MAKE Magazine


Stuxnet Worm - BYOC, bring your own centrifuges


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This crazy story is making the rounds, it appears a virus was specifically designed to spin nuclear centrifuges. In order to do this, the virus writers most likely needed to reproduce this with the actual (duplicate) equipment...

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

...No one was more intrigued than Mr. Langner, a former psychologist who runs a small computer security company in a suburb of Hamburg. Eager to design protective software for his clients, he had his five employees focus on picking apart the code and running it on the series of Siemens controllers neatly stacked in racks, their lights blinking.

He quickly discovered that the worm only kicked into gear when it detected the presence of a specific configuration of controllers, running a set of processes that appear to exist only in a centrifuge plant. “The attackers took great care to make sure that only their designated targets were hit,” he said. “It was a marksman’s job.”

For example, one small section of the code appears designed to send commands to 984 machines linked together.

Curiously, when international inspectors visited Natanz in late 2009, they found that the Iranians had taken out of service a total of exactly 984 machines that had been running the previous summer.



I'm putting this in the "News from the Future" category.

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3D printing in titanium

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3D printing service i.materialise just announced that they now print in titanium.

We're overjoyed that we're the world's first 3D printing service to let consumers order titanium 3D prints. Titanium 3D printing opens up an entirely new world of advanced engineering, manufacturing and jewelry applications for creative people worldwide. Titanium's high heat resistance, high accuracy and unparalleled strength lets designers now make things that before now could only be made by the research and development departments of only the largest corporations in the world. By putting this technology in the public's hands were democratizing manufacturing and giving you the opportunity to, design and order something this is exactly as you want it to be.

Be sure to check out the tech specs before you buy. And it's expensive -- 4cm print with 8 cubic cm in volume is $547!

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REMINDER: WordPress move: Please Stand By!

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Don't forget:

We're going to be moving our Movable Type blog to WordPress (in the Amazon cloud) on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. We'll be shutting off comments at 4pm PST/7pm EST in order to start some of the data migration. We'll hit the switch on the DNS at 7pm PST/10pm EST. You'll most likely notice a maintenance page at that time, and with any luck, we'll be up and running as soon as possible.


Make: Online --> WordPress countdown: Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

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David Pogue's "Making Stuff" NOVA Series

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New York Times technology columnist and creator of the O'Reilly Missing Manuals book series David Pogue is hosting a new four-part series called "Making Stuff," which airs on PBS tomorrow, January 19th. The series takes a look into the often unsung field of material science. Each week, Pogue investigates a different quality of materials, with the four being Smaller, Stronger, Cleaner, and Smarter. "Invisibility cloaks. Spider silk that is stronger than steel. Plastics made of sugar that dissolve in landfills. Self-healing military vehicles. Smart pills and micro-robots that zap diseases. Clothes that monitor your mood. What will the future bring, and what will it be made of?"

Check out the video preview below for a look at what to expect, watch the premiere episode tomorrow on PBS, and then check in with us later in the week when we interview Pogue about making the series.

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Alt.CES: A maker's peek at Central Hall

This year, MAKE/O'Reilly author Damien Stolarz (iPhone Hacks, Car PC Hacks) agreed to be our eyes and ears on the ground at CES, scoping out hardware at the show that he thought would be of interest to makers. Here's his third and final installment, a tour of Central Hall. (Here's his report on North Hall and the International Pavilion and his take on South Hall) Thanks, Damien! —Gareth


After a week of decompressing, I was able to look back at my CES trip and begin to digest the overwhelming audiovisual experience that was Central Hall. Central Hall is where the biggest companies can be found. Microsoft and Intel flank the west entrance, quickly followed by Panasonic, Samsung, LG, and nearly every other TV manufacturer on the planet. At the far end of Central Hall sits an enormous shrine to Sony.

A couple of major themes stood out this year:

  • Tablets
  • Stereoscopic 3D
  • Touchscreens everywhere
  • Extra sensors in everyday devices
  • Wireless Power and alternative energy

The overwhelming theme was Stereoscopic 3D. Imagine a form of augmented reality where only those wearing goggles can participate. Apparently the future's so blurry, you gotta wear shades.

Unfortunately, there are several kinds of shades to choose from. Active shutter glasses flicker each eye in sync to the screen. Passive glasses are circularly polarized, and cut the brightness but don't have the same strobe effect.

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Panasonic's Booth had a huge video array and bleachers and hundreds of active shutter glasses.


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Images via scanning laser excitation of glow-in-the-dark paint

My best days at Make: Online come when I see a new process, something at once so simple that I can't believe I never thought of it myself, and so impressive in its results that my head just overflows with creative possibilities that weren't there before. Today has been a very good day. First there was Isaac Salazar's clever book-folding trick, and now there's this delicious slice of wicked from Daito Manabe: Scan a laser across a phosphorescent screen to create glowing, haunting images that slowly fade into blackness.

Joseph Thibodeau writes:

As evidenced in the test videos, the bursts of laser scanning are matched to the fade rate of the paint. Therefore it would seem that the time taken to "write" an image is directly proportional to the desired visual persistence of the final image. We wonder, by combining clever timing and variable laser intensity could you write images much more quickly? How hard would it be to use this for moving pictures? With the ability to create your own tiny laser projector, and even an RGB scanner, there must be a lot of potential in this idea for mind-blowing visual effects. Add portability by using a phosphor-treated projection screen!

[via Hack a Day]

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Skill Set: Electronics tips from "Ask MAKE"

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For the past few years, we ran a column called "Ask MAKE," where we answered reader-submitted questions about all things making. Not surprisingly, many of them had to do with electronics. Here are some of the most popular ones, which might help shine some light on your problem (literally in one case), or even answer a question you didn't even know that you had:

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Ask MAKE: How to wire up LEDs?

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Ask MAKE: Pull-up resistor

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Ask MAKE: Software for designing circuits

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Ask MAKE: Debouncing a switch

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Clever book-folding sculpture trick

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It would appear that Isaac Salazar's remarkable "origami" book sculptures are made simply by folding each page to the right dimensions. Dog-ears of various sizes will achieve the outer profile of the shape, but I assume internal details require that the pages be cut. See more in Veronica Salazar's Flickr stream. [via Recyclart]

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Measuring a weather balloon's volume

The guys at Louisville, KY's hackerspace LVL1 are trying to send a helium balloon across the Atlantic to Europe -- autonomously. But to determine the helium's lifting power, they first have to figure out how much helium their balloon holds. It's a fascinating conundrum and the perfect sort of thing for a hackerspace's hive mind to tackle.

When you're flying a constant altitude balloon like ours, the amount of helium it holds, combined with the weight of the robot pilot dangling off the balloon, directly determines the altitude that you will fly at. When your goal is to cross the Atlantic using the thin Jet Stream, you need to fly at a pretty precise altitude, or you'll miss it entirely!
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How-To: Lunchtime clock

Randy Sarafan writes:

Have you ever wished lunchtime were longer, but didn't know where to find those few extra minutes? Well, wish no longer!

Thanks to great in advances in clock technology, I present to you a clock that speeds up 20% every day at 11:00 and slows down 20% every day at 11:48, giving you an extra twelve minutes of lunch to enjoy. Twelve minutes may not seem like a lot but, to put it into perspective, this is a full additional hour of lunchtime gained every week.

Lunchtime Clock

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In the Maker Shed: Arduino Nano 3.0

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The Arduino Nano 3.0 is a surface mount breadboard compatible version of the ever-popular Arduino micro controller. It's small, has integrated USB, and is breadboard friendly. It has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. Physically, it's missing the power jack, but it can still sense and switch to the higher potential source of power. It's perfect for embedding into your next project.

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OLED cube responds to gravity

This neat experiment uses a Teensy development board, an MMA7455L accelerometer, and an OLED display to show a cube in three dimensions.

The acceleration sensor MMA7455L is used to measure the direction of the gravity vector to rotate a cube accordingly.

[Via Dangerous Prototypes, thanks Ian!]

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Meagan's Panama sketchbook

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Meagan was recently on an extended stay, visiting my daughter, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small village in Darién, Panama. Before leaving home, Meagan made a small sketchbook which she then filled with a visual travelogue. On returning, she scanned the pages of the sketchbook and posted them for all to see. The book tells a story of rural life far off the grid and the people she lived with there. Some of the pages are cut to the contour of the images, which then show layering of the three dimensional spaces in the picture. Creating a sketchbook like this provides travelers with an activity for the down times of travel, and later serves as a physical and visual record of the experiences of the trip. Below are some of her thoughts about the project:

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Could you share your ideas about what it was like to create your sketchbook?
Keeping a sketchbook while traveling is a lot like keeping a journal. I was just flipping through an old (completely text-based) journal I kept when I traveled to Paris in 2008. The stories bring back the days I spent there so clearly. Drawings enhance those memories... but also have made my adventure so much more accessible to friends and family. Even Peace Corps volunteers I met while I was in Panama flipped slowly through the pages and could feel my experiences. Most of them asked when they finished, "So, when are you coming to my site?" with a laugh. I wish there was a job documenting Peace Corps adventures.

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HiJack power and bandwidth from iPhone headset port

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Project HiJack is an elegant take on an old idea. Ye-Sheng Kuo, Thomas Schmid, and Prabal Dutta from the University of Michigan's EECS Department have done the iPhone hacking world a solid by producing one of the coolest little pieces of kit to come around in a long time. In short, the device can pull several milliwatts at 3 V and communicate at 8.82 kbaud using the iPhone's headset port. Its design encourages the use of daughterboard peripherals to sense and collect data. Source code and schematics are available here. Also, it's not limited to the iPhone and they are actively working on supporting apps for Android and WP7. [via Slashdot]

HiJack is a hardware/software platform for creating cubic-inch sensor peripherals for the mobile phone. HiJack devices harvest power and use bandwidth from the mobile phone's headset interface. The HiJack platform enables a new class of small and cheap phone-centric sensor peripherals that support plug-and-play operation.
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Tint ABS feedstock with a felt marker

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Thingiverse contributor theorbtwo found that a simple felt marker is all it takes to tint the output from a 3D printer, so they designed and fabricated a holder for those interested in giving it a try. If you do attempt this, be forewarned that some markers may clog nozzles, so verify compatibility prior to a print run. [via Thingverse]

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