Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Brain Assailant

For those of you unfamiliar, Thinkgeek sells a device called the "mind molestor". the idea is simple. You hide the device in the home of someone you loathe. It then emits a beep once every 3 minutes until the battery dies or the victim burns their house down to stop the relentless beeping. Cool concept, right? Sure, but at $25 a piece its not exactly something you would want to leave behind. They dont even include a battery, But i did some figuring, and adding in a battery would just about double their manufacturing costs on the device. Thats right, This thing shouldnt cost much more than $2 to mass produce. Dare i say they mark up more than radioshack? Anyway, I *could* just get some 555's and reproduce the mind molestor at ~$3, But i wanted more. I wanted to make it more obnoxious and still keep the price at under half of what thinkgeek charges. The final design Alternates between 4 different sounds, and with a little BASIC knowledge and the Picaxe manual as your guide, you can easily add more. All this for arround $12.

I decided to use a Picaxe 08m, mainly because I already had one - Thanks Don :). Picaxe chips are inexpensive little microcontrollers that can be programmed in BASIC through a simple serial download cable. The chip we'll be using, the 08M, costs a little over $3. They kick ass. Get one today.
Because the picaxe's random number generator isnt very random, I just pre-programmed in the different beeps and times between them. Im sure that there is a better way to make it truly random, but your victim isnt going to worry about how random or pseudo random the beeps are. hes just going to get pissed off. Also, I decided to use the picaxe's "sleep" command instead of the "wait" command. The sleep command puts the device into a low power state for a specified ammount of time. the downside is that the slep command isnt very accurate. It can err like 50% to either side. But thats not exactly bad in our application, a little variance can make it harder to find.

Im not going to go into building a Picaxe download circuit, Thats covered in depth in the picaxe manual, which you can find a link to at the bottom of the page.

Ive provided the source code, as well as images of my completed device and a schematic. the schematic sucks because multisim 2001 textbook edition sucks. It has very few components so I just drew it in MSPAINT. Take that, multisim people. I dont need your stinkin' app. Il use microsoft's Schematic editor :).

I could comment on every single line of the source code, but im lazy. also, if you arent atleast somewhat familiar with BASIC, this hack probably isnt for you. I will, however explain the lines that are important to those modifying my code.

SOUND pin,(note,duration,note,duration...)
- Pin is a variable/constant (0-7) which specifies the i/o pin to use.
- Note(s) are variables/constants (0-255) which specify type and frequency.
Note 0 is silent for the duration. Notes 1-127 are ascending tones. Notes
128-255 are ascending white noises.
- Duration(s) are variables/constants (0-255) which specify duration (multiples
of approx 10ms).

SLEEP period
- Period is a variable/constant which specifies the duration of sleep in multiples
of 2.3 seconds (0-65535).

Schematic. I know that the representation for the piezo speaker is incorrect. I meant to change it later, But blogger's upload image tool is horrible. it took a good 5 tries and 20 minutes to get the current design uploaded, I wont be fixing it.

So a simple explanation.... Youve got 9v into your 7805 or equivalent voltage regulator. the regulated 5v goes into pin1 (+v) and pin8 (0v). You must also remember to tie pin 2 (serial in) to ground. then the piezo speaker is connected across ground and pin5 (out2).

Pictures!!!! ...It could be made considerably smaller than this, but i think the biggest improvement would be mounting the battery clip on its edge so that the battery is parallel with the perfboard, rather than at a 90 degree angle to it.

And a current price list. Some of the items are optional (like the DIP socket, the Perf board, and the battery clips) although you would wind up with a device you can program only once, in a big unstructured wirey mess with wires wrapped arround and taped to the battery terminals. Hell, i guess you could even leave out the 7805, although the device wouldnt work for very long, or at all. Needless to say, everything in the list is highly recommended.

ItemMy PriceStreet Price
7805Free (Rummaged)$1.59 (Radioshack)
Picaxe 08MFree (Gift)$2.98 ($8.95 for 3 at
Piezo speakerFree (Rummaged)$3.29 (Radioshack)
8-Pin DIP socket$.69$.69 (Radioshack)
Perf board$1.97$1.97 (Radioshack)
9v. Battery clipFree (Rummaged)$1.99!!! (Radioshack)
Bits of wireFreeWho TF pays for bits of wire?

9.9% of thinkgeek's price49% of thinkgeek's price

This is not counting the price of a picaxe download circuit, which would include the cost of a DB9 connector, resistors (10k and 22k) DIP socket or breadboard, battery snap, and other assorted bits of wire. The reason i didnt include this in the final price was that its not necessary after you have the software the way you want it. you can cannibalize it for parts if you want.

Okay. So i did achieve my goal of being under half of thinkgeek's price, but not by much. If you own absolutely _nothing_ in the above list, you might just be better off buying thinkgeek's model. If however, you like to DIY, and you hate waiting for shipping, and you happen to have some of the aforementioned items on hand, Make this. its fun and obnoxious, and easily customizable.


Picaxe Programming software and manual in PDF format. You must register. Gay, i know, but as far as i can tell they dont spam you. use a valid email address, because they will send you a password to unlock their programming editor.

Peter H Anderson's website. A source for picaxe chips inside the US.

Revolution Education's Picaxe catalog. I think they sell to the UK.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

LAN parties can get mighty hot, What with tebbe reading erotic novels and everything, So i decided i needed some cooling..... Okay. so thats not really the reason. MOAL party is usually cooled very well. I just wanted an excuse to throw a bunch of shit together with JB weld and call it a bawls fan. But for now, lets just say it was born out of necessity, as it gives my lame endeavours more merit.

I wanted the fan to be based on a LAN party staple- the mighty bawls bottle, and I started off with this fine specimen:

The first challenge was deciding what was going to make up the 'fan' part of this fan. I looked through my vast piles of junk, and even considered making blades out of wood before I found something easy: An 80mm Case fan was just about the perfect size, and it was easy.

I decided i wanted this device to be USB powered. I took the USB extension cable that came with my logitech cordless CLICK! optical wireless mouse, and cut off the end i wasnt going to use. I took the red and black wires (teh power) and attached them to power on the fan. It did spin, but not very fast. I decided to just take the blades out of the fan and find another motor to power this thing.

Now i needed something to spin these blades. Awhile back I had taken all the fun things out of my old hardware before i took it all to he dump. In this pile of salvaged goodies were several motors out an old school CDrom drive. I took the best one and Sure enough, it spun up real nice. So i JB welded the Fan blades to the motor and let it dry overnight.

While it was drying, I drilled a hole in the bawls bottle near the bottom. This wasnt exactly easy because i dont drill much, and i usually drill things that are meant to be drilled. Like wood. Or plastic. I knew if i pressed too hard, the glass was going to shatter, Hell it was probably going to shatter either way. By the way, I didnt use a drill, i just chucked a bit into my dremel and went at it. I went nice and slow and just kinda let it chip away at the bottle a little bit at a time. The whole process took between five and ten minutes, mainly because i didnt wanna break this one and start over.

I ran the USB cable through the hole and up out the top of the bottle. WHen the JB weld was dry on the fan assembly, I soldered the power lines of the USB cable to the motor. Then I JB welded the motor to the lip of the bottle and let this dry overnight.

The next day, I plugged it in and let it spin up. The motor spun and it moved a decent ammount of air. As the fan blades werent exactly center on the shaft, The bawls bottle also started vibrating and gliding across the table. "teh ladiez will love this" I exclaimed, clinging excitedly to my bawls.

I bet satan sucks at CS.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Stealth File Server

Quick Links: here’s a flickr page with all pics from this project.

Continuing our mod theme from last week, I decided that I wanted to do something on the cheap for this week’s project (We spent $15 on oil for our last endeavor you know LINK). I had been planning for a while to throw together a little 700 MHz machine to use as a file server at my house. But, I’ve got too many systems setup around my office as it is, so I was going to just throw a case in my closet or something to get it out of the way, but where would the fun be in that.

I decided that I wanted something ‘stealth’. Something that looked like it wasn’t a PC at all and was just lying around my office. Something I could keep all my super secret data (pr0n) on. That way if someone broke in to my house and wanted to swipe any PCs, my masterly disguised file server would be safe. Here’s a visual representation of what that might look like:

Apparently utterly crappy and pathetic mspaintings are going to be a mainstay on Haphazard Hacks due to the countless (one) requests we’ve had for them. Anyway, on to the project. Scanning around the room I saw some old boxes from a PC I built and I thought “I could just throw that sucker in a motherboard box.”

After ravaging around for some other boxes I figured I could just make it look like a stack of boxes/parts and throw it on top of a cabinet (please see above drawing for reference). Here’s the boxes laid out how I planned for them to look when finished:

So I threw my parts in the box to see how I wanted to arrange everything and then took my handy dandy exacto knife and began slicing and dicing the back of the boxes. When the motherboardbox was closed, it ended up coming down flush on top of the processor fan, so I ended up designing an “air baffle” out of construction paper and integrating it into the processor box.

Here’s what the back of my now “thermally advantaged” case looked like:

I wasn’t too worried about making it super neat since the back wouldn’t really be seen all that often.

The layout of the parts inside ended up being a pretty tight fit. I had to relieve the power supply of its shell to get it to fit and my motherboard and power supply actually overlap slightly on the corners. A problem that was easily cured by my trusty friend electrical tape.

My processor was now being amply cooled, but I wanted some airflow past the hard drive and power supply, so I hot glued down a couple fans for airflow horizontally through the case and took my dremel to the sides of the case to make some vents (if you can call roughly cut holes splattered with tiny pieces of cardboard shavings vents that is)

I believe that this upgraded the classification of my case to “thermally advantaged chassis v1.1”:

For the power switch I ran a wire up into the RAM case and put a contact on top of an old stick of ram and the other contact on the underside of the RAM case. So you just mash down on top of the RAM to power up the system.

And here it is – the final product!

The total cost of the project was about $10. I made a chart so you could see a breakdown of where all of that cash-money went:


I’m very happy with the way the case turned out. All kidding aside it is kind of sweet to have a PC that just looks like a stack of parts and it kind of blends in with the rest of the junk that’s laying around my office. Power and Ethernet are the only cables I have running to it and I just VNC (I use tightvnc) into it when I need to. Currently I’m running XP Pro and I am just using windows shares to send my music/videos/pictures/etc to my XBOX (using XBMC).

Please feel free to email us if you have any questions and/or comments and also if you have any suggestions for future projects.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ever since I first saw the Oilcomputer, I was impressed. I wanted to do something Similar, yet different. I did not want a blatant ripoff of the Oilcomputer, that would accomplish nothing. I wanted to take the oilPC concept and make it a little bit more refined. I wanted it smaller, and i did not want it to look like your regular rectangular aquarium. Oh yea. and i wanted it documented in english.

Quick Links:

5k1ttl3's OTPC: The beginning

The Brand spankin new PC chips Flex-atx motherboard to be used in this project. Comes with 800mhz processor on the board and VIA chipset providing Audio, Video, LAN. so far im impressed with this board. Its a small form factor board with a built in Processor and onboard everything for just over $60 after shipping from Newegg, and my Gift certificate brought the price to about half of this. Add ram and a hard drive and youve got yourself a nice little web or game server.

Total Out-Of-Pocket cost: $34.00
The Hexagonal Fishtank, freshly released from its Fedex Cocoon. Some wonderful company donated this to me, after a very odd email. something about pissing on ropes. anyway, This puppy was free.
Total cost: FREEBIE!!!!!! (Insert Monster Garage sound effects here)

Adding the Radio Shack Power button to the Lid of the tank.

Shot of the underside of the tank, with switch mounted and leads soldered.

I was going to have a reset switch, but it turns out radio shack parts are worthless.

The Oil PC mounted to the plexiglass motherboard tray, running on my couch. No oil yet. This thing produces a great deal of heat for its small size, it will be interesting to see how well the oil acts as a coolant.

5k1ttl3's OTPC: Hard Drive Troubles

So I Decided to do something about the data storage problem

Rocking out with my caulk out: I squirted Silicon and latex caulk all over the underside of the drive, let it dry, and then started wrapping with industrial electrical tape.

I proceeded to wrap with yellow Duct tape

After completely wrapping the drive in yellow duct tape, I decided to give it a name. I dubbed this device the "Liquid Sealed Data Storage Unit" and proceeded to write on the drive the acronymn "LCDSU" turns out 'Sealed' dosent start with a C. In fact there isnt even a 'c' in that entire phraise. Oh well. il chalk that one up to the fact that its 2:30 and im tired.

It also turns out that when the drive manufactureres write "do not cover breather hole" on their drives, they arent just barking arbitrary commands. I plugged the drive in and listned for it to spin up....nothing. I held my ear to the drive to listen for signs of life. I heard kind of a deep wheezing, sick sound. It was kind of popping and wheezing and grinding, and just generally acting pissed off. So i guess this drive died of asphyxiation. Damn. It looked really cool too.

Several days later at work, Dave donated to me this beauty:

Thats right - A Seagate 2 jiggabite hard drive. FOUR TIMES BIGGER than the drive that suffocated.
Although the prospect of making another LCDSU was tempting, I decided to go a safer route and mount the drive above the coolant. I drilled two holes in the Lid of the tank for the case screws to pass through, and mounted the drive on edge.

5k1ttl3's OTPC: The OIL Stage

Videos of the filling, the running OilPC, and the Aftermath are now available!

The oil PC rocked. the OilPC kicked ass. the Oil PC died of ass cancer.
More details in a minute, but first, a very scientific diagram of the cooling properties of oil.

It started out allright. Dave came over and we went to walmart and bought $15 worth of cheapass brand cooking oil. (11 bottles). we bought the bottles home and set up shop in the basement. We hooked up my old school 640x860 CRT and set up X to use it. It looked bad. The KDE splash took up more than the whole screen. So we decided to go all out and bring in my 15" g@teway LCD - the display linux was installed with. It looked pretty, but X wouldnt start and we screwed arround with it and blah blah blah blah. linux sucks to configure if you dont know WTF your hardware is. We tried 20 different configurations before dave suggested we delete the config file and see if it 'just works'. heh.... it did. flawlessly. So with that little problem out of the way, we now had a fully functional, beautiful Linux desktop.

In came the oil. Bottle after bottle, the coolant level continued to rise. Up past the power supply, up past the ram. Up past the CPU fan, which instantly dropped in speed. We filled it to about an inch above the ports. The system still ran fine. It ran just as good as it did before. we decided to go into the bios and check our temps. They were considerably lower. We were both amazed that the cooling actually improved, considering this oil is for cooking things. I was VERY pleased with the results. This thing was awesome.

heh. so the oil PC was kicking ass. I had a screensaver running, counting the uptime. I saw no problems at all. It totally pwned ass. I went upstairs and started relaxing fer a while before class. i took a shower and got out at 5:00...went downstairs to turn off the OTPC, and the first thing i noticed was that the coolant level was down an inch or two....i started to wonder 'was dave right? does oil evaporate?' and then i saw the real problem:

- one and a half gallons or so of oil were all over - the floor - my equipment - my dads workbench......'sh*t'.....aparently a crack had formed from the bottom to the top of the tank while i was upstairs.. had like 30 minutes before class to get this stuff taken care of. I ended up getting most of the oil back in the containers, but 3 and a half containers worth were on the floor and table. My sister took over until i got back from class. everything was sticky and slippery and just overall a pain in my ass when i got back. I ended up dumping kitty litter all over the floor and letting that soak it up. two hours later - turns out kitty litter is a halfway decent oil picker upper. Damnit :(
More images of the aftermath are available in the Flickr page, but are of lesser quality due to the fact that i was..... yknow, more interested in cleaning this up than documenting it.

5k1ttl3's OTPC: Summary

All in all i have to say that the OTPC was a success. The tank was obviously a piece, but it was a freebie too, so i cant complain. To the surprise of both of us, the Oil actually did cool the system. it cooled it very well i think. The CPU temp. dropped 21 degrees under oil, and it just looked cool as hell. I am definently interested in attempting this again, and maybe running some more tests on it as soon as i find a suitable container.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

HapHazardHacks. We pour oil on shit.

Aboot haphazardhacks:
We plan on being yet another place online to fulfill your need for random cool content. But we arent going to be a repository of other people links, we are going to be doing all our own stuff, and hopefully updating several times a month with hacks, mods and anything else that we feel like posting. So check back often.