Hackaday Links: June 12, 2012

Amazing 3D rendering in real-time

Ah, the 90s. A much simpler time when the presenters on Bad Influence! were amazed by the 3D rendering capabilities of the SGI Onyx RealityEngine2. This giant machine cost £250,000 back in the day, an amazing sum but then again we’re getting nostalgic for old SGI hardware.

Well, Mega is taken… let’s call it Grande

[John Park] needed to put something together for last month’s Maker Faire. A comically large, fully functional Arduino was the obvious choice. If you didn’t catch the demo last month, you can grab all the files over on Thingiverse.

Is that an atomic clock in your pocket or… oh, I see.

Here’s the world’s smallest atomic clock. It’s made for military hardware, so don’t expect this thing to show up at Sparkfun anytime soon; we can’t even fathom how much this thing actually costs. Still, it’ll be awesome when this technology trickles down to consumers in 10 or 20 years.

Converting a TRS-80 keyboard to USB

[Karl] is working on an awesome project – putting a Raspberry Pi inside an old TRS-80. The first part of the project – converting a TRS-80 keyboard to USB – is already complete. We can’t wait to see this build finished.

 A DIY Propeller dev board

Last week we complained about the dearth of builds using the Parallax Propeller. A few noble tinkerers answered our call and sent in a few awesome builds using this really unique micro. [Stefan]‘s Propeller One is the latest, and looking at the schematics it should be possible to etch a single-sided board for this project. Awesome work and thanks for giving us a weekend project, [Stefan].

Comments

  1. Will says:

    Regarding the CSAC, a Bing search reveals a list price of $1500 “for small quantities,” whatever that means. And it is available in military and commercial versions.

    • Pat says:

      That’s not bad for a high-grade Rb clock, actually. You know what the problem is? 26-week lead time. Yes. Half A Freaking Year.

      On the plus side, it’s ridiculously low power. That’s where the CSAC shines over the full scale (e.g. the SA.22c) Rb clocks. It draws less than a watt. They draw 10-20W.

      Also, it doesn’t actually seem to entirely hit the specs it claims for jitter stability. I’m not sure a GPSDO (e.g. OCXO+GPS) isn’t a better option, although it won’t be able to beat it power-wise due to the OCXO.

      For reference, I have one of these sitting on my desk at work.

  2. $1500, best guess based on this page, about 18 months ago.

    http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4212176/Chip-scale-atomic-clock-approaches-performance-of-modules-2

    Took me several minutes to find that page.

    Damn chip manufactures, Why the heck do you make it such a pain in the ass to order one or two cool items? I understand that not every cutting edge gizmo is inexpensive enough for me to play the “evaluation samples” game, but I’ve got a visa in my pocket and e-commerce sites are cheap and easy to farm out.

    • Pat says:

      Have you *looked* at the construction details for the CSAC? The thing’s pretty freaking amazing.

      I mean, a Rb clock requires you to excite a Rubidium package with a tuned laser. They do all of this in a package that’s a third of a cubic centimeter. A third of a milliliter! The SA.45c is actually pretty big, but most of that is support electronics. The physics package is absolutely tiny.

      This isn’t like a simple IC where you make bajillions of them on a single wafer. It’s expensive to buy one of these because they’re expensive to make.

      • I am not complaining on price.

        I am complaining about ease of purchase.

        If you design things for Amazon or Apple, you probably pick up the phone and call your company rep. If you pick the parts that go into millions of units from a major corporation, you probably will get wined and dined too.

        If you are a student or a start-up, (or even if you play one on the internet), you can usually sample some low value chips. That’s certainly appreciated, and I have a lot of good will towards the companies that make that easy, but something like this won’t be sent out as samples to joe hardware hacker anytime soon.

        What if I want one anyway? Why is it so hard for Symmetricom to put a webpage up on their site that has 1) a product description 2) a data sheet pdf 3) the current “quantity one” pricing 4) a button or a link that makes it easy to put an evaluation sample in a shopping cart 5) something saying “… or if you are in the exclusive Gold-Pressed Latinum club, contact your company representative…”

      • Pat says:

        Let me clarify: it’s expensive and difficult to buy them because they’re expensive and difficult to make.

        They don’t have a simple, basic storefront because it’s not worth it. The only people who will buy a $1500 item with 26-week lead time will not care about the purchasing process.

        Plus the problem is that they need to find out what you want to do with it, to plan their own production. A simple storefront is probably more hassle than it’s worth.

    • Oliver Heaviside says:

      Because they just don’t know.

      Seriously. The relationship between “here, take my money” and applying for a job in fast food is reciprocal. These guys want orders from people who will buy a few thousand, not some guy who wants one to play with so he can build a U38 space modulator.

      They don’t list the price because they don’t actually know the price. How much money do you have? Maybe you want to buy them for $3k-$5k, maybe you want to pay $700 a pop for 1500 of them. If they put the price out there, it slows down their ability to field inquiries.

      There’s a guy at this company, and it’s his job to figure this out. He probably doesn’t even know how many they can make a month, or how many they should make a month. Heck, maybe it’s not even real, or they cost more to support than to make in the first place.

      This isn’t uncommon; our hobbyist concepts of the “quote/order/pay/ship/use within days” cycle isn’t as widespread as you’d think – just for the successful businesses.

    • Shawn says:

      Just called the company for a verbal quote – $795 for the basic developer’s kit as of 13 June 2012.

  3. Ross Patterson says:

    The International Slide Rule Museum has a Teaching Slide Rule, which used to be a common thing in high school class rooms. Think of the “Grande” as a Teaching Arduino. In homage to /., “imagine a Beowulf cluster of these” :-)

  4. n0lkk says:

    I don’t how it compares in scale, but in concept the arduino grand fits along side the large classroom plug in bread board featured some time ago.

  5. Kevin Keith says:

    Slightly off-topic, but to the guy with the giant Arduino: “ironic” mustaches do not make you cool, funny, quirky, or whatever. I could be totally off the mark, but this guy looks like everything that is wrong with the hipsterification of the electronics hobby community.

    • mehmetgez says:

      Slightly off-topic? I’m pretty sure this is as off-topic as you can get. Why do you care about his moustache? Why did you feel the urge to bash his choice of facial hair on a site dedicated to hacks? And who are you to make such a broad judgement. I find his moustache cool and funny.

      I’m sorry but it’s people like you who ARE everything wrong with electronics hobby community (see I’m not limiting myself to hipsterification aspect).

      Good day.

      • n0lkk says:

        Here’s what entered my mind when I seen the Snidely Whiplash like mustache; now the arduino “haters” have the the arduino is evil evidence they knew was there but couldn’t find it ;) That anyone would judge an activity by the fashion choices of those now participating in it, says more about the person passing judgement, that is does about what’s being judge. Perhaps John is a member of a barbershop quartet where a handle bar is part of the entertainment schtick, many have varied interests and talents.

  6. fai says:

    i use those csac chips, they are pretty great and even with the 1500 dollar price tab, they are cheap compared to what the alternatives

  7. Alex Henrique says:

    I want to see who can build the fully functional arduino, but in the inverse scale… tiny!!!

  8. macona says:

    For someone wanting to do the keyboard thing, just a whole lot easier, look at the PoKeys56. Nice guy to help set up the matrix.

  9. Hirudinea says:

    Wow that grande thing is amazing! Oh and the big arduino is cool too.

  10. Vonskippy says:

    Ya gotta love stash’s like that guys.

    Kudo to him for being brave enough to wear it.

    Plus, it makes it so much easy to appease the womenfolk that your normal run of the mill mustache isn’t worth them whining about.

    And think how many “wax on, wax off” jokes you can make.

  11. arodland says:

    I was going to post “hey, doesn’t Jackson Labs have a part a lot like the CSAC?” and then I realized that this is the Jackson Labs product, just marketed together with Symmetricom.

  12. SpydaMonky says:

    The Giant Arduino is a very cool build, my only complaint would be that the actual Arduino should be hidden to complete the illusion!
    And who cares about his moustache, it doesn’t matter. He looks like a true sir!

  13. onyx says:

    The onyx was an incredible machine, with amazing memory and graphics bandwidth. I had one of them “on” my desk for a couple months around 1995.

    My normal desktop was no slouch – an Indigo2, and later, Octane.

    Bringing friends into the office on weekends to check out the Onyx was fun.

    • Sam says:

      Yeah, good times. I just removed an old O2 from my desk 2 weeks ago since it hasn’t been useful for about 10 years.

      Still have the old granite-finish monitor, keyboard, and mouse though.

  14. WhiteCrane says:

    As dude with a bigger handle bar stash than the grande guy, I can’t believe what I’m hearing here. Say that crap to his face or mine. Grow one, you might like it.

  15. blapp says:

    Currently working with these CSACs, they’re pretty good. One thing though, if they are to be stored for a longer period of time they have to be connected to a power source to avoid rotting… Somewhat of an inconvenience when you have to store several hundred units…

  16. Mario Antinori says:

    The ultra small atomic clock is for sale for $1500. It is 100 times smaller than its predecessors and uses 100 times less power as well. It requires only 100 milliwatts of power, measures about 1.5 inches per side and is less than half an inch deep. How cool is that?

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