Sunday, September 25, 2016

IKEA Motion Lamp Hack Update

Back at it again, I decided to add a few more features before I deem this project complete and ready to be put into service. In case your are wondering, this is based on my previous work on the IKEA Motion LED Lamp Hack. This time around I just wanted to make a few hardware changes that will let me have full control of the light.

IKEA Motion Lamp Resistor Modification

Monday, September 12, 2016

USB HUB + WiFi Teardown

One day I come across an interesting product from Adafruit that I couldn't resist getting. It will make a nice addition to the Raspberry Pi Zero. It's a 3 port USB hub with inbuilt WiFi which takes the fourth port. Inspired by insideGadgets, here are some photos and part numbers.

USB WiFi Hub
Wish it was a bit more compact. I have a USB to OTG adapter in the USB plug.

USB WiFi Hub Inside

USB WiFi Hub PCB Top
Main Components
  • USB HUB - Terminus FE 1.1s
  • 3.3V Regulator - AMS1117
  • WiFi - Realtek RTL8188ETV

USB Wifi Hub IC
USB Wifi Hub WiFI
USB WiFi Hub PCB Bottom

Interesting thing to note is the fourth USB port footprint, this PCB can support the WiFi module or fourth USB port. Overall it is a simple design that would be easy to embed in another project without the housing.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

IKEA Motion Lamp Hack

Last year while visiting a friend for the Portland Mini Maker Fair I became the owner of an IKEA STÖTTA, a battery powered, motion activated, LED lamp. I knew it was ripe for hacking. After arriving home, it sat on my desk waiting to be disassembled to reveal its secrets. I figured the only way to get it off my desk was to get around to tearing it apart and seeing what I could do with it. Over the weekend I spent more time trying to decide which direction to take since there are plenty of features I could add. At least I can get something going now and add to it later. Who ever said a project had to be completed?

IKEA LED Light PCB Close Up

The lamp consists of a small PCB which contains the following main parts;
  • HS8A005 (BISS0001 Motion Detection IC)
  • PIR Sensor
  • LED Driver (Inductor and IC, powered by battery VCC and outputs 3V)
  • 3.3V Regulator
  • Voltage Detector (Disables trigger on low battery)
IKEA Light PCB Labeled

Thursday, September 8, 2016


A year and a half ago I helped support the Mooltipass on Indiegogo. I originally heard about it on, but what really captured my attention other than it being an offline password manager, is that it was going to be designed by the the community. Anyone could volunteer time to help with the project. Unfortunately I was unable to do so with the many other things I had going on. But at least I could support the project by backing it.

The Mooltipass is a USB encrypted (AES256) credential storage device that acts like an HID keyboard. It can be used with or without the Chrome app and the extension. The extension allows it to detect which site you are on and load that credential after an approval from the on board display, as well as manage the device settings and credential database. The goal of the Mooltipass is to minimize the possible attack vectors on your stored passwords. I use LastPass which has a larger attack surface and offers greater convenience, so for the time being, I am using both systems. Security for the Mooltipass is accomplished by being a physical device as well as having a removable smart card. Without the smart card and pin number, you cannot access the credentials even if you have the backed up binary blob. There is also a permanent lockout after three failed attempts of entering the pin. Which I find a bit short since with the touch buttons it is easy to mess up. I should also mention that the pin isn't limited to 0-9; it has used all of the possible hex values, 0-9, A-F. Pretty neat!

Since the Mooltipass is a physical device pretending to be a keyboard, it will work with sites in which the login form isn't detectable, such as a Flash based web app, which is another great feature. This is accomplished by using the onscreen display to send the credentials. An unintended use that I found is that is greatly reduces keystrokes for non web based logins which is helpful for people like myself who have tendentious.  I realized with the Mooltipass how many times a day I am entering in my credentials.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Living Room Node Upgrade

For over a year now the living room node and La Crosse Gateway has been sitting atop a plastic bin next to my patio slider in a mess of wires.  This is when you know you have too many projects lying around the house.  So this summer I decided to design a PCB with a nodeMCU that will replace both projects and mount atop of a power brick. I went with the nodeMCU since there is power nearby, ease of connecting directly to the MQTT broker, and I can broadcast more often without the power limitations of a battery. This project frees up two RFM12B boards so that they can be used for the other window and the front door.

Living room slider node and La Crosse gateway

Sunday, August 21, 2016

PCB Battery Clip

Just a small update to the battery powered nodes. Until now I had used a piece of tape to hold the PCB to the battery pack. It was always a pain when changing the batteries or accidentally hitting the node and watching it fall apart. I also wanted to try my hand at Fusion 360, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Fusion 360 sketch of PCB battery holder clip

I still have a lot to learn in using Fusion 360 but I got the job done, um sort of. I had issues extruding the width less than I had initially and I didn't want to start over. So canceling the print worked good enough at the size I wanted.

Fusion 360 model of PCB battery holder clip

It came out quite nice. I just need to learn Fusion 360 properly.

PCB battery holder in action

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

C.H.I.P. by Next Thing Co

After a year of waiting it has arrived: the $9 computer from Next Thing Co. When it launched on Kickstarter, there was no reason to skip backing this one to at least see what it was all about. Now that it has arrived I am quite happy that I did. For such a large project it would hardly be worth calling it late. My reward was due May 2016 and I received it June 2016. Very good compared to most crowd sourcing campaigns. I selected the C.H.I.P. plus battery reward, but before it shipped you could add accessories. I added the VGA adapter and an extra C.H.I.P. That way I can use it on my desk attached to my monitor since the DVI input is already in use. With the Raspberry Pi I have to connect it to the TV if I want to mess with it directly. At this price it's cheap enough to buy more than one that you can dedicate to a project and just fuggedaboutit.

$9 C.H.I.P. and accessories

Monday, June 20, 2016


As a hacker, I know all too well how much workbench space is vital. Alongside my three monitors, I have an extended desk that houses my soldering irons, compartment shelving, and countless projects, among other tools and devices. One constant that seems to get in my way is an old desk lamp. That’s where this project came to light, ha! I decided to design my own lamp using an analog RGBW LED strip. This board I designed will give you the tools to design your own WiFi controlled light source.

The boards' controller is run by the NodeMCU which is connected to an N-Channel MOSFET for each color of the RGBW LED strip. Trimpot for brightness and two user buttons (that can be setup to change modes, possibly) were also added. A 5v regulator was then added so the power can be shared with 9-12v input for the LED strip. The nodeMCU will be updated by wireless as well.

My idea is to have the nodeMCU be a web server for direct control via a web page. The site will have various configurations including color options, number of channels, animations (like fade effects) and a timer. I’d like to have it connect to MQTT server to integrate with larger servers such as openHAB.

You can follow the details of the project on