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MARCH attends HOPE X in July

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The Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyist (MARCH) group is at HOPE X displaying a chronology of Apple computers, everything from an accurate Apple 1 reproduction all the way way up to an Apple Macintosh, and of course including all the II’s in between. Although they are only displaying Apples at this event, don’t confuse them for an Apple group. They love all types of vintage computers from the 1940′s to the 80′s.

[Evan], president of the group, elegantly explained why they are here; “to let people know that vintage computing is a thing and there are people in the area that do that thing”. He would like to encourage everyone who is mildly interested in retro computing to contact their local retro computer group and get involved in the community.

The group also puts on a yearly Vintage Computer Festival in New Jersey. This year’s event has already passed but you can still see what happened as Hackaday was there documenting all the cool stuff.

Mid Atlantic Retro Computing Group

HOPE X: Commodore 64′s Are Back, Baby

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Maybe they weren’t really ever gone but even so Commodore enthusiast [ALWYZ] is here at HOPE X spreading re-awareness of the Commodore 64 and that there is still a community of Commodore fans out there who have been up to some pretty cool projects.

One of those projects is a Quantum Link-esque service called Q-Link Reloaded. Quantum Link was an online service available for Commodore 64 and 128 users that offered electronic mail, online chat, file sharing, online news, and instant messaging. It lasted from the mid-80s to the mid-90′s and later evolved into America Online. In 2005, a group of folks reversed-engineered the original server code and the resultant Q-Link Reloaded lets the Commodore folks once again communicate with each other.

Also on display is a Raspberry Pi running a C64 emulator complete with a controller to GPIO adapter. Hackaday has covered this emulator just a few months ago and it is great to see it working in person.

C64 emulator on raspberry pi

 

Embedding Wireless Charging into Your Laptop

Wireless charger in chromebook

Looking for a project to do [Jason Clark] thought it might be fun to integrate a spare wireless Qi charger into his HP Chromebook 14.

He started by cracking open the Qi charger — it’s held together by adhesive and four phillips screws hiding under the feet pads — all in all, not that difficult to do. Once the plastic is off, the circuit and coil are actually quite small making it an ideal choice for hacking into various things. We’ve seen them stuffed into Nook’s, a heart, salvaged for a phone hack…

Anyway, the next step was opening up the Chromebook. The Qi charger requires 5V at 2A to work, which luckily, is the USB 3.0 spec — of which he has two ports in the Chromebook. He identified the 5V supply on the board and soldered in the wires directly —  Let there be power!

While the coil and board are fairly small, there’s not that much space underneath the Chromebook’s skin, so [Jason] lengthened the coil wires and located it separately, just below the keyboard. He closed everything up, crossed his fingers and turned the power on. Success!

It’d be cool to do something similar with an RFID reader — then you could have your laptop locked unless you have your RFID ring with you!

An Amazing DIY Single Board ARM Computer with BGA

DIY Single Board Computer ARM

Typically, you buy a single board Linux computer. [Henrik] had a better idea, build his own ARM based single board computer! How did he do it? By not being scared of ball grid array (BGA) ARM processors.

Everyone loves the Raspberry Pi and Beagle Board, but what is the fun in buying something that you can build? We have a hunch that most of our readers stay clear of BGA chips, and for good reason. Arguably, one of the most important aspects of [Henrik's] post is that you can easily solder BGAs with cheaply available tools. OSH Park provides the inexpensive high-quality PCBs, OSH Stencils provides the inexpensive stencils, and any toaster oven allows you to solder even the most difficult of components. Not only does he go over the PCB build, he also discusses the bootloader, u-boot, and how to get Linux running.

Everything worked out very well for [Henrik]. It’s a good thing too, cause we sure wouldn’t want to debug a PCB as complicated as this one. What projects have you built that use a BGA? Let us know how it went!

Gaming Keyboard Features Incredible Workmanship

Gaming Keyboard in Desk

Hello people, look at your keyboard, now back to this one, now back to your keyboard, now back to us. Sadly, your keyboard isn’t this one, but if you’re handy with wood and metalwork, it could look like this one!

This incredible keyboard was made with the blood, sweat, and tears of [Kurt Plubell], an architectural draftsman. He began a few years ago when he hung up his T-square and started using CAD for his work. His biggest complaint about CAD? Ergonomics! His setup slowly evolved as he was determined to find the most comfortable way to work. First, a keyboard and a trackball. Then, a keyboard, a trackball, and a left-handed mouse. Then, an ergonomic keyboard on a desk mounted tray (and trackball + mouse) — he still wasn’t satisfied. Thus began his journey into a fully customized setup.

He started with the ErgoDox keyboard, which is a two-part ergonomic keyboard. He ordered the aluminum version, which isn’t quite as nicely finished as you would think — but we doubt the manufacturer was expecting its consumers to be taking it apart and integrating it into something else. A lot of sandpaper, die grinding and polishing later, and it had a much nicer finish.

The keyboard was built up using wood and MDF, and finally finished with a very nice wood veneer, giving a very executive finish to the project. He’s integrated four arcade buttons and a Kensington track ball in the very middle — and of course, being a true typist, his keys have no markings.

[via Reddit]

Using Pulleys and Weights to Explain Binary Logic Gates

pulley computer

To demonstrate how computers work, [Alex Gorischek] has made a physical example of how binary logic gates work using pulleys and weights.

For anyone who doesn’t know much about logic gates (Wikipedia), it’s a great lesson in one of the fundamentals of circuitry. Using an old chessboard, eyelets, rings, weights, and string, [Alex] has designed a system that can show off all of the logic gates. This includes: NOT, BUFFER, NAND, AND, OR, NOR, XOR, XNOR. He’s also included a gallery of all his examples here.

The neat thing about this demonstration is it is shown in a way that anyone can understand, heck, it’s also something anyone can play with in order to learn! Stick around after the break and see for yourself.

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Physical Keys Not Just For Doors Anymore, Now Available For Windows

Physical Key Locks and Unlocks Windows Computer

If you have ever forgotten your computer password after a long weekend or maybe you can remember it but just can’t seem to type it correctly, [Thomas] has a project for you. It’s a physical key that locks and unlocks your PC.

So how does it work? The heart of the project is an Arduino Leonardo. You may recall that this board is a bit different from the preceding Arduinos as it can enumerate on a host computer as a Human Interface Device (HID), such as a keyboard or mouse. The Arduino sketch continually reads an input pin using an internal pull-up resistor to make it logic high with the key switch connecting the signal to ground. When the Arduino sees the pin change from high to low, it sends out a keyboard command consisting of the Windows Key and “L”, which is the keyboard shortcut for locking the computer.

When the physical key is turned again, the Arduino sees the pin change back to a high state and it again emulates a keyboard but this time enters your password. You do have to include your password in the Arduino sketch for this to work. In addition, there are two LED’s wired up to show if the computer is locked or not, but you’ll be able to tell pretty quick when trying to get back to work.

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