Power

At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far 199

Posted by timothy
from the ceaseless-tintinnabulation dept.
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
Encryption

Researchers Moot "Teleportation" Via Destructive 3D Printing 161

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tell-the-mpaa dept.
ErnieKey writes Researchers from German-based Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a process that may make teleportation a reality — at least in some respects. Their 'Scotty' device utilizes destructive scanning, encryption, and 3D printing to destroy the original object so that only the received, new object exists in that form, pretty much 'teleporting' the object from point A to point B. Scotty is based on an off-the-shelf 3D printer modified with a 3-axis milling machine, camera, and microcontroller for encryption, using Raspberry Pi and Arduino technologies." This sounds like an interesting idea, but mostly as an art project illustrating the dangers of DRM. Can you think of an instance where you would actually want the capabilities this machine claims to offer?
Build

Local Hackerspace Loses Solar Balloon, Creating Another UFO In New Mexico 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the states-obsessed-with-aliens,-illegal-and-otherwise dept.
bugnuts writes: Local Albuquerque, New Mexico Hackerspace Quelab created and unintentionally launched a solar-powered tetroon over the city, prompting several calls to the FAA, Kirtland Air Force Base, and news organizations, describing it as a "floating tortilla chip." The tetroon allows sunlight to pass through the top layer, heating the inner black layers, creating a hot-air balloon as the interior gas expands. Besides the well-known "Roswell" incident, New Mexico often has many UFO sightings due to the prevalence of technology and military groups, good weather, and clear skies.
GNU is Not Unix

Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software 227

Posted by timothy
from the asymptotic-development dept.
Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."
Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."
Communications

NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years 28

Posted by timothy
from the zip-zooming-along dept.
evanak writes TIROS was NASA's Television Infrared Observation Satellite. It launched in April 1960. One of the ground tracking stations was located at the U.S. Army's secret "Camps Evans" Signals Corps electronics R&D laboratory. That laboratory (originally a Marconi wireless telegraph lab) became the InfoAge Science Center in the 2000s. [Monday], after many years of restoration, InfoAge volunteers (led by Princeton U. professor Dan Marlowe) successfully received data from space. The dish is now operating for the first time in 40 years! The received data are in very raw form, but there is a clear peak riding on top of the noise background at 0.4 MHz (actually 1420.4 MHz), which is the well-known 21 cm radiation from the Milky Way. The dish was pointing south at an elevation of 45 degrees above the horizon.
Input Devices

Nintendo Power Glove Used To Create 'Robot Chicken' 40

Posted by timothy
from the show-not-animatronic-poultry dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.
Hardware Hacking

Engineer Combines Xbox One, PS4 Into Epic 'PlayBox' Laptop 78

Posted by timothy
from the bipartisan dept.
MojoKid writes We can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the owner of this prototype system needn't worry about exclusives since he now has a system that can play them all, and do it while taking up no more space than a single console.
Businesses

Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing 314

Posted by timothy
from the what's-wrong-with-soldering-irons dept.
hij writes A number of news reports are coming out the Radio Shack is ready to file for bankruptcy. The stock price has tanked on Wall Street. There are conflicting reports that they are seeking more credit and they may be bought for their assets. (The Wall Street Journal has the story, but paywalled.)
Medicine

Man Saves Wife's Sight By 3D Printing Her Tumor 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the insurance-companies-to-soon-require-full-body-prints dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Balzer, a former software engineer and Air Force technical instructor, found himself unsatisfied with a doctor's diagnosis of a small tumor behind his wife's left eye. Balzer had recently become proficient at creating 3D models, so he asked the doctor for the raw medical imaging data and took a look himself. In addition to correcting a later misdiagnosis, Balzer 3D printed models of his wife's cranium and helped neurosurgeons plan a procedure to remove the tumor, instead of waiting to see how it developed, like previous doctors had recommended. During the procedure, surgeons found the tumor was beginning to entangle her optic nerve, and even a six-month wait would have had dire consequences for her eyesight.

Medical researchers like Dr. Michael Patton believe this sort of prototyping will become "the new normal" in a very short time. He says, "What you can now do through 3D printing is like what you're able to do in the software world: Rapid iteration, fail fast, get something to market quickly. You can print the prototypes, and then you can print out model organs on which to test the products. You can potentially obviate the need for some animal studies, and you can do this proof of concept before extensive patient trials are conducted.
Wireless Networking

Where Cellular Networks Don't Exist, People Are Building Their Own 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the teach-a-man-to-mobile-and-he'll-tweet-for-the-rest-of-his-life dept.
New submitter TechCurmudgeon writes: According to a story at Wired, towns in Mexico that aren't served by the nation's telecom monopoly are taking matters in their own hands with the help of a non-profit and open source technology. "Strategically ignored by Mexico's major telecoms, Yaee is putting itself on the mobile communications grid with the help of a Oaxaca-based telecommunications non-profit called Rhizomatica." A locally-made tower is the backbone of Yaee's first cellular network. The town's network is composed of two antennas and an open-source base station from a Canadian company called NuRAN. Once Yaee gets the tower installed and the network online, its 500 citizens will, for the first time, be able to make cell phone calls from home, and for cheaper rates than almost anywhere else in Mexico.
Security

Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-were-running-out-of-attack-vectors-to-worry-about dept.
msm1267 writes: Hardware hacker and security researcher Samy Kamkar has released a slick new device that masquerades as a typical USB wall charger but in fact houses a keylogger capable of recording keystrokes from nearby wireless keyboards. The device is known as KeySweeper, and Kamkar has released the source code and instructions for building one of your own. The components are inexpensive and easily available, and include an Arduino microcontroller, the charger itself, and a handful of other bits. When it's plugged into a wall socket, the KeySweeper will connect to a nearby Microsoft wireless keyboard and passively sniff, decrypt and record all of the keystrokes and send them back to the operator over the Web.
Open Source

Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases Second Issue CC-BY-SA 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-through-on-a-promise dept.
M-Saunders writes: As covered previously on Slashdot, Linux Voice crowdfunded its way to success in late 2013, showing how a small team can make things happen with a different business model (giving profits and content back to the community). Now, a few months after the magazine made issue 1 freely available, they've released issue 2 under the Creative Commons for everyone to share and modify. If you've ever fancied making your own Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine, there's a full guide in the second issue.
Software

Linux Controls a Gasoline Engine With Machine Learning 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguin-engine dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Here's a short (2 min) video of PREEMPT_RT Linux controlling a gasoline engine from one burn to the next using a Raspberry Pi. It's using an adaptive machine learning algorithm that can predict near chaotic combustion in real-time. A paper about the algorithm is available at the arXiv.
Build

Hands On With MakerBot's 3D-Printed Wood 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-much-wood-would-a-wood-printer-print dept.
angry tapir writes: 3D printing has lost a bit of its novelty value, but new printing materials that MakerBot plans to release will soon make it a lot more interesting again. MakerBot is one of the best-known makers of desktop 3D printers, and at CES this week it announced that late this year its products will be able to print objects using composite materials that combine plastic with wood, metal or stone.
Build

Project Ryptide Drone Flies Life-Rings To Distressed Swimmers 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the lifeguard-drone dept.
Zothecula writes The speed that drones can be deployed makes them ideal for delivering items when time is of the essence. The Ambulance Drone and Defikopter, for example, are used for transporting defibrillators to those in need. Now, Project Ryptide plans to use drones to deliver life-rings to swimmers in distress. From the article: "The project, which is at pre-production prototype stage, was conceived by Bill Piedra, a part-time teacher at the King Low Heywood Thomas (KLHT) school in Stamford, Connecticut. Piedra began working on the design in January 2014 and then began developing it further with students at KLHT in September 2014. 'Ryptide was designed so that anyone can be a lifeguard,' Piedra tells Gizmag. 'We had the casual user in mind when we designed the basic model; someone that might take their drone to the beach, boating, a lake, or even ice skating. It could be useful in the case of someone falling through the ice while skating, for example.'"
Programming

Ringing In 2015 With 40 Linux-Friendly Hacker SBCs 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the pick-your-favorite dept.
DeviceGuru writes As seen in this year-end summary of 40 hacker-friendly SBCs, 2014 brought us plenty of new Linux and Android friendly single-board computers to tinker with — ranging from $35 bargains, to octa-core powerhouses. Many of the new arrivals feature 1-2GHz multicore SoCs, 1-2GB RAM, generous built-in flash, gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, on-board FPGAs, and other extras. However, most of the growth has been in the sub-$50 segment, where the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone reign supreme, but are now being challenged by a growing number of feature-enhanced clones, such as the Banana Pi and Orange Pi. Best of all, there's every reason to expect 2015 to accelerate these trends.
Hardware Hacking

Glowing Hobbit Sword Helps You Find Unsecured Wi-Fi 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the caught-in-a-web-soon-to-be-online dept.
Molly McHugh writes By disassembling your plastic Sting and incorporating the Spark Core, a tiny Wi-Fi development kit, you can hack the toy's light and enlist it to show you when you are near an unsecure network. The best part about this hack? It only requires two things: a Spark Core and a replica Sting with lights and sound, like this one."
Graphics

Quake On an Oscilloscope 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the rocket-jump-with-an-electromagnet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a std::unordered_set of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single uint64_t, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."
Christmas Cheer

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015? 68

Posted by timothy
from the don't-actually-jump-start-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes I want to get a jump-start on next year's Christmas by wiring up my mother's gnome garden for a Christmas light show. I need a setup that can use wireless LED lights and speakers, the lights using a custom sequence set to music, that can be controlled remotely indoors to go off on a schedule, say every hour. Do you know of an off-the-shelf setup that is cheap and works seamlessly, especially for someone with little to no coding or custom building experience?
Robotics

An Open Source Flat Pack Robot Arm That's As Easy To Build As Ikea Furniture 39

Posted by timothy
from the fold-here-snip-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes The MeArm is a flat-pack robot arm. It has been developed in a very short time frame as the creators have been able to tap into crowd development by open sourcing all of the designs. Because of this it's exploded around the world with builders on every continent (bar Antarctica) and there are even people manufacturing them to sell in Peru, Taiwan and South Africa. MeArm manufacture them in the UK and export to distributors around the world, including Open Source pioneers like Adafruit and Hackaday in the USA. They're currently running a Kickstarter for a controller to take it out of the 'Hackersphere' and into the living room. They doubled their target in the first week and are still going strong so it's looking like they will be the first consumer flat pack robot kit in the world! Controller or not, you can download the arm from Thingiverse, and follow the project at Hackaday.