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Kobo Libra H20 eReader now available for $170

Liliputing - ศุกร์, 09/20/2019 - 00:30

The Kobo Libra H20 is an eBook reader with a 7 inch, illuminated E Ink display with adjustable color temperature and 300 pixels per inch. As the name suggests, it’s wateproof, making it safe to use on the beach or in the kitchen or bathroom. And it has physical page turn buttons. In other words, […]

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Pictorial Guide to the Unofficial Electronic Badges of DEF CON 27

Hackaday - ศุกร์, 09/20/2019 - 00:01

DEF CON has become the de facto showplace of the #Badgelife movement. It’s a pageant for clever tricks that transform traditional green rectangular circuit boards into something beautiful, unique, and often times hacky.

Today I’ve gathered up about three dozen badge designs seen at DC27. It’s a hint of what you’ll see in the hallways and meetups of the conference. From hot-glue light pipes and smartphone terminal debugging consoles to block printing effects and time of flight sensors, this is a great place to get inspiration if you’re thinking of trying your hand at unofficial badge design.

If you didn’t catch “The Badgies” you’ll want to go back and read that article too as it rounds up the designs I found to be the craziest and most interesting including the Car Hacking Village, Space Force, SecKC, DC503, and Frankenbadge. Do swing by the Hands-On articles for the AND!XOR badge and for [Joe Grand’s] official DC27 badge. There was also a lot of non-badge hardware on display during Hackaday’s Breakfast at DEF CON so check out that article as well.

Enough preamble, let’s get to the badges!

The DC27 Multi Pass badge has a beautiful E-ink display and is driven by an ESP32 and of course modeled after the official ID cards from the movie The Fifth Element. The reverse-mount LEDs also have capacitive touch areas on the top layer which are a neat trick of copper mesh rather than a solid pour. [CromulonB] set out to produce 200 of the badges, but netted just 170 in time for DEF CON. This is still a success as it was about 25% more than were claimed in the crowd funding campaign.

Another homage to the Sci-Fi movie, the Fifth Element Stones Badge is an incredibly ambitious undertaking that reaches into three dimensions and adds motion. The badge itself is just a platform with power and an ATtiny84 microcontroller. The stones are add-ons and have resistive dividers allowing the base to sense which one has been plugged in. Each stone lights up and the three shards near the top open up. The [GoonBoxBadge] team of two people hand assembled 200 of these over many months.

The Arc Badge was one of the most beautiful at the con this year. [Twinkle Twinkie] teamed up with [Wire Engineer] to complete the design. A PIC16F15344 programmed in assembly brings 32 color modes to an incredible PCB design that uses 0.8mm FR4 as a diffuser, and brass fasteners that sandwich a 3D printed spacer between that and the base PCB where all the components reside. 248 of these badges were produced.

The Stargate badge is based on a Kinetis KL27 microcontroller and five shift registers to drive 70 LEDs on the front layer, and 37 on the back layer (lighting up the glyphs around the circumference). [KeeperOfBits] built 120 of these badges.

This year’s DC Zia is a laser theremin synth badge. It uses a VL53L0X time of flight sensor for proximity sensing, powered by a BMD-340 module from Rigado. They made 75 of these badges.

The DC801 HCRN badge is inspired by The Expanse TV show. It’s a game where you walk around on the screen and fix broken parts of the ship/badge. Five people worked together on the badge design, but there was plenty of help packaging the 375 badges that were produced.

Saw the Badge is powered by one of Sean Hodgins’ HCC modules based around a SAM D21 chip. The diffuser is hot glue to give the rear-mount LEDs a nice look. The cheeks are 20 & 24 LEDs respectively and use and ISSI 36-channel LED driver to control everything. The cassette tape is an add-on and LEDs around the two tape reels are animated to mimic the tape playing. Twenty-five of these were all hand-placed by [MagicStoneTech].

The DC Shoot Badge is a reissue of the shoot badge from DC23 which is a personal electronics device for use at a shooting range. It has a microphone on board for shot counting, a shot timer, mechanical tilt sensor for screen orientation, and is all driven by a PIC16F1709. The design is by [Gigs] who produced 250 of them… the final assembly included 5,000 hand-soldered joints done the same week as the con.

The Tron Badge is based on a Recognizer from the movie. It has a completely integrated Bus Pirate that was demonstrated on Android phone terminal app. At the heart of the badge is an ATmega328 which reads data from the identity disk add-on to scroll a message on the 8 x 12 white LED matrix and drive the animation patterns for 16 RGB LEDs. [Sodium_Hydrogen] began production in June but problems with incorrect parts during assembly delayed completion until after the con.

The team behind the White Dragon Noodle Bar badge found some really neat ways to alter the look of LEDs. The faceplate is 3D printed and provides baffles that were filled with hot glue as a diffuser. This, combined with the white silk screen that helps reflect the light out through the faceplate, makes for a look worthy of the Blade Runner aesthetic that inspired it. Twenty of these badges were produced.

The Blueteam village badge is a WiFi honeypot. A Raspberry Pi zero provides the connectivity, running HoneyDB to collect and upload the data. The screen itself is a really clever use of a shell script menu. This project by [Jeff Yestrumskas] has been in the works for over a year, with 250 badges produced in total.

The Enterprise Badge showed off a very interesting take on using FR4 as a diffuser for reverse-mount LEDs. That trick is being done all the time, but if you look at the leading edge of the warp drives on this badge you’ll see that exposing the FR4 near an edge for this purpose give a new and interesting effect. 150 total badges were made, half of them kits, the other half populated with skillet reflow soldering. This is impressive because there are components on both sides of the board. To make this happen, Teflon blocks were used to hold the PCB up off of the skillet so as not to make direct contact with already-soldered bottom-side components.

Da Bomb badge is from the makers of last year’s Ides of DEF CON badge and uses the same beautiful screen. Board details are quite interesting as the red silk screen on matte black solder mask is something I haven’t seen before. The badge has an audio playback engine and can be used as a DTMF dialer.

The DEADPOOL mini badge gets its juice from a CR2450 coin cell. It has an MCP23017 constant-current LED driver that is commanded through I2C by the ATtiny85 that is also on the board. 200 of these were produced.

Sometimes you’ve just got to hack on what’s around. [Greymanhw] was given this green PCB by someone at DEF CON last year. He has no idea what it’s for but has repurposed it to host the 555 timer and shift register that drive 10 point-to-point wired LEDs.

Last year the DC Furs badge turned a lot of heads with their goggle-shaped LED array which looked spectacular. That concept returned to this year’s badge, but the host PCB for the electronics did away with the furry part of the furs badge. This opened up the doors for faceplate PCBs that sit right on top, acting as a diffuser for the LED array, and providing an artistic canvas to customize the look of your badge.


Technically this is an addon, but with an OLED screen and its own EFM8 microcontroller, this certainly feels like a badge. The GAT Nametag (designed by [True] of the Whiskey Pirate Crew) will display your name on the screen, but also monitors the ADXL345 accelerometer and tilts each letter so that the name is always on the level.

The Internet of Batteries badge is another [True] design but this one is a bit backwards in most ways. With the style of a Duracell, its intent is to be a battery-source for either another add-on or for other badges themselves, feeding VCC on the add-on header. The image above was taken without a Lithium battery installed.

The Hack 4 Kids badge was originally designed for GrrCON and later went on to sell about half of the 200 badges produced through a crowd funding campaign. The ESP32 brings WiFi and Bluetooth for connectivity, and can be programmed in the Arduino IDE via a USB port on the badge to help get kids into hacking.

This is what this year’s Hack For Satan badge looks like. It’s coin-cell powered and has that popular Rigado module to give it interactivity. I didn’t catch up with the badge creators this year, but when I saw these in the wild they were being gathered in groups of five to trigger the interactive elements.

Using PCB as a medium for art is sometimes meh and other times mind-blowing. This is the latter. 125 Skully badges were made by [Nick Pisarro] who designed them as a one-sided circuit so the skull art wouldn’t be disturbed by the circuit itself. The pins are a commodity project that’s superglued to the back of the badge.

It’s always popcorn time with the Popcorn Bucket badge. The backlit kernels look spectacular nested into a plastic popcorn box cut down to size. Within the popcorn, there are twelve add-on headers but I think it looks better without the extras in place. These were built by [Kredence] and [Ajax_409].

The illuminati badge by [Kredence] was one of my favorites last year. Here’s the new version, which uses an interesting offset header and 3D printed baffles to keep the light in the center of the eye and not on the edges of the board. I can’t remember why I don’t have an image of this one lit up, but I think they just weren’t quite ready in time for DC27. Next year?

The monarch and sovereign badges are a nice middle-ground between electronic and non-electronic badges.

The DC614 badges is designed as a shield for the OrangePi Zero that powers it. This is a Logitech dongle spoofer, taking advantage of the Mousejack vulnerability in the dongle firmware that has been patched but is rarely upgraded by users and there are a ton of these dongles in the wild! There were 30 of this badge produced.

During Hackaday’s Breakfast at DEF CON meetup I ran into [Robert Ballecer] who I haven’t met before but am very familiar with through his appearances on the This Week in Tech network. He brought along his Lanyard Funk Unit badge that uses a Nano pro to light up a 24 RGB LED ring covered with a 3D printed diffuser. He made 10 of these in total.

The Cylon badge by [TeamBazooka] scans for humans using 48 LEDs driven by an STM32. Only three of these badges were ever made.

The TV3Y3 badge is meant to be a handy way to experiment with AR/VR thanks to the fiducials on the front and back of the board. 118 of these were made, with an ATtiny85 driving the charlieplexed matrix of twelve LEDs.

The Pixel badge is made to look like a really large WS2812b — the addressable RGB LEDs that cascade data along a string of the components. Anyone who has looked closely at these will immediately recognize the die bonding design of the add-on, and the LED strip design of the host board. For what it’s worth, I really like the arc of resistors around the coin cell holder on the back, it’s a great touch!

A few hundred of these Madlabs badges were made, but beyond that I don’t have more info for you.

And finally, the Terrible Ideas Badge, of which 200 were built for DEF CON 26. It has three capacitive touch pads connected to the ATmega328 but they’re not yet operational. This one is for blinky enjoyment.

The name comes from the fact that making the choice to build an unofficial conference badge is a terrible idea. I think that’s a fitting place to end the article. Yes, making many many badges is a terrible idea, but the payoff is an adventure into a lot of manufacturing challenges you would otherwise not face, and an introduction to a really fun world where electronics geeks try to outdo one another in a supportive way. It’s the demoscene of small-run electronics and so far, the biggest stage for this art form is DEF CON. You’d better get working on your design for DC28!

Daily Deals (9-19-2019)

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 23:11

The Epic Games Store has been giving away a free game or two every week since it launched earlier this year. But this week’s deal may be the most impressive to date: you can snag 6 Batman PC games. For free. The only catch is that you’ll need to sign up for an Epic Games […]

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Why You Should Use Blockchain When Crowdfunding

MCU Project everyday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 22:39

The technology of Blockchain has subtly begun to displace numerous industries. This technology has is gaining momentum and is becoming popular across the world today. Fundraising for new businesses is one of the key areas that blockchain helps in the creation of new and exciting opportunities. In other to fully understand the technology of Bitcoin, we need to grasp the concept of blockchain adequately. Let’s take a quick look at the concept of blockchain and how it functions.


The concept of blockchain is quite wide and complicated. However, we will endeavor to break it down into smaller chunks that you can easily understand, using a comparison between traditional spreadsheets and Google Sheets.

Like ledgers used in a transaction, traditional spreadsheets can only be used at a specific time in a particular place. They may be kept in an application on the web like Google Drive or saved on the computer. However, they do not have the capacity of being in multiple places at the same time. Every modification made must be updated manually and distributed across all the parties involved.

On the other hand, Google Sheets can exist across multiple platforms at the same time. Modifications that are made appear in real-time across all platforms so that every relevant party can see them. However, they exist in the cloud.

Blockchain can be seen as the Google Spreadsheet with updated security systems. Although modifications are made across platforms like https://nakitcoins.com/ in real-time, only those with direct access can see them. After the modification, it is then locked in a block. This implies that no modification can be carried out on it afterward. Blockchain is the technology through which Bitcoin functions.

This highlights the security of blockchain technology as it is bulletproof and completely safe. Hence, many people rely on it for various applications including business funding.


The technology of blockchain is accessible and secure all over the world. Various platforms that use blockchain for crowdfunding depend on it for its security and transparency. The continued use of the Bitcoin model for crowdfunding by these platforms helps in strengthening its systems and in making it largely accepted. 

One of the many ways that business is being funded using the Bitcoin model for crowdfunding is known as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).


Like company stocks, many companies have begun creating their own custom cryptocurrency. ICOs are the offerings on any blockchain platform that comes from new cryptocurrency. There are a lot of similarities in the way other crowdfunding platforms and ICOs work. In most cases, project creators let the public know what they are doing and request financial backing from people that may be interested.

Bitcoin crowdfunding is being facilitated by the current building of infrastructure.

Today, every blockchain technology is still quite new. Bitcoin was launched with the first blockchain technology about a decade ago. This indicates that the market is yet to mature. This means that exciting and creative systems are being built daily to take full advantage of this emerging structure.

We expect to see more innovations with the development of the Bitcoin model for crowdfunding. This means that we can expect to see additional applications for blockchain technology in the future.

3D Print A Complete Wind Generator

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 22:30

For many of us our landscapes are dotted with wind turbines, the vast majority of which are horizontally aligned as if they were giant aircraft propellers. A much rarer sight is the vertical wind turbine, which remains a staple of the wind power experimenter. [Troy] and his brother have posted a video showing a small wind 3D printed vertical turbine, which unusually includes an alternator made from scratch as well as the rotor itself.

The machine adopts a Savonius rotor design with three scoops, which offers simplicity and high torque at a lower rotational speed than some of the alternatives. The scoops are assembled from a number of 3D-printed sections, and directly drive the generator which uses a large number of coils on a stator encircled by a rotor containing an array of magnets. A simple rectifier and three-terminal regulator produces a 5-volt output.

Sadly there was not enough wind to give it a decent test for the video, but they demonstrate it with a very large fan standing in. We like the alternator design but we’d be interested to see how the sectional rotors hold up in outdoor conditions, and perhaps that regulator could benefit from a switch-mode component. If you fancy a go he says he’ll release the files as open source if there’s enough interest. We’re interested [Troy], please do!

Many wind turbines have passed through these pages over the years, and for contrast here’s a horizontal 3D printed example.

Huawei’s new phones cost up to $2300, ship without Google Play

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 22:02

Huawei’s latest smartphones feature impressive hardware, design, and software. But one thing they don’t feature? Google Mobile Services. While Google’s Android operating system is open source, the company’s Google Mobile Services which includes Search, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and the Google Play Store are not. And due to US trade restrictions, Huawei wasn’t able to […]

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Solar System Wars: Walmart versus Tesla

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 21:01

It seems like hardly a day goes by that doesn’t see some news story splashed across our feeds that has something to do with Elon Musk and one or another of his myriad companies. The news is often spectacular and the coverage deservedly laudatory, as when Space X nails another double landing of its boosters after a successful trip to space. But all too often, it’s Elon’s baby Tesla that makes headlines, and usually of the kind that gives media relations people ulcers.

The PR team on the automotive side of Tesla can take a bit of a breather now, though. This time it’s Elon’s solar power venture, Tesla Energy Operations, that’s taking the heat. Literally — they’ve been sued by Walmart for rooftop solar installations that have burst into flames atop several of the retail giant’s stores. While thankfully no lives have been lost and no major injuries were reported, Walmart is understandably miffed at the turn of events, leading to the litigation.

Walmart isn’t alone in their exposure to potential Tesla solar problems, so it’s worth a look to see what exactly happened with these installations, why they failed, and what we as hackers can learn from the situation. As we’ll see, it all boils down to taking electrical work very seriously and adhering to standards designed to keep everyone safe, even when they just seem like a nuisance.

A Solar Panel on Every Roof SolarCity installers on a residential job, before the Tesla takeover. Source: Green Car Reports

Solar panels have always been a key part of Musk’s vision for Tesla, which seeks to eliminate the need for fossil fuel transportation. Tesla’s battery-powered cars were designed from the outset to be charged by the sun, with rooftop solar arrays installed everywhere.

And so the idea for a company called SolarCity was dreamed up by co-founders Peter and Lyndon Rive during a road trip with their cousin, none other than Elon Musk. Musk would serve as the new company’s chairman and would be actively involved in running the company, whose early business model involved door-to-door sales of rooftop solar arrays directly to residential customers. Early adoption in the USA was partially fueled by federal and state green energy tax credits which partially offset the cost of installing an array. Later, SolarCity began hawking installations with no up-front costs that would be paid over 20 years with a cut of the power produced. That ended up being attractive to enough customers that business — along with SolarCity’s debt — boomed.

At about this time, SolarCity got into the commercial market, with large installations at businesses looking to both reduce their energy costs and burnish their green reputation with customers. Intel and eBay were early customers, as was Walmart. The retailer would ultimately enter into agreements with SolarCity to install and maintain arrays on more than 240 of its stores.

Burning Down the Store

According to Walmart’s suit (downloadable PDF), the first rooftop fire was in 2012, atop a store in Long Beach, California, which caused $90,000 in damage. It’s not clear what the root cause of that fire was, but 2016 fires at stores in Milpitas, California, and Lakeside, Colorado were blamed on “faulty connectors”. A fire at a store in 2017 was pinned on “Tesla’s faulty installation of conduits”. Tesla was blamed specifically in this fire because SolarCity had been purchased in full by Tesla in 2016 for $2.6 billion.

Then, between March and May of 2018, a series of fires occurred at three Walmart in rapid succession, first in Beavercreek, Ohio, then Denton, Maryland, and finally Indio, California. A firefighter was injured, customers were evacuated, sales were lost, and repair bills mounted. Having had enough, Walmart demanded that Tesla de-energize every surviving solar array on every Walmart. Even that was not enough to stop the carnage, as a de-energized array in Yuba City, California, somehow started arcing and burning. How that fire started is a mystery.

Remains of the fire at the Indio, California Walmart. Source: Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Case No. 654765/2019

Walmart hired consultants to comb through the debris of these fires and to inspect the workmanship of intact arrays and found quite a few issues. Bearing in mind that lawsuits are a laundry list of claims that the plaintiff uses to put the maximum blame on the defendant, and that the consultants were hired by Walmart and are therefore likely to be biased toward their client’s position, the investigation revealed some pretty shoddy workmanship, which Walmart alleges was due in part to SolarCity having overextended itself during the huge increase in its business during the time these installations were performed.

Getting Torqued?

Among the problems that Walmart’s consultants discovered by investigating the surviving solar arrays were improper grounding, poor wire management leading to insulation abrasions and wear, and lack of as-built drawings and proper documentation. But the most glaring errors alleged by the inspectors were the presence of hotspots in the arrays, and improper installation of the connectors used to string together the solar panels.

This one got a bit toasty. Evidence of a hotspot on one array. Source: Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Case No. 654765/2019

Hotspots in photovoltaic arrays occur when one or more cells in a series-connected string of cells are underperforming for some reason — say, by being shaded by leaves or dirt. The shaded cell or cells can then become the current limiting element in the series circuit, which can lead to reverse-biasing of the bad cells. This essentially dumps all the power from the good cells into the bad cells, heating them up to possibly the point of failure due to melted solder joints, cracked silicon, and, as appears to be the case with the Walmart fires, ignition of the materials used to encapsulate the cells. Walmart’s investigators discovered multiple examples of hotspots in intact arrays, which they allege Tesla either missed or didn’t bother to look for.

Walmart’s consultants also found fault with the installation of connectors. Like most solar arrays, the Walmart panels were strung together with MC4 connectors. These are industry-standard connectors manufactured in the billions, and are designed to provide fast, weatherproof connections in the field. They consist of a crimped metal male or female terminal, a locking weatherproof shell, and a strain-relief gland for the conductor. Walmart’s investigators provide a photo of one MC4 connector that shows the threads of the strain-relief partially exposed. The lawsuit contends that the installers failed to use “a special tool known as an MC4 torque tool” to tighten the glands. Stäubli, one of the leading manufacturer of MC4 connectors, recommends the use of a calibrated torque wrench to achieve a final torque of 3.5 to 4.5 N-m in its MC4 product guide, a tool which apparently was not in the Tesla installer’s toolkit.

Improperly torqued MC4? Hard to say. Source: Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Case No. 654765/2019

It’s hard to say whether the exposed threads in the photo really mean that the glands weren’t properly tightened, though. Weatherproof glands like these work by squeezing a flexible sleeve against the outer jacket of the conductor, and since MC4 connectors can be used with wire between 14 AWG and 8 AWG (1.5 mm2 to 10 mm2), the amount the gland will settle on the body threads will vary. Since the point of the gland is to provide strain relief and protection from water and dust intrusion, Walmart’s consultants may have made a better case by showing compromised connections inside of an allegedly incorrectly torqued connector. Sadly, they did not.

In the final analysis, it’s hard to avoid the impression that SolarCity and Tesla did a poor job of installing and maintaining these arrays. What comes from this is up to the courts to decide, but for now, anyone who does solar installations would be well advised to pay attention to wire management, connector installation, and array cleaning to make sure a similar fate doesn’t befall. And anyone who has a SolarCity array on the roof of their house might want to have it inspected very carefully in the very near future.

Roku launches smaller Roku Express, faster Roku Ultra

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 20:57

Roku is updating its line of media streaming devices with a handful of new models including new Roku Express and Roku Express+ models that the company says is 10-percent smaller, but still has a starting price of just $30, and a new Roku Ultra that offers 4K HDR playback, USB and Ethernet ports, and other […]

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Huawei launches Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro (with super slow-motion video, no Google apps)

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 19:30

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is the first smartphone capable of shooting slow motion video at 7,680 frames per second — a superlative that I don’t think any other company was chasing. But that’s not the only thing that makes the phone stand out. It’s also supports real-time bokeh effects while shooting video (which means the background […]

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How Would You Like Your Steak Printed?

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 18:00

An Israeli start-up company, Redefine Meat recently raisedabout $6 million to perfect and commercialize its technology to 3D print meat alternatives, sometimes called alt-meat. The company claims that producing animal protein for consumption is unsustainable but that their product reduces environmental impact by 95% and has other benefits such as containing no cholesterol and a lower cost to consumers.

Reports say the ingredients of the faux meat includes three different plant protein sources, fat, and water. We assume the fat is also plant-based. The prototype printer can produce about two pounds of “meat” an hour, but their next machine is supposed to be capable of about ten times that production.

They aren’t the only company in the space, either. Novameat is also 3D printing meat. There’s also competition from companies that are basically growing real animal tissue in labs without the animals–so-called cultured meat.

There isn’t much technical detail about the meat printing, but from what little we can glean, there are multiple print heads to allow for effects like marbling and creating connective tissue versus muscle tissue. Maybe they can even print a fake bone? Custom software they talk about is likely making random variations to mimic things like grain and fat, you don’t want your porterhouse steak to look just like the one across the table, after all.

Oddly enough, the idea of manufacturing meat isn’t all that new. In 1931, Winston Churchill wrote an essay for The Strand Magazine that was later adapted and reprinted in Popular Mechanics and Reader’s Digest. The essay was called “Fifty Years Hence” and had the following passage:

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

Churchill was no dummy. He also spoke of nuclear power and wireless video phones. On the other hand, he also talked about producing human beings in artificial wombs and a few other things that are not likely to happen even if they were technically feasible.

Would you try 3D printed meat? We’ll assume the folks among us that are already off meat would be more receptive to it than the carnivores. However, the company makes it clear that it wants to capture the carnivore market.

That Game Cartridge Isn’t As Straightforward As You’d Think

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 15:00

Classic games consoles played their games from cartridges, plastic bricks that held a PCB with the game code on it ready to be run by the console hardware. You might therefore expect them to be an easy prospect for emulation, given that the code can be extracted from whatever ROM they contain. But as anyone with an interest in the subject will tell you, some cartridges included extra hardware to boost the capabilities of their games, and this makes the job of an emulator significantly more complex.

[Byuu] has penned an article exploring this topic across a variety of consoles, with in-depth analyses of special-case cartridges. We see the obvious examples such as the DSP coprocessors famously used on some SNES games, as well as Nintendo’s Super Game Boy that contained an entire Game Boy on a chip.

But perhaps more interesting are the edge-case cartridges which didn’t contain special hardware. Capcom’s Rockman X had a copy protection feature that sabotaged the game if it detected RAM at a frequently used save game address emulated by copiers. Unfortunately this could also be triggered accidentally, so every one of the first generation Rockman X cartridges had a manually attached bodge wire that a faithful emulator must replicate. There is also the case of the Sega Genesis F22 Interceptor, which contained an 8-bit ROM where most cartridges for this 68000-powered platform had a 16-bit part. Simple attempts to copy this cartridge result in the upper 8 bits having random values due to the floating data lines, which yet again an emulator must handle correctly.

It’s a subject with a variety as huge as the number of console developers and their games, and a field in which new quirks are constantly being unearthed. While most of us don’t spend our time peering into dusty cartridges, we’re grateful for this insight into that world.

We’ve visited the world of emulators a few times before, such as when we looked at combatting in-game lag.

WiringPi Library To Be Deprecated

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 12:00

Since the release of the original Raspberry Pi single board computer, the WiringPi library by [Gordon] has been the easy way to interface with the GPIO and peripherals – such as I2C and SPI – on the Broadcom SoCs which power these platforms. Unfortunately, [Gordon] is now deprecating the library, choosing to move on rather than deal with a community which he no longer recognizes.

Among the points which he lists are the (commercial) abuse of his code, and the increasing amount of emails and messages on social media from folk who either failed to read the friendly manual, or are simply rude and inconsiderate. As [Gordon] puts it, WiringPi was never meant to be statically linked into code, nor to be used with anything other than C and RTB BASIC programmers. He never supported the use of the library with other languages, or having it statically integrated into some Java/JavaScript/NodeJS project.

As this secondary use is what’s draining the fun out of the project, he has decided to put out one final release, before making it a closed-source project, for use by himself and presumably paying clients. What the impact of this will be has to be seen. Perhaps a new fork will become the new ‘WiringPi’?

Suffice it to say, none of this is a good thing. The illegal use of open source code and the support nightmare that gets poured on the authors of said code by less than informed users is enough to drive anyone away from putting their projects out there. Fighting abuse and junking the ‘spam’ is one way to deal with it, but who has the time and energy (and money) for this?

What are your thoughts on this news, and this issue in general? How should an open source developer deal with it?

Thanks to [Dirk-Jan Faber] for sending this one in.

Hackable Ham Radio Multitool Contributes To Long Term Survival Of The Hobby

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 09:00

Ham radio, especially the HF bands, can be intimidating for aspiring operators, many being put off by the cost of equipment. The transceiver itself is only part of the equation and proper test and measurement equipment can easily add hundreds of dollars to the bill. However, such equipment goes a long way to ease the frustrations of setting up a usable station. Fortunately [Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE] has been at it again, and recently released the Antuino, an affordable, hackable test instrument for ham radio and general lab for use.

As you can probably guess from the name, it is primarily intended for testing antennas, and uses an Arduino Nano as a controller. It has quite a list of measurement functions including SWR, field strength, cable loss, RF cable velocity, modulation, and frequency response plotting. It also provides a signal source for testing. Its frequency range includes the HF and VHF bands, and it can even work in the UHF bands (435Mhz) if you are willing to sacrifice some sensitivity. The software is open source and available with the schematics on Github.

Most of the active ham radio operators today are of the grey haired, retired variety. If the hobby is to stand any chance of outliving them, it needs to find a way to be attractive to the younger generations who grew up with the internet. The availability of affordable and hackable equipment can go long way to making this happen, and [Ashhar Farhan] has been one of the biggest contributors in this regard. His $129 μBITX HF SSB/CW transceiver kit is by far the best value for money general coverage HF radio available.

See a short demonstration of the Antuino video after the break

[Jenny List] previously covered the μBITX, as well as its predecessors, the Minima and BITX transceivers. [Dan Maloney] also did a good job of summing up the frustrations of new operators trying to get into the hobby.

Tiny Woodshop Is Packed With Space-Saving Hacks

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 06:00

Fair warning: once you’ve watched [Stephen]’s tiny workshop tour, you will officially be out of excuses for why you need to expand your workshop. And, once you see his storage and organization hacks, you’ll be shamed into replicating some in whatever space you call home.

[Stephen]’s woodshop is a cozy 6′ x 8′ (1.8 m x 2.4 m) garden shed. The front wall is almost entirely occupied by the door and a window, reducing the amount of wall space available but providing ample natural light and keeping the small space from inducing claustrophobia. Absolutely every square inch of the remaining space is optimized and organized. [Stephen] wisely eschews bulky cabinets in favor of hanging tool racks, all mounted flexibly to the wall on French cleats. Everything has a place, and since every hand tool is literally within arm’s reach, it stays stored until it’s needed and goes right back when it’s done. The shop boasts way more than hand tools, though; a lathe, drill press, thickness planer, sander, air compressor, scroll saw, band saw, and even a table saw all fit in there. There’s even dust collection courtesy of “The Beast”, [Stephen]’s DIY dust extractor.

No matter whether you work in wood, metal, or silicon, we could all learn some lessons from [Stephen]’s shop. It’s a model of efficiency and organization, and while he’s not likely to build a full-size [Queen Anne] dresser in there, it’s clear from his blog that he gets a lot done with it. Too bad we missed this one the last time we did a roundup of tiny shops.

Stunning 4-Cylinder Solenoid Motor Should Be A Hit With Subaru Fans

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 03:00

As far as electric propulsion is concerned, the vast majority of applications make use of some kind of rotational motor. Be it induction, universal, brushed or brushless, these are the most efficient ways we have to do mechanical work with electricity. There are other, arcane methods, though – ones which [Maker B] explores with this 4-cylinder solenoid engine.

The principle of the solenoid engine is simple. Cylinders are wound with coils to act as solenoids, with the piston acting as the armature. When the solenoid is energised, it pulls the piston into the cylinder. The solenoid is then de-energised, and the piston can return to its initial position. The piston is coupled to a crankshaft via a connecting rod, and a flywheel is used to help the motor run continually. These are also known as reciprocating electric motors.

[Maker B]’s build is a 4-cylinder design in a boxer configuration. Produced with basic hand-operated machine tools, the build process is one to watch. Aluminium and brass are carefully crafted into the various components of the motor, and parts are delicately assembled with small fasteners and plenty of retaining compound. Solenoid timing is via a series of microswitches, installed neatly in the base of the motor and actuated by the crankshaft.

While solenoid motors are inefficient, they’re quite something to watch in action. This one is no exception, with the motor spinning up to 1100 rpm when running at 7.2 volts. We’d love to see some data on the power output and efficiency too. It’s possible to build solenoid motors in different configurations, too – this radial build is particularly fun. Video after the break.

[via Reddit]

Oppo unveils 65 watt SuperVOOC 2.0 fast-charging tech

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 03:00

Chinese phone maker Oppo is introducing three new fast charging technologies it plans to use in upcoming smartphones. VOOC Flash Charge 4.0 supports 30 watt fast charging. 30W Wireless VOOC Flash Charge is a pretty self-explanatory term. And then there’s 65W SuperVOOC Fast Charge 2.0, which is the company’s fastest wired charging technology to date. Oppo […]

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This single-board computer has slots for SSD and LTE modules

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 01:30

By definition, single-board computers typically have everything you need to get up and running embedded on the board… and the new Boardcon Idea3399 is no different on that front. It has a Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 8GB of eMMC flash storage, and the system ships with android 7.1. But what makes […]

The post This single-board computer has slots for SSD and LTE modules appeared first on Liliputing.

Smart Thermometer Probes First, Asks Questions Later

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 01:30

As flu season encroaches upon the northern hemisphere, doctor’s offices and walk-in clinics will be filled to capacity with phlegm-y people asking themselves that age-old question: is it the flu, or just a little cold? If only they all had smart thermometers at home that can tell the difference.

Typically, a fever under 101°F (38.5°C) in adults and 100.4°F (38°C) in children is considered low-grade, and thus is probably not the flu. But who can remember these things in times of suffering? [M. Bindhammer]’s iF°EVE is meant to be a lifesaving medical device that eliminates the guesswork. It takes readings via 3D printed ear probe mounted on the back, and then asks a series of yes/no questions like do you have chills, fatigue, cough, sore throat, etc. Then the Teensy 3.2 uses naive Bayes classification to give the probability of influenza vs. cold. The infrared thermometer [M.] chose has an accuracy of 0.02°C, so it should be a fairly reliable indicator.

Final determinations should of course be left up to a throat swab at the doctor’s office. But widespread use of this smart thermometer could be the first step toward fewer influenza deaths, and would probably boost the ratio of doctors to patients.

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Daily Deals (9-18-2019)

Liliputing - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 00:23

Rockstar, maker of the Grand Theft Auto line of PC games, is the latest publisher to essentially roll out its own app launcher/game store. The new Rockstar Games Launcher offers automatic updates and cloud saves… features you’d also get if you just used Steam. But there’s at least one good reason to install the new […]

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Tool Rolls, The Fabric Design Challenge That Can Tidy Up Any Workshop

Hackaday - พฤ, 09/19/2019 - 00:01

You’ve designed PCBs. You’ve cut, drilled, Dremeled, and blow-torched various objects into project enclosurehood. You’ve dreamed up some object in three dimensions and marveled as the machine stacked up strings of hot plastic, making that object come to life one line of g-code at a time. But have you ever felt the near-limitless freedom of designing in fabric?

I don’t have to tell you how satisfying it is to make something with your hands, especially something that will get a lot of use. When it comes to that sweet cross between satisfaction and utility, fabric is as rewarding as any other medium. You might think that designing in fabric is difficult, but let’s just say that it is not intuitive. Fabric is just like anything else — mysterious until you start learning about it. The ability to design and implement in fabric won’t solve all your problems, but it sure is a useful tool for the box.

WoF? Fat quarter? How much is a yard of fabric, anyway?

To prove it, I’m going to take you through the process of designing something in fabric. More specifically, a tool roll. These two words may conjure images of worn, oily leather or canvas, rolled out under the open hood of a car. But the tool roll is a broad, useful concept that easily and efficiently bundles up anything from socket wrenches to BBQ utensils and from soldering irons to knitting needles. Tool rolls are the best in flexible, space-saving storage — especially when custom-designed for your need.

In this case, the tools will be pens, notebooks, and index cards. You know, writer stuff. But the same can just as easily organize your oscilloscope probes. It’s usefully and a great first foray into building things with fabric if this is your first time.

Pin Down Your Ideas Tool roll, from concept to completion.

When I sat down to design and make this tool roll, I already had an idea of where it would be used and what would be going in it. No matter what ends up in your tool roll, some things are universal. They all store tools in some way or another — usually with pockets and/or elastic bands to hold things in place — they roll or fold up for convenient transport, and snap, buck, or tie closed. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Mine has a pocket, for instance.

“The whole thing is pockets,” you might say. Technically, the whole thing is custom tool sleeves. I’m talking about a catchall pocket for the amorphous stuff of life, like notes, receipts, or free envelopes of Fun Dip sitting out on the table at work.

First and foremost, it’s my tool roll and no one else’s. Keep this mantra in mind when designing yours, and you’ll have yourself a useful, beautiful thing.

Yeah, that’s one way to store your tools. Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash. Tally Up Your Tools

Alright, so what are your tools? You don’t have to know exactly what will be going in there at this stage. A general idea is great. Once you have a grip on the tool list, consider the environment it will be used in. Mine is going to spend all of its time either rolled up in my purse, or open flat on a desk. The biggest threat it will face is a bit of spilled coffee and the occasional crumb.

This is a good time to start thinking about fabric choices. If I made this tool roll out of thin cotton or some kind of knit fabric like t-shirt material, it wouldn’t last nearly as long. If I made it out of leather, it might last a lifetime.

I chose a ‘middle ground’ fabric because the things I’m going to fill it with — pens, small notebooks, and index cards — are all fairly lightweight. Nothing will be dirty, oily, or particularly sharp.

A mechanic’s tool roll is probably going to get dirtier than a roll full of knitting needles, although a guerilla knitter who lives to yarn-bomb public structures might object to that. Both the mechanic’s and the knitter’s tool rolls are likely to have sharp objects, so lining the pocket area with leather will make it last a long time.

You Can’t Spitball Without Paper

I like to start designing with pen and paper. First, I describe the thing as best as I can. I think, I draw pictures, I ask questions. This is the first chance to really turn the project over in your mind and avoid costly mistakes. Paper is cheap. Most quality fabric is not.

Describe what you want to make, and really think about what you want to achieve. Let the features creep in now. They can always be pruned later.

Don’t sleep on drawing pictures! This is not the time to lament your lack of artistry. Use something like PowerPoint if you need crisp shapes. Thinking with pictures helps tremendously. You probably already knew that.

Prototyping Gets You What You Want with Fewer Do-Overs

If at all possible, I make a prototype out of notebook paper or cardboard from the recycling bin, tape, and a long-arm stapler. It’s a fast, cheap way to get the project off of the page and into reality.

This is a good time to start pruning back the features. By the time I made the paper prototype, I had way fewer tool pockets, and I’d killed off the idea of clear window pockets for pictures.

Since all my writer tools are pretty lightweight, I can actually use the prototype for a day or so to really nail down the details. Doing this made me realize that I wouldn’t actually use the earbuds pocket, and I concluded that the elastic X wasn’t going to work out. There’s no substitute for experience.

Even so, paper prototypes have their limits. It wouldn’t work at all for something that needs to drape over curves, like an article of clothing or a car cover. People who make clothes will often “make a muslin“, which means sewing up a full prototype from an inexpensive cotton fabric called muslin. This first draft is useful for adjusting fit, and that’s easier to do because there’s no color or print to distract from the lines underneath.

If you can spare the time, sleep on your design and look it over again in the daylight. Iterating in fabric can be time-consuming and expensive, so this is the time to make sure you know what you’re after and the steps it will take to achieve it.

Don’t forget to think in 3D. No matter what your tool roll looks like or what fabric you end up with, one thing you must do is account for the girth of each tool when planning the size of the piece that becomes the tool sleeves. Sure, you could sew them all down flat. But as soon as you put tools in, the back will pucker up. Put a few more in and it won’t be flat anymore.

Fabric 3D is a different animal, because you really have to think about what will be on the inside vs. the outside as you put the pieces together. Most seams are sewn with the right sides of the fabric facing each other, and then the seam is either opened flat or turned right side out.

Don’t forget the seam allowance. The number one rookie mistake in any kind of sewing is forgetting the seam allowance when cutting out fabric for a project. Seam allowance is fabric that will be lost in the joining of the pieces. It’s measured as the distance between the edges of the fabric pieces and the line of stitching used to join them. Some patterns include the seam allowance in the pieces already, and some don’t, and any pattern maker worth their marking chalk will tell you whether it does or doesn’t.

Quarter-inch seams are pretty standard, although 5/8″ is widely used in apparel making. Decide your seam allowance in advance, and keep it consistent. It’s disappointing to make this mistake with cheap fabric, and devastating to screw up fabric that’s $60 a yard.

A rainbow of fabric awaits. Go Shopping for Fabric!

Prepare yourself to spend a decent chunk of time at the fabric store. If you want help choosing fabrics and you aren’t quite sure how much you need, avoid going on the weekends, or get there when they open. The cutting counter workers love talking about projects and helping out, but weekend afternoons get extremely busy all year long. Bring your plans!

If you don’t want to spend a lot, wait in line, or just want practice material, look for the remnants bin. These are pieces of fabric that are a yard (36″) or less, and they will usually be super cheap. Or better yet, go to a thrift store! Most of them have a section for material. Even if they don’t, they’ll have some bed sheets. That’s a lot of fabric to play around with for a pretty low price.

If you’ve ever bought a tool roll, it was probably made out of canvas or leather. A word of warning if you go that route: make sure your thread injector can handle heavy fabrics, and that you have the appropriate needle. Layers of canvas and leather add up quickly.

I made my writer’s tool roll out of home decor chenille, a soft but sturdy fabric that might have otherwise covered a throw pillow or a low-use chair. It feels a lot like corduroy without a wale. The ties that keep it closed are made from some chambray cotton I already had. Chambray is typically used for button-down work shirts and summer apparel.

Finishing Touches

Putting it all together is easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

When you sew up the tool pockets, don’t just remember the girth factor. Use it! Working from one side to the other, insert each tool the way you want it and pin around it. Don’t take a tool out until it’s time to sew its pocket. Protip: don’t ever let fabric you’re sewing hang off the table. Gravity plus the weight of the fabric will screw up your seam, especially if there’s a bunch of tools in there. Use your head: if your tools are really heavy, take them out after pinning around them.

You will want to backstitch heavily at the top of each pocket, where the tool goes in and out. This is where it will get the most stress. If your machine can do a zig-zag stitch that’s tight enough to pass for a bar tack, go for it.

Since the straps live on the outside, they’ll see a lot of wear and tear. Sewing them down in a simple boxed X pattern will secure them without a lot of bulk.

The interesting thing about a tool roll is that you don’t need to buy a pattern. Their function implies almost limitless forms. You just need to know what tools you want to include, and have a good idea of where you’ll be using it.

Self drafting is a bit like designing your own PCB. It’s far more rewarding than following a pattern, because you end up with something special that’s tailored to your exact needs. That kind of complete control can be scary or intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Doing some pre-work before you ever cut fabric can make the difference between a useful thing that gives you a sense of pride, and another unfinished object that fills you with shame.

[“Coding Horror” logo image © 1993 from Code Complete, Stephen C. McConnell]

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