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Published on: October 8, 2013 / Comments: 18

NEST Thermostat torn down and analyzed

Daniel has a curiosity that most hackers like him share.  And let’s face it, we like to take stuff apart.   Some time ago, Daniel seen a previous teardown of the NEST thermostat by the ifixit guys.  Inside there is an 802.15.4 radio transceiver that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the documentation this radio is commonly used in zigbee/xbee/mesh networks.

Daniel even went as far as to ask them what the radio was for, and got stonewalled.  So Daniel decided to do his own teardown and probe at the inner workings of the thermostat even further.  One of the goals was to see if the 802.15.4 radio was ever used without them saying so.

He notes at the end that the NEST guys have announced some new products like a smoke detector, and they have in the specs the 802.15.4 radio so it makes sense that the radio is there for future upgrades for the other devices to be able to talk, but I recommend watching the teardown video, it’s long but entertaining.

Check out the video after the break.  Also more info over at Daniel’s site.


Published on: October 7, 2013 / Comments: None

Wirelessly controlled flaming Halloween pumpkin uses an Arduino

Halloween is a great time for makers, we get to make all kinds of cool costumes and spooky things.  Sometimes we get to play with fire.  Well at least Chris Lee does.  This flaming pumpkin is enough to keep them pesky kids from toilet-papering your house, or catching it on fire after they do.

The pumpkin is triggered by an Android phone, talking to a RFU-328 radio and Arduino.  The Arduino triggers 2 relays, 1 to activate a furnace igniter, the other activates a solenoid that releases the flow of gas.   The spray mechanism comes from an AirWick room spray and is filled with butane.

Chris made a comment about maybe converting this to shoot silly string out during actual Halloween, either way it’s a cool project.

Published on: September 27, 2013 / Comments: None

DIY RF control system for R/C Vehicle using Arduino and nRF24L01

With the advance of affordable 3D Printers, the home brew R/C vehicle community is booming with people making and designing their own parts.  However, making your own RF controller is a different story.

Armed with a pair of Arduinos and nRF24L01 modules, Mujahed has a good start on one.  On the transmitter side he’s reading a joystick module with an Arduino Uno and transmitting with one of the nRF24L01 modules.  On the receiver side is another wireless module feeding an Arduino nano that is tied to a few servos.  Everything on the car side is running off of a standard r/c car style 1800mAH battery.

More info and wiring diagrams on Mujahed’s site. Check out the video after the break.


Published on: September 11, 2013 / Comments: None

In the near future, your cell phone may not need batteries

In today’s somewhat creepy too-good-to-be-true technology announcement is this technique called Ambient Backscatter.  In the demo, researchers create 2 devices that neither one takes batteries, yet they are able to communicate to each other.  The devices harness radio waves that are already in the air like TV signals.

By either choosing to absorb or reflect the existing signals, the other device notices either a 1 or a 0.  Thus data transfer wirelessly, without batteries!  These devices have to run on real low power to work, because it’s consuming some of the rf signals to harness as power.  The future for these devices is huge, imagine tons of little smart objects that can communicate, that don’t need batteries!  People are already making small things that sip battery power but they do eventually need batteries.  And typically those devices if they communicate wirelessly they are power hungry.

Amazing technology.  Read more on the writeup on for a more detailed explanation, or watch the video below.