Resurrecting an XT

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. At least that’s what we’d tell ourselves if we couldn’t find a 30-year-old computer monitor. [Andrew] picked up an old IBM XT on eBay recently and tried to get the video working. He hasn’t seen any success yet, but the way he goes about solving this problem is very clever.

[Andrew] was stuck with a cool old computer with no way to output anything onto a screen. The XT had an MDA port but neither his TV nor his VGA monitor would accept MDA frequencies. As a workaround, [Andrew] connected an Arduino to the XT keyboard port. On the factory floor, IBM workers used the XT keyboard to load code onto the machines while POSTing. He was able to change the frequency of the MDA CRT controller to CGA frequencies, and with the help of some small components got some video working.

The Hsync and Vsync are still off, and [Andrew] hasn’t been able to get the machine to finish POSTing, but he figures he can use the XT keyboard port for bidirectional communication. He’s written a very small kernel to test out a few things, but unfortunately the XT’s power supply died recently. Once [Andrew] replaces that, we’re sure he’ll get his box up and running.

Freakyphone has a puzzle for you!

freakyphone

[Mime] likes to make puzzles and games for his friends to play, often using recycled electronics to construct them. He had been contemplating a sound-based game for some time when he came across an old rotary phone at a garage sale that would be perfect for what he had in mind.

He calls his creation the Freakyphone, and the goal of the game is to guess the name of a historical figure via a series of audible clues. The phone was constructed using an Arduino that plays audio using a sound shield from Adafruit. While he was ultimately unable to get the phone’s ringer to work properly, [Mime] says that the build process was relatively easy overall.

When activated, the phone buzzes for attention, prompting the player to pick up the handset. After introducing the game, the phone will ring additional times with random sound clips to clue the player into the historical figure’s name. If the player correctly enters the person’s name using the rotary dial, they receive a “winning tone” and the game is over.

It’s always nice to see someone building gadgets for their friends just for the sake of fun – nice work!

Continue reading to see a video showing how the Freakyphone was built along with a demo of the game.

[Read more...]

Sustainability Hacks: Bio-diesel motorcycle speed record

Sometimes you don’t need a lot of horsepower to win a speed record. In a fluke of no one else competing in the alt fuel class,  [John]‘s biodiesel motorcycle set a new land speed record at the LTA event last summer.

[John]‘s bike is a junkyard 1978 Kawasaki KZ400. The stock engine was replaced with a Chinese knock off of a Yanmar air-cooled diesel motor. The fuel is regular old vegetable oil. From the looks of the exhaust, we’re assuming [John]‘s garage has a rich french fry smell to it.

Compared to highway speeds, [John]‘s runs for a land speed record are a little absurd – a nice bonus when you’re the only driver in your class. The first pass of 42 mph was a little disappointing, so [John] removed the fender, tail light and brakes. After all the unnecessary weight was removed, the top speed – and new record – was 56.5 mph.

Converting a diesel car to run on french fry oil is great and a lot better for the environment than burning liquefied dinosaurs. In any event, a green motorcycle is a lot better than 2000 pounds of automobile moving less than 200 pounds of person. Check out a few of [John]‘s land speed runs after the break.

[Read more...]

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