Your source for daily hacks

Published on: August 28, 2013 / Comments: 1

DIY home automation with Souliss

[su_quote]… it runs over AVRs microcontrollers and include all the libraries and drivers required for a complete a distributed intelligent network, it also includes an Android user interface.[/su_quote]Ever wanted to make your home smarter ?  Or just remotely control basically everything in your home ?  Souliss is here to help.  It’s a framework for DIY home automation.

What I like about Souliss versus having used traditional home automation hardware (like Z-Wave) is you aren’t restricted to what modules are available.  You can craft your own using a lot of familiar hardware like Arduino’s (and I’m sure Raspberry Pi’s in the future).  It’s not restricted to specific methods of communication either, you can do wired or wireless or wi-fi or serial or whatever you can use to get your devices to communicate.  Great project!



Published on: August 27, 2013 / Comments: None

Decoding RF signals like keyfobs with HackRF SDR

Dragorn has a couple of tutorials up on his site about working with the HackRF SDR.  Just like decoding weather satellite signals, decoding wireless remotes and other signals is cool too.  If you’re familiar with the cheap RTL-SDR, then just know the HackRF is like that but more powerful (and can transmit).

Dragorn starts out with part 1: inspecting a pair of car keyfobs.  In this tutorial, he records the signals and inspects them using baudline.  You can see the different encoding mechanisms the 2 different keyfobs use.  Dragorn points out that actually decoding the data is pointless as the data transmitted uses a rolling key pair that constantly changes the data sent for security.


And thus he moves on to part 2: using GNU Radio this time with something that decoding the data might be useful.  For this one he is using a cheapo 433mhz transmitter you would use on an arduino like the ones use in this post.  GNU Radio is a little more complex than baudline.  You get to visually pipe inputs and outputs together for different modules until you achieve the proper filtering and decoding.

Published on: August 21, 2013 / Comments: 2

Cheap and easy wireless communications with Arduino

For some odd reason it seems like everyone who starts out doing wireless they do temperature sensors, and Kevin is no exception.  What’s really good in Kevin’s video is he takes the time to explain sending 1′s and 0′s over the rf link and gives you an idea of how the RF communication is actually working.  He also walks you through both sketches, for choosing a simple message encoding algorithm (ie start with this byte, end on this byte).  Good stuff.

The hardware can be purchased pretty cheap from SparkFun, trasmitter here, receiver here.  And Kevin’s made his source sketches available here (transmitter) and here (receiver), but says there are plenty of libraries out there for these modules and his code may not be an example to model yourself after (ha ha ha).

Published on: August 16, 2013 / Comments: 2

PiMote uses your Android phone as a remote for your Raspberry Pi

So far I have 10 components working, including the Accelerometer which can stream its data to the Pi.

Tom has put together a cool little setup I’m sure a lot of you will find useful.  It consists of an Android app (source code here), and server that runs on the Raspberry Pi written in Python (source code here).  Tom’s put together documentation for his API that lets you trigger events and send data between devices.

The list of components is pretty extensive.  Standard controls like buttons and toggles, extending to Voice input and VideoFeed.  Everything is done via wifi so you’ll need to get wifi working on your Pi first.  It’s a work in progress but I can see many applications for this already!


Published on: August 14, 2013 / Comments: None

Spying on your neighbors with rtl-sdr

Unless you’re just upgrading from windows 3.1, you’ve seen the cheap SDR (software defined radio) rtl-sdr project.  SDR’s aren’t new but someone figured out how to turn a cheap sub-20$ dongle into a decent SDR bringing the entry price low enough for everyone to experiment with them.

Every electronic device you own is screaming its name into the infinite void

Melissa Elliott has put together a presentation titled “exploring the world of unintentional radio emissions” that was presented at DEF CON.    After talking about the concept itself, she shows you how almost everything that runs on electricity emits some sort of electronic signature.  That signature can be profiled and sometimes data can be decoded from it.

No it’s not time to break out the tin foil hats or anything but if you really are paranoid, Melissa gives some tips how to shield this information in the form of Faraday cages.  You don’t have to be an old ham radio buff or even a budding electronics engineer to appreciate how cool SDR’s are.




Published on: August 14, 2013 / Comments: None

Electromyography “Muscle Mouse”

Tired of using that tried-and-true mouse for your video gaming needs?  Why not give your hand a break and try playing with your leg or neck or even your foot?!?  The folks over at Advancer Technology have just the solution for you.  Using their ’3rd Generation Muscle Sensor’ designed for electromyography along with an Arduino and a SparkFun Bluetooth module, they are mimicking a Bluetooth mouse to control simple video games.  While you aren’t going to be able to play Call of Duty with this device, it does add a new layer of fun and complexity (and possible competitiveness) to some classic Flash time-wasters.

The project was an entry in the 2013 National microMedic Contest run by Parallax, the Basic Stamp and Propeller folks.  Now, if someone would use these sensors to control a robotic arm, that would be AWESOME!

Published on: August 11, 2013 / Comments: None

DIY Item tracker

David is having trouble misplacing his items.  After looking into possible solutions he found a good amount of bluetooth smart tags that you can use your smart phone to keep tabs on.  For reasons of not having his cell phone around all the time, and just not that interested in crazy smartphones, he started to work on his own solution.

He found these wireless tags from Nike that you attach to your shoes and your iPod can keep track of your running habits.  The first hurdle  was to modify the beacon to transmit constantly instead of going to sleep when there is no motion.  Next he made a device to read the beacons with a little Adafruit and Sparkfun help.  Full article here.