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Submission + - The Biohacking Movement and Open Source Insulin

szczys writes: Since early last century insulin has been produced from the pancreas of animals. In the late 1970's we figured out how to synthesize insulin using bacteria or yeast. As the biohacking movement has grown insulin production has been a common target, but for some reason we're not there yet. Dan Maloney looked into the backstory (including the amazing story of the Saxl family who produced life-saving insulin during WWI) and a new startup that is trying to get Biohackers working on the problem.

Submission + - The Factory of the World - Documentary on Manufacturing in Shenzhen

szczys writes: This documentary looks at the changing ecosystem of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, China) through interviews with product engineers involved with the MIT Media Lab manufacturing program, Finance professionals in Hong Kong, and notables in the Maker Industry.

Worth checking out for anyone thinking of a hardware startup or just interested in how hardware gets made.

Submission + - Drones Ground Aerial Firefighting Fleet->

szczys writes: Over the weekend, planes and helicopters fighting forest fires in California were grounded when drones (quadcopters) were spotted in the area. This is not an isolated incident and has been happening more frequently. Drones pose a hazard to the firefighting planes which could be damaged during collision.

Reports are varied on the issue. Adam Fabio looked into the claims that there were drones right over the fires taking video, and that the reported drones were actually in a designated RC flight park. He also shows off some websites which provide information about flight bans for drones.

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Submission + - ProxyHam Talk pulled from DEFCON -- Here's how to build it and why you shouldn't->

szczys writes: Use WiFi anonymously from a mile away? It's obvious why the ProxyHam talk got a lot of interest when it was announced as part of this year's DEFCON line-up. Yesterday the talk was cancelled and no reason was given for doing so.

From photos and what little information is available, Brian Benchoff explains how you can build your own ProxyHam without it ever being presented. There are a few caveats, the radio and encryption technologies combined will have you breaking a few laws, and there's really no reason to go to these lengths.

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Submission + - Did you know the randomness of unintialized RAM is a quality Entropy source->

szczys writes: When you power up a device, the RAM is always in an unknown state. You might think it would be similar most of the time but you're wrong. Voja Antonic looked into the concept and built a few different True Random Number Generators (TRNG) which use the random state of the RAM at power-on to produce random seeds. He's able to build 10MB random collections which do extremely well in the best of entropy testing.
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Submission + - How to Build Beautiful Enclosures from FR4 -- aka PCBs->

szczys writes: For decades Voja Antonic has been perfecting his technique of building enclosures form FR4, which is the substance used to make most printed circuit boards.

He shared his method in this amazing post which includes a bunch of illustrations he made to showcase the tips and tricks that make this method work. Building enclosures out of FR4 has been done for a long time, but I've never seen a guide that walks you through everything needed to achieve this level of quality.

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Submission + - 1-Pixel Pac-Man->

szczys writes: Retro games just aren't the same since the display technology resolution has exploded. I went the opposite direction and chose a display with less resolution than the original.

This reinvention of Pac-Man uses a 32x32 RGB LED module which are made for LED billboards. This makes the player just one pixel. Add in an Atari joystick and we have a winner.

This is a great programming challenge. If you've never looked at Pac-Man AI before, it's fascinating and worth your time!

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Submission + - Hanging out with Someone who Walked on the Moon->

szczys writes: Greg Charvat recently sat in on an MIT course called "Engineering Apollo". For this set of sessions, David Scott recounted his experience as an astronaut. David was the commander of the Apollo 15 mission, flew several others, and took part in the development of much of the equipment used in the moon missions. This class is him hanging around with a bunch of engineers talking in a level of detail rarely heard.
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Submission + - 1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks->

szczys writes: Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container?
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Submission + - Radar that sees through walls built in garage->

szczys writes: Building radar in his garage is nothing new to Greg Charvat. He has a PhD in this stuff and has literally written the book (and University course) on building your own radar system.

This time around it's Phased-Array Radar. This is more than just judging the speed of a baseball or Ferrari. This rig can actually see through walls. Greg uses the example of a soda can to illustrate the quality and resolution possible from this type of system.

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Submission + - Arduino Dispute reaches out to Distributors->

szczys writes: Two companies are claiming ownership of the Arduino Trademark. The most recent development in this sad state of affairs is a letter from Arduino SRL to long-time Distributors of Arduino products. SRL is claiming they are the real Arduino, but there are some tasty tidbits including a Q/A section with some peculiar answers.
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Submission + - Direct programming the sub-$5 ESP8266 WiFi module means Internet for everything->

szczys writes: The ESP8266 boards have been around for a while. They let you add WiFi to any hardware project for under five bucks. But most people are using them with the AT commands firmware which is a bit of a kludge. Since espressif put out a free SDK for them, it's pretty easy to program them directly. Here's an overview of what that takes which really highlights how easy it is to do.
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Submission + - There are two companies fighting to call themselves Arduino; here's what we know->

szczys writes: Arduino is a household name in hobby electronics. But now there are two companies calling themselves Arduino and as you've probably guessed this is going to play out in the courts. How can this be? One company started the Arduino movement and used the other company, a contract manufacturer, to actually make the hardware. This went on for a few years before the trademark was actually granted. Elliot Williams did dome digging to help figure out how this all might shake out.
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Submission + - Calling Hackers to Fix the World->

szczys writes: The 2015 Hackaday Prize kicked off today. A Grand Prize of a Trip to Space in a prize pool worth $500,000 challenges hackers to build devices to solve real problems in the world. These are things like growing/transporting food, curbing pollution, providing health care, etc. New this year is the Best Product prize with offers $100,000 to the best design which is ready for manufacturing.
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I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. -- Oscar Wilde