Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - 6 month subscription of Pandora One at 46% off. ×
Hardware Hacking

Adding Eye Control To Wheelchairs for Quadriplegics ( 15

szczys writes: The inventor of the Eyedriveomatic has ALS. This prevents him from controlling his electric wheelchair, but it didn't prevent him from teaming up with two other people (one also a quadriplegic) to design a way around the limitation. Eyegaze hardware is what lets people speak through a computer using only their eyes. Eyedrivomatic is an open source project that uses common materials to connect the Eyegaze to the joystick of the wheelchair without altering the chair (which is rented equipment in most cases). A 3D-printed gimbal is strapped over the existing joystick, but does not prevent it from still being used normally by caregivers. The gimbal's servo motors actuate the joystick with commands from the Eyegaze.

FCC Clarifies: It's Legal To Hack Your Router ( 85

Mark Wilson writes with an update to an earlier report that the wording of new FCC regulations could mean that it would be illegal to modfiy the software running on wireless routers by installing alternative firmwares. Instead, The commission has now acknowledged that there was more than a little confusion from people who believed that manufacturers would be encouraged to prevent router modifications. The FCC wants to make it clear that most router hacking is fine and will remain fine. With a few exceptions, that is. In a blog post entitled Clearing the Air on Wi-Fi Software Updates, Julius Knapp from the FCC tries to clear up any misunderstandings that may exist.
Hardware Hacking

Hacked Amazon Echo Controls a Wheelchair ( 23

An anonymous reader writes with a cool hack for making an electric wheelchair voice activated. Robotics Trends reports: "Amazon Echo, which is designed around your voice, answers to 'Alexa' and can tell you scores, read your book, play your music, or check your calendar. And if you have a smart home, Echo can control lights and other technology. Bob Paradiso, however, wondered if he 'could push Echo's utility a little further.' He certainly did. Paradiso turned an electric wheelchair into a voice-controlled wheelchair using Echo, a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno. Echo thinks it's turning lights on and off, but it's really controlling the wheelchair. Paradiso says, 'Alexa, turn on left 4' and the wheelchair spins. He then says, 'Alexa, turn on forward 4' and the wheelchair moves forward."
Christmas Cheer

Slashdot Asks: Notes For Next Hallowe'en? 151

There are 364 more shopping days until next year's Hallowe'en. But while this year's is still fresh in the memory, I'd like to start gathering ideas for next year in the hopes of actually making my neighborhood worthwhile as a trick-or-treating destination, specifically for fun projects to actually give my yard a haunted-house feel. (For the second time in three years, there were zero candy-seekers, and I'd like to convince my neighbors to make the whole block more decorated and spooky, even if we never get all Alek Komarnitsky.) Did you create an animatronic zombie for your yard? Glowing eyes to appear from behind the bushes? Poltergist-style rising graves to frighten the children? Remote-controlled candy dispensers? If you used any kind of complex haunt technology at home, what things worked and what didn't? (I hear too many stories about fog machines leaking to make them sound like a good idea.)
Emulation (Games)

Hacking Jules Coaxes Android Wear To Run Nintendo 64 and PSP Emulators ( 37

Espectr0 writes: YouTube user Hacking Jules would like you to see his collection of game emulators running on Android Wear. He manages to play classic 3D Mario and Zelda games running in a Nintendo 64 emulator on the original LG G-Watch, while also running Monster Hunter on the PPSSPP emulator.As the linked article admits, this is a work of passion rather than practicality -- if you actually want to play those games enjoyably, don't trade your console or conventional emulator for a smart watch.

Hackers, Activists, Journos: How To Build a Secure Burner Laptop ( 139

sarahnaomi writes to describe a presentation by security researcher Georg Wicherski at the t2'15 infosec conference; Wicherski outlined in his talk several steps that could be taken to render an ordinary Chromebook immune (or at least very, very resistant) to malware attacks, even when an adversary has physical access to it. These customizations make it difficult for an attacker to use any sort of turnkey solution, presenting a barrier to any off-the-shelf equipment attackers might use. At border crossings, Wicherski said possible attackers might have "an appliance, that comes with a manual, and low-skilled operators." By using a setup that is not very common, the border cops might not know what to do.
Emulation (Games)

MAME Emulating a Sonic the Hedgehog Popcorn Machine ( 33

New submitter AmericaCounterweight writes: Polygon is reporting that the MAME development team has unearthed and emulated one of the most obscure pieces of Sonic heritage: a popcorn machine. MAME developer David Haywood reports that contributors "purchased the PCB for another novelty Sonic item, this time a SegaSonic Popcorn Shop, a popcorn dispenser machine with a video display. It runs on the Sega C2 board (Genesis type hardware)." This follows news from earlier this year that the MAME team would be switching to a true Open Source license for the project and concentrating on more than just arcade games. MAME project coordinator Miodrag Milanovic also recently appeared at the BalCCon2k15 event to speak about MAME, the current direction of the project, and software preservation.

Official, Customized Raspberry Pi Versions Coming Soon ( 93

DeviceGuru writes: The immensely popular Raspberry Pi will soon be offered in customized versions, through an exclusive arrangement between Raspberry Pi Trading and Element14. According to the companies' announcement, Element14 will provide design and manufacturing services to OEM customers to create 'bespoke designs' based upon the Raspberry Pi technology platform. That's weird U.K. English for saying that contracts for creating customized Raspberry Pi SBCs will entail substantial NRE fees and 3,000 to 5,000 unit orders, depending on the nature of the customization. The tweaked Pi's are likely to have revised board layouts, additional or alternative functions, interfaces, connectors, and memory configurations, and more. A handful of unsanctioned Raspberry Pi knock-offs have already appeared over the past couple of years, including various Orange Pi and Banana Pi flavors, which certainly didn't involve any 'bespeaking.' More info is at Element14's CustomPi page.

Hands-On With the Fairphone 2 Modular Android Smartphone ( 107

An anonymous reader writes: In just a couple of months, the world's first consumer-ready modular smartphone will start shipping. It's called the Fairphone 2, and it will run Android 5.1. Ars Technica got hands-on time with the device, and they say it works surprisingly well. It's a bit thicker than most modern phones, but that's the trade-off for being able to swap out components. "The smartphone consists of seven major building blocks: the back cover, removable battery, display assembly, main chassis, receiver module, rear camera module, and speaker module. Positioned this way, the components that break most often, like the screen, are isolated for better repairability. In addition to swappable blocks, you can even change things inside the modules: for example, a mic or a speaker. They are press-fit, not glued, and can be extracted with simple tools."

Assembly and disassembly is pretty straightforward, as well: "The modules are held together by Phillips screws marked with blue circles. All screws are the same, so you won't have to remember which one goes where. It's quite hard to make a mistake in the assembling process, however Fairphone promises to release additional manuals and video instructions in collaboration with iFixit." The company also thinks it's important to get the phone's materials and components from ethical sources.


New Plastic For Old Amigas and Commodores 128

Ichijo writes: Several years ago, Slashdot reported that the Amiga community had developed a way to restore old, yellowed ABS plastic to like-new condition, and they put the recipe for the gel, dubbed Retr0bright, into the public domain. Since then, it was discovered that the effect of the gel is only temporary, and plastic treated with the gel soon reverts to its original yellowed state even when efforts are made to block it from additional UV light.

Now, Amiga enthusiast Philippe Lang has created a new Kickstarter campaign to design and build new, improved molds for Amiga 1200 housings and do a licensed production run using anti-UV ASA plastic in the original color plus black, transparent, and 9 other colors. His team is also investigating the feasibility of producing new Amiga 1200 keyboards if this campaign succeeds. This follows a successful production run by Commodore 64 enthusiasts of new C64c housings using the original injection molds and new C64 motherboards designed to modern standards and production methods. And a new Amiga 1200 clone motherboard is also in the works.
Hardware Hacking

Learning To Fly, With a Full-Size Cockpit Simulator 77

Make Zine features the story of Aidan Fay, a 17-year-old San Diego student who has constructed a full-size Cessna 172 cockpit simulator in his bedroom, controlled by Arduinos and using scavenged game-controller parts. Because the display Fay is using is an Oculus Rift headset, the visual similarity to an actual plane's interior (not to mention the view) isn't as great as some simulators', but the hardware makes it nonetheless more realistic for a headset-wearing pilot than some simulators that might look prettier: he's got actual rudder pedals, and a force-feedback system on a yoke (also real). Fay's interest is more than as a flight simulator enthusiast, though: he's built this system primarily as an educational tool, as he works to get around a medical problem that's delayed his quest for a pilot's license.

Point-And-Shoot Weapon Stops Drones Without Destroying Them 116

An anonymous reader writes: Unmanned aerial vehicles — so-called drones — can be helpful, malicious, or simply disruptive, depending on the intentions of those who use them. But while regular folks have to be worried about law suits if they shoot one down, law enforcement officers have a better solution, and one that's currently legal (for them): stop one mid-flight. This can be achieved with DroneDefender, a recently made available "gun" that uses radio control frequency disruption technologies to safely stop drones in the air, before they can pose a threat to military or civilian safety.

USB Killer 2.0: a Harmless-Looking USB Stick That Destroys Computers 229

An anonymous reader writes: Plugging in random USB sticks in your computer has never been more dangerous, as a researcher who goes by the name Dark Purple has demonstrated his new device: USB Killer 2.0. When plugged into a computer, the deadly USB draws power from the device itself. With the help of a voltage converter the device's capacitors are charged to 220V, and it releases a negative electric surge into the USB port. This surge "fries" the USB port and, in the researcher's demonstration, the motherboard — perhaps not always after the first surge, but the malicious USB device repeats the process until no more power can be drawn.

Jamming Wi-Fi With a $15 Dongle 136

An anonymous reader writes with this report about just how easy it is to disrupt if not entirely kill modern consumer-grade networks -- not just Wi-Fi, but Bluetooth and Zigbee networks, too. Crucial to determining the likelihood of any given kind of attack, though, is how much it would cost the attacker to attempt. The bad news for network owners and users is that it doesn't cost much at all: "According to Mathy Vanhoef, a PhD student at KU Leuven (Belgium), it can easily be done by using a Wi-Fi $15 dongle bought off Amazon, a Raspberry Pi board, and an amplifier that will broaden the range of the attack to some 120 meters."
Hardware Hacking

ARM Processor On a Breadboard ( 94

An anonymous reader writes: A normal Arduino is easy to use and cheap, but it is a reasonably slow 8-bit processor with limited memory. Why do people use them? They are simple to use and set up. Hackaday shows how to take a cheap ($6) 32-bit CPU in a breadboard-friendly package, plug in a small number of parts (resistors, LEDs, and a cable), and use an online Arduino-like IDE to program it. The chip is way more powerful than an 8-bit Arduino and the code is comparable in complexity to an Arduino sketch that does the same thing. It's an easy way to get into embedded without having to suffer through 8-bit processors. And the new Arduinos also use 32-bit ARM, so that's an option too.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Awesome Hardware Hack? 251

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter once asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?
Hardware Hacking

Desktop Turing-Welchman Bombe Build 69

An anonymous reader writes: I completed a months long project to build my own version of the Turing-Welchman Bombe. My machine uses a Raspberry Pi2 and an Arduino to drive stepper motors to turn the three output indicator drums and to drive an LCD display, to work like the indicator unit on the real Bombe. Everything was custom made by me at home. The unit is built to reflect the style of the real Bombe at Bletchley Park and to run in a similar way but as a portable, desktop sized unit. To demonstrate it I use the same Weather Report Menu as used at BP to demonstrate their real Bombe. The entire build was painstakingly documented over many months but the link given shows an overview and a film of the completed machine in action.
Hardware Hacking

Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown 366

alphadogg writes: iFixit, the fix-it-yourself advocate for users of Apple, Google and other gear, has had its repair manual app banned from Apple's App Store after it conducted an unauthorized teardown of Apple TV and Siri remote. iFixit blogged "we're a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA -- and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway." iFixit does still have Windows and Android apps, and has no immediate plans to rewrite its Apple app to attempt being reinstated.
Hardware Hacking

Brain-Controlled (Inflatable) Shark Attack 17

the_newsbeagle writes: This is a parlor trick, not neuroscience," writes this DIY brain hacker — but it sure is a nifty trick. The hacker put electrodes on his scalp, fed the resulting EEG data into a specialized processor that makes sense of brain signals, and modified the remote control for a helium-filled shark balloon. Soon, he and his buddies were steering the shark around the room. Why did it take his buddies, too? "EEG interpretation is not easy because, to be technical, EEG signals are a crazy mess. EEG recordings are a jumble of the signatures of many brain processes. Detecting conscious thoughts like “Shark, please swim forward” is way beyond even state-of-the-art equipment. The electrical signature of a single thought is lost in the furious chatter of 100 billion neurons." So builder Chip Audette settled on the simplest control system he could, and divvied up the actual controls (left, right, forward, etc.) among several users, so each one's brain signals could be interpreted separately.
Hardware Hacking

1000-key Emoji Keyboard Is As Crazy As It Sounds 146

hypnosec writes: A YouTuber named Tom Scott has built a 1,000-key keyboard with each key representing an emoji! Scott made the emoji keyboard using 14 keyboards and over 1,000 individually placed stickers. While he himself admits that it is one of the craziest things he has built, the work he has put in does warrant appreciation. On the keyboard are individually placed emojis for food items, animals, plants, transport, national flags, and time among others.