Tag Archives: mobile applications

What Concept Product Should Have Been Made?

What Concept Product Should Have Been Made?

Thanks to the blight blessing of crowdfunding, the internet has more product concepts and design ideas and badly-rendered napkin sketches than ever before. But despite the seemingly endless number of people willing to give money to hastily-thought-out sketches, some legitimately great ideas have never seen the light of day.

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Philae comet lander is sleeping, but not quiet

Philae's fate remains unknown as it snoozes underneath a cliff on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But in the last few days, its ground crew has released a handful of updates that give us a better idea of what it's gone through since it left Rosetta for...

BitTorrent Claims Its Users Do Actually Buy Stuff

BitTorrent Claims Its Users Do Actually Buy Stuff

The (somewhat unlikely) fact that people who pirate movies are also more likely to spend money on movies has been well-known for a few years now. But thanks to a survey conducted by BitTorrent, we can now put a number on just how generous the pirates are.

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Five Dollar RF Controlled Light Sockets

This is tens of thousands of dollars worth of market research I’m about to spill, so buckle up. I have a spreadsheet filled with hundreds of projects and products that are solutions to ‘home automation’ according to their creators. The only common theme? Relays. Home automation is just Internet connected relays tied to mains. You’re welcome.

[Todd] over at Fabricate.io found an interesting home automation appliance on Amazon; a four-pack of remote control light sockets for $20, or what we would call a microcontroller, an RF receiver, and a relay. These lamp sockets are remote-controlled, but each package is limited to four channels. Terrible if you’re trying to outfit a home, but a wonderful exploration into the world of reverse engineering.

After cracking one of these sockets open, [Todd] found the usual suspects and a tiny little 8-pin DIP EEPROM. This chip stores a few thousand bits, several of which are tied to the remote control. After dumping the contents of the EEPROM from the entire four-pack of light sockets, [Todd] noticed only one specific value changed. Obviously, this was the channel tied to the remote. No CRC or ‘nothin. It doesn’t get easier than this.

With the new-found knowledge of what each lamp socket was looking for, [Todd] set out to clone the transmitter. Tearing this device apart, he found a chip with HS1527 stamped on it. A quick Googling revealed this to be an encoder transmitter, with the datasheet showing an output format of a 20-bit code and four data bits. This was a four-channel transmitter, right? That’s where you put each channel. The 20-bit code was interesting but not surprising; you don’t want one remote being able to turn of every other 4-pack of lamp sockets.

With all the relevant documentation, [Todd] set out to do the obvious thing – an Arduino transmitter. This was simply an Arduino and a transmitter in the right frequency, loaded up with bit of carefully crafted code. [Todd] also figured out how to expand his setup to more than four lamp sockets – by changing the 20-bit code, he could make his Arduino pretend to be more than one transmitter.

With Arduino-controlled lamp sockets, the world is [Todd]‘s oyster. He can add Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and whatever trendy web front end he wants to have a perfect home automation setup. It’s actually a pretty impressive build with some great documentation, and is probably the cheapest way to add Arduino/Internet-enabled relays we’ve ever seen.

 


Filed under: home hacks, radio hacks

Why Is The Nexus 6 Secretly Hiding A LED Notification Light?

Why Is The Nexus 6 Secretly Hiding A LED Notification Light?

When it comes to smartphones, Easter eggs normally mean a hidden drawer of emoji, or maybe the ability to make the voice control sing you a song. But in the case of the Nexus 6, it means that there's a hidden LED notification light, fully functioning, but deactivated and hidden from view by Motorola.

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Recommended Reading: Silicon Valley’s role in government surveillance

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read. @War: The Rise of the...

Creating a Scanning Monochromator

If you need a specific wavelength of light for research purposes, the naïve way of obtaining that is a white source light, a prism, and a small slit that will move across your own personal Dark Side of the Moon album cover. This is actually a terrible idea; not only won’t you have a reference of exactly what wavelength of light you’re letting through the optical slit, the prism itself will absorb more of one wavelength of light than others.

The solution is a monochromator, a device that performs the same feat of research without all the drawbacks. [Shahriar] got his hands on an old manual monochromator and decided to turn it into a device that performs automatic scans.

The key of a monochromator is a diffraction grating, a mirrored surface with many fine parallel grooves arranged in a step pattern. Because of the surface of the diffraction grating, it’s possible to separate light according to its spectrum much like a prism. Unlike a prism, it’s effectively a first surface mirror meaning all wavelengths of light are reflected more or less equally.

By adding a stepper motor to the dial of his monochromator, [Shahriar] was able to automatically scan across the entire range of the device. Inside the monochromator is a photomultiplier tube that samples the incoming light and turns it into a voltage. By sampling this voltage and plotting it with MATLAB, [Shahriar] was able to plot the intensity of every wavelength of light within the range of the device. It’s all expertly explained in the video below.


Filed under: tool hacks

Here’s a machine that turns water into synthetic gasoline

Even with the amount of electric vehicles we've seen lately, it's likely going to be a long time until they completely replace traditional combustion engines on the road. So how are we going to get away from pricey fossil fuels until then? Well,...

hack.summit(); // a virtual dev conference

If you’d like to spend four days learning from and picking the brains of a big group of well-known developers and open-source wizards for the low, low cost of absolutely free, keep reading.

The hack.summit() conference is a live, global event put on by the  fine folks behind real-time programming assistance service hack.hands(). From December 1 to December 4, a wide range of speakers will present and answer democratically popularized questions over Crowdcast via Google+ Hangouts. Speakers in attendance include wiki inventor and Design Patterns pioneer [Ward Cunningham], Codeacademy founder [Ryan Bubinski], Google Glass creator [Tom Chi], Python Software Foundation’s [Alex Gaynor], and even the inimitable [Jon Skeet].

The goals for this conference are simple and admirable: to educate developers of all stripes about best practices, to encourage mentorship in the programming community, and to spread the joy of coding by supporting coding non-profits.

You can register for free simply by spreading the word through social media, but making a donation to the coding non-profit of your choice is definitely encouraged. There are many to great organizations to choose from such as  CoderDojo (an easy choice for us). A tidy summary of the event is available at the hack.summit() FAQ(PDF).


Filed under: cons

Chromecast works better with Chromebooks, looks better with NASA

After a few months of testing, the feature that allows Chrome OS users to stream videos from Google Drive storage -- like the free 1TB allotted to new owners -- to a Chromecast is now available to (almost) everyone. An update on the stable channel...

Insane video of a truck jumping over a Formula 1 car at full speed

Insane video of a truck jumping over a Formula 1 car at full speed

Holy mother of God, this has to be one of the craziest vehicle stunts I've ever seen: The Formula 1 team Lotus got one of their giant trailer trucks to jump over one of their race cars running at full speed. It is absolutely insane.

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Things that look surprisingly weird and awesome when cut in half

Things that look surprisingly weird and awesome when cut in half

I don't know about you, but I love to see things cut in half. Sometimes they are boring, but most of the times they are incredible, like the mechanical calculator shown above. It's hard to believe this metal mess works. Here's more stuff that looks awesome stuff when cut in half.

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