Hacked Gadgets Forum

February 12, 2014

SMD Soldering on Hot Sand

at 10:43 am. Filed under What Were They Thinking


When Oliver Krohn isn’t using an Arduino to control the temperature climate chambers he is soldering SMD parts on hot sand! I guess the skillet and toaster oven is not cool anymore. :) He is using a bunsen burner to heat the sand but anything would work as long as you can get the correct temperature. Might be a little hard trying to follow the reflow curve of some parts but in a pinch it looks like it should work well. I guess you could even get a really good temperature measurement by just jabbing a temperature probe into the middle of your hot sand. Oliver is tinning the pads with solder but if you started from cold sand or drop your board onto the bed of hot sand I am thinking you could also use some solder paste and place your components prior to heating. This might be a great backyard soldering experiment using a bucket of sand heated using a fresnel lens on a hot day.

January 21, 2014

RumbleRail – Floppy Disk Jukebox

at 6:51 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Insane Equipment, What Were They Thinking



 If you still have a few floppy drives left over after making your Floppy Drive CNC machine have a look at making some music by making a Floppy Disk Jukebox!

 “The overall setup is completly modular. Each floppy is connected to its own floppy driver (rrfdc), which in turn speaks I²C with the main board (rrcmd). On power-on the main board auto-discovers the connected floppies and adjusts the software to utilize the available drives. In theory the amount of floppies connected to RumbleRail is only limited by I²C address/bus restrictions.

The most important feature of RumbleRail is the ability to run standalone. After being powered-on, the main board scans the hotswapable SD card (rrsdc) and lists its content on the display. The user can browse through the selection using the rotary encoder and, once a song is selected, the main board decodes the MIDI file and streams the notes to the floppy drivers.”



December 21, 2013

Weiser and Kwikset Smart Key Insecurities

at 11:09 pm. Filed under What Were They Thinking


In the average year I need to change 5 or 6 sets of locks. My usual practice is to purchase an inexpensive lock from the local hardware store and simply toss out the original lock and install a new one. This is normally cheaper and faster than having the locks re-keyed. The old lock can also be used in less secure locations if desired. I was thinking it might be worth while to invest in a smart lock such as the  Kwikset Smart Key. In Canada they are branded Weiser but both were owned by Black and Decker so their smart locks are the same item under two names. Funny thing is they have a video that boasts how safe they are since they can’t be opened with a bump key.

The in store demonstrations look great and I can imagine how simple it would be to just walk into a locksmith and have him make 10 or 20 keys with a variety of random patterns so that a re-key of a lock would be as simple as tossing the original keys, taking a new random one and programing it in the lock. Turns out while this technology looks awesome, the actual lock mechanism is a piece of garbage. I was looking for some information on how the actual lock system worked and was able to be re-keyed. I didn’t find this information (If you have a link, please share!) but what I did find was how insecure this poor excuse for a lock actually is.

 I am not saying that the average lock is much of a defense against someone who wants to defeat it since on occasion I have had the need to get through a lock that was changed without my permission. I have never attempted to pick a lock but I have never spent more than 2 or 3 minutes with a nice powerful drill and a decent drill bit.

The marketing video above looks fantastic, how could you go wrong with such an innovative product? Then when you see the videos below you will see how terrible the lock actually is… Too bad Kevo is built on top of this crappy platform.

 UPDATE: Thanks to Dave who provided this link that describes how the lock works. Shane Lawson also created a method of decoding the lock, this video has been entered as the last video below.



Arduino used in Semi-Automatic Production Line Equipment

at 7:54 pm. Filed under Insane Equipment, What Were They Thinking

Arduino used in Semi-Automatic Production Line Equipment


When you walk through a factory full of automated machines that are doing repetitive tasks you will usually see a large metal electrical cabinet beside each machine. Inside that box will most likely be a PLC that is controlling the machine by monitoring inputs and controlling motors and valves. This all sounds fine until you look at the price of this equipment, $10 or $20K will get you a decent PLC system but you will get a truck load of Arduino gear for that.

Alexander Kozusyev turned to Arduino to provide some simple automation to a production line. I can just imagine the amount of money that was saved. I understand that an Arduino isn’t a true comparison to the rugged nature of PLC equipment that will run in the nastiest production environment in sweltering heat 24 hours a day. But in some situations I think it might make an interesting alternative.

Via: Arduino Blog

“Production line has two independent CNC 3-axis manipulator. The first spraying of release agent. Second automatic pouring polyurethane into the mold. Before spraying or pouring read RFID unique code for the mold, and then loads the G-CODE from the database server based MySQL. After pouring, the mould is moved to the waiting area.”


September 19, 2013

Heavy Lifting Copters

at 11:39 pm. Filed under Funny Hacks, Insane Equipment, What Were They Thinking


Hobby King had a great plan to get people building big lifting copters. They call it the Beer Lift but water is used as a substitute although I am sure an equal weight of beer is weighting behind the scenes for enjoying after the competition. The last video isn’t a heavy lift but make sure you watch what happens at 2:20, that is some good flying!





August 30, 2013

Waterproof Electrical/Electronic Spray

at 9:42 am. Filed under What Were They Thinking


This Waterproof Electrical/Electronic Spray by Nano Protech looks amazing. Not exactly sure I understand how it works though. At first I thought it sealed the electronics but they demonstrate a socket and light bulb still operating after they are coated and then screwed together. Obviously the coating isn’t an insulator since the bulb is still making contact and it isn’t a conductor since it isn’t shorting out. I would be curious if they salted up that water well if the results would be the same since I am not certain that a light bulb socket would arc in distilled water? I wonder if the coating is simply being scratched through by the contacts on the bulb to make the contact.

“Based on a new kind of nano-zeolithe-technology with a slightly oily consistency, the coating crawls under rust,  oxidations  and humidity, forming a three dimensional multifunctional protective barrier network at the interface. Fills micro cavities (in circuit boards, micro circuitry, electric coils etc.). Powerful capillary effect allows the product to penetrate inside the blocks without dismantling. Excellent water repellent properties and low surface tension allow it to form a thin protective coating penetrating under the water layer. After spraying, a protective coating forms on the surface. NANO PROTECH provides a 100% water extrusion rate within 10 seconds.”



August 28, 2013

Calculator Powered by a Transistor Solar Cell

at 9:28 pm. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Electronic Hacks, What Were They Thinking

 Calculator Powered by a Transistor Solar Cell


Who knew you could use the guts of a power transistor as a solar cell! Steven fromRimStar even takes it a step further and chains five 2n3055 in a base to collector configuration to generate enough voltage to power a small calculator. Funny how some electronics form China are working fakes. The small calculator he got has a small solar cell in it already but once the case was cracked open it turned out that the calculator was simply powered by a small coin cell battery. I wonder if the solar cell was a fake or they were just too lazy to hook it up.

Via: Solar Power and Electronic Measurement Equipment

“To easily make a homemade/DIY solar cell, get a power transistor like the 2N3055 and carefully cut open the case. That exposes the semiconductor material inside to light. Hook up some wires and you’re done! Doing this I managed to get around 500 millivolts and 5.5 milliamps which is 2.7 milliwatts.”



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