Hackaday Links: July 31, 2016

Going to DEF CON this week? Getting into Vegas early? We’re having a meetup on Wednesday, in the middle of the day, in the desert. It’s all going down at the grave of James T. Kirk. Rumor has it, the Metrons will abduct a few of us and make us fight to the death on a planet with impossible geology.

The Hara Arena is closing down. The Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio is the home of Hamvention, the largest gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts in the US. I was there last May, and I can assure you, the Hara Arena has fallen into a state of disrepair. The ARRL reports hamvention will be at a new venue next year. The last scheduled event, after which there will be an auction for venue equipment and furniture, will be on August 27th. It’ll be a comic book and toy show.

Hackaday.io has a log of projects. Some might say it has too many projects. The search is great, but sometimes you just want to look at a random project. That’s the problem [Greg] solved with his Hackaday.io randomizer. It returns a random Hackaday.io project, allowing you to gawk at all the boards and resistors found within.

Primitive Technology is a YouTube channel you should watch. It’s a guy (who doesn’t talk), building everything starting with pre-stone age technology. He built a house with a heated floor, somewhat decent pottery, and this week he entered the iron age. The latest video shows him building a squirrel cage fan out of clay and bark to smelt iron. The ore was actually iron-bearing bacteria, mixed with charcoal and wood ash, and placed into a crude but accurate smelting furnace. The end result is a few bb-sized grains of iron and a lot of melted flux. That’s not much, and is certainly not an accurate portrayal of what was being done 5,000 years ago, but it does mean the Internet’s favorite guy in the woods has entered the iron age while completely skipping over bronze.

Freeside Atlanta says they’re the largest hackerspace on the east coast, and to show off all the cool goings on, they made a walk through video.

Hackaday has a retro edition. It’s a wide selection of Hackaday posts presented in a format without JavaScript, CSS, ads, or any other Web 2.0 cruft. There’s an open challenge for anyone to load the retro site with a 4004 CPU. I know it can be done, but no one has presented evidence of doing it. [Lukas] just sent in his retro submission with a Z80 single board computer displaying some of the page on seven-segment displays. It’s basically a terminal emulator connected to a laptop that does most of the work, but this is the most minimal retro submission we’ve ever received.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: July 31, 2016

  1. Pedant alert

    Primitive technology refined iron hydroxyoxides produced by microbial communities, not the microbes themselves. Assuredly they were in the mix, but they aren’t the target. Furthermore, the iron mound can occur without microbial action due to oxygen in the atmosphere, but at a much restricted rate.
    All that’s needed is iron rich anoxic fluid exposed to the atmosphere or suitable microbial colonies, which aren’t all bacteria (some archea produce the same result). These conditions are a big concern with mining operations for coal and precious metals companies since in addition to smothering amounts of iron hydroxyoxides you get some of the most acidic conditions observed on earth. The iron mountain mine in California, for example, has effluent at a pH -3.6.

    Bad news for surrounding ecosystems.

  2. 4004 to load an internet site? A calculator 4bit CPU with no video output. It’s slower than Ardxxxo uno. It’s 2300 transistors in a non configurable architecture. I could build a PC with raspberry pi, and use it as a keyboard controller to type in the address, but there isn’t much computing power beyond that.

    1. The fact of the matter is that if you do not compare the time it takes any universal computing engine to compete a task they are all equal, even the 4004. Just keep in mind that between your computer and the content you view is a huge amount of technology so it is not cheating to build an interface to read the data and another one to display it. There is nothing to stop you writing, in a 4004 emulator, another emulator for a 32 MIPS machine, that runs on the 4004 because you can convert longer bit operations into strings of smaller ones.

    2. Oh noes, no video output, what were they thinking???

      If I actually had the parts to assplode, I’d figure on doing something like kludging it together with a CGA card, used in 40 column mode, and sneaking a couple of 4KB pages out of the unused video memory to map and swap with the ROM addresses of the 4004… possibly needing some hardware tricks to use those as a FIFO buffer for a dog slow serial connection to a host with a TCP/IP stack. Then we can have it ploddingly read through the data blasted into that at tens, maybe even the giddy speed of hundreds of bits per second and spit it back to the CGAs page in use… and get that effect from scifi movies depicting a highly advanced computer of 100s of years in the future that prints one character at a time across the screen in a big jaggedy font. Probably hook a speaker up to one of the data lines so we can have the blurpy blurp blurp blubblurp authentic futury sound effect too.

        1. By combing two electron tubes and come complex beam controls it has been possible, for the last 60 years, to have a full type font including symbols and line drawing blocks and project them onto a screen with no pixelisation at all.

          It works this way, at first the electron beam is deflected so that it passes through a metal mask that has all of the typography cut into it, this changes the bean to the shape of that given character, this beam is then passed into the display tube to be scaled and deflected so that it hits the phosphor coated display surface. By sequencing these mask select, scale and translation operations it is possible to render a lot of typographic and graphical information at a very high quality. This can be further increased by using a very persistent phosphor for the display of complex information that does not need to be animated at a high frame rate.

          i.e. They”d been doing amazing stuff with displays for a decade before the integrated circuit existed.

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