Archive for October, 2010

Screws/ed

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Finally got everything in order to make the first flight with the heli. Pulled open the throttle and things were a bit wobbly.  Turns out my flybar paddles were not level so I loosened the screws to get them straight. Guess what… I wrecked a screw :(

Turns out these tiny ones (M1.2×2) are damn hard to obtain and I haven’t found a source yet… ARG!

Update:

Considering the low volume needed, I ended up just buying a spare set of Walkera heli screws. Expensive considering the small amount you get, but much cheaper than buying these things in bulk through B2B channels.

Skynet and solar flares

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Imagine Skynet has taken over and a massive solar flare hits earth… Will Skynet survive? Or will the flare fry all those little terminator brains? Will it live on in mobile devices powered by LiPo batteries? What about solar panel factories, hydrogen power and thermal power plants? Hmmmm…

Security gone too far

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

It’s a fine line between customer friendliness and security, but sometimes the line is crossed making the system impossible to use. In this case my creditcard company has made their security too tight making it impossible to pay for something. It took 3 different browsers and 7 attempts to pay for a small item… time to look for a new bank to do business with…

On a related topic, their argument was that they don’t support all browsers. But that shouldn’t matter if they just follow standards. Websites should be independent of the browser used. Same goes for browsers themselves (yes I’m looking at you Microsoft). Can’t repeat that often enough!

Virtual flight

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

As mentioned in my previous post, I need to spend time with a simulator. I did some research before ordering on what a decent solution would be so I could get work on this from the start instead of figuring things out while the real thing is already standing right in front of you.

There are commercial simulators out there, with or without physical training transmitter. Nice, but expensive and they offer much more than needed. But fortunately there are also some free simulators out there. And even better, a quick search revealed that they are quite good for their intended purpose. This is the road I took.

When ordering stuff I always take a look in the sale/clearance section if there is something interesting. You never what you might find and this time it yielded a cheap USB transmitter. Well in reality the thing is also cheap looking (the plastic casing, inside appears to be a FR-4 PCB which is a good thing!), but for less than 10 euro I’m saying it’s money well spend, especially considering the cost of fixing crashes. Btw, used USB chip is an Elan EM78M612 (= 8-bit RISC MTP microcontroller). Just had to open up that connector ;)

At this point I would like to mention that this type of transmitter (simulator and real) are ridiculously large. Who in the world has hands this size!? Unless these things were designed for the giant from Jack and the beanstalk this is just silly.

Anyhow, it comes with a simulator called FMS (Flight Model Simulator). FMS is completely useless in my situation. Apart from being hugely outdated it simply does not run under Win7 (caused by prehistoric DirectX crap). But no worries, I already found a different one that’s working nicely; HeliSimRC. It’s freeware and simply works without problems (except that it responds to keystrokes whille running in the background as I’m typing this ;)). And based on what more experienced pilots say it simulates pretty realistic too (which is exactly what I need). Exciting times ahead!

Taking to the sky

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Can’t work all the time, so I picked a new hobby to keep me occupied when not working on the player – R/C helicopters!

There are lots of amazing helicopters out there, but getting them into the air (let alone keeping them there…)  is a different story. So I’m starting out with the relatively easy to fly Walkera 4#6s. It’s a tiny fixed pitch heli with 3-axis gyro. I’ll post more helicopter stuff as I learn more about the subject and bump into problems. For now I’m bound to a PC simulating how to fly. Although the Walkera does not break the bank, crashing it and getting new parts is a pita. So virtual flight it is until I master basic flight control ;)

For the security of citizens

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Ever heard of the INDECT project? It’s serious scary big brother stuff. Some excerpts:

The main objectives of the INDECT project are:

  • to develop a platform for: registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of criminal behaviour or violence,
  • to develop a prototype of an integrated, network-centric system supporting operational activities of police officers, providing techniques and tools for observation of various mobile objects,
  • to develop a new type of search engine combining direct search of images and video based on watermarked contents and storage of metadata in the form of digital watermarks.

Funny how they also mention what this project … not do: “INDECT is a research project. The list of objectives DOES NOT include ANY kind of global monitoring of ANY society.”

You can bet each countries secret service will be granted access to this system. Even if it’s isn’t global, how about major cities? Very realistic option. Take a recent example like the city of Nice where they’re placing 626 CCTV cameras. Intended for crime, but now they’ll also be used for automated parking ticket issuing. Maybe Nice is a trial run?

Also how long will will it take for organisations and corporations start lobbying to have this kind of control.  I’m thinking along the lines of those secret ACTA meetings. The music and movie industry loves digital water marks.

To continue:  the INDECT methodology assumes (yes this is a direct quote!):

  • detecting specific crimes (like: Internet child pornography, promotion of totalitarian symbols, trafficking in human organs, spread of botnets, viruses, malware as well as terrorism, hooliganism and thievery), and, only then,
  • detecting specific criminals standing behind the detected crimes.

I’m sorry but “assumes”? With this kind of automated monitoring power they’d better not make assumptions. After all, assumptions are the mother of all fuckups ;)

Two thumbs up for TI!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

2 days ago there was a post on Hack a Day about a nice deal on TI’s new Stellaris robotic evaluation board (EVALBOT). Even though the deal was never intended to be picked by HaD readers (which ordered the board en masse not surprisingly considering the huge discount, even making TI’s eStore crash in the process ;)), it seems TI will hold up their end of the deal:

As some posts already note, the coupon code is only available to ESC Boston attendees. That said, we’re psyched about all of your interest and understand there seems to have been some confusion, so TI plans to fulfill all of the finalized orders to date. We’re working on some logistics in getting the code up and running again for ESC Boston attendees, but proof of ESC registration will be required. Stay tuned.

We hear you about the e-store and are working as quickly as possible to avoid issues in the future. Thanks for your patience.

Bottom line – we’re glad to see the excitement around EVALBOT and look forward to checking out your projects! We encourage you to share them on our e2e Forums at http://e2e.ti.com/

-Jean Anne Booth, Texas Instruments

Posted at 3:05 pm on Oct 5th, 2010 by Jean Anne Booth

I was lucky enough to get through after numerous attempts. So if indeed the board arrives one day, TI has earned another huge plus behind their name. If this is anything like their handling and quality of the MSP430 LaunchPad, we’re in for a treat!

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Software HDCP encryption/decryption

Friday, October 1st, 2010

In the wake of the HDCP master key floating around on the net comes the first software implementation. Check the link for sourcecode and details.

HDCP Encryption/Decryption Code