They just don’t write promotional film scripts like they used to: “These men are design engineers. They are about to engage a new breed of computer, called Graphic 1, in a dialogue that will test the ingenuity of both men and machine.”
This video (embedded below) from Bell Labs in 1968 demonstrates the state of the art in “computer graphics” as the narrator calls it, with obvious quotation marks in his inflection. The movie ranges from circuit layout, to animations, to voice synthesis, hitting the high points of the technology at the time. The soundtrack, produced on their computers, naturally, is pure Jetsons.
Highlights are the singing “Daisy Bell” at 9:05, which inspired Stanley Kubrick to play a glitchy version of the track as Dave is pulling Hal 9000’s brains out, symbolically regressing backwards through a history of computer voice synthesis which at that point in time was the present. (Whoah!)
Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The Incredible Machine”
You need to get an SPI bus on something right now, but you left your laptop at home. No problems, because you’ve got your Bus Pirate and cellphone in your pocket. And a USB OTG cable, because you’re going to need one of those. And some probes. And maybe a soldering iron for tacking magnet wire onto those really small traces. And maybe a good magnifying glass. And…
OK, our fantasy of stepping away from the party for a quick JTAG debugging session is absurd, but what’s not at all absurd is the idea of driving your Bus Pirate from a nice GUI app on your Android phone. [James Newton] wrote DroidScriptBusPirate so that he wouldn’t have to hassle with the Bus Pirate’s nested single-character menu system, and could easily save complete scripts to do common jobs from pleasant menus on his phone.
In fact, now that we think of it, we’re missing a Bus Pirate GUI for our desktop as well. Whenever we have complex tasks, we end up scripting something in Python, but there ought to be something more user-friendly. Anyone know of a good GUI solution?
This project is reminiscent of the old days when window managers were an amazing new idea. The difference is that this window-based GUI is running on an ATmega1284 microcontroller. But the behavior and speed of the interface is pretty much exactly what you’d expect if working on an early 90’s home computer. It even uses a mouse as input.
So how is this even possible? The key to the project is a serial to VGA module which handles the heavy lifting involved with generating a VGA signal. We featured one of [Andrew’s] past projects which used an AVR chip to generate the VGA signal. But that doesn’t leave nearly enough cycles to implement something like a window manager, not to mention the fact that it got nowhere near the resolution shown here.
He uses a serial mouse with an RS-232 converter chip to interact with the windows. This is best shown in his video after the break. He’s able to generate and interact with new windows. He even implemented a set of rudimentary controls which allow him to adjust the theme of the windows and drive the audio playback feature included on that VGA controller he’s using.
Continue reading “GUI window manager on an AVR chip”
[Navin] has been hard at work producing a GUI which works with different micocontrollers. The idea is to make it even easier to develop projects by simplifying the feedback and control you can get from the prototyping hardware. The best part about it is that he designed the software to interface with any hardware which can be programmed in C++.
The screenshot above shows the program communicating with an mbed board which has an ARM microcontroller. But the Arduino board (which uses an ATmega chip) is supported as well. Support for additional architectures can be added by writing your own configuration file for the chip. The Python program then asks for the com port it should be using for this session.
The source package, including the code which runs on the microcontrollers, can be found at the project repository. The functions used in the sketches are quite simple and should be a snap to drop into your own code projects.
Sometimes you need to toggle or read a few pins on a microcontroller for a project so simple (or so temporary) that coding some firmware is a rather large investment of time. [Jaspreet] had the same problem – wanting to read values and toggle pins without writing any code – so he came up with a rather clever solution to control an MSP430 through a serial connection.
[Jaspreet] calls his project ControlEasy, and it does exactly as advertised: it provides a software interface to control ADC inputs, PWM outputs, and the state of output pins via a desktop computer. ControlEasy does this with a matching piece of code running on any MSP430 with a hardware UART (like the TI Launchpad) sending and receiving data to the computer.
Right now ControlEasy can read analog values, generate PWM output, and set individual pins high and low. [Jaspreet] plans on expanding his software to allow control of LCDs and I2C and SPI devices.
In the video after the break you can see [Jaspreet] fiddling around with some pins on his LaunchPad via the GUI. The software is also available for download if you’d like to try it out, but unfortunately it’s a Windows-only build at this point.
Continue reading “Giving the MSP430 a GUI”
Cheap ergonomic mouse
If your had keeps cramping while using the computer mouse why not grab a hunk of wood and a couple of buttons to make your own ergonomic input device?
C# GUI for Arduino testing
Here’s a Windows GUI for controlling Arduino. [Rohit] put it together using C#. It should make development very simple as you have control of almost everything before you need to worry about writing your own server-side software.
Networked strip lighting replaces the office overheads
[Jeremy] got tired of replacing the halogen bulbs in his office. He upgraded to ten meters of RGB LED strips. We can’t think they do as well at lighting up the room. But he did add network control so they can flash or change colors depending on what type of alert they’re signalling.
Woven QR codes
Now that [Andrew Kieran] proved you can weave a working QR code into textiles do you think we’ll see garments that have a QR code leading to care instructions? We could never figure out what all those strange icons stood for.
World’s largest QR code in a corn maze
The world’s largest QR code was cut out of this field of corn. It’s at the Kraay Family Farm in Alberta, Canada. Gizomodo called it “Stupidly Pointless”. But we figure if it got them a world record and put their website on the front page of Giz and Hackaday they’re doing okay. Plus, we whipped out our Android and it read the QR code quite easily.
If you have been chomping at the bit to give drag and drop Arduino programming a try, Minibloq is finally in Beta and ready for you to test!
We mentioned the application back in April of this year, when [Julián da Silva] was still in the early stages of developing the software. His graphical programming environment is meant to put the power of the Arduino and its derivatives into the hands of children in an easy fashion, with a gentle learning curve.
A lot has transpired since we first wrote about Minibloq, including a very successful Kickstarter campaign, along with many hours of programming and testing. The current Beta release includes a ton of features and programming “blocks” beyond what we saw earlier this year, so be sure to check out the video below for a quick tour of what’s new.
[Julián] says that the application’s source code will be released after they add a few key features, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in taking a peek under the hood.
Continue reading “Minibloq Arduino IDE is in Beta and in need of testers”