Giving the TRS-80 CoCo a 44 color display

As a relic of the early 80s, the TRS-80 Color Computer couldn’t display very many colors. By default, the CoCo could only display 8 colors on the screen at a time, but [John] figured out a way to increase the number of colors displayed using a very simple trick that surprisingly isn’t found in original CoCo games.

The TRS-80 Color Computer uses a Motorola 6847 video display generator to produce color graphics on its display. There are several graphics modes available to CoCo programmers, including a high-resolution black and white mode, and two four-color modes using red, green, blue, and yellow or buff, cyan, magenta, and orange.

These color palettes are extremely limiting, and usually switching between these modes produces a lot of flicker. [John] figured out if he switched the color pallets every 1/60th of a second (i.e. during the vertical blanking interval), he could display 44 colors on the CoCo.

It’s a clever little hack to increase the color palette of the CoCo, and in our opinion should be in the running for winning this season’s Retrochallenge. Sadly, [John] is judge for the Retrochallenge this time around, so he’ll have to settle for earning a Hackaday merit badge.

Genezap improves your video game skills using corporal punishment

genezap

As if getting your ass handed to you while playing video games wasn’t annoying enough, [furrtek] decided that the best way to help improve his skills was by inflicting physical pain each time his on-screen character died.

While perusing the Internet looking for something to break through the doldrums of the day, he came upon a video in which someone decided to try on a dog shock collar just for kicks. This sparked [furrtek’s] imagination, and he started to think that it would be pretty cool to use the same sort of device to make dying in a video game that much more unpleasant.

After ordering a set of collars online, he tore them apart to see how they functioned, and to measure just how big of a jolt they were able to deliver. [furrtek] then modified two Genesis controllers with a pair of ATtiny 25s, which let him send the fire signal to the collars. Unfortunately, stock Genesis games don’t allow you to send signals to the controllers, so [furrtek] had to spend some time hacking ROM images to trigger events when players are injured or lose a life.

We think the project is pretty slick, and if you don’t mind fiddling with your old controllers, you too can have a merciless trainer strapped around your neck. For those slightly more averse to pain, you can watch [furrtek] and his friend [Dyak] suffer the consequences of poor gameplay for your amusement.

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Artificial skin lets robots feel

BioTac Artificial Skin Technology is sure to be a storm with Robotics Designers. Giving them the opportunity to add a third sense to there robotic marvels. Now they can have the sense of touch to go along with existing technologies of sight and of sound.  Thanks to the technology coming out of the University of Southern California making this possible.

They have chosen to call their sensor BioTac, which is a new type of tactile sensor designed to mimic the human fingertip with its soft flexible skin. The sensor makes it possible to identify different types of texture by analyzing the vibrations produced as the sensor brushes over materials. This sensor is also capable of measuring pressure applied and  ambient temperature around the finger tip, expect to see this technology in next gen prosthetics. Let us know your thoughts on it.

[via technabob]
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TI’s inexpensive Piccolo and Stellaris dev boards

Texas Instruments is trying to take the success it had with the LaunchPad and apply it to other chip architectures. The board seen above is their new C2000 Piccolo LaunchPad. It’s a development board for the F28027 chip. This 32-bit offering is a part we know nothing about. A first look shows a clock speed between 40 and 60 MHz, 64k of Flash memory, and a JTAG programming interface. It sounds like an unrestricted copy of Code Composer Studio is also available to use as the development environment. At $17 won’t break the bank, but we also don’t feel that welling of excitement to get in on one of these units.

What does get us excited is the Stellaris LaunchPad offering. It’s not available yet (which always makes us want it more), but you can enter a drawing to get a free one when they are released. Be warned, with only 25 up for grabs the odds are against you. There are no details, other than a target price of $4.99 for the ARM development board. We’ve had a lot of fun with the STM32 ARM board, and this might be a new adventure to undertake.

[Thanks Máté]

NXT Android telepresence robot

Here is a telepresence robot that uses an Android device and LEGO NXT parts. [Wolfgang] had an extra phone on hand and decided to put it to good use. The Mindstorm parts make it really easy to produce a small robot, and adding the phone really ups the computing and connectivity options available to him.

The Android device is able to control the NXT bot via Bluetooth. [Wolfgang] didn’t go into detail on that part, but you can get some pointers on the topic from this other Android controlled Mindstorm project. [Wolfgang] wanted the ability to check in at home when he’s travelling. He uses nanohttpd on the Android device to serve up a simple web interface. It uses HTML5 to push a snapshot from the phone’s camera as user feedback, and provides a set of directional arrows which let him drive the bot around.

Obviously this thing is going to run out of juice if he’s away for too long. To combat that problem he included a battery which powers both the NXT parts and the phone. Now he just needs to build an inductive charging station and he’ll really be set.

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