Using an NES controller with an Atari 2600

Instructibles user [Danjovic] managed to get his hands on an Atari 2600, but all the joysticks were damaged beyond repair. Instead of building an atari joystick from scratch, he looked to a slightly newer generation of gaming and decided to us an NES controller instead. This was done fairly easily with the aide of an Arduino.

This seems like a nice easy mod that could breathe a little new life into some old games, but we just can’t imagine playing without that original joystick!

Arduino can program PIC too!

This is a wiring diagram that [Soranne] put together when developing a method of programming PIC microcontrollers using an Arduino board. You can see that he takes care of the 12V issue by connecting the Master Clear (MCLR) pin to an external source. This comes with one warning that the Arduino should always be reset just before making that connection.

He’s tested this with a 16F628 and is happy to report that he can successfully flash the program memory, but hasn’t implemented a way to write to the EEPROM as of yet. This should work for any of the 16F family of chips, but we’d bet this will be extended if some knowledgeable folks decide to lend a hand.

On the PC side of things [Soraane] has been working on a program to push code to the Arduino via the USB connection. He’s developing it in C# and even has a GUI worked up for the project. You can get your hands on the software in the second post of the thread linked above but you’ll have to be logged into the Arduino forum to see the download link.

We think the 12V issue is why we don’t see more roll-your-own programmers for PIC. But there are a few solutions out there like this ATmega8 version.

Fiber optic chandelier with wireless controls

After seeing a cool fiberoptic chandelier on Ebay for over $1,000, [Apex Logic] figured he could build one himself that would not only be cheaper, but have more features. Some of the features he was after were for it to be wirelessly controlled, have the ability for full RGB control, and of course to have a custom look. He pulled it off quite nicely as you can see in the video below. He has a wireless controller with 3 sliders representing RGB that you can catch a glimpse of in the second video below.

His page with the build details and the code seems to have suffered some ill fate this morning. Here it is, for when it returns.

[via Adafruit]

[Read more...]

Sun-powered Stirling engine with automatic tracking

Check out this solar-powered Stirling engine (translated). The build is part of a high school class and they packed in some really nice features. The first is the parabolic mirror which focuses the sun’s rays on the chamber of the engine. The heat is what makes it go, and the video after the breaks shows it doing just that.

But the concept behind the mirror makes for an interesting challenge. The light energy is focused at a narrow point. When the sun moves in the sky that point will no longer be at an efficient position to power the engine. This issue is solved by a pair of stepper motors which can reposition the dish. It’s done automatically by an Arduino Uno which makes readings from four LDR (photoresistors) in that cardboard tube mounted at the top of the dish. If the light intensity is the same for all four, then the tube is pointed at the sun. If not, the motors are tweaked to get the best angle possible.

[Read more...]

Surround Sound system controller replacement includes home automation

[Neoxy] always wanted surround sound for his computer, and one day he managed to get a hold of a dead 5.1 system. Why buy one when you can repair someone’s rubbish, right? That turned out to be easier said than done, but after several false-starts he managed to resurrect the audio system by replacing the microcontroller.

We find his trouble-shooting technique interesting. The amp would power up without a hitch but no sound would come out of it. So he took a headphone cable and used the L and R conductors as probes. That cable was fed from an MP3 player, and by touching the probes to the audio inputs for the pre-amp and amplifier circuits he could get great sound out of the speakers. Reasonably certain that those boards were working fine he narrowed down the troubles to three chips that mix, select inputs, and control the system.

A lot of prototyping with an ATmega328 and an Arduino led him to the functionality you see in the video after the break. Not only did he get the system working, but he’s using the Arduino to add Internet control for the device.

[Read more...]

Simple trick for replacing Game Boy cart batteries while retaining game saves

[Adr990] wants to make sure his Game Boy game saves aren’t lost to aging batteries. They’re stored in SRAM with a small coin cell inside the cartridge to keep the memory energized when the game is not being played. But if you pull out the battery in order to replace it the data will be lost in the process. It turns out that you can hot-swap the battery without too much effort. As shown in the video after the break, he disassembled the case of the cartridge, then replaced the battery while the Game Boy is switched on. The edge connector feeds power which will keep the SRAM active while the backup battery is removed. We’re sure this could be done with a bench supply as well, but you’ll need to do your own testing before risking those prized game saves.

The other option is to backup your SRAM before replacing the batteries. We’ve seen an AVR-based cartridge dumper, and also one that uses an Arduino. Both should be able to read and write SRAM data. [Read more...]

Retrotechtacular: Introducing the brand new Acorn Risc Machine

Get ready to be swept off your feet by this Acorn Risc Machine promotional video from the Mid-1980’s (also embedded after the jump). We’re sure most have put it together by now, but for those slower readers, this is the introduction of ARM processors.

The video has a bit of everything. There’s a deadpan narration with just a bit of British accent around the edges. But that’s spiced up considerably by the up-beat synthesizer track playing in the background. You’ll see plenty of programmers in short-sleeve dress shirts, and we challenge you to count the number of mustaches that make it on camera. But jest aside, it’s fun to think of how the advent of this chip affected the world.

This post is just the second installment of our Retrotechtacular series (here’s the inaugural post). We haven’t seen any old movies come in from readers yet. What are you waiting for? Digitize that footage because we want to see it! Of course it doesn’t have to be your own movies, so anything you come across that covers decades-old tech is fair game.

[Read more...]

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