Booting a 1989 Mac with Mario

As a new recruit to the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army, [dougg3] is really showing off his hardware hacking ability. He came up with a replacement ROM SIMM for his Mac IIci and made it play the Mario theme on boot instead of the normal chimes.

Swapping out the ROM in these old macs isn’t an uncommon procedure. On some 68k machines, there’s a SIMM slot to either replace or expand the soldered ROM. In fact, it’s fairly common to take the ROM SIMM out of a IIsi and put it in the king of kings computer to make an SE/30 32-bit clean. We’ve never seen a re-writable ROM SIMM for these old macs, so we’re pretty sure [dougg3] just spared a Mac IIsi from the dumpster.

Now that the entire 68k Liberation Army is clamoring for one of [dougg3]‘s re-writable ROMs (we’ve got cash), the question of what to do with it comes up. Of course, SE/30s can now be 32-bit clean without installing MODE32 and new startup chimes can be added. We’d really like to see some hard-core ROM hacking going on, like installing a 68060 in a Quadra 950.

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Fully fretted guitar MIDI controller

[Andy] came across this guitar midi controller project from way back and decided to send us a tip about it. The English version, translated from the original Russian, is easy to follow and documents the build process from first prototypes to the version you see above. It can connect via a standard MIDI cable and then be used to control anything you want. The only thing missing is the ability to transmit velocity data, but that’s certainly not a deal breaker.

The device has two sensory parts. The first is a set of pickups that can be seen underneath the strings near the bridge. These work like standard magnetic pickups but instead of extrapolating fret data from the pitch picked up on the string, there is a second sensor mechanism for every fret of each string. Since the strings are made of metal, it’s possible to detect which fret is depressed based on continuity sensing. Of course this means you need a conductor between every fret, and that’s why the fingerboard has been replaced with one made of printed circuit boards. All of this data is gathered, then sent to the MIDI device via a PIC 16F74 microcontroller.

If this leaves you wanting for more guitar hacks, don’t miss this one that adds addressable LEDs in between each fret.

What has 114 LEDs and is always running?

The answer, of course, is a word clock. This is actually [Eric's] second version of a word clock. Like the first one, it uses 114 LEDs to back light the words on the display.

In his first iteration he used an Arduino to drive a Charlieplex array of lights. It was an 11 by 10 grid, plus four LEDs to display the in-between minutes as dots at each corner of the clock face. This time around he’s still using an Arduino, but the lights have seen a huge upgrade. In one of his build pictures you can see the reel of RGB led modules which have two RGB LEDs and an HL1606 driver on each segment. These are SPI controlled, making them easy to hook up, using just a few data and power bus rails. Check out the test video after the break that shows what this grid is capable of.

In case you can’t figure out what time is displayed above, you might check out an English version of a Word Clock face to help in your own build.

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Prototyping a Bluetooth to IR remote control translator

[James] is one of those guys on a quest to control everything with one device. His tool of choice is an Android phone, which can do quite a lot right out of the box. But he was never satisfied with its lack of IR remote control abilities. He fixed that feature-gap by building a Bluetooth to Infrared translator.

The hardware he used for the prototype is quite simple. A cheap serial Bluetooth modem from eBay lets him connect to his phone. An Arduino board listens for data from the modem and converts incoming commands to flashes on an IR LED. Voila, he can control the tube with his phone.

We love the potential of this hack. The Bluetooth module runs from 3.3V, and reading serial data and flashing an LED is extremely simple. You should be able to use a small uC, say an ATtiny13, and a 3.3V regulator to miniaturize the module. We could see this plugging into the USB port on the back of a TV for power, with a wire extension to put the LED into position. The only shortfall is the inability to turn the TV on remotely when drawing power this way.

Remote codes aren’t particularly large to store either. So this would be pretty easy to extend to full control of all IR-compatible home entertainment devices. You just need a tool to discover the remote control codes.

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Remote-controlled USB switch

When [beerninja] wanted to swap his USB keyboard from one game console to another without mucking about with wires, he asked the Hack A Day forums for some help. [Meseta] (AKA [UAirLtd]) came to the rescue and built [beerninja] a remote-controlled USB switch.

After opening up a no-name USB switch, [Meseta] discovered that the switching is done with simple relays and switches. A hugely overpowered Forebrain ARM dev board was used to pull each switch low for a few hundred milliseconds to switch the output USB port.

For the infrared remote control, [Meseta] dug into Lady Ada’s IR sensor tutorial and decoded buttons 1 through 4 on a Sky TV remote. Each button from one to four corresponds to the buttons on the USB sharing switch. The ’0′ button was also decoded as a convenience to put the Forebrain into its reprogramming mode. After drilling a small hole for the IR receiver, the finished project was stuffed back into the original steel enclosure.

Check out the video of the switch in action after the break.

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Hacking your car’s multifunction display


[Steve] has an older third generation VW Golf, and as those who have owned one surely know, the beloved VR6 engine is wonderful but finicky. He says that the VR6 is particularly picky when it comes to oil temperature, so his daily routine involves hitting the MFA switch five times upon starting his car to bring up the oil temp in the display. This obviously gets old after awhile, so he rigged up a small circuit to do the switching for him.

He pulled the gauge cluster from the dash and then located the pins that correspond to the MFA display switch. Using an ATtiny12, he put together a small circuit that toggles the switch for him automatically each time he starts the car. Since his solution uses so few parts, he was easily able to tuck his creation behind the gauge cluster before reinstalling it.

Now each time he gets in his car, he is quickly greeted with the engine’s oil temp without having to fuss with his display.

Battery-less electronic dice for all your D&D needs


[Anthony] is a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons, but he thought the game would be far more fun to play with an electronic die rather than the traditional fare. Electronic dice are nothing new around here, though we can’t help but like his design.

He wanted to keep his electronic die as small as possible while ensuring it would last an entire gaming session, so rather than use a battery to power it, he opted for a super capacitor instead. His 1F 5.5V cap keeps the PIC18 and 22 SMD LEDs chugging along quite nicely without ever requiring a break in the action for a charge.

The electronic die looks great, and give him the choice of rolling a 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20 sided die with a simple push of a button. While a bit less interactive than tossing a die on the table, we certainly wouldn’t mind having one.