Archive for March, 2010

Arduino balloon tracking

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Ferret is a high-altitude balloon tracking hardware package. Created by [Adam Greig] and [Jon Sowman], it uses an Arduino to gather NMEA data from a GPS unit, format the data into a string, and transmit that string on narrow-band FM. The project, built in one afternoon, is a tribute to the prototyping simplicity the Arduino provides.

The unit was powered by four AA batteries, using the Arduino’s on board voltage regulator. This provided a bit of heat which helps in the frigid reaches of the upper atmosphere. The bundle above was put in a project box and attached to the outside of the balloon’s payload, then covered with foam for warmth and moisture resistance. This tracking is a lot less complicated than some of the photography setups we’ve seen for balloons. It’s also more versatile because it broadcasts the GPS data so that many people can track it, rather than just logging its location.

Courtesy: Hackaday

Keep tabs on your car with Multidisplay

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

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Stumble upon MultiDisplay car monitoring system. Unlike traditional systems that rely on interfacing with the OBD-II protocol and existing car computer, the MultiDisplay uses an Arduino and custom shield with a combination of sensors; including temperatures, pressures, throttle, Boost, and etc. The data collected can then be displayed on a 20×4 LCD or streamed to a PC with visualization and event recording. It’s an Arduino based open source display for interesting measurand´s of a car hosted on Google Code.

Courtesy: Multidisplay via Hackaday

iPhone RFID Reader

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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The idea behind this project is to see what the iPhone’s serial is capable of and to try and have a little fun with RFID along the way. This reader works with the low frequency (125Khz) tags but I have a half working version for MiFARE Hi-Frequency as well.

For this project you will need:

  1. An iPhone USB Cable (genuine one is best and probably at least 3!)
  2. A JAILBROKEN iPhone!
  3. An ID-12 RFID Reader
  4. An ID-12 Breakout Board
  5. Logic Level Converter
  6. It’s useful to have some IC Sockets for Soldering
  7. Glass Tags if you want extra fun or any
    125Khz Tags
  8. If you don’t like the idea of taking iPhone Cables apart, use an iPhone Breakout Board
  9. A Battery Pack with a 5V step up
  10. Wire.
  11. Some kind of switch.
  12. A box to put it all in.
Wow, is it really enough to finish the job? All we need is some determinations and courages – well, i think so! Check out this video!

Courtesy: Section9

School District Halts Webcam Surveillance

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

A suburban Philadelphia school district is deactivating a webcam, theft-tracking program secretly lodged on 2,300 student laptops following allegations the device was used by administrators to spy on a boy at home.

“I think given the concerns of parents and community members, I think we have a responsibility to at least take a pause and review the policy,” Lower Merion School District spokesman Doug Young said in a telephone interview Thursday evening.

The move came a day after the 6,900-pupil district, which provides students from its two high schools free Macbooks, was sued in federal court on allegations it was undertaking a dragnet surveillance program targeting its students — an allegation the district denied. Young said the computer-tracking program was activated a “handful” of times solely to track a missing laptop.

The suit was based on a student’s claim, acknowledged by the district, that the webcam was used by school officials to chronicle “improper behavior” based on a photo the computer secretly took of the boy at home. (.pdf) in November.

The assistant principal at Harriton High informed the student “that the school district was of the belief that minor plaintiff was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in minor plaintiff’s personal laptop issued by the school district,” according to the lawsuit.

Young declined to directly say whether the program was activated in this instance to locate a missing laptop. He said the district only activates it when there is a reported missing laptop, and urged Threat Level to draw its own “inferences.”

“The only situation where the feature would have been activated is in the case of a stolen, missing or lost laptop,” Young said. “There’s never been any scenario used for any purpose other than that.”

Lawyers for the student did not return phone calls and e-mails for comment. The Associated Press reported late Friday the FBI was probing the allegations. (more…)

Thwart robbers with an old smoke alarm.

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

[Anders] tipped us off about his hack that re-purposes a smoke alarm as a burglar alarm. Unfortunately, he came home in the middle of a burglary but wanted to be ready the next time someone tries to break in. By cleverly patching into the test button on an old smoke detector he created a circuit-trip alarm. One side of each piece of wire is secured to the frame and jam of a window. A paper clip completes the circuit by pinching the two bare conductors. If the window is opened the connection is lost and the alarm sounds.

We see a few problems with this system. First off, never hack your ONLY smoke detector, you are putting lives at risk by doing so. But [Anders] says he’ll have a replacement detector and since these things need to be replace every ten years or so, chances are you can find an old one kicking around. We’d recommend disguising the case so that people aren’t confused about it being a smoke detector. Secondly, he’s mounted the alarm right in the window frame so most likely an invader will just smash the thing to bits.

Anyway, it’s still an interesting reuse of these ubiquitous, and life-saving, devices.

courtesy consider the clam via hackaday

Python IR tracking for the handicapped

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

[Techb] had a friend who was paralyzed after an accident and could no long use a computer. He rigged up an amazingly simple mouse interface using python to implement infrared tracking. The controller was built from an old hat by adding an IR LED and wireless mouse modified so that the button could be clicked by the user’s mouth. A webcam with exposed film used as a filter can track the IR LED and take input from the wireless mouse buttons.

This setup, which draws inspiration from Wii Remote white boards,  is much simpler than the Eyewriter (and doesn’t shine an IR LED into your eye). Although [Techb] wants to add facial recognition to the system, there’s something to be said for such a simple implementation.

courtesy hackaday