Hackaday Links: December 18, 2016

You can fly a brick if it has offset mass and you can fly a microwave because it breaks the law of the conservation of momentum. A paper on the EM Drive was recently published by the Eagleworks team, and the results basically say, ‘if this works, it’s a terrible thruster that shouldn’t work’. Experts have weighed in, but now we might not have to wait for another test in the Eagleworks lab: China will fly an EM Drive on their space station. Will it work? Who knows.

The ESP32 is just now landing on workbenches around the globe, and already a few people are diving into promiscuous mode and WiFi packet injection.

The Large Hadron Collider is the most advanced piece of scientific apparatus ever built. It produces tons of data, and classifying this data is a challenge. The best pattern recognition unit is between your ears, so CERN is crowdsourcing the categorization of LHC data.

Holy crap this is cyberpunk. [SexyCyborg] created a makeup palette pen testing device thing out of a Rasberry Pi and a few bits and bobs sitting around in a parts drawer. The project is cool, but the photolog of the finished project is awesome. It’s exactly what you would use to break into the Weyland-Yutani database while evading government operatives on the rooftops of Kowloon Walled City before escaping via grappling hook shot into the belly of a spaceplane taking off.

The Mini NES is Nintendo’s most successful hardware offering since the N64. This tiny device, importantly packaged in a minified retro NES enclosure, is out of stock everywhere. That doesn’t matter because now there’s a mini Genesis. The cool kids had a Genesis. You want to be a cool kid, right? Mortal Kombat was better on the Genesis.

The Arduino (what once was two is again one) launched a new vowel-hating model: MKRZero. The narrow board is powered by USB or LiPo, centers around an Atmel SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ chip, and sports both an I2C breakout header and a microSD card slot. Just watch those levels as these pins are not 5v tolerant.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is holding a Scientific Maker Exhibit during its annual meeting. This type of exhibit isn’t a poster or presentation — it’s just some table space and a chance to show off a 3D printed apparatus, a new type of sensor, equipment, or some other physical thing. Details in this PDF. This is actually cooler than it sounds, and a significant departure from the traditional poster or presentation found at every other scientific conference.

Did you know Hackaday has a retro edition made specifically for old computers connected to the Internet? That’s my baby, and it’s time for a refresh. If you have any feature requests you’d like to see, leave a note in the comments.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: December 18, 2016

  1. A fully functional retro edition would be great, but the evil advertising overlords are against it I know. In a perfect world though, a fully functional retro edition would just be “show the normal site, but don’t load any CSS or Javascript”.

    1. Yes. It seems like it must be a lot of trouble finding old articles to mash together just to make a page you can read with a minimal browser. But having nothing but years-old articles makes it close to useless. I can just go to http://www.craigslist.org if I want to browse a webpage with minimal features.

  2. Nitpick alert….

    The peer system to the Genesis was the Super Nintendo, not to NES.

    If you were talking the NES, the Sega peer system was the Master System, which no cool kid would admit to owning. It was, being kind, a very average piece of hardware.

  3. I really want to do a render of the retro site on a really retro computer but it’s never going to happen with large compressed images. You have images that are compressed down to a couple of hundred kB. There is no way in the world that you can get enough of the image data into RAM to start de-compressing it when the image can be half a MB and you have 64kB of RAM.

    A retro computer screen is never going to display the images at full resolution anyway because the images are four times the entire retro-computers screen resolution or even larger so you have no option but to scale the image down and that is impossible with a compressed image because you don’t have enough RAM.

    JPG – It’s impossibly impossible to define the possibility of rending a JPG because it more impossible than even impossibly impossible defines even if that were impossible.

    PNG – a png has a zero compression mode and reads like a BMP but you have to reduce the color depth and PNG is not really good for that because even with a reduced color palette it takes the same size as a full true color image when it is not compressed. ZIP compression is too hard or a retro-computer.

    GIF – 16 colors – wow just a 16 color palette and it can be non-compressed perrrrfect for a retro computer but it has some overhead.

    BMP – yes the windows thing. It works on the web when you use a browser client but servers don’t support it, who cares about the server any way, it just works.

    The other two problems are aspect ratio. There are images that are 16:9, which is, you know – perfect for a computer made 30 years before we had 16:9 NOT!

    Just plain image size – how many kB can you store on a 32kB machine? If you use BMP you will see the real size of the image.

    Html has a trick for this –
    Let’s say picture.bmp nd it’s 100×75 which would be a quarter of a retro-computer screen but too small for a modern browser –


    <img src="picture.bmp" height="400" width="300" alt="my picture">

    This will scale the image for a normal browser and keep it small for a retro-computer. It will look a bit pixelated but not as much as you expect and after all it *is* the retro site so that should be expected.

    So .BMP or .GIF without compression (the LZH patent expired anyway) and it will work for new and retro computers this –

      1. Very well done indeed but …

        The JPGs in the retro site are four times the resolution and you might need to render 6 or more for one page.

        The JPGs on the retro site have a full color depth whereas your images are less than 16 bit color depth.

        Your JPGs are about 12kB so they easily fit into RAM on a retro computer so you can image process with access to the whole data and the ones on the retro site up to 500kB so you have to resize and render in the fly throwing out old data as you load more in and that is a lot more complex achievement with a compressed file.

        Also you did these on an emulator where you can run the CPU at 1000% speed and you didn’t mention how long the process takes at the real CPU speed ?? I would like to know that I you have time.

        So once again excellent work but I still expect that it would all short of being able to render the retro site.

  4. The Zipit Z2 and the Ben Nanote would be excellent devices to re-case as a pallete kit. They already run linux, have batteries, keyboards, screens, and WiFi, and are the same size as actual pallete kits.

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