Let’s face it: as cool as Bilbo’s elven blade Sting was, it only glowed blue in the presence of orcs or goblins. While this was very useful for Bilbo, it wouldn’t be all that useful for you or me, considering a decided lack of orcs and goblins in the neighborhood. 
This new hack isn’t from the forges of Gondolin; it’s from the clever lads at Spark.io who have figured out how to add about $40 in parts to a commonly available toy Lord of the Rings “Sting” sword with lights and sounds to make it glow blue in the presence of an unprotected Wi-Fi access point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmjkUv5OtLM

The Spark Core and the disassembled handle of the Sting toy. If you look carefully you'll see the tiny USB port on the Spark Core. That's how you talk to it to reprogram it.

The Spark Core and the disassembled handle of the Sting toy. If you look carefully you’ll see the tiny USB port on the Spark Core. That’s how you connect to it from your computer so you can reprogram it.

It turns out there’s just enough room inside the handle to add a little added reprogrammable circuit board called a Spark Core (not coincidentally offered by Spark.io) which does the extra magic, and can be connected with relative ease to your sword’s sensors, and its sound and light controls. The only tricky part is reprogramming the Spark Core, but they provide you with the code for doing that. When the sword turns blue, push the button and slash away at the air. This prompts Sting to join the network and publishes a message: “{YOUR WI-FI NETWORK} has been vanquished!”

The sword runs on a couple of AA cells, but if you want the blade to light up nice and bright, they recommend you use Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries, as these deliver about 1.7 volts each: enough to make your blade glow nice and bright.

Of course, if you’re at all clever with these things you can hack all sorts of toys or handmade props to do essentially the same thing.

We love the new devices the hacker and maker industry has been throwing at us for the past couple of years, and it’s only going to get better. With a little tinkering, our cosplay accessories can actually made to do something semi-useful. We’re going to start showing you how to do things like this over the coming year on the SCIFI.radio web site and the SCIFI.radio YouTube channel.  Let’s make some stuff!

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