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Thanks for all the support! And what's coming up | Print |
Blog - Misc
Written by Akiba   
Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hi all.

I just wanted to write a post thanking everyone for all the support. I received a lot of great feedback and Tokyo Hackerspace received enough donations to buy another 100 solar cells for the solar lanterns. The solar cells and the PCBs are the most important because they can't be sourced locally. That brings us up to 150 lanterns that will get produced once all the parts arrive. I'm going to turn the hackerspace into a sweat shop. Definitely a good way for people to learn how to solder.

I'll be trying to get back to some semblance of normal life tomorrow. The news feeds should hopefully resume tomorrow as well.

Things were so crazy the past few days that it took a lot of mental and emotional stamina just to stay sane. I was luckily able to overcome the initial shock of the earthquake, tsunami, and then hearing that multiple reactors were melting down just around the corner. There was also the race to get emergency supplies since all bottled water and dry goods were selling out quickly on Saturday. One thing they don't tell you is that the reason you need to stock up on emergency supplies is because mass hysteria will create a shortage very quickly. On top of that, people were freaking out right and left (mostly outside of Japan) and needed to be calmed down. 

In the hackerspace, we got together last night and decided on the upcoming projects to deal with the events that have unfolded. We'll be assembling the lanterns which will probably be needed for some time. The northern region of Japan will probably not get properly wired up for electricity for quite some time so many people that stay in the region will be spending their nights in the dark. We're also going to start testing out long distance Wi-Fi connections to see if we can spread and distribute basic internet access for people to communicate. Hopefully we can get Asterisk and SIP phones going so that people can communicate easily, even if they don't have phone service. I've already stockpiled six wireless routers and made sure that they can be flashed with DD-WRT. 

To deal with the nuclear situation, we ordered two Geiger counters that were thankfully supplied by Reuseum. There is worldwide hysteria at the moment on radiation clouds and just about all commercial geiger counter outlets are sold out. He stepped in and sold us two nuclear facility grade geiger counters out of his stock and is having them FedEx'd to Japan. That will help us calm people down, both in the hackerspace, and Tokyo in general. We'll be UStreaming the geiger counters so that people can see the live readings in the short term.

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Kimono Lantern and Humanitarian Open Source Hardware | Print |
Blog - Misc
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Things have been crazy here in Tokyo for the past few days. After the Tohoku earthquake, there's been constant streaming of horrible visual images of the disaster on Japanese news. Along with that, there have been warnings of aftershocks up to a magnitude of 8.0, potential nuclear disasters, rolling blackouts, lack of transportation, and dwindling supplies in local supermarkets and grocery stores. It's a stressful situation in Tokyo which has over 25M people and life is anything but normal. It's a chore just to get to work and many feel powerless to do anything but watch the unfolding nuclear situation and hope that it can get contained before a disaster happens. In writing this post, it gives me an excuse to tear myself away from the fear mongering news streams which I'm constantly glued to.

In the hackerspace, we'll be holding our meeting tonight and will probably start hammering out plans to figure out how and where we can help. There are many things that are needed right now in the quake stricken area. There is no power, internet access is extremely limited, food and clean water are dwindling, and transportation to the area is limited. What we decide on will probably depend on what's needed and available at the time.

In any case, one immediate thing that can be done is to provide a source of light to people. With no electricity and limited supplies, flashlights and batteries are a luxury. In the hackerspace, we designed the Kimono Lantern as a solar rechargeable lantern to decorate gardens and patios with. However it has a much bigger use right now as the quake victims have no power and many are spending their nights in the dark. Also, parts of Tokyo will be suffering from blackouts until the power grid can get back to normal levels. With a major nuclear generating plant offline, this could take from weeks to months. 

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FreakLabs Shop taking a small break | Print |
Blog - Misc
Written by Akiba   
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Hi everyone. The FreakLabs store will be taking a two-and-a-half week break from Tuesday 2/22 to Sunday 3/13. I'll be going to the US to visit family and friends, take care of some on-site consulting, and more importantly get some much needed rest. The shopping cart will be disabled in that interval so purchases won't be allowed. I'll still be maintaining the news feed during that time, but I won't have access to my equipment and inventory so I won't be able to fill orders. I hope it doesn't inconvenience anyone and thanks for all the support :)
 
FreakLabs on Hackaday | Print |
Blog - Misc
Written by Akiba   
Thursday, 30 December 2010

Hackaday is carrying the "Feeding the Shark" tutorial. It's nice getting a bit of pub every once in a while. Looks like I need to do more projects :)

 

 
Feeding the Shark - Turning the Freakduino into a Realtime Wireless Protocol Analyzer with Wireshark | Print |
Tutorials - Software
Written by Akiba   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010

One of the most powerful tools to have when doing any type of design that involves communication protocols is a protocol analyzer. It allows you to see exactly what the communicating devices are seeing which is very useful for troubleshooting many types of problems that might come up. This is especially important for wireless communications because this is often the only way to see what type of data is going over the air. It also allows the user to see if there are any rogue frames, check for breaches of the communication protocol, analyze traffic, or reverse engineer a proprietary protocol. And of course, it’s extremely useful for learning about how a protocol operates and behaves in real-life.

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Chibi v0.91 and chbiArduino v0.51 Release | Print |
Blog - Chibi
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I've just released the Chibi stack v0.91 and chibiArduino stack v0.51. For Chibi, I added the sleep mode function to the AT86RF212 boards. I also removed unneeded code that added a carriage return to the virtual COM port whenever it saw a newline. I found that this caused some strange errors and was actually not needed so I decided to strip it. The additional carriage return is automatically added in the chibi command line handler already. For both stacks, I fixed a bug where the radio required a delay when waking from sleep mode to allow the PLL to lock.

But probably the main feature I introduced in this release is the support for promiscuous mode. Being able to support promiscuous mode opens the door to an extremely powerful feature where you can turn the stack and hardware into an 802.15.4 packet sniffer. When used in conjunction with a protocol analyzer like Wireshark, it becomes an extremely powerful tool for protocol stack and software development, debugging, and security research. I'll be talking more about this in the next post. 

The chibiArduino Datasheet was also updated to include a Troubleshooting section and a matrix table for setting the power jumpers and switches on the Freakduino.

Also, the chibiArduino HOWTO guide was updated with the CHIBI_PROMISCUOUS parameter definition. 

Link to Chibi project page

Link to chibiArduino project page

 
Assembling and Setting Up the Freakduino-Chibi | Print |
Blog - Chibi
Written by Akiba   
Monday, 22 November 2010

Things have been pretty hectic last week with the intro of the Freakduino-Chibi boards and I was overwhelmed for a bit. However things are starting to stabilize and I've had the chance to put together an assembly tutorial for the boards. Actually, this tutorial is not only about how to assemble the kit portion of the board, but also how to set it up so that you can start to communicate wirelessly with it and make sure the board/s work.

I've also included a small tutorial towards the end that demonstrates the technique I use to solder through hole components. I debated about including it because there's a risk that people that try it out might burn their fingers. But I decided to include it because it's kind of a neat way to do through hole parts. Through hole parts can be a pain because you have to simultaneously hold the part in place, flip the board over (or tilt it at an angle), and then solder down the part. I always found this irritating so I tried different ways to get around this. When you're soldering through hole parts onto 50+ boards, you naturally start looking for shortcuts. Anyways, I like the technique that I'm showing because you don't need any type of fixture to hold a board or tilt it, and it lets me fix all the parts in place and then turn the board over and solder down everything in one go. Not sure if you'll like it as much as I do, but just thought I'd throw it out there in case someone finds it helpful. 

And in case you don't which board I'm referring to in this assembly tutorial, you can find the Freakduino-Chibi boards at the FreakLabs store :)

Hope you enjoy!

 

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Chibi Original Design Document | Print |
Blog - Chibi
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I was digging through my old design notebook today and came upon this little gem. It's the original design document I wrote for Chibi before it was actually Chibi. I was in Berkeley, California at a coffee shop and started sketching out what my ideal stack would be. It wouldn't be complicated and would just form a simple network to allow people to communicate with their designs. The original title was "The Super Simple Wireless Stack". Ugh...you can now see how creative I am. Anyways, after sketching out this document, I spent the next two weeks writing the stack and testing it. I still remember telling my sister I was going to call it "midget" and her disapproving look. From that, it turned into Chibi.

Here's a scan of the document with my horrid handwriting:

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Chibi on Make | Print |
Blog - Chibi
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Wow, the chibiArduino project actually made it on to Make magazine. I'm happy and a little bit nervous since its more attention than I expected. But thanks for all the support!!!


 

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