PiFace Control & Display Tear Down

PIFace4

[John's] currently working on a rather fun PiNoir & Santa Catcher Challenge, and one of the main components is a PiFace Control and Display, which allows you to use a Raspberry Pi without a keyboard or mouse. Curious to see how this module worked, [John] decided to do a tear down and find out!

Using a de-soldering tool he removed the 16×2 LCD which obstructs most of the components on the panel, which revealed a 16 bit SPI port expander from Microchip MCP23S17. He continued to examine components and checked values using a multimeter to come up with the following circuit diagram:

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Vacuum Formed Portable N64 is the Real Deal

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This portable N64 looks good enough to be sold in stores — that’s because [Bungle] vacuum formed the case!

He started by creating a wooden template of his controller, using bondo to add grips and features. Once satisfied with the overall look and feel of the controller, he threw it into his own vacuum former and created two shiny plastic halves.

He’s chosen a nice little 3.5″ LCD screen for the display, with a 7.4V 4400mAh battery pack that will last just over 4 hours of constant play — he’s included a battery indicator as well! An old N64 controller takes care of electronics, but [Bungle's] gone and made custom buttons and is using a Gamecube style joystick as well. He’s included both the rumble pack and an internal memory card which can be changed with the flick of a switch. A tiny HMDX Go portable audio amp and speakers are also integrated directly into the controller.

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Recreating the THX Deep Note

THX logo

Few sounds are as recognizable as the THX Deep Note. [Batuhan] did some research, and set about recreating the sound. The original Deep Note (mp3 link) was created in 1982 by [Dr. James A. Moorer]. [Dr. Moorer] used the Audio Signal Processor (ASP) (AKA SoundDroid) to create the sound. The ASP was a complex machine to program. The Deep Note took about 20,000 lines of C code to program. The C code was compiled to about 250,000 discrete statements to command the ASP.

Only one ASP was ever built, and LucasFilm owned it. Instead of recreating the hardware, [Batuhan] used SuperCollider to recreate the sound. Just like the ASP, SuperCollider is a tool for real-time audio synthesis. The difference is that SuperCollider is open source and runs on modern computers. [Batuhan] used his research and ears to perform an analysis of the Deep Note. He created two re-creations. The first is carefully constructed to replicate the sound. The second is a Twitter worthy 140 character version. Both versions are reasonable facsimiles of the original Deep Note, though they’re not quite perfect to our ears.

[Batuhan] isn’t the only person working on recreations. Deep Note in 1KB of JavaScript can be heard at  http://thx.onekb.net/. We’d love to hear other versions created by Hackaday readers!

[Via Reddit]

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module

Raspi

Raspberry Pi cluster computers are old hat by now, and much to our dismay, we’ve even seen Raspberry Pis crop up as the brains of a few ill-conceived Kickstarter projects. The Pi was never meant for these applications, with the very strange port layout and a bunch of headers most people don’t need. The Raspberry Pi foundation has a solution for the odd layout of the normal, consumer Pi:  The Raspberry Pi compute module, a Raspi and 4GB flash drive, sans connectors, on an industry standard DDR2 SODIMM module.

This isn’t something you can plug into your laptop (yet; that’s just a BIOS hack away, right?), but the new format does allow for some very interesting projects. All the normal Raspi I/O – CSI and DSI ports, USB, HDMI, JTAG – and a whole bunch more GPIO ports – are broken out onto an I/O board for development. The idea is that anyone can develop a product for the Raspberry Pi, create a custom board with a SODIMM connector, and use the compute module as the brains of their project.

The compute module should cost about $30/piece in quantity 100, available in June. No word yet on how much the I/O board will cost, but we expect a few open source expansion boards to crop up shortly so anyone can create a very cool cluster computer based on the compute module.

 

VCF East: [Vince Briel] Of Briel Computers

Replica1

Judging from the consignment area of the Vintage Computer Festival this weekend, there is still a booming market for vintage computers and other ephemera from the dawn of the era of the home computer. Even more interesting are reimaginings of vintage computers using modern parts, as shown by [Vince Briel] and his amazing retrocomputer kits.

[Vince] was at VCF East this weekend showing off a few of his wares. By far the most impressive (read: the most blinkey lights) is his Altair 8800 kit that emulates the genesis of the microcomputer revolution, the Altair. There’s no vintage hardware inside, everything is emulated on an ATmega microcontroller. Still, it’s accurate enough for the discerning retrocomputer aficionado, and has VGA output, a keyboard port, and an SD card slot.

The Replica I is an extremely cut down version of the original Apple, using the original 6502 CPU and 6821 PIA. Everything else on the board is decidedly modern, with a serial to USB controller for input and a Parallax Propeller doing the video. Even with these modern chips, an expansion slot is still there, allowing a serial card or compact flash drive to be connected to the computer.

Video below, with [Vince] showing off all his wares, including his very cool Kim-1 replica.

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Multijoy_Retro Connects Your ‘Wayback’ to your ‘Machine’

flight-finished

Moore’s law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This rapid advancement is certainly great for computing power and the advent of better technology but it does have one drawback; otherwise great working hardware becomes outdated and unusable.  [Dave] likes his flight simulators and his old flight sim equipment. The only problem is that his new-fangled computer doesn’t have DA15 or DE9 inputs to interface with his controllers. Not being one to let something like this get him down, [Dave] set out to build his own microcontroller-based interface module. He calls it the Multijoy_Retro.

[Read more...]

3D Printed Camera Arm Saves $143

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Professional camera equipment is notoriously expensive, so when [Raster's] LCD camera arm for his RED ONE Digital Cinema Camera broke, he was dismayed to find out a new one would run him back $150! He decide to take matters into his own hands and make this one instead.

The original arm lasted a good 4 years before finally braking — but unfortunately, it’s not very fixable. Luckily, [Raster] has a 3D printer! The beauty with most camera gear is it’s all 1/4-20 nuts and bolts, making DIY accessories very easy to cobble together. He fired up OpenSCAD and started designing various connector blocks for the 1/4-20 hardware to connect to. His first prototype worked but there was lots of room for improvement for the second iteration.  He’s continued refining it into a more durable arm seen here. For $7 of material — it’s a pretty slick system!

Between making 3D printed digital camera battery adapters,  3D printed camera mounts for aerial photography, affordable steady-cams, or even a fully 3D printed camera… getting a 3D printer if you’re a photography enthusiast seems to make a lot of sense!

 

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