BASIC programming on an Arduino

[Mike] sent in a project he’s been working on – a port of a BASIC interpreter that fits on an Arduino. The code is meant to be a faithful port of Tiny BASIC for the 68000, and true to Tiny BASIC form, it fits in the very limited RAM of the Arduino.

True to Tiny BASIC’s assembler roots, [Mike]‘s C port makes extensive use of the “infinitely-abusable” goto statement. Kernighan and Ritchie said themselves, “code involving a goto can alway be written without one” but [Mike] found that using goto left a lot more room available for BASIC code. The BASIC interpreter eats up around 600 bytes in the Arduino RAM, leaving about 1.4 kB for BASIC code. Not much, but more than the lowest-end BASIC Stamp.

[Mike] says he started this project to see how ‘old bearded ones’ conjured up so many impressive programs with a few kB of RAM. Tiny BASIC was originally conceived for the Altair 8800 that shipped with 256 bytes of RAM stock, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Right now, all we know is we’ll be spending the weekend digging through our copies of Dr. Dobb’s Journal.

Build a clock using dials instead of hands

[Doug Paradis] found a simple way to use dials instead of hands on a clock. Actually, that’s pretty much the entire hack… use dials instead of hands. He grabbed a battery-operated clock movement from the hobby store, then printed out one dial for hours, another for minutes, robert’s your mother’s brother, and you’ve got a new clock. The case seen above is laser cut, with a window and index line that helps you read the time precisely.

But instead of building a case, we’d like to try this with some retro equipment. The first thing that pops to mind is to replace the disks on a broken strobotuner, like the big-dialed model that Conn used to make. If you’re not down with the bulky music hardware-turned-clock perhaps there’s an old multi-meter, or a panel gauge that can be repurposed for this. We know [Doug] already has some needle meters sitting around that would be perfect for this.

The “AlarmTock”, a Chumby Hacker Board Alarm Clock

[Thomas] wrote in to tell us about his latest project, the “AlarmTock”. Like many hacks, this was inspired by some outdated hardware, a radio alarm clock from 1992.

After finally getting fed up with his old alarm clock, [Thomas'] wife purchased him a new one for around $10 from a local retail store. Although most likely an improvement, [Thomas] wondered why after so many years he still had to listen to either an annoying “beep” sound or whatever song the DJ on the radio decided to play.

In true hacker form, he decided to do something about it. [Thomas] crammed a [Chumby Hacker Board], which has much of the same hardware as the [Chumby One] device, into his clock radio. RSS-driven text-to-speech was used to tell him exactly what he wanted to know every morning. A sample .wav file is provided as well as the python script used to execute his morning wakeup routine. For another fun hack from [Thomas] check out his Google treadmill hack here!

DIY Segway: fast, silent, and open

This is a picture of the guts of a diy Segway project (translated). Everything fits into a tiny space under the platform upon which the rider stands. It’s tight, but makes for a sleek look when the diamond plate is covering up all of the internals.

An ATmega644 controls the vehicle. It does so by using a PID control scheme to monitor a gyroscope, driving the wheels to maintain the center of balance. Electronically, the most complicated part of the build is the motor controller. It seems to be an original design, using an ATmega48 and several other integrated circuits. It was hard for us to figure out how this was implemented, but with some intensive study of the three schematics that go into the module we’d bet you can get to the bottom of things. We certainly like the outcome, as this personal transport is whisper quiet. Take a look at the clip after the break to hear for yourself.

Note:┬áBe careful if you’re reusing the code from the translated link at the top. Google translator also translates the variable names in the code and might break how it works due to inconsistencies in the translation.

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High voltage hacks finale: Do not try this under any circumstances

Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen some pretty crazy and potentially dangerous stuff, like a stun glove and modern day alchemy. For our high voltage theme finale, we couldn’t pass up [Photonicinduction]‘s YouTube channel.

Best known for his self-destructing washing machine (the source of this animated .gif), [Photonicinduction] is also the brainchild behind the hair dryer flame thrower and his homemade fifty thousand amp transformer.

While we do like his Not Safe For Work ammeter (yes, it really is NSFW), some of [Photonicinduction]‘s videos – charging a car battery in 4 minutes, making a kettle boil without a heater element, pressurizing coconuts to over 200 psi, and exploding rabbits – are hilariously dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone.

We need to say you should not attempt to emulate [Photonicinduction]‘s hijinks under any circumstances. Cleaning up a puddle of burning gasoline with a vacuum cleaner may sound like fun, but copying [Photonicinduction] will eventually get you killed. This man must know his stuff, because we’re honestly shocked he hasn’t exploded yet. The best way to enjoy three hundred thousand volts is probably grabbing a coffee and watching [Photonicinduction]‘s YouTube channel.