Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Embrace the Linux Command-Line

The New Stack

The Raspberry Pi is an awesome physical computing platform. With a little imagination, the Pi adds smarts to all kinds of physical computing projects. The Pi runs on Linux and uses the text-based command-line as the default user interface.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Tell Me What You See

The New Stack

” my optometrist asked as I handed her the little blue JeVois camera. She was suitably impressed and appreciated my showing her the $50 gadget. The magic is in the off-the-shelf parts and a tiny bit of extra programming to tie it all together.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Robotic Baby Steps

The New Stack

She then looked directly into my eyes and with a subtle “trust me” expression, made the decision to let go of my fingers. Some say that robots and automation are going to take all the jobs. The JeVois platform is quite sophisticated and complex.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Build a Hand Held Object Recognizer

The New Stack

The JeVois machine vision sensor can recognize a wide variety of objects and symbols. My own project, Hedley the Robotic Skull , uses one to track me as I walk around in his field of view. I’d like to branch out and look at a few new applications of the JeVois technology.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Open Source Video Production with Kdenlive

The New Stack

The Generation-5 badge has a Raspberry Pi 2, a 3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen and is capable of running short informational videos without freezes or flicker. Then just transfer it over to the badge when finished. This keeps the file size reasonable and easy to work with on a badge.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: ‘I See a Machine Vision Sensor’

The New Stack

Last week we covered the basics of object recognition with voice synthesis. I ran it on the old war-horse ASUS Linux notebook. This week, I’ve successfully ported everything over to run on Hedley, the robotic skull , with his built-in Raspberry Pi and gaggle of Arduino boards.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Capture a Screen Demo on Video

The New Stack

Using your cell phone video camera to document the movements of a physical computing gadget is pretty straightforward. Upload the video to your Linux notebook or directly to YouTube and then embed it in your article copy, for readers to view. I use one called the Xfce4 Screenshooter.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: The Art of Soldering

The New Stack

Quite a while back I covered the basics of soldering for off-the-shelf hackers. While it’s great to solder every connection in sight, you’ll still need to deal with the header connections on many DIY/Maker circuit boards. The Technique.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Simulate Sensor Data with an Arduino

The New Stack

We read the sensor, scale the value to something practical, then print the data out to the USB port. A companion program, on Linux display machine, can suck in the data and do something like spin the needle of an on-screen analog gauge according to the sensor readings.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Hands-On Fast Prototyping

The New Stack

Producing a weekly Off-The-Shelf Hacker story is a bit of work. I write the pieces from scratch and have to shoot/edit the little video that goes with each article. Writing the story is in the latter part of the project. Where’s the Part?

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Exploring JeVois Vision Sensor Algorithms

The New Stack

My latest project, Hedley, the robotic skull, has a JeVois smart machine vision sensor in his right eye socket. He also tracks me using the “salient” algorithm , which is influenced by movement and light sources. We covered the Elegoo robot in a past article.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Throw a Thermocouple on the Grill

The New Stack

The plan was to upgrade the old high-temperature thermocouple rig and then talk about integrating it with an on-screen analog gauge showing the readings. The gauge, written in Processing , looks steampunky and matches the aesthetics of the wearables and portable systems I build.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Why Do You Hack?

The New Stack

Working on Heathkit and Erector sets of the late ’60s and early ’70s kept me entertained for hours. Tech was a huge focus back then, usually referred to as the “Space Age.” What we call hacking today pushed my ideas out into the real world.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Build a Dedicated Messaging Broker

The New Stack

The sprinkler controller and yard light project both use MQTT messaging for data communications. Up until now, my Linux notebook served as the broker during initial development efforts. You can even do messages directly to and from the command line, which is great for prototyping.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Use Picture-in-Picture in Your Next Tech Video

The New Stack

I didn’t have the video ready by press time for last week’s story , so I just went with the meter moving up and down on-screen. Readers had to take it on faith that the thermocouple actually worked. You can certainly show the finished clip on the Pi.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Microcontroller Wireless Messaging with MQTT

The New Stack

I even ordered a single-channel relay board that mounts the tiny ESP8226 and a USB programmer that could be used for flashing firmware. Alas, I haven’t been able to get the USB programming board to work, so putting firmware on the 01 microcontroller is a pain.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Keep Your Projects Moving

The New Stack

Work, family and social commitments around the busy holiday season make designing, building and writing a monumental challenge. Readers know that there’s considerable behind-the-scenes work fielding just about any type of hardware project. You get the point.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Instantly Upgrade Your Arduino Project Design

The New Stack

My own project, Hedley the Robotic Skull now uses an Arduino Nano clone as a driver board for his jaw servo. I recently replaced the old Arduino NG with the Nano. I was sitting there looking at the skull and it struck me. The two boards are about the same size.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Control Your Home Projects with Amazon Alexa

The New Stack

One of the great things about working with modern microcontrollers is that you can massively alter device behavior by simply modding the firmware and maybe adding a circuit or two. We’ll revert back to the yard sensor firmware shortly. Using the FauxmoESP Library.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Building Your Own Compact Portable Power Brick

The New Stack

Fortunately, modern off-the-shelf parts are available at reasonable prices, so you can pretty much get whatever you need. The trick is that you have to build it yourself. For example, I needed a portable power supply for Hedley, the robotic skull.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Super Simple App For The Yard Sensor

The New Stack

We’ve worked on the passive infrared (PIR) yard sensor for a while now, mostly on the hardware and software side. Last week we discussed firmware for the NodeMCU WiFi module that allows the device to send and receive MQTT messages to a broker and switch the relay on or off.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Build a Sensor System to Watch the Backyard

The New Stack

They worked OK, although they were a bit kludgy and I never really was that happy with the results. Time marches on and much has changed in the physical computing world. Today, we’ll take a first look at the prototype for my new and improved PIR yard sensor.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Use Processing’s Meter Library to Build Gauges

The New Stack

I’ve cobbled together several gauge interfaces using the Processing programming language. In one, I programmatically built the gauge elements from lines, arcs and text. Just set a value and the gauge display changes. Install the Meter Library in Processing. The Code.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Adding MQTT and Cron to the Lawn Sprinkler Project

The New Stack

The project highlights key design and implementation concepts that off-the-shelf hackers will face in the systems they build. Additionally, network-enabled Arduino clones, such as the NodeMCU boards are nearly as cheap as a plain old non-networked Arduino.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: How to Solder Tubing with a Propane Torch

The New Stack

Because we’ve been on the subject of soldering in recent articles, I felt like it would be a good time to go back and add a nice copper tubing base to my steampunk monitor project. Dark composite wood flooring formed the original base and it worked pretty well. Cutting the Tubing.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Tips for Your Next Tech Conference Proposal

The New Stack

It’s that time of year again, the tech conference proposal season. If you’ve ever wanted to showcase your latest techno-gadget or hacker technique to an eager audience, now is the time to get going. The All Important Submission Deadline. Culture Off-The-Shelf Hacker

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Add Stereo Audio to Your DIY Gadgets

The New Stack

The sound will come from a small speaker in the roof of his mouth, which coupled with synchronized jaw movement will make him speak. I’m currently searching for the perfect speaker to fit into his noggin. Let’s throw something together for the job.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: From the Space Age to the Age of DIY

The New Stack

There has been scant little coverage of the Apollo 8 space mission that occurred just 50 years ago around this past Christmas season. In a small capsule, three American astronauts successfully circled the moon and made it back to Earth in one piece. The audio board has six terminals.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Conversations with Hedley, the Robotic Skull

The New Stack

One of my dreams has always been to carry on a conversation with Hedley , the robotic skull , during shows and small-scale demos. Alexa-styled responses are possible, although it requires a solid connection to the internet. Like others in the talking robot niche , my solution is to “simulate” a conversation using scripted replies from Hedley. He and I become actors who say our lines at the right time. A button push will increment to the next audio file.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Making Parts with a Resin 3D Printer

The New Stack

Off-the-shelf physical computing uses microcontrollers, sensors, networks, various tools, Linux and design thinking to build gadgets that do interesting jobs. Off-the-shelf hardware hackers do the same with the physical gizmo.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Hedley The Robotic Skull Gets A Partial Maxillectomy

The New Stack

After what feels like forever, my latest project, Hedley the robotic skull , finally has a speaker mounted in the roof of his mouth. A future story will tie the whole flapping-jaw/voice effect together along with the Processing program that does the speech-to-audio analysis.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Add Demo Videos to WordPress on Linux

The New Stack

Short videos showing details of in-process project builds, results and working prototypes are coming to the weekly Off-The-Shelf Hacker column. The time has come to add video elements to the stories. Click the “Create Account” link.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Use Load Cells to Measure Mechanical Forces

The New Stack

It might be the load pushing down on a platform or tension on a part. Load sensors come in a variety of off-the-shelf styles to suit the particular configuration of our mechanisms. We have to use a little amplifier board to boost the signal.

When to Use Off-the-Shelf or SaaS vs Bespoke Software Solutions in Your Business

Strategy Driven

You need certain tasks to be completed, and off-the-shelf software often doesn’t quite hit the mark. Or the interface is not very user-friendly creating lost time for staff as they battle to get the most out of a cumbersome design. Off-the-Shelf Software.

Off-the-shelf RATs Targeting Pakistan

AlienVault

We’ve identified a number of spear phishing campaigns with Pakistani themed documents, likely targeting the region. These are served from the compromised domains www.serrurier-secours[.]be pk (a part of the Pakistani army). When opened, the document drops several files.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Online Updates from the Game Trail

The New Stack

It’s the beginning of August and hunting season is nearly upon us. I’m more of a fishing and “enjoy being out in the woods” type of guy. How does hunting vector to off-the-shelf hacking ? Is this the next big thing? The Circle Of Tech.

Off-The-Shelf Hacker: Machine Vision Meets MQTT Messaging

The New Stack

In the past few weeks, we’ve covered recognizing objects with the JeVois sensor and sending the data to text-to-speech Processing scripts. MQTT has become a common message-exchanging standard in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) worlds.