Hackaday Links: August 14, 2016

Hey London peeps! Hackaday and Tindie are doing a London meetup! It’s this Wednesday, the 17th.

What do you do if you need Gigabytes of storages in the 80s? You get tape drives. What do you do if you need Terabytes of storage in the year 2000? You get tape. The IBM Totalstorage 3584 is an automated tape storage unit made sometime around the year 2000. It held Terabytes of data, and [Stephen] picked up two of them from a local university. Here’s the teardown. Unfortunately, there’s no footage from a GoPro stuck inside the machine when it’s changing tapes, but the teardown was respectable, netting two drives, the power supplies, and huge motors, fans, relays, and breakers.

A few years ago Motorola released the Lapdock, a CPU-less laptop with inputs for HDMI and USB. This was, and still is, a great idea – we’re all carrying powerful computers in our pocket, and carrying around a smartphone and a laptop is effort duplication. As you would expect, the best use for the Lapdock was with a Raspberry Pi, and prices of Lapdocks have gone through the roof in the last few years. The Superbook is the latest evolution of this Lapdock idea. It’s a small, thin, CPU-less laptop that connects to a phone using a special app and a USB cable. It also works with the Raspberry Pi. Very interesting, even if they didn’t swap the CTRL and Caps Lock keys as God intended.

Did you know we have a store? Yes! It’s true! Right now we need to get rid of some stuff, so we’re having a clearance sale. We got FPGA Arduino shields! Buy a cordwood puzzle! SUPERLIMINAL ADVERTISING.

The computers aboard Federation vessels in the 24th century were based on isolinear chips. Each chip plugged into a backplane, apparently giving certain sections of the ship different functions. Think of it as a reconfigurable PDP Straight-8. This is canon, from TNG, and doesn’t make any sense. [Bohrdasaplank] over on Thingiverse has a few different models of isolinear chips. After close examination of these chips, we can only come to one conclusion.

How do you get a pilot bearing out of a motor? The normal way is using grease (or caulk, or some other gooey substance) as a hydraulic ram, but a slice of bread works much better. This is a weird one, but it works perfectly, with hardly any cleanup whatsoever.

542-page PDF warning here. Here’s the operations manual for the Apollo 15, including operation of the AGC, how to fly the LM, the planned traverses and EVAs, and a nice glossary of handy equations. If anyone’s looking for a LaTeX, InDesign, or bookbinding project that would make the perfect bathroom reader, this is it.

Here’s something I’ve been having trouble with. This is an mATX computer case with a screen on the side and a cover for the screen that includes a keyboard and trackpad. Yes, it’s a modern version of the luggable, ‘portable’, plasma-screen monsters of the 80s. I don’t know where I can buy just the case, so I’m turning to the Hackaday community. There’s an entire line of modern luggable computers made by some factory in Taiwan, but as far as I can tell, they only sell to resellers who put their own mobo and CPU in the machine. I just want the case. Where can I buy something like this? If you’re asking why anyone would want something like this, you can put two 1080s in SLI and still have a reasonably portable computer. That’s a VR machine, right there.

39 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: August 14, 2016

    1. Taking rivets apart with acid? A motor from a drill? Dude, buy a grinder.

      Heck of a haul. Shame you say you’re not going to use it.
      Least if you sell it you can buy a grinder :)

    1. Thanks for the link. It looks like the NexDock is a HDMI screen tied to a bluetooth keyboard/trackpad compared to the Superbook which does everything through USB OTG. But this separation allows the NexDock to support some windows 10 phones and older android devices that wouldn’t otherwise be compatible with the Superbook (I think).

  1. The bread one reminds me of a VICE documentary I watched about truckers in Africa. The differential in one truck broke down way out in the bush. According to a local shadetree mechanic, the solution is to pack the differential full of bananas. As ridiculous as it sounds, they were able to get the truck back on the road and all the way to their destination!

  2. it’s really easy to build your own durapac, i’ve done it with an old, fairly sturdy dell dimension 2400 case, drilled out a hole pattern for a vesa lcd/led monitor then drilled another hole into the power supply to provide 120v to the monitoer from inside the case (soldered to the mains in on the PS) route the vga to the inside and through a hole near the monitor mount, add some aluminum handles for the top, add some velcro to a lightweight portable keyboard and you’re done.

    1. I was thinking about it also. I’m sure one of the cases I’ve got around has an inch under the motherboard tray, and I could take that side off, bolt in a de-standed LCD on the VESA holes and replace panel with lexan or similar.

  3. “Did you know we have a store? Yes! It’s true! Right now we need to get rid of some stuff, so we’re having a clearance sale. We got FPGA Arduino shields!” — “This item is currently out of stock.”

  4. “How do you get a pilot bearing out of a motor?…a slice of bread works much better. This is a weird one, but it works perfectly, with hardly any cleanup whatsoever.”

    There’s another solution on YouTube using wet notepad-weight paper…in this case the material forcing out the pilot bearing is somewhat more substantial than bread and the process should be more tolerant of a slightly looser fit between the pilot punch and the bearing; still, bread should work admirably, so long as it’s dry.
    Where were you all those years i had to fight blind bearing/bushing removal?
    This is not only a weird hack, but a GREAT hack.

  5. Hey does anyone know if there is a wireless Lapdock or clone available? what I mean by that is a wireless screen so I could run a powerful computer but have the portability of a laptop for around the house. I really don’t want to be tethered to the PC. If it hasn’t been invented yet why not I want it!!!

    1. You could use an android tablet and the app Moonlight (formerly Limelight). The app is designed for low latency remote gaming but allows desktop mirroring. The one catch is that you need a newer Nvidia graphics card since the video encoding is done in hardware. I have not tried this program yet, but I’ve looked into it recently and people on the internet seem to think it works well. Just add a mouse and keyboard to your tablet and you can go anywhere in the house while using the power of your desktop.

  6. Just one issue with the case; Why on earth did they do the VGA connector like that? I get that they probably wanted to use a standard mATX mainboard with integrated graphics, but why send the cable out the side like that, obstructing the eSATA, toslink, and USB connectors?

    1. Old tape drives were a pain to maintain and they were still in use when they were considered very old technology because the limiting factor for how much you could store was simply how much tape you had and tape was cheap.

      I had several on different sites and I would always make 4 backups and hide on on top of a rack somewhere because a faulty tape drive would destroy tapes and some techs would actually put the third backup in before they realized.

      The more advanced tape drive had a helical scan reading method like an old Video Cassette Recorder.

      So the tape had to be in the right place lengthwise for the start of the scan, the tape had to be mechanically aligned at the correct angle to the scanning head, the tape motor had to be running at exactly the right speed and the heads had to be spinning at exactly the right angular velocity, and if the head was clean and the tape was clean and all the alignments where also correct when the data was written then you had some chance of scanning the track if the electronics was adjusted correctly.

      The above is what is Rube Goldberg like for me.

      1. .. and then there was making sure the clock was set right and not blinking 12:00, if you wanted to program it, man 80s kids had it hard… 90s kids just fed them PBJ sandwiches until the ‘rents gave up and bought DVD

  7. I want an affordable LTO drive for desktop computers. There are 5.25″ half height LTO drives but they usually require some bizarre form of SCSI interface and cost a huge amount. LTO = Linear Tape Open. It’s an open standard competitor to Digital Linear Tape. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_Tape-Open

    I have a lot of stuff I should backup but the only affordable backup is yet more hard drives. LTO is the only non hard drive archival method that has single pieces of media with large enough capacity to back up current large hard drives and do it without any compression so that files can be copied back at a decent speed. Last I checked, the tapes are pretty inexpensive. It’s just the drives that have insane prices.

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