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App note: Emitters and detectors for infrared (IR) touchscreens

dangerous prototype - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 20:00

App note from OSRAM about IR LEDs and IR detectors used on touchscreen technologies. Link here (PDF)

Touchscreens as a popular user interface are more and more common. Applications span from public information systems to customer self-service terminals. Thus, as a logical step, more and more devices today feature this kind of user interface, e.g. bank automatic teller machines (ATMs), personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones and PC displays. The widespread popularity is actively supported by standard computer based operating systems, such as e.g. Windows® 7.

The rapid development of CMOS imaging sensors and the development of high power infrared (IR) emitters in slim packages have led to a series of new optical touchscreen technologies. Many of them contain proprietary technology and solutions.

Making a robot cleaner even smarter

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 18:00

Some electric cleaners are effective and some hardly even seem to make a difference. The ILIFE V7s may be a robot cleaner, but even with its cleaning modes and anti-collision system, it still requires IR signals to complete any tasks. Tired of having to be physically in the same place as his robot cleaner, [pimuzzo] decided to take matters into his own hands and build a RESTful remote control to send IR signals from afar.

The program uses the ESP8266WebServer and IRremoteESP8266 libraries for handling HTTP requests and sending and receiving infrared signals. The remote also respond to Actions on Google for controlling the robot over a Google Assistant.

The IR signals are a bit funky – as one user highlighted, finding the IR protocol is a nontrivial task that can be accomplished by recording the IR signals from the original remote with a IR receiver and matching the marks, spaces, and carrier frequency with those of known protocol codes. [Oitzu] was able to match the timing to the NEC 32 bit protocol and find the exact codes on an oscilloscope, which simplified the translation of the codes for the remote.

Sometimes when life gives you a robot cleaner, it’s your job to make it smarter.

Humanoid Robot Has Joints that Inspire

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 15:00

One of the challenges with humanoid robots, besides keeping them upright, is finding compact combinations of actuators and joint mechanisms that allow for good range of smooth motion while still having good strength. To achieve that researchers from the IRIM Lab at Korea University of Technology and Education developed the LIMS2-AMBIDEX robotic humanoid upper body that uses a combination of brushless motors, pulleys and some very interesting joint mechanisms. (Video, embedded below.)

The wrist mechanism. Anyone willing to tackle a 3D printed version?

From shoulder to fingers, each arm has seven degrees of freedom which allows the robot to achieve some spectacularly smooth and realistic upper body motion. Except for the wrist rotation actuator, all the actuators are housed in the shoulders, and motion is transferred to the required joint through an array of cables and pulleys. This keeps the arm light and its inertia low, allowing the arms to move rapidly without breaking anything or toppling the entire robot.

The wrist and elbow mechanisms are especially interesting. The wrist emulates rolling contact between two spheres with only revolute joints. It also allows a drive shaft to pass down the centre of the mechanism and transfer rotating motion from one end to the other. The elbow is a rolling double jointed affair that allows true 180 degrees of rotation.

We have no idea why this took two years to end up in our YouTube feed, but we’re sure glad it finally did. Check out some of the demo videos after the break.

We’ve covered a few robots that emulates form factors from the natural world including Boston Dynamic’s robot dog and Disney’s backflipping robot.

MIT Mini Cheetah Made and Improved In China

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 12:00

We nearly passed over this tip from [xoxu] which was just a few links to some AliExpress pages. However, when we dug a bit into the pages we found something pretty surprising. Somewhere out there in the wild we…east of China there’s a company not only reverse engineering the Mini Cheetah, but improving it too.

We cover a lot of Mini Cheetah projects; it’s a small robot that can do a back-flip after all. When compared to the servo quadruped of not so many years ago it’s definitely exciting magic. Many of the projects go into detail about the control boards and motor modifications required to build a Mini Cheetah of your own. So we were especially interested to discover that this AliExpress seller has gone through the trouble of not just reverse engineering the design, but also improving on it. Claiming their motors are thinner and more dust resistant than what they’ve seen from MIT.

To be honest, we’re not sure what we’re looking at. It’s kind of cool that we live in a world where a video of a research project and some papers can turn into a $12k robot you can buy right now. Let us know what you think after the break.

Name A Hacker Camp

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 09:00

Many of us look forward to visiting a summer hacker camp, as an opportunity to immerse ourselves in some of the coolest and most stimulating stuff that comes out of our community. The names trip off the tongue, ToorCamp, CCCamp, EMFcamp, BornHack, and more.

There’s one major event that doesn’t trip off the tongue in the same way though, because though it’s one of the oldest in our calendar it doesn’t have the same name every time. Since the end of the 1980s the Netherlands has seen a sequence of  hacker camps with three letter names such as HAR, OHM, and SHA. Every four years these events delight and amaze us, and every four years they need a new name. Do you think you can help them pick one for 2021?

There are a few ground rules to observe, for the would-be coiner of a new moniker. The tradition is of a three-letter acronym, usually one with a meaning somewhere in technology, and so far always containing the letter H somewhere to stand for “Hack” in some form. The idea is that it should somehow encapsulate the spirit of hacker camp culture rather than simply be three words containing “Hack”. HAR for example was Hacking At Random, OHM was Observe Hack Make, and SHA was Still Hacking Anyway. So if you can dream up a TLA within those parameters, there is a group of hackers in the Netherlands who might like to hear from you. We suspect that HAD is already taken.

If you want to know more about the Netherlands camps, read our review of SHA, in 2017.

Header image: [Renze]. “Met Elkaar Hacken” means something close to “Hack together”.

Storm Cloud Lamp Brings The Weather Inside

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 06:00

The humble lamp is a common build for a hacker looking to express themselves creatively. Often, nature can serve as an inspiration, as was the case for [Michael Pick]’s Storm Cloud. (Video, embedded below.)

Electronically, the build is straightforward, consisting of an Arduino Uno, an MP3 shield, and a string of WS2801 LEDs. These are driven slightly differently than the more-common WS2812B type, but Adafruit libraries make it easy for even the beginner. There’s also an RF keyfob fitted for remote control of the device, and a voice synth that serves as a user interface.

The video also covers the construction of the body of the lamp. Cardboard forms are created, then covered in tape to create a rough 3D ovaloid shape. This mold is then fiberglassed to create two shells, which are later joined together with bolts. This allows the LEDs and electronics to be neatly mounted inside. Spray adhesive is then used to affix what appears to be cotton wool or polyfill stuffing to the outside to create the cloud effect.

The final result is rather aesthetically pleasing. There’s the usual soft-glowing rainbows as you’d expect, but the real highlight is storm mode, which causes flickers of lighting to scatter across the surface of the cloud. The accompanying sound effects from the MP3 shield help add to the drama.

We’ve seen other takes on a cloud lamp before, too. Video after the break.

Beam Me Up to the PCB Space Ship

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 03:00

This project would fit in perfectly with #BadgeLife if someone could figure out a way to hang it from their neck. Inspired by Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise, [bobricius] decided to design and assemble a miniature space ship PCB model, complete with 40 blinking LEDs controlled by an ATtiny85.

While the design uses 0603, 0802, 3014, 4014, and 0805 LEDs, some substitutions can be made since the smallest LEDs can be difficult to solder. The light effects include a green laser, plasma coils, a deflector with scrolling blue LEDs, and the main plate and bridge for the space ship.

The LEDs are controlled by charlieplexing, a technique for driving LED arrays with relatively few I/O pins, different from traditional multiplexing. Charlieplexing allows n pins to drive n2−n LEDs, while traditional multiplexing allows n pins to drive (n/2)2 LEDs. (Here is the best explanation of Charlieplexing we’ve ever seen.)

Especially with the compiled firmware running on the MCU, the PCB model makes for an impressive display.

The only catch? Your Starship Enterprise can’t actually fly.

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Customizing Xiaomi ARM Cortex-M Firmware

Hackaday - อาทิตย์, 10/20/2019 - 00:00

This hack was revealed a while ago at DEFCON26, but it’s still a fascinating look into vulnerabilities that affect some of the most widely used IoT devices.

[Dennis Giese] figured out a way to modify ARM Cortex-M based firmware for use in customizing the functionality of devices or removing access to the vendor. Obviously, there are more malicious activities that can be done with this type of hack, as with any exploits of firmware, but they are (also) obviously not condoned.

The talk goes into the structure of Xiaomi ecosystem and products before going into a step-by-step approach to binary patching the firmware. The first step was to acquire the firmware, either by dumping SPI flash memory (using JTAG, SWD, or desoldered Flash pins) or intercepting traffic during a firmware update and downloading the firmware. There’s also a possibility of downloading the firmware using a URL, although this can be more difficult to find.

The firmware can then be parsed, which first requires the format to be converted from a proprietary format to and ELF file. This conversion makes it easier to load into IDA pro, and gives information on the segments of the firmware and its entry point. Python tools luckily exist for converting binary files to ELF, which simplifies the task.

After loading the ELF file into the disassembler, you’ll want to find the key memory area, denoted by “TAG_MAC”, “TAG_DID”, and “TAG_KEY” in the example firmware (for storing the MAC address, device ID, and key). In order to prepare the firmware for Nexmon – a software that supported C-based firmware binary patching for ARM Cortex-A and ARM Cortex-M binaries – you’ll need to partition some space in the memory for patches and know the function names and signatures for the firmware.

The latter is done by doing a difference comparison in the disassembler between an unknown executable and the example executable.

With the necessary information gathered, you can now use Nexmon to make your modifications. The fact that this can be done for smart devices at home means that smart devices you acquire – especially those partitioned by others – may contain malicious code, so take care when handling used devices.

HTC reveals specs for its cheap blockchain phone

Liliputing - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 21:32

HTC has become a bit player in the smartphone space in recent years, but the company is trying to carve out an unusual niche for itself by releasing a series of blockchain phones. Last year’s HTC Exodus 1 is a $699 smartphone that can double as a cryptocurrency wallet and function as a full node. […]

The post HTC reveals specs for its cheap blockchain phone appeared first on Liliputing.

There’s more to the 3D print than the eye can see

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 21:00

If you thought CADing designs for 3D printing was hard enough, wait until you hear about this .stl trick.

[Angus] of Maker’s Muse recently demoed a method for creating hidden geometries in .stl files that are only revealed during the slicing process before a 3D print. (Video, embedded below.) The process involves creating geometries with a thickness smaller than the size of the 3D printer’s nozzle that still appear to be solid in a .stl editor, but will not be rendered by a FDM slicer.

Most 3D printers have 0.4 mm thickness nozzle, so creating geometries with a wall thinner than this value will result in the effect that you’re looking for. Some possible uses for this trick are to create easter eggs or even to mess with other 3D printing enthusiasts. Of course, [Angus] recommends not to use this “deception for criminal or malicious intent” and I’d have to agree.

There’s a few other tricks that he reveals as well, including a way to create a body that’s actually a thin shell but appears to be solid: great for making unprintable letters that reveal hidden messages.

Nevertheless, it’s a cool trick and maybe one of those “features not bugs” in the slicer software.

Converting a Tesla to a Pickup Truck

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 18:00

The renowned inventor of useless robots [Simone Giertz] has outdone herself this time. She, along with a team of engineers featuring [Rich Rebuilds], [Laura Kampf], and [Marcos Ramirez], recently decided to convert a Tesla into a pickup truck, and make a video along the way, all while salvaging what remains they can of the back of the car and making the final product roadworthy. Yeah, this is a couple weeks old now, and yeah, it’s kind of a commercial, but really: [Simone Giertz] and Co. rock.

In her vlog of the experience, the team starts by gutting out the interior of the car in order to find out the weight distribution and form of the outer frame. Essentially, in order to create the pickup truck, a portion of the back of the car needs to be removed, with additional beams and support welded in depending on the consequent structural integrity. With a sawzall and angle grinder, the top portion of the frame is cut and taken out, but not before a worrying glance brings about the realization that the car needs exterior support during its modifications.

After the cushions, glass, wiring, and all other accessories are removed, they install a truck bed from another sacrificial pickup truck, as well as a roof rack to complete the look. Amidst the deconstruction and reconstruction, there are moments when the car encounters a “Safety restraint system fault” or when the team accidentally lines the inside of the car with fiberglass right before shooting their video. Between complaints of the different clip sizes used and the clear time pressure of the project, it’s a funny and informative look into a pretty unique car mod.

The final commercial they made of their Tesla-pickup hybrid, dubbed Truckla, is available on [Giertz]’s YouTube channel.

[Thanks to crener for the tip!]

File Compression By Steganography

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 15:00

In a world with finite storage and an infinite need for more storage space, data compression becomes a very necessary problem. Several algorithms for data compression may be more familiar – Huffman coding, LZW compression – and some a bit more arcane.

[Labunsky] decided to put to use his knowledge of steganography to create a wholly unique form of file compression, perhaps one that may gain greater notoriety among other information theorists.

Steganography refers to the method of concealing messages or files within another file, coming from the Greek words steganos for “covered or concealed” and graphe for “writing”. The practice has been around for ages, from writing in invisible ink to storing messages in moon cakes. The methods used range from hiding messages in images to evade censorship to hiding viruses in files to cause mayhem.

100% not [via xkcd]The developer explains that since every file is just a bit sequence, observing files leads to the realization that a majority of bits will be equal on the same places. Rather than storing all of the bits of a file, making modifications to the hard drive at certain locations can save storage space. What is important to avoid, however, is lossy file compression that can wreak havoc on quality during the compression stage.

The compression technique they ended up implementing is based on the F5 algorithm that embeds binary data into JPEG files to reduce total space in the memory. The compression uses libjpeg for JPEG decoding and encoding, pcre for POSIX regular expressions support, and tinydir for platform-independent filesystem traversal. One of the major modifications was to save computation resources by disabling a password-based permutative straddling that uniformly spreads data among multiple files.

One caveat – changing even one bit of the compressed file could lead to total corruption of all of the data stored, so use with caution!

Miss Nothing With A Hacked 360 Degree Camera Trap

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 12:00

Camera traps are a very common tool in wildlife conservation and research, but placing and pointing them correctly can be a bit of a guessing game. Something very interesting could happen just out of frame and you’d be none the wiser. The [Andrew Quitmeyer] and [Danielle Hoogendijk] at DINALABS (Digital Naturalism Laboratories) in Panama are experimenting with hacked consumer 360° cameras to help solve problem.

The project is called Panatrap and looks very promising. They’ve done very detailed testing with a number of different 360° cameras, and have built functional prototypes with the Xiaomi Misphere and Ricoh Theta V. The Xiaomi had some handy contacts on the bottom of the camera for its selfie stick interface (simply a resistor and button), which allowed full control of the camera. An Arduino compatible board waits for the motion detected signal from a PIR sensor which then sends the required command to the camera to wake-up and take footage. The Ricoh was slightly more challenging, but they discovered that the camera will wake up if an emulated keyboard command is received over it’s USB port from a Teensy. Triggering is then done by a servo pushing against the camera’s button. Everything is housed in a laser cut acrylic case to help it survive the wet jungle. If anyone knows how to hack the Samsung Gear camera to work, the team is keen to hear from you!

All the work is open sourced, with build details and hardware designs available on the project page and software up on Github. Check out some cool 360° test footage after the break with some local wildlife. We are looking forward to more footage!

It’s possible to make your own rudimentary 360° camera using a raspberry pi. Also check out our recent article on Dian Fossey, a hero of gorilla conservation.

Revisiting The BlackHat Hack: How A Security Conference Was Pwned

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 09:00

Does anyone remember the Black Hat BCard hack in 2018? This hack has been documented extensively, most notoriously by [NinjaStyle] in his original blog post revealing the circumstances around discovering the vulnerability. The breach ended up revealing the names, email addresses, phone numbers, and personal details of every single conference attendee – an embarrassing leak from one of the world’s largest cybersecurity conferences.

To recap: The Black Hat conference badges included an embedded NFC tag storing the participant’s contact details presumably for vendors to scan for marketing purposes. After scanning the tag, [NinjaStyle] realized that his name was readily available, but not his email address and other information. Instead, the NFC reader pointed to the BCard app – an application created for reading business cards.

[NinjaStyle] decompiled the APK for the app to search for API endpoints and found that the participants each had a custom URL made using event identification values. After finding data that appeared to correspond to an eventID and badgeID, he sent a request over a web browser and found that his attendee data was returned completely unauthenticated. With this knowledge, it was possible to brute-force the contact details for every Black Hat attendee (the range of valid IDs was between 100000-999999, and there were about 18,000 attendees). Using Burp Suite, the task would take about six hours. 

He was able to get ahold of BCard to reveal the vulnerability, which was fixed in less than a day by disabling the leaky API from their legacy system. Even so, legacy APIs in conference apps aren’t an uncommon occurrence – the 2018 RSA Conference (another cybersecurity conference) also suffered from an unprotected app that allowed 114 attendee records to be accessed without permission.

With the widespread publicity of leaked attendee data, event organizers are hopefully getting smarter about the apps that they use, especially if they come from a third-party vendor. [Yashvier Kosaraju] gave a talk at TROOPERS19 about pen testing several large vendors and discovering that Kitapps (Attendify) and Eventmobi both built apps with unauthenticated access to attendee data. It’s hard to say how many apps from previous years are still around, or whether or not the next event app you use will come with authentication – just remember to stay vigilant and to not give too much of your personal data away.

Samsung scraps Linux on DeX (no Linux on Samsung phones running Android 10)

Liliputing - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 06:44

Well it was… good while it lasted? A little less than a year after launching a platform that would allow Samsung Galaxy smartphones to run a full-fledged Linux environment on their phones when connected to an external display and keyboard, Samsung is shutting down its Linux on DeX platform. To be honest, I’ve heard surprisingly […]

The post Samsung scraps Linux on DeX (no Linux on Samsung phones running Android 10) appeared first on Liliputing.

A Low-Power Solution To Streamlining Sensor Data For IoT

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 06:00

For home use IoT systems, getting sensor data from tons of physical locations centralized to a single Raspberry Pi can be a difficult job, especially when considering the power consumption that’s necessary for doing it all over WiFi. When you’re using an ESP8266, for instance, swapping out batteries and accounting for connectivity issues can be a major hassle for a long-term solution. The NoCAN platform, created by [Alain Pannetrat], solves this problem using a wired approach that improves the use of the CAN bus.

Since SPI and I2C only work for short distances, approaches like RS-485 and CAN bus are a better bet for this type of setup. For systems with one centralized point, RS-485 works best – thus, the CAN bus is the better approach when you’re considering using multiple masters in a single environment.

CAN devices typically need a static address, so messaging involves sending data to the known address of the destination device. With NoCAN, a dynamic address assignment scheme allows nodes to request an address from a node manager on boot-up (similar to DHCP). A command line application also allows users to send and receive message from nodes using a pub/sub implementation – a device sends messages to a channel, and every device subscribed to the channel receives the message.

The hardware for the NoCAN platform consists of a Raspberry Pi with a “PiMaster” HAT and an Arduino-compatible CANZERO board. The PiMaster HAT uses an STM32F042 ARM Cortex M0 MCU, acting as an interface between the Pi and the CAN bus as well as preventing over-current events with a software-controlled smart switch. The CANZERO is based on the the SAMD21G18 ARM Cortex M0+ running at 48MHz, similar to the Arduino MKR Zero, with CAN bus networking using the STM32F042 ARM Cortex M0. The double MCU design allows the secondary MCU to reset the primary if it gets stuck due to a programming error, with the messages sent over the CAN bus.

To join the network together, a four-wire cable daisy-chains the nodes in the bus network, providing connectivity for up to 1000 feet. Either 12V or 24V DC power runs through the network, stepping down to 5V or 3.3V at each node. The approach is similar to PoE (power over Ethernet), although it is slower and lower in cost. Overall, it seems like a good solution for environments where wireless connectivity simply doesn’t cut it.

5 more Windows on Snapdragon 850 PCs

Liliputing - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 04:34

So you know that low-cost Pipo tablet with Windows 10 and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor we wrote about the other day? It looks like it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cheap Windows on ARM devices coming from Chinese PC makers. The folks at Notebook Italia spotted five more inexpensive […]

The post 5 more Windows on Snapdragon 850 PCs appeared first on Liliputing.

USB Power Delivery For All The Things

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 03:00

The promise of USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) is that we’ll eventually be able to power all our gadgets, at least the ones that draw less than 100 watts anyway, with just one adapter. Considering most of us are the proud owners of a box filled with assorted AC/DC adapters in all shapes and sizes, it’s certainly a very appealing prospect. But [Mansour Behabadi] hasn’t exactly been thrilled with the rate at which his sundry electronic devices have been jumping on the USB-PD bandwagon, so he decided to do something about it.

[Mansour] wanted a simple way to charge his laptop (and anything else he could think of) with USB-PD over USB-C, but none of the existing options on the market was quite what he wanted. He looked around and eventually discovered the STUSB4500, a a USB power delivery controller chip that can be configured over I2C.

With a bit of nonvolatile memory onboard, it can retain its settings so he didn’t have to include a microcontroller in his design: just program it once and it can be used stand-alone to negotiate the appropriate voltage and current requirements when its plugged in.

The board that [Mansour] came up with is a handy way of powering your projects via USB-C without having to reinvent the wheel. Using the PC configuration tool and an Arduino to talk to the STUSB4500 over I2C, the board can be configured to deliver from 5 to 20 VDC to whatever device you connect to it. The chip is even capable of storing three seperate Power Delivery Output (PDO) configurations at once, so you can give it multiple voltage and current ranges to try and negotiate for.

In the past we’ve seen a somewhat similar project that used USB-PD to charge lithium polymer batteries. It certainly isn’t happening overnight, but it looks like we’re finally starting to see some real movement towards making USB-C the standard.

Tolino’s new eReaders look familiar (If Kobo devices ran Android)

Liliputing - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 02:30

German eReader company Tolino has just launched a new line of devices with 6, 7, and 8 inch E Ink displays… and as The eBook Reader points out, they all look pretty familiar. That’s because the new devices all seem to be based on the same hardware as Kobo’s current line of eReaders. The key […]

The post Tolino’s new eReaders look familiar (If Kobo devices ran Android) appeared first on Liliputing.

Replacing the 3D Printer and Router: A Tool for Manufacturing Human-Scale Forms

Hackaday - เสาร์, 10/19/2019 - 01:30

The purpose of Geometer becomes apparent when you realize its simplicity: [David Troetschel]’s project is to create an easily understandable design tool that encourages goal-oriented design. The kit comes with physical components and digital counterparts that can be combined in a modular way. They each have a specific geometry, which provide versatility while keeping manufacturing simple.

For the prototyping phase, small snap-on parts 3D printed on a Formlabs printer mimic the module components on a smaller scale. Once a design is conceived and the Geometer Grasshopper program finalizes the module arrangement necessary for the model, the larger pieces can be used as a mold for a concrete or hydrocal mold casting.

The present set of modules is in its seventh iteration, initially beginning as a senior thesis for [Troetschel]. Since then, the project itself has had an extensive prototyping phase in which the components have gone from being injection-molded to 3D printed.

The overall process for prototyping is faster than 3D printing and more cost-effective than sending to a third-party shop to build, which adds to the project’s goal of making manufacturing design more accessible. This is an interesting initiative to introduce a new way of making to the DIY community, and we’re curious to see this idea take off in makerspaces.

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