or villain takes out a slim wallet of fine tools, applies them with skill and precision, and quickly defeats the lock. They make it look easy, and while the image isn’t far from reality, there are other ways to pick a lock.
This expedient electric toothbrush lockpick is a surprisingly effective example of the more brute force approach to lockpicking. As [Jolly Peanut] explains, pin tumbler locks work by lining up each pin with the shear line of the cylinder, which allows the lock to turn. This can be accomplished a pin at a time with picks, or en masse by vibrating the pins until they randomly line up with the shear line just long enough for the lock to turn. A locksmith might use a purpose-built tool for the job, but a simple battery-powered electric toothbrush works in a pinch too. [Jolly Peanut] removed the usual business end of the brush to reveal a metal drive rod that vibrates at a high frequency. The rod was slimmed down by a little grinding to fit into the keyway of a lock, and with the application of a little torque, the vibration is enough to pop the pins into the right position. He tries it out on several locks in the video below, and it only takes a few seconds each time.
Such brute force methods have their drawbacks, of course. They’re not exactly subtle, and the noise they create may attract unwanted attention. In that case, hone your manual lockpicking skills with a giant 3D-printed see-through lock.
Continue reading “Hacked Electric Toothbrush Defeats Locks With Ease” →
Search for “bowl feeder” on Hackaday and you’ll get nothing but automated cat and dog feeders. That’s a shame, because as cool as keeping your pets fed is, vibratory bowl feeders are cooler. If you’ve seen even a few episodes of “How It’s Made” you’re likely to have seen these amazing yet simple devices, used to feed and align small parts for automated assembly. They’re mesmerizing to watch, and if you’ve ever wondered how parts like the tiny pins on a header strip are handled, it’s likely a bowl feeder.
[John] at NYC CNC is building a bowl-feeder with Arduino control, and the video below takes us on a tour of the build. Fair warning that the video is heavy on the CNC aspects of milling the collating outfeed ramp, which is to be expected from [John]’s channel. We find CNC fascinating, but if you’re not so inclined, skip ahead to the last three minutes where [John] discusses control. His outfeed ramp has a slot for an optical sensor to count parts. For safety, the Arduino controls the high-draw bowl feeder through an external relay and stops the parts when the required number have been dispensed.
We know, watching someone use a $20,000 CNC milling station might seem overkill for something that could have been 3D printed, but [John] runs a job shop after all and usually takes on big industrial jobs. Or small ones, like these neat color-infill machine badges.
Continue reading “Automating A Bowl Feeder With Arduino” →