Hacked Gadgets Forum

February 4, 2016

Novena Laptop Build

at 10:29 pm. Filed under DIY Hacks


Novena is an open hardware computer by Bunnie that recently raised over $780,000 in a crowd funding campaign. The Ben Heck Show is building a custom computer around this platform. Everything is custom on this laptop build and no details are rushed including the difficult keyboard LED lighting.


  • Freescale iMX6 CPU — same footprint can support dual-lite and quad versions:
    • Quad-core Cortex A9 CPU with NEON FPU @ 1.2 GHz
    • Vivante GC2000 OpenGL ES2.0 GPU, 200Mtri/s, 1Gpix/s (*)
    • NDA-free datasheet [1] and programming manual
  • Internal ports & sensors:
    • mini PCI-express slot (for wifi, bluetooth, mobile data, etc.)
    • UIM slot for mPCIx mobile data cards
    • Dual-channel LVDS LCD connector with USB2.0 side-channel for a display-side camera
    • Resistive touchscreen controller (note: captouch displays typically come with an embedded controller)
    • 1.1W, 8-ohm internal speaker connectors
    • 2x USB2.0 internal connectors for keyboard and mouse/trackpad
    • Digital microphone (optional, not populated by default)
    • 3-axis accelerometer
    • 3x internal UART ports
  • Fun features:
    • 100 Mbit ethernet — dual Ethernet capability allows laptop to be used as an in-line packet filter or router
    • USB OTG — enables laptop to spoof/fuzz ethernet, serial, etc. over USB via gadget interface to other USB hosts
    • Utility serial EEPROM — for storing crash logs and other bits of handy data
    • Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA (PVT uses LX45: 43k logic cells, 6.8k slices, 54.5k ff, 401kb distributed RAM, 58 DSP48A, 2088kb block RAM) — has several interfaces to the CPU, including a 2Gbit/s (peak) RAM-like bus — for your bitcoin mining needs. Or whatever else you might want to toss in an FPGA.
    • High-speed I/O expansion header”






February 2, 2016

Nixie Alarm Clock With Time Updated via GPS

at 2:31 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks

Nixie Alarm Clock With Time Updated via GPS


This Nixie Alarm Clock project gets the Time Updated via GPS. Not only is there GPS to get an accurate time, this clock also has an SD card that is used to play audio files.

“The firmware for the clock is written in C using Eclipse C/C++ with the AVR Eclipse plugin with avr-gcc and avr-libc 1.8.1

Since the GPS module provides the time in UTC, I need to handle time zone and DST in software. This is actually quite easy since the standard time.h functionality has been implemented in avr-libc 1.8.1. But as I started the development on Linux using 1.8.0 it took me a while to discover the newer avr-libc since there are still no official binary packages for avr-libc 1.8.1 even though it was released more than a year ago.”

February 1, 2016

Fast Workers winding Coils

at 8:12 am. Filed under Crazy Hacks, What Were They Thinking


There are some electronic components that you just assume are cranked out of a machine that has a hopper of raw materials on one end and finished goods coming out of the other. Check out the amazingly fast worker making coils at 1:03. I wonder how far off our robotic technology is till we can have a robot perform this job. A person can be trained to do it very fast but even just having a robot pick up and mount one of the cores from a pile on the table is a hard task.

I can see a small bit of automation going such a long way in lots of these videos. I can’t imagine having the bagel job at 1:49, I have seen a rolling machine at our local bagel shop that can just crank them out automatically. Hard to believe that with a slab of dough that big that any company would process it by hand.

I think 6:57 shows us one of the most dangerous jobs I have seen. Can a person do this job for a day without loosing a finger? Some chainmail gloves would surly be a good minimum requirement. I wonder if something like sawstop could be used in this application. If the operator had on some insulating rubber gloves over the protective chainmail I think it would be possible. Stop saw uses a one time destructive stop but I think a different mechanism could be used to disengage the motor and clamp the blade would work since the mass of the bandsaw blade if much less than the spinning blade of a table saw.



January 31, 2016

ESP8266 Brodcasting Analog TV while running a Web Server

at 7:13 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks



CNLohr has been playing with the inexpensive IOT device for quite a while. Check out the ESP8266 Brodcasting Analog TV while running a Web Server. Hard to believe that this small chip is only a few dollars in small quantities. If this chip is in a IOT light bulb or doorbell this thing would be seriously be underused. That would be just like using your brand new android phone to just make phone calls. I look forward in seeing what projects this device finds itself into since it has power and price making it very appealing.

January 27, 2016

High Voltage Person Made from Electronic Components

at 10:22 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets


Proto G made a nice soldered together figurine out of electronic components. I thought the design ended there with an interesting piece of art, but there is more. You will notice that Anthony is wearing some rubber gloves at the start of the video. The gloves are not a fashion statement but rather a safety measure (although in the video comments indicate that the gloves are not for safety). The fitting copper clad box base hold a high voltage power supply that jumps to life with a flip of the switch. The high voltage is then free to arc across either the wires in the hands or through the arms and through the chip depending on the path of least resistance. I have erased lots of the EPROMs with the exposed windows before but would have never though of jumping some arcs behind the window for this effect.



High Voltage Person Made from Electronic Components

January 26, 2016

How Brushless DC Motor and Electronic Speed Controllers work

at 9:49 pm. Filed under Educational, Electronic Hacks


GreatScott! has created a great video showing how Brushless DC Motor and Electronic Speed Controllers work. We see lots of these in quadcopters these days. The basic DC motor is popular and simple to control but as more things are using brushless motors it is nice to know how they work.

“Brushless DC electric motor (BLDC motors, BL motors) also known as electronically commutated motors (ECMs, EC motors) are synchronous motors that are powered by a DC electric source via an integrated inverter/switching power supply, which produces an AC electric signal to drive the motor. In this context, AC, alternating current, does not imply a sinusoidal waveform, but rather a bi-directional current with no restriction on waveform. Additional sensors and electronics control the inverter output amplitude and waveform (and therefore percent of DC bus usage/efficiency) and frequency (i.e. rotor speed).”


January 25, 2016

Extreme Teardown of Dangerous Power Bar

at 9:18 pm. Filed under Teardown


John Ward does an Extreme Teardown of Dangerous Power Bar. It is very drawn out but demonstrates how electrical equipment as simple as a power bar should not be assumed to be safe. This power bar has a lot of bogus specs on the packaging and at a glance looks to be of ok quality. As you will see looks is all it has going for it. The rest of it is complete dangerous junk.


Video 1 interesting points.
At the 7:25 mark we can see they cheaped out and didn’t mold the plug large enough to meet the standard, as you will see this is a minor issue for this thing. At 15:25 the dangerous LED power on indicator can be seen, drop this once and this power on indicator will happily short out the incoming power.

Now even though the ground has no connection from the plug to outlets have a look at the gauge of wire they are using at 21:03. I wouldn’t power computer speakers with this crap. The mains wires are also massively undersized but are surprisingly a different size than the ground. The wires are also not copper! They are some type of plated wire, probably what every was cheapest in the market on production day.


Video 2 interesting points.
John takes apart the plug to determine why there is no ground connection from the ground pin to the ground wire. At 4:30 we can see that there was no attempt to connect the green wire to the ground pin, the wire is just jammed into the plug before it was injected with plastic.

Video 3 interesting parts.
My favorite part of Johns teardown testing is when he tests the wiring under load. When the cable is loaded to 8 amps at 2:20 which is within it’s rated load it completely fails. If that weren’t bad enough at 13:00 we can see that the body of the power bar is not close to being flame retardant.



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