State of the Lab - Spring 2022

Last Updated: 2022-04-12 05:30:00 -0500

If you’ve noticed there haven’t been any lab notes in the last little while, you’d be right, and there’s a very simple reason for that - there’s not really been any Lab Activities since the last one. Well, okay, maybe one small thing.

Arcana Labs Launches Illuminated Arcana

A few weeks ago I held a launch party live stream for the Illuminated Arcana CTF! It’s a custom CTFd instance running a perpetual CTF that will be periodically updated with new challenges as the mood strikes me and projects get completed. Right now there’s three:

  • A hidden challenge based on a clue stashed in the launch party video,
  • A challenge based on a cryptographic game previously only available to people who purchased copies of [Sanity Line] directly from me, and;
  • A pair of flags hidden in a rejected VM I developed for HTB.

The next box in the series, tentatively titled Extradimensional, is already planned. I haven’t put a release date on it because, being blunt, the energy just isn’t there. I’ve proven the concepts of all the intended flags, but assembling that into a working and halfway-secure VM image is a different matter entirely.

PETI on Standby

I’m not sure if I talked about it already, but apart from some garbage collection and some minor changes to the 8x12 display font to improve the visual consistency of the characters, there’s no outstanding work for the PETI firmware before the release of v0.1.0 of the firmware - the intended firmware version for the release of the PETI Development Kit hardware.

SO WHERE IS MY KIT PATCH!? It’s coming! We’ve talked in LabNotes before about an outstanding issue in the hardware - my baffling-in-retrospect decision to include absolutely no power management, at all, in the rear expansion board. That bug is still unresolved, and while everything else about the REB design has been validated, I’m simply not comfortable releasing the kits as even a small-batch product without it.

As a result, the release roadmap for the development kits is going to look something like this:

  • At the end of this week I will be ordering the new “charge pump” modules I intend to use to handle power management. In addition to providing the needed regulation to let us use lower-voltage cells (like NiMH rechargables) in the device and get more time out of our cells overall, this module is going to let me implement low battery detection in hardware, which makes coding handling for it in the firmware much easier. Like, include-it-in-0.1.0-after-all easier.
  • By the end of april I’ll have tested and validated an enhanced REB circuit that includes the targeted device.
  • By mid to late may I’ll order the “Revision C” REBs, outstanding BOM items, and finally have a cost-to-user for the development kits.

With these items complete I’ll be able to do some kind of initial offering of the Development Kit hardware as assembled units, likely not including the TI components that are available off-the-shelf as kits. I also need to write the service manual.

So if you haven’t been working…

I’ve been working! I have a day job! I just haven’t been working on PETI or any software projects for 2-3 weeks now, and frankly I like it like that. I’m having a lot of fun playing a lot of Fallout 4 and if circumstance has forced me to take a vacation I probably also needed the break.

PETI is a major project intended to design and construct a virtual pet from Open Source Hardware and Software, and to encourage others to modify and tinker with similar projects. If you would like to support the development of this, or any of the other projects I’m working on for Arcana Labs, and you wanted to show your support financially, your best avenue is via my Github Sponsors account or by making a one-time donation to Arcana Labs via or through other avenues detailed here. Github Sponsors also get access to a special patrons-only section of the Arcana Labs Discord Server, where we talk about the ongoing super-secret project.