January 26

About This Site…

Celtic Cross Engineering is more than just an “Engineering Blog” Much more! It is my ultimate Mad Scientist Blog, Lab Notebook, and Instructions for others of the same bent.  Those who wonder about this world and this life we live, who want to know the deep questions: Why am I here? What Great Mysteries are out there to explore? Or how about questions like these:

  • Is the speed of light really a constant? What if it is not?
  • What about Magick?* or Alchemy? Why does reality seem like it should be magical, but most people say that it’s not?
  • Can you transmute elements without the use of a cyclotron?
  • How can I make a good smoked cheese without paying a fortune?
  • Is it possible to extract free energy from the vacuum?
  • Do fossils prove evolution, or disprove it?
  • Does a raised bed garden produce more food than a traditional in the ground variety?
  • Can radio waves travel through the ground?
  • What about abandoned technologies? (ie: things that were superseded by new technologies, but perhaps were not investigated to see how far they could be developed?

Things like that…

So, below are the basic categories of the various posts.  These are not pure blog posts – the dates basically reflect the day the post wast started but I will continue to update/add-to/change posts as I work on those ideas or experiments.

Let’s Explore!

Basic Categories Within Celtic Cross Engineering…

* Let me clarify: “magic” is when you pull a rabbit out of the hat.  “Magick” is when the rabbit pulls you out of the hat. In either case, you ought to keep an eye on the hat.

Category: Uncategorized
July 14

Online Anonymity Project Proxyham : REBOOT!

ProxyHam_2 ProxyHam_1

 

On July 1, 2015 Wired Magazine online printed this article about a new and unique way of achieving anonymity: Online Anonymity Project Proxyham

Here is the problem, apparently some unnamed legal entity and/or judge has issued a gag order against the company in an attempt to silence this information! Read here: Proxyham mysteriously vanishes!

So what are we going to do about it? Simple. I am going to start a series of blog posts here to show you how to build your own ProxyHam device. I invite anyone else who wants to, send me details of their similar devices and I will publish them as well!

I don’t give a F*CK about asshole judges who issue such illegal, and unconstitutional orders.

I am going to repost the article here because it is possible that Wired may also get a gag order, so I am going to make sure the info gets out there:

COURTESY BEN CAUDILL

At the upcoming DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas next month, Caudill plans to unveil ProxyHam, a “hardware proxy” designed to use a radio connection to add a physical layer of obfuscation to an internet user’s location. His open-source device, which he built for $200, connects to Wi-Fi and relays a user’s Internet connection over a 900 megaherz radio connection to their faraway computer, with a range of between one and 2.5 miles depending on interference from the landscape and buildings. That means even if investigators fully trace the user’s internet connection, they’ll find only the ProxyHam box the person planted in a remote library, cafe, or other public place—and not their actual location.

Caudill, a researcher for the consultancy Rhino Security Labs, compares his tool to typical tactics to hide the source of an Internet connection, like using a neighbor’s Wi-Fi, or working from a coffee shop instead of home. But “the problem with Wi-Fi as a protocol is that you can’t get the range you need. If the FBI kicks down the door, it may not be my door, but it’ll be so close they can hear me breathe,” says Caudill. “[ProxyHam] gives you all the benefits of being able to be at a Starbucks or some other remote location, but without physically being there.”

ProxyHam, which Caudill says he’ll offer for sale at cost to DefCon attendees and will also teach users how to build with instructions on his website and ProxyHam’s Github page (both available after DefCon), is actually two devices. The first part is a box the size of a large dictionary, containing a Raspberry Pi computer connected to a Wi-Fi card and a small 900 megaherz antenna, all of which is meant to be plugged in at some inconspicuous public place—Caudill suggests a dark corner of a public library. On the other end of a radio connection, the user plugs in a 900 megaherz antenna into his or her ethernet port. (In the picture above, Caudill uses a giant Yagi antenna, but he says a much smaller $57 flat patch antenna works, too.)

Caudill intends ProxyHam to protect sensitive Internet users, such as dissidents and whistleblowers, for whom tools like VPNs and even the anonymity software Tor may not provide sufficient security. If an attacker can manage to install malware on the user’s PC, for instance, that malware can circumvent Tor and send the user’s IP address directly to the attacker. But with ProxyHam, that malware attack would only lead investigators to the ProxyHam device, not the user. “The KGB isn’t kicking in your door,” says Caudill. “They’re kicking in the door of the library 2.5 miles away.”

To avoid radio detection on the user’s end, ProxyHam’s wireless signals are designed to look indistinguishable from the many cordless telephones that use the same frequency. And Caudill says the rise of more internet-connected wireless gadgets will provide further cover for ProxyHam users over time. “There are a ton of devices jumping into that space and communicating there,” he says. “It’s not feasible to say ‘we’ll chase down everyone who has this device communicating on this frequency.’ It’s a needle in a haystack.”

No one should depend on ProxyHam alone—particularly until its security has been proven in real-world testing, says Micah Lee, a security technologist for The Intercept and occasional developer for the anonymous whistle-blowing software SecureDrop. But Lee points out that it can be used in combination with existing anonymity software like VPNs and Tor. “It seems like a thing to augment your Tor usage rather than replace it. In that sense, it seems like a good idea,” he says. Lee himself counsels anonymous leakers who use SecureDrop to send secrets to a news organization to first connect to a public Wi-Fi network. ProxyHam, he says, could accomplish something similar. “No matter how many hops over the Internet you use, if there’s someone spying on everything, they can connect all the dots. But if one of the hops isn’t over the Internet and is instead over a radio link, it’ll be a lot harder to connect those dots.”

The version of ProxyHam Caudill intends to sell at DefCon will be fairly basic. But in future versions he’s still developing, Caudill says the device will also include accelerometers designed to detect and warn users if it’s been moved from its hiding place. He’s even hoping to include a microphone that can act as a “black box” recorder to relay to the owner the last few moments of audio the ProxyHam hears before it’s disconnected. All of that, says Caudill, is intended to prevent investigators from discovering a ProxyHam and then tampering with it to eavesdrop on its communications or to trap a user who comes to fix or retrieve it.

Going to the trouble of buying and planting a ProxyHam device—one that if used safely, you may never see again—may sound like paranoia. But Caudill intends ProxyHam to protect the very most sensitive people on the internet, those for whom mere software protections aren’t good enough. “Journalists and dissidents in Arab Spring countries, for instance…these people have very high security requirements,” Caudill says. “This is that last-ditch effort to remain anonymous and keep yourself safe.”

Okay, now for technical details: This is from Errata Security website: ProxyHam conspiracy is nonsense

The talk was hype to begin with. You can buy a 900 MHz bridge from Ubquiti for $125 (or MicroTik device for $129) and attach it to a Raspberry Pi. How you’d do this is obvious. It’s a good DEF CON talk, because it’s the application that important, but the technical principles here are extremely basic.

NOTE: CCE Readers, here is the link to the device at NewEgg:Buy UbiQuiTi NanoStation

If you look careful at the pic in the Wired story on ProxyHam, it appears they are indeed just using the Ubuiti device. Here is the pic from Wired:

And here is the link to Ubquiti’s website: Ubquiti. Look at the top pic at the Device and the Yagi Antenna.

Again from Errata Security:

I don’t know why the talk was canceled. One likely reason is that the stories (such as the one on Wired) sensationalized the thing, so maybe their employer got cold feet. Or maybe the FBI got scared and really did give them an NSL, though that’s incredibly implausible. The feds have other ways to encourage people to be silent (I’ve personally been threatened to cancel a talk), but it wouldn’t be an NSL.

And finally, here is another post that explains much of the technology needed to build these devices using the Rasberry Pi, 35 dollar computer.

Build your own Anonymity Device

UPDATE: 07/15/2015: Another great site with info on building your own ProxyHAM! : How to Build a Proxy Ham Device : Suck it Uncle Sam!

Category: Experiments
May 4

Steampunk Lightning Detector MARK-II

So I have been building not one, but two new Lightning Detectors similar in some respects the my original “MARK-I” unit.

These use a new circuit from Charles Wenzel, that is somewhat simpler than the original, however does not have all of the neat options that the original possessed (namely the sound, metering, etc.) These detectors however had a more exotic and Steampunk feeling mixed with some “Alchemy” and Ghostly detection capabilities..

Magick, if you will.

Anyway, To the pics and circuitry. I wont bore you with too much text about how the build progressed, it was slow going just like before.

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The completed Alchemical Steampunk Detector.

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The two detectors partially built.

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Frontal view of the completed Detector.

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Side View.

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Close up of the “Ghost Crystal”

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Side View showing Hermetic Symbols of Alchemical Knowledge…

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Winding the Basket Coils.

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The straws make it simple to slide off. Remember there must always be an odd number of winding spikes (nails in this case).

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A little hot glue at the crossover points and the coil slips off in 1 piece. Ready for matte black paint.

Finally, here is the circuit I used for the detector. As mentioned above, it is a bit simpler than the MARK-I, but has less capabilities.

LD2_Circuit

That is all for now! If you want one of these you can buy it from my Etsy Store unless they are all gone, then you will have to have me build you one – which will take some time I’m afraid….

March 12

Making a Commonplace Book of your own…

Please read my post on what a commonplace book is before you make one, or you will turn into a toad.  Read it here

(Okay you rebel, I like you… besides, I’m not wasting that kind of magickal energy on you…)

There are a couple of ways to create a commonplace book that has the look of a real Victorian leather commonplace that would have been carried by a man or woman of letters (A woman or man who had the desire to further their intellectual capabilities and keep their musings, ideas, and creative juices flowing through the use of such a “rememberal”).  A leather-bound book of the size that would fit in a pocket or purse – large enough sketch and write comfortably, but small enough to keep easily, perhaps of a flexible nature.  You can buy books like this at your local hobby and metaphysical stores, or you can make one.

leatherbound_journals

I choose to buy an unlined “mini-journal” from my local “Hobby-Lobby” and then customize it to my liking by creating a leather logo and affixing it to the front cover.  Here’s a pic.

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My Commonplace Book.

By the way, for those who are interested, my logo is the Alchemical symbol of the Ourobors combined with the Triquetra, and the triple crescent moon which is actually the Celtic goddess symbol of Brigid in union with the horned god (Cerrunnos). My ancient ancestors would have appreciated it anyway… :)

This technique can certainly be used to make yourself a very inexpensive commonplace book, this one costing me about 10 bucks when all was said and done.

-DTM

March 6

The “Commonplace” Book… The true Pensieve.

Okay… it has been a verrrrrrry long time since I have posted.  I could give the usual blather about being so busy, etc – and it would be true, but does anyone really care. No, they don’t.

So onward then.  Today’s topic: The commonplace book and how to make and use one.

The Definition: A Commonplace Book was/is a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.

Sounds like the internet, or a note taking feature on your phone.  The difference is that if you drop your commonplace book in the bathtub, you dry it off and move on…not so much with your phone.

The truth is, the commonplace book is a real life thing that collects and stores your memories in a way that actually reflects you and your personality – it is, in a real sense, the pensieve of the Harry Potter Stories.  By reading the commonplace book of a thinking man or woman who may be long dead, you will in fact be transported into their thoughts, time, and ways of thinking. You will be holding in your hands a physical object they in fact once owned, and wrote perhaps things more intimate than anywhere else except within their own minds. If your are sensitive enough, then for the briefest moment you will be them – just like the pensieve of Harry Potter, well… perhaps not quite as magical.

The fact is, when you write with your hand using a pencil or pen on paper… something magical happens that is just not the same as when you “type” it or speak it into a recorder.  When you sketch ideas, while describing the scraps and tidbits of your thoughts, poems, etc. you create something that is more than just a book of notes – you create a part of yourself.

The reason, of course, lies in the way the book is put together – it is not chronological, in fact you may write things on any page at any time. you might stick things in the book like a real scrap book as well (although it is supposed to be portable so you can take it with you, you probably want to put “thin” things in it).  Typically commonplace books use headings and are sectioned, but the fact about them is that they are supposed to represent your own memories.

Susan Wise Bauer (A historian)–in her book The Well-Educated Mind: A guide to the classical education you never had–describes them as “artificial memories,” says this about keeping such a book:

When we sit in front of Plato or Shakespeare or Conrad, “simple reading” isn’t enough. We must learn to fix our minds, to organize our reading so that we are able to retain the skeleton of ideas that pass in front of our eyes….How is this done?  By keeping a journal to organize your thoughts about your reading.  What we write, we remember.  What we summarize in our own words becomes our own.

I could not say that better, so I didn’t. In fact I bold faced stole this from another bloggers article about commonplace books that you can read here.

By the way, when those who practice the magical arts (witches, wiccans, wizards (oh my), sorcerers, etc.) make a commonplace book, it is usually termed a “book of shadows” or perhaps a “grimoire” – albeit a rather unorganized one perhaps…

So here are some pictures of some real commonplace books… then we will discuss ways in which to make our our own.

9_Commonplace_Book_Page_No__1_by_Madelei 1345106783941.cached example_cpb_1

September 21

Building the Steampunk Lightning Detector…

The Steam-punk Lightning Detectors that I sell on Etsy (See my Etsy Store badge on the right) were created using a modified form of the lighting detectors found at the TechLib.com, designed by Charles Wenzel.

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The basic circuit is shown above, However I made some changes for the Steam-punk version.

This unit contains about 100 man hours of work to produce the Victorian appearance of age in the stain, the brass, steel, leather, and glass of the detection lamp assembly and wooden base etc.  True working Steam-Punk art is not cheap and there is a good reason – it is hard to build!

But for the real Steam-Punk aficionado looking for a piece that really works, this unit is a must have.  Visit my Etsy store if you are interested. (Special note: This particular unit was sold in just a few weeks after posting, so if you want to order one, just go to the shop and send me a message.  I am currently  as of 03/13/2015 building two more detectors, one under commission, and one that I intend to sell).

Now… onto the build itself.

Lightning_Detector_4

The parts laying about before assembly…

Aging and staining the wood for the base took nearly 2 weeks of solid work to get the right look I was going for: A cherry stain that looked like it had been around for sometime. Everything else had to be in period materials from leather in the base of the Cobalt Blue Lamp assembly – the blue glass itself, all connectors and art-worked pieces had to be of brass if at all possible or other metals.

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The Cobalt Blue Detection Lamp Assembly…

The lamp tube is cut from a blue bottle. That took three tries with my expensive bottles… The base is a solid cast brass candle base.The top and ball are from old door-knobs and Victorian curtain assemblies. Threaded brass rod, springs, leather complete the unit.

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The Circuitry before insertion into the base of the Lamp Assembly…

Using “dead-bug” style circuit assembly procedure, (and after verification of the circuit) everything was encased in a wax base to keep parts from moving once assembled into the base. The small black unit is the hidden speaker that is used to announce approaching lightning or, to allow the “Voices of the Aether’s” to speak forth – in other words, if you take this unit to the northern regions when the Aurora Borealis is up, you will hear it’s weird moaning in this speaker.  Or perhaps if you take it to your local cemetery you can hear ghosts there as well… who knows?

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The controls Close-up

The switch allows near and far detection. The control knob changes the Q of the coil for allowing more tight tuning of the strikes.

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The Final Product…

And the final product is a wonder to behold! Again, about 100 man hours of work here!

Below is a video of the Detector in action…The sound you hear is the rain pounding on my castle laboratory, and my evil cat (“Kitty”*) meowing in the background! And Thunder too…

*Actually, Kitty is not evil, she just likes to lay on whatever it is you are working on. I guess that is fairly typical of a cat.