Emulating the DCPU on an AVR

[skywodd] just finished his own DCPU emulator (French, translation) based on [notch]‘s upcoming game, 0x10c. The neat thing about [skywodd]‘s build is his emulator uses the lowly ATMega328, the same microcontroller found in (some) Arduinos.

The DCPU specification goes over the operations required of any DCPU emulator. There’s a lot of crazy stuff here – a division instruction that takes only 3 clock cycles, using an overflow for carry conditions, and a complete lack of a JMP instruction – but [skywodd] was able to tease something apart from DCPU studio and a VGA interface

Everything in this emulator is built on a solderless breadboard, but the ROM and RAM isn’t complete yet. As of now, everything is handled by the ‘328, using 478 bytes of RAM on the microprocessor.

We promised we would be holding a contest for the best physical implementation of the DCPU when we caught wind of 0x10c, and [skywodd]‘s build is starting to look like the beginnings of the winning entry. We honestly have no idea when we’ll be holding this contest, but it’ll probably be shortly after the first playable release. Go bug [notch] if you’d like to speed up the progress, because obviously Twitter abuse speeds up software development.

Defense Against the Dog Arts

It’s possible that it was [Matt Meerian]‘s awesome pun that won us over, not his ultrasonic bicycle dog defense system, but that would be silly. [Matt] wanted an elegant solution to a common problem when riding a bicycle, dogs. While, obscenities, ammonia, water, pepper spray, and others were suggested, they all had cons that just didn’t appeal to [Matt]. He liked the idea of using C02 powered high pressure sound waves to chase the dogs away with, but decided to choose a more electronic approach.  He used a Atmel ATmega644 as the MCU, four 25kHz transmitters, and two 40kHz transmitters. When the rider sees a dog he simply flips a switch and it activates the transducers (along with, cleverly, a human audible horn so he doesn’t have to look down to know it’s working). So far [Matt] has not had a dog chase him in order to test it’s efficacy, but his cat clearly seems unaffected by the device as you can see after the break. [Read more...]

Talking digital calipers make engineering more accessible

talking-digital-calipers

The team over at NerdKits recently put together a device aimed to help make the process of measuring things more accessible to those with disabilities. [Terry Garrett] is a Mechanical Engineering student, and as anyone who is in the field knows, it’s a discipline which requires taking tons of measurements. Since [Terry] cannot see he was often asking classmates to assist in measuring items during labs, but when he got a job at a nearby design studio, he knew he would have to find a way to take those measurements on his own.

Enter NerdKits.

[Humberto] wrote in to share how he and his team built a set of talking digital calipers to assist [Terry] in his daily tasks. They based the design off a previous project they worked on, getting digital readout data from a set of calipers. The DRO information is fed into an ATmega382p, which pieces together pre-recorded sound bites to announce the size of the object being measured.

As you can see in the video below, the system looks to work very well, and [Terry] is quite pleased with his new talking tool. We love seeing these sorts of hacks, because they truly make a difference in people’s lives – excellent job!

[Read more...]

Hacked parking disc can be controlled remotely

reverse_engineering_parking_disc

If you have ever traveled around Europe, you are likely familiar with parking discs. Required in many countries that would rather not deal with parking meters, these devices are placed in the front of a car’s window, and indicate when the vehicle was parked. When parking enforcement officers come through the area, it makes quick work of identifying which cars need to be ticketed.

[Michael] received a fancy electronic parking disc as a gift, but the device was incredibly buggy, causing him all sorts of grief. After contacting the manufacturer and receiving no helpful response, he took it upon himself to get things working properly.

He dismantled the disc and found that like many products today, the microprocessors were locked down behind a layer of hard resin. Undeterred, he decided to rebuild it from the ground up using an ATmega microcontroller to provide basic parking disc functionality. He also armed his disc with a GSM modem and a GPS receiver – the former gives him the ability to communicate with the device, while the latter provides accurate time data while allowing him to keep tabs on the car’s location, should the need arise.

The hacked disc’s guts reside in his glove box, and can be controlled using his iPhone, making it easy to tweak his parking time at will.

Check out the video below to see his parking clock in action, and if you have questions on any part of the build, [Michael] says he’s more than happy to fill in any missing details.

[Read more...]

Rear window LED display gives other drivers a piece of your mind

rear_window_led_matrix

[Gagandeep] was sick and tired of discourteous drivers on the highway, so he decided that he would put together a display to let them know what he thought of their poor driving skills. He planned on putting the display up in the rear window of his car, so he had to ensure that it did not obstruct his view while driving.

He decided that an LED matrix would be the best way for displaying images and text while on the go, so he got busy constructing a 40×16 mesh grid for his rear window. Using a wooden template to get the spacing and positioning just right, he spent several days soldering the 600+ LEDs to one another. He used 74HC595 shift registers to manage the LEDs in groups of 5 columns, while an ATmega AT89C51 was tasked with generating the text and images to be displayed. All of the ICs were deadbugged in place, helping achieve [Gagandeep’s] desire of keeping his view unobstructed.

While we’re not well-versed on the legality of such a display, it looks great when animated. There are plenty of pictures of the grid in various stages of construction as well as videos of it in action in his Picasa album, so be sure to check them out. If you are looking for code or Eagle files, you can find those here.

Video: Learning to program for the ATmega328p Part I

Many of you are familiar with the Arduino. Many of you hate it…* This post isn’t about the Arduino. It is about the processor that is at the heart of many Arduino boards. If you are in the camp of people who can’t understand why others dislike the Arduino so much, this series is for you. In this series of videos, [Jack] will explore how to program for the ATmega328p processor using C. If you have been programming for the Arduino, you may have had some issues with the speed of your code at points. Programming in C will allow you to wring out nearly the last ounce of processing power that the ATmega processors can provide. It will also let you access the peripherals on the processor directly and to switch between different processors when you need more (or less) capabilities.

In this first video, [Jack] shows you all of the features of the 3pi robot, which he will be using as a fancy development board for the ATmega328p. He then shows you how to get your development environment set up and then walks you through one of the sample programs provided for the 3pi robot.

*Here at Hackaday, we are officially neutral in the ongoing Arduino love/hate war. We don’t care what microcontroller is used in the hacks that we show, only that they are cool.

Video is after the break!
[Read more...]

Matchbox-sized line following robot

pocketbot_line_following_robot

While they are not nearly as complex as their self-navigating brethren, building line following robots is no simple task, especially when they are this small. The creation of [Ondřej Staněk], this matchbox-sized line following robot is quite impressive.

PocketBot’s 48mm x 32mm circuit board also acts as its frame, supporting the wheels, motors, microcontroller and more. The brains of the operation is an ATmega8 microcontroller mounted on the bottom of the bot. A pair of wheels are driven independently using a set of mobile phone vibration motors that power the bot at speeds of up to 0.35 meters per second. Line detection is achieved by using three different IR sensors paired with four IR emitters located at the front end of the bot.

PocketBot also has an IR receiver on its top side, which allows [Ondřej] to control the robot, tweak its parameters, or calibrate its sensors on the fly using an IR remote or his computer.

The PocketBot might not be the absolute smallest line following bot we’ve seen, but it’s pretty darn close!

Continue reading to see PocketBot in action.

[Read more...]

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