Hunter Cat Card Skimmer Detector Review

Today I’m reviewing Hunter Cat, a business-card sized circuit designed to root out magnetic card skimmers. Thieves use skimmers to collect your bank card information, most commonly at ATMs and gas stations.

Dip the Hunter Cat into a magstripe payment device and it will tell you with some small LEDs whether it’s safe to dip your bank card.

It works by detecting the number of magnetic stripe heads inside the reader. Too many and the Hunter Cat will tell you it’s suspicious.

I keep my Hunter Cat in the dash compartment on my scooter, since I’m most likely to need it when I’m getting gas, but if I were traveling, I’d carry it with me to identify safe ATMs.

Hunter Cat is a collaboration between Mexican hardware company Electronic Cats and security researcher Salvador Mendoza.


My Rooftop Ham Radio Antenna

I recently put a ham radio antenna on my roof, so I could get better signal inside my apartment, which isn’t on a high floor.

As an ultra beginner without a lot of investment in the hobby, it was perfectly acceptable to have to climb onto the roof to get any signal on my portable radio’s antenna. But the benefit of this larger, roof-mounted antenna is that now we can leave the radio on all the time and listen to it inside, which leads to more opportunistic connections and overall more time spent enjoying.

What follows outlines the process we used. I have previously written a guide about getting started in ham radio, in case you’re interested.

The antenna I got is a VHF/UHF antenna that mounts on top of a pole. My friend David, my boyfriend Smokey, and I put up one of these on David’s roof and on our own roof, and the two had different mounting situations. At David’s place, we used a mounting kit with metal straps and special brackets to hold the pole to a chimney. At our place, there was an unused analog TV antenna pole that we planned to repurpose.

Important note about safety: if you don’t know what you’re doing, consult someone who does (and who knows your local regulations, too). Putting an antenna on your roof brings the risk of a lightning strike which, if not properly grounded, can cause fire and other damage, as well as loss of life. I’m not an electrician or an expert.

Everything I used to connect to my Baofeng UV-5R radio:


3D Printed Dust Port Adapter

Here’s a quick guide to making a 3D printed adapter to connect your power tools to your shop vac if they’re not naturally compatible.

For this example, I’ll be using my Ryobi planer and sander and my Festool shop vac hose, but these general instructions should work for any two tubes that are close to the same size as each other.

For this project, you will need:


Meow Meow Mini: First Look

Today I want to introduce you to a new board, the Meow Meow Mini. It’s basically a capacitive touch keyboard, which makes it easy to turn any almost anything into a controller for games and other apps.

Meow Meow is created by my friends at Electronic Cats, a Mexican open source hardware company headquartered in Aguascalientes.


Electronic Affirmation Mirror

Written for HackSpace magazine issue 30

When you look in the mirror, who couldn’t use a few words of encouragement? Build a display inside a mirror to scroll custom affirmations you can read over your own reflection. This polished project comes together easily with a store-bought shadow box frame and some see-through mirror material. You can build a simple version with a basic Arduino or compatible, or level it up using a NodeMCU (ESP8266 WiFi board) in order to add more positive quotes to the mirror over the internet.

For this project, you will need:

Read the full tutorial on HackSpace.


Hakko Wire Strippers Review

Many pairs of wire strippers have come and gone in my life, but these wire strippers by Hakko has remained throughout. They’ve stayed sharp over years of frequent use, and this flared part of the handle makes them a joy to hold and use.

The rubber grips have a powder mixed into the rubber to give them a sturdy, really nice feeling grip, even if your hands are slippery with motor oil.