Hardware Hacking

Apple Watch's Hidden Diagnostic Port To Allow Battery Straps, Innovative Add-Ons 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the corkscrew-now-included dept.
MojoKid writes: Apple's Watch launched two weeks ago to some unbelievable hype and coverage in the press. However, it appears one feature flew under the radar and Apple actually had just one more trick up its sleeve. You see, on one side of the watch face is a hidden door that exposes a 6-pin port. It's assumed that this could be used for diagnostic purposes, but with an Apple Watch in hand, a company by the name of Reserve Strap was able to verify that it could also be used for charging. This seems pretty huge and strange at the same time: why would Apple keep such a thing quiet, when the Apple Watch's battery-life isn't what most people would consider impressive? Even more interesting is the fact that Apple didn't make use of this port to release its own charging straps — watch straps that carry a charge themselves. Apple's lack of transparency here doesn't much matter, though, as the aforementioned Reserve Strap is planning to get such a product to market as soon as possible. The company says about its first offering: "The Reserve Strap will come in White, Gray and Black and will fit both the 38mm and 42mm case sizes. The first batch of straps will be shipped in the Fall.
Cellphones

Meet the Firmware Lead For Google's Project Ara Modular Smartphone (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the build-it-one-piece-at-a-time dept.
According to Wikipedia, 'Project Ara is the codename for an initiative that aims to develop an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.' Google is the sponsor, and the project seems to be moving faster than some people expect it to. There's a Project Ara website, of course, a GitHub repository, a Facebook page, even an Ara subreddit. During his conversation with Timothy Lord, Ara firmware project lead (and spokesman) Marti Bolivar said it won't be long before prototype Ara modular phones start user testing. Meanwhile, if you want to see what Marti and his coworkers have been up to lately, besides this interview, you can read a transcription of his talk (including slides) from the January Project Ara Developers Conference in Singapore.
Hardware Hacking

Another 'Draw Your Own Circuits' System at SXSW (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-an-easy-way-to-connect-the-'rear'-speakers-in-your-home-theater-system? dept.
While Timothy Lord was at SXSW, he chatted with Yuki Nishida of AgIC and learned about the company's conductive ink products. But AgIC wasn't the only company at SXSW showing off conductive ink. You could also meet the Electroninks people and see their Circuit Scribe product, which had a Kickstarter campaign a while back that raised $574,425.

This kind of product seems to be attractive to the kind of people who fund Kickstarter projects, and this bunch seems to have good resumes and some interesting, well thought-out products. There is apparently room in the 'draw circuits and learn electrical basics' market for both AgIC and Electroninks -- and probably for another dozen competitors, too.
Hardware Hacking

eBay Sales Patterns Show That the Maker Movement is Still Growing (Video) 24

Posted by Roblimo
from the homemade-always-tastes-better dept.
Meet Aron Hsiao. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction.

Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.
Hardware Hacking

Armstrap Claims to Make ARM Prototyping Easier (Video) 41

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-just-easy-but-fun-too dept.
It almost seems too perfect that the originator of the Armstrap 'community of engineers and makers' is named Charles Armstrap. He just introduces himself as 'Charles' on the Armstrap.org website. Names aside, Armstrap.org is 100% open source, including circuit board designs. This is not a 'draw your own circuit boards' bunch, although you certainly could if you wanted to badly enough since they provide schematics and even full CAD drawings of what they make. The reason they do this is laid out on their Core Values page. The boards Armstrap sells are not expensive, but if you are going to be truly open source, you need to supply the means to duplicate and modify or extend your work, as is totally permitted under the MIT License they use.
Hardware Hacking

Radar That Sees Through Walls Built In Garage 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the real-life-wall-hacks dept.
szczys writes: Building radar in his garage is nothing new to Greg Charvat. He has a PhD in this stuff and has literally written the book (and a University course) on building your own radar system. This time around it's Phased-Array Radar. This is more than just judging the speed of a baseball or Ferrari. This rig can actually see through walls. Greg uses the example of a soda can to illustrate the quality and resolution possible from this type of system.
Hardware Hacking

Turning the Arduino Uno Into an Apple ][ 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-new-is-old dept.
An anonymous reader writes: To demonstrate how powerful modern computers are compared to their forebears, engineer Damian Peckett decided to approximate an Apple ][ with an Arduino Uno. In this post, he explains how he did it, from emulating the 6502 processor to reinventing how characters were displayed on the screen. "The Apple II used a novel approach for video generation, at the time most microcomputers used an interlaced frame buffer where adjacent rows were not stored sequentially in memory. This made it easier to generate interlaced video. The Apple II took this approach one step further, using an 8:1 interlacing scheme. This had the first line followed by the ninth line. This approach allowed Steve Wozniak to avoid read/write collisions with the video memory without additional circuitry. A very smart hack!" Peckett includes code implementations and circuit diagrams.
Emulation (Games)

Building an NES Emulator 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-mario,-but-that-register-is-in-another-castle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Programmer Michael Fogleman recently built his own emulator for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. He's now put up a post sharing many technical insights he learned along the way. For example: "The NES used the MOS 6502 (at 1.79 MHz) as its CPU. The 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor that was designed in 1975. ... The 6502 had no multiply or divide instructions. And, of course, no floating point. There was a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) mode but this was disabled in the NES version of the chip—possibly due to patent concerns. The 6502 had a 256-byte stack with no overflow detection. The 6502 had 151 opcodes (of a possible 256). The remaining 105 values are illegal / undocumented opcodes. Many of them crash the processor. But some of them perform possibly useful results by coincidence. As such, many of these have been given names based on what they do." It's an interesting look at how software and hardware interacted back then, and what it takes to emulate that in modern times. Fogleman released the source code on GitHub.
Hardware Hacking

Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the give-your-kids-paper-plates-with-lights-that-tell-them-to-eat-their-veggies dept.
We started looking at ways to make instant hand-drawn or inkjet-printed circuit boards because Timothy met an engaging young man named Yuki Nishida at SXSW. Yuki is a co-founder of AgIC, a company that makes conductive ink pens and supplies special paper you can use to write or draw circuits or, if you have the right model of Brother printer, to print them with special inkjet inks. The AgIC people are aggressively putting the 'A' in STEAM by marketing their products to artists and craftspeople. Indeed the second line on their website's home page says, 'AgIC offers handy tools to light up your own art works.' This is an excellent niche, and now that AgIC has developed a circuit eraser (due to ship this April), it may lead to all kinds of creative designs. And as is typical with this kind of company these days, AgIC has been (at least partly) crowdfunded.

A little cursory Google searching will soon lead you to other companies selling into the home/prototype circuit board market, including Cartesian Co and their Argentum 3-D printer that does prototype and short-run PCBs and only costs $899 (on special at the time this was written) and Electroninks, which markets the Circuit Scribe pen and associated materials with an emphasis on education. There are others in this growing field, and a year from now there will probably be more of them, all working to replace the venerable breadboard the same way electronic calculators replaced slide rules.
Hardware Hacking

Hack Air-Gapped Computers Using Heat 123

Posted by timothy
from the oh-baby-you're-so-communicative dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called "BitWhisper," which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat. BitWhisper bridges the air-gap between the two computers, approximately 15 inches apart that are infected with malware by using their heat emissions and built-in thermal sensors to communicate. It establishes a covert, bi-directional channel by emitting heat from one PC to the other in a controlled manner. Also at Wired.
Hardware Hacking

Maker Person Rich Olson Returns (Video) 42

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-everything-is-about-money dept.
In February we ran a video titled Rich Olson Embodies the Spirit of the Maker Movement. We aren't saying Rich is a superman, but more like everyman or, in this case, everymaker. He is a hobbyist who, like many others, shares his designs freely in the best spirit of open source. Today we have some more words from Rich that may help you if you are just starting to use a 3-D printer and similar tools either at home or in a makerspace. and a note: If you know someone we should interview, please email robinATroblimoDOTCOM.
Hardware Hacking

Watch an Original NES Run Netflix 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-play dept.
sarahnaomi writes with this story about a NES running Netflix. I don't know how you get Netflix to play on an original Nintendo, but it's been blowing my mind for the last 18 hours or so. Netflix posted the video with painfully little explanation. I have tried in many ways to get in touch with the Netflix developers who did what you see above, but no one is getting back to me, so here are some wild speculations."
Stats

One Year of Data Shows the Hacker Community Is Tight-knit and Welcoming 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-cake dept.
szczys writes: The Hacker (sometimes called maker) movement holds sharing of ideas at its core. We at Hackaday are in the unique position to look at a huge data set from the last 365 days showing how people share their own work, and how they discover and interact with others. We've made some data visualizations which cover project topic distribution, views throughout year and by hour in the day, interactions between members of this community, and more.
Bug

Xenon Flashes Can Make New Raspberry Pi 2 Freeze and Reboot 192

Posted by timothy
from the camera-shy dept.
An anonymous reader writes Unfortunately for Raspberry Pi 2 owners who are trying to photograph their devices, ... the Raspberry Pi 2 has been found to be Xenon flash sensitive. Any camera with a Xenon flash aimed at the device is causing the device to freeze for a few seconds before rebooting. The forum thread about the bug is an interesting play-by-play of how the problem was narrowed down.
Hardware Hacking

You Can Now Clone Samsung's Gear VR and Test Your Virtual Reality Apps 32

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-real-than-real dept.
An anonymous reader writes While Samsung's Gear VR headset launched in early December in the U.S., folks abroad didn't have any official means of buying the headset to test their in-development applications. Only recently has Gear VR begun making its way to countries around the world, and it's doing so slowly. For developers who don't want to wait (or DIYers who don't want to buy), some smart folks have figured out how to emulate the headset using a development board with an IMU that's been flashed with the same firmware found on the Oculus Rift DK1 headset. Plugging the board into the Note 4 (the smartphone that powers Gear VR), results in the phone recognizing the IMU as the Gear VR headset, allowing developers to test their applications and even launch the "Oculus Home" environment, allowing access to official applications and content.
Hardware Hacking

New Multi-Core Raspberry Pi 2 Launches 355

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
First time accepted submitter MicroHex writes Coming in at the same $35 price-point that has come to be expected from the Raspberry Pi, it looks like the new Model 2 will be packing a quad-core ARM processor with a GB of RAM. From the article: "The Raspberry Pi Foundation is likely to provoke a global geekgasm today with the surprise release of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B: a turbocharged version of the B+ boasting a new Broadcom BCM2836 900MHz quad-core system-on-chip with 1GB of RAM – all of which will drive performance "at least 6x" that of the B+."
Encryption

Researchers Moot "Teleportation" Via Destructive 3D Printing 163

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tell-the-mpaa dept.
ErnieKey writes Researchers from German-based Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a process that may make teleportation a reality — at least in some respects. Their 'Scotty' device utilizes destructive scanning, encryption, and 3D printing to destroy the original object so that only the received, new object exists in that form, pretty much 'teleporting' the object from point A to point B. Scotty is based on an off-the-shelf 3D printer modified with a 3-axis milling machine, camera, and microcontroller for encryption, using Raspberry Pi and Arduino technologies." This sounds like an interesting idea, but mostly as an art project illustrating the dangers of DRM. Can you think of an instance where you would actually want the capabilities this machine claims to offer?
GNU is Not Unix

Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software 229

Posted by timothy
from the asymptotic-development dept.
Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."
Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."
Communications

NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years 28

Posted by timothy
from the zip-zooming-along dept.
evanak writes TIROS was NASA's Television Infrared Observation Satellite. It launched in April 1960. One of the ground tracking stations was located at the U.S. Army's secret "Camps Evans" Signals Corps electronics R&D laboratory. That laboratory (originally a Marconi wireless telegraph lab) became the InfoAge Science Center in the 2000s. [Monday], after many years of restoration, InfoAge volunteers (led by Princeton U. professor Dan Marlowe) successfully received data from space. The dish is now operating for the first time in 40 years! The received data are in very raw form, but there is a clear peak riding on top of the noise background at 0.4 MHz (actually 1420.4 MHz), which is the well-known 21 cm radiation from the Milky Way. The dish was pointing south at an elevation of 45 degrees above the horizon.
Hardware Hacking

Insurance Company Dongles Don't Offer Much Assurance Against Hacking 199

Posted by timothy
from the best-hanging-from-rearview-mirror dept.
According to a story at Forbes, Digital Bond Labs hacker Corey Thuen has some news that should make you think twice about saving a few bucks on insurance by adding a company-supplied car-tracking OBD2 dongle: It’s long been theorised that [Progressive Insurance's Snapshot and other] such usage-based insurance dongles, which are permeating the market apace, would be a viable attack vector. Thuen says he’s now proven those hypotheses; previous attacks via dongles either didn’t name the OBD2 devices or focused on another kind of technology, namely Zubie, which tracks the performance of vehicles for maintenance and safety purposes. ... He started by extracting the firmware from the dongle, reverse engineering it and determining how to exploit it. It emerged the Snapshot technology, manufactured by Xirgo Technologies, was completely lacking in the security department, Thuen said. “The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure. It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”