Ditch the iPad; Build a Commodore 64 Tablet

The classic Commodore 64 has had its share of modernizing in the OS department. From its roots starting up a basic prompt, to full high resolution GUI packages like GEOS, to today where [Jim_64] added a tablet like launcher complete with a touch screen interface.

The GUI itself takes advantage of the high resolution graphics of the C-64 that looks similar to iOS, Icons are selected via cursor keys or joystick (what? no light pen?) and launch the various functions they represent. To add to the tablet-like feel of the OS, an off the shelf 3m touch screen panel and its corresponding RS232 interface board were obtained from digikey.

With the panel securely attached to the monitor, XY data from the various finger pokes are sent via serial at a blazing 1200 bps where the program interprets the position. Using the available demo (download sideA and sideB) and off the shelf parts, this should be easy for anyone with a classic C-64 to set up in their own home and have some fun.

Join us after the break for a few demo videos!

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Home Made Tumbler Diffuses Clear LEDs

What happens when you have a large stash of clear LED’s but you want or need diffused models for a project? You could go buy some more, but [Tyler] says no! Go grab some scrap from the shop, and make yourself a sand tumbler to diffuse the LED’s you already have.

The tumbler mechanism is similar to a rock tumbler, but is crafted out of bits of wood, some rods, a spaghetti sauce jar, and a DC motor which is available out of the types of machines we already tear apart. Once constructed, fine dry sand and the LED’s are loaded in the jar and is set to tumble for several hours.

Once done its easy to fish out the now diffused LED’s, which have a more even glow over their clear counterparts which shoot most of the light directly out of the end. Although it takes time, its a lot easier than trying to manually diffuse LED’s by hand, and if you need more than just a few its a massive labor saver.

Join us after the break for a quick video showing the results of different attempts during the learning process.

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One Dollar USB Sound Card Turned O-Scope

Using the inputs on a computer’s sound card is an old trick to fake a very simplistic, AC coupled, slow oscilloscope. You can get DC operation by desoldering a couple capacitors, but if the sound card is integrated into the motherboard it raises the stakes if you mess that up.

[TMSZ] has a better option, a ~1 dollar USB sound card which is easily hacked to work as a simple oscilloscope. Easily found on eBay, the 7.1 virtual channel sound card is identical in brains to a more expensive c-media model, but the layout of the PCB makes it easier to bypass the DC blocking caps. Software and DLL files to use the sound card with Miniscope v4 — a Windows GUI for oscilloscopes — are also linked, so getting set up should be fairly simple.

Now of course this is not lab-grade measurement equipment: the sampling rate is limited to 44KHz and the voltages must be in the typical “line level” range, under two volts. If you don’t mind a little extra noise, you can increase the input impedance with a single resistor. This extends the input range up to six volts, which covers most hobby and microcontroller usage.

So if you’re really in need of a scope, but only have a buck to spend, this may be just the hack for you! Those willing to shell out a hefty sum for a high-end headless oscilloscope should look onto the virtual bench.

Wheel Of Password!

Before the rise of the Nintendo Gameboy, Tiger LCD games were the king of handheld gaming. Inexpensive and appealing to a wide audience, you still often find them “in the wild” or lurking in your house, even today. When [Lee] found a “Wheel Of Fortune” model laying low in a box, having a look inside and turning the handheld into something it’s not.

Being based on a game show, this specific model has a feature most Tiger handheld’s don’t: a cartridge slot. Originally intended to supply additional categories and phrases, the slot is a wide open bus to the internal CPU. It didn’t take long for the some probing with the Bus Pirate to decode the data protocol.

So what does one do with a hacked game show game? Well you could just make it say goofy stuff, or you could make it into a TOTP password generator. Future plans are to take off the computer umbilical cord and bit bang the cart slot with an AVR. Once done anyone, trying to break in to [Lee’s] PC will never suspect the innocent old toy is the key to the kingdom.

Join us after the break for a quick demo video

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Animated Jack-o’-Lantern Really Connects

Days past people used to just carve a scary face in a pumpkin, drop in a candle and call it a day, but for our kind of crowd that’s not going to cut it. [Alexis] stuffed this Jack o Lantern with a lot of brain power and even connected it up to the internet for community control.

At the core of the festive decoration is a spark core, which allows micro controlled special effects to be triggered via Twitter. RGB LED’s change colors, flicker and flash and even a spooky ghost pops out of the top. Along with all that, a sound sensor is added in so the lights can react to the ambient sound around the lantern.

If you get too close an ultrasonic sensor will trigger the ghoulish treat with lights and animation, but what about spooky sounds? That is also included thanks to a toy found at the local discount store, which had its guts removed and its trigger button replaced with a transistor.

Now sights and sounds can all be controlled remotely or in an active response mode to entertain all the little goblins visiting the house this Halloween. Join us after the break for a quick demo video and don’t forget to send in links to your own pumpkin-based hacks this week!

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Upgrade Your Computer the 1985 Way

Today when you want to upgrade your computer you slap in a card, back in the early 80’s things were not always as simple.  When [Carsten] was digging around the house he found his old, and heavily modified Rockwell AIM 65 single board computer, flipped the switch and the primitive 6502 machine popped to life.

Added to the computer was a pile of wires and PCB’s in order to expand the RAM, the I/O to form a “crate bus” and of course tons of LED blinkenlights! On that bus a few cards were installed, including a decoder board to handle all the slots, a monitor controller, a massive GPIO card, and even a universal EEPROM programmer.

If that was not enough there was even a OS upgrade from the standard issue BASIC, to a dual-boot BASIC and FORTH. Though again unlike today where upgrading your OS requires a button click and a reboot, making all these upgrades are planned out on paper, which were scanned for any retro computer buff to pour through.

[Carsten] posted a video of this computer loading the CRT initilization program from a cassette. You can watch, but shouldn’t listen to that video here.

Hipster Linux Box is an 8mm Film Editor

Browsing though the junk store one day [Alec] spotted an old school 8mm film editor. For those who weren’t around, video used to be shot on film and editing it was a mechanical task of cutting (with a sharp implement) and pasting (with special tape) back together. It’s sad to see these in junk stores, but great for [Alec] who thought it begged to have an LCD and a single board computer implanted in it.  Once the editor was in hand, the machine was gutted of its very simple parts: a lamp, some mirrors and a couple of lenses. He took measurements of the hollowed out enclosure and got down to business.

The hunt for a 4:3 aspect ratio LCD was on. Through a little bit of research, an LCD security screen was ordered from Alibaba. For the brains of the build an OLinuXino A13 board was chosen due to its native VGA output perfect for the LCD screen, a decent 1GHz Allwinner CPU, and the physical size which would fit in the editor housing.

With some haggling, Linux was installed on the SBC along with some games and the system was buttoned back up. A neat touch was added to the arms where you would originally place your film reals in the form of some fold out speakers, making the whole thing look like something direct out of a classic Sci-fi film. Check out the name of the project: PCsr, pronounced PC Senior… nice!

We’d love to see some film reels added as speaker grills. Maybe there will be some leftover reels to use after converting all your old film to digital.

Join us after the break for a quick video

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