An Intel 8085 Microprocessor Trainer

The Intel 8085 microprocessor was introduced 40 years back, and along with its contemporaries — the Z80 and the 6502 — is pretty much a dinosaur in terms of microprocessor history. But that doesn’t stop it from still being included in the syllabus for computer engineering students in many parts of the world. The reason why a 40 year old microprocessor is still covered in computer architecture text books instead of computer history is a bit convoluted. But there’s a whole industry that thrives on the requirements of college laboratories and students requiring “8085 Microprocessor Training Kits”. [TisteAndii] just finished college in Nigeria, where these kits are not locally built and need to be imported, usually costing well over a 100 dollars.

Which is why his final year project was a low cost Intel 8085 Microprocessor Trainer. It’s a minimalist design with some basic read/write memory, program execution and register inspection, with no provision for single stepping or interrupts yet. The monitor program isn’t loaded in an EEPROM. Instead, a PIC18 is used and connected to the 8085 address, data and control pins. This makes it easier to write a monitor program in C instead of assembly. And allows use of a 1.8″ LCD with SPI interface instead of the more usual 7-segment displays used for these kind of kits. [TisteAndii] built a 6×4 keyboard for input, but couldn’t solve debounce issues and finally settled on a 5×4 membrane keypad.

Being a rookie, he ended up with a major flaw in his board layout — he missed connecting the SRAM and the PPI devices to the data bus. A bunch of jumper links seemed to solve the issue, but it wasn’t perfect. This, and a few other problems gave him a lot of grief, but towards the end, it all worked, almost. Most importantly, his BoM cost of about $35 makes it significantly cheaper compared to the commercial units available in Nigeria.

While some hackers may consider this a trivial project, it solves a local problem and we hope the next iteration of the design improves the kit and makes it more accessible.

Hackenings: KiCAD, Science, DevOps, and Cyber

This week in [Hackenings], we’ve got a full roster of interesting upcoming events scattered all over the world. Can’t afford airfare to India, but Dublin is in the next county over? We’ve got you covered.

KiCad in Bangalore

IKP EDEN, in Bangalore, is hosting an Introduction to KiCad workshop on Sunday, Nov 13 from 10:00-2:00 pm. If you’re just getting started with PCB layout, or just want a quickstart learning KiCad, Hackaday contributor [Anool Mahidharia] will be there to show you how! Sign up on the link above, and bring your laptop with KiCad already installed.

Science in Dublin

20151115_124704-e1476655395528_thumbnailTOG hackerspace in Dublin is putting on their fifth annual Science Hack Day, a 36-hour hardware and software hackathon on Nov 19 & 20th. Looking through their photos, past creations have included a laser mission-impossible crawl-through maze thing, some kind of freaky turtle, and many objects that move, make noise, or otherwise amuse.

“Each year we bring together, designers, coders, scientists, engineers and makers. Simply to make interesting things. Why? For adventure, for playfulness, for science!”

DevOppery (and Foppery) in Stuttgart

logo_webDo you have what it takes to meet the needs of DevOps, Agile, and Cyber in the Enterprise Environment? Interested in Disruptive Cloud Computing or Mobile First Growth Hacking? Can you rub two buzzwords together and come up with marketing gold? Then you might have a fun time at the shack hackerspace in Stuttgart on Nov. 19th, for the eloop 2016 conference (translated here).

A full day’s talks include topics such as “Enterprise Patterns”, “Good Enough”, and the “Cult of Done Manifesto” as it relates to computer security. “What’s discussed at eloop today moves the digital markets of tomorrow.” YOLO!

Vote for Swindon

If you’re a UK citizen, you can vote to get the Swindon Makerspace some community funding so that they can furnish a new space. Why not?

Game Retro

And if you’re in Huntsville, Alabama, or environs, don’t forget Makers Local 256’s Retro Gaming night tonight (Saturday, 12th).

Hackenings? Hackenings!

[Hackenings] is our weekly Saturday morning (US, Pacific Time) roundup of what’s going to be going on in the hackerspace world in the upcoming week. If you’d like us to cover your event, email us at and put [Hackenings] in the subject so that we don’t miss it. Thanks!

Hackaday Prize Entry: Helping Millions See Clearly

Slit lamps are prohibitively expensive in the third world areas of India where they are most needed. An invention that’s been around for over a hundred years, the slit lamp is a simple-in-concept way to see and diagnose a large array of ocular issues.

Since they are relatively old by technological standards, the principles behind them have become more and more understood as time has gone on. While a nice lab version with a corneal microscope is certainly better, innovations in manufacturing have brought the theoretical minimum cost of the device way down, or at least that’s what [Kewal Chand Swami] hopes.

His design aims for portability and cost reduction. It must be able to travel to remote locations and it must be significantly cheaper than the lab versions. It uses off-the-shelf lenses in a 3D printed housing with a simple LED torch, the kind you can buy for a dollar at the check-out stand.

The assembly slides onto the user’s head and is held there with straps. The doctor can adjust where the slit the lamp shines and also look through a microscope to diagnose the issue. Hopefully devices like this will see similar community support to the prosthetic projects we’ve covered.

$3 Smartphone From India

The release of the Ringing Bells Freedom 251 means exciting things for India, and if it goes well possibly the hacker community, too. This $3 device comes with all the things you’d expect from your standard smartphone. Considering any of the individual components alone (4″ IPS screen, cell modem, 1450 mAh battery, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 3.2 MP front and 0.3 MP rear cameras) could cost more than the whole thing put together, some skepticism is warranted.

There is speculation about how this is possible given Ringing Bells’ claims of no government subsidies. Considering the prototype presented to the media was from Chinese company Adcom, this may be a big scam in the making. The BBC does an examination of the many ways this seems sketchy, including the lack of appropriate government approvals (like the Indian equivalent of the FCC), and the experience of the company selling it (established in 2015).

Still, consider us curious and hopeful that we may have a new tool as useful and cheap as the ESP8266 has been. That said, it will be interesting to see if the company can maintain stock and limit hardware sales to their intended market or will a curious world electronics ecosystem make them a scarce stock item.

[via BBC]

The Toy Maker

A large part of the world still educates their kids using a system that’s completely antiquated. Personal choices and interests don’t matter, and learning by rote is the norm. Government schooling is woefully inadequate and the teachers are just not equipped, or trained, to be able to impart useful education. [Arvind Gupta], a science educator, is trying to change this by teaching kids how to build toys. His YouTube channel on Toys for Science and Math Education has almost 100,000 subscribers and over 44 million views. It’s awesome.

matchstickmecanno01[Arvind] graduated from one of the finest engineering schools in India, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, and joined the TATA conglomerate at their heavy-vehicles plant helping build trucks. It didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t cut out to be building trucks. So he took a year off and enrolled in a village science program which was working towards changing the education system. At the weekly village bazaar, he came across interesting pieces of arts and crafts that the villagers were selling. A piece of rubber tubing, used as the core of the valve in bicycle tubes, caught his eye. He bought a length and a couple of matchboxes, and created what he calls “matchstick Meccano”.

This was in the 1970’s. Since then, he has been travelling all over India getting children to learn by building fun toys. The toys he designs are made from commonly available raw material and can be easily built with minimum resources. These ingenious DIY toys and activities help make maths and science education fun and interesting for children at all levels of schooling. All of his work is shared in the spirit of open source and available via his website and YouTube channels. A large body of his work has been translated in to almost 20 languages and you are welcome to help add to that list by dubbing the videos.

Check out the INK Conference video below where he shares his passion for education and shows simple yet entertaining and well-designed toys built from trash and recycled materials.

Continue reading “The Toy Maker”

Hacking Education – A Makerspace Experiment

This is an Education hack, and it’s pretty awesome. [Abhijit Sinha] received an Engineering degree and took up a run-of-the mill IT job in Bangalore, considered India’s IT hub. 7 months down the line on Dec 31st, he gave notice to the company and quit his “boring” job. He ended up in Banjarpalya, a village just 30 kms out of Bangalore. But it could well have been 30 years back in time. The people there had never come across computers, and there wasn’t much sign of other modern technology. So he set up Project DEFY – Design Education for You.

He bought a few refurbished laptops, took a room, and put kids and computers together. Except, these kids just knew a smattering of English. They went to the village school, run by the government and staffed by teachers whose training was basic, at best. He told the kids there are games in those boxes for them to play, but they’d have to figure it out on their own, without help from him. Pretty soon, all of them were playing games like they were pros. That’s when [Abhijit] stepped in and told them that they’d created a base line for having fun. Everything else they did from now on had to be more fun than what they had just done. If they were interested, he would show them how.

He had a gaggle of kids waiting to hear him with rapt attention. He showed them how to look online for information. He showed them how they could learn how to build fun projects by looking up websites like Instructables, and then use locally available materials and their own ingenuity to build and modify. Once a project was done, he showed them how to post details about what they had done and learnt so others around the world could learn from them. The kids took to all this like fish to water. They couldn’t wait to get through 5 hours of school each day, and then head over to their makerspace to spend hours tinkering. Check out their Instructable channel – and see if you can give them some guidance and advice.

A year onwards, on Dec 31st again, [Abhijit] gathered the kids, and several adults who had joined in during the year, telling them he had news. He had figured they were independent enough to run the space on their own now, without any help from him. He would still get them the 500 odd Dollars they needed each month to keep it operational. Other than that, they were on their own. He’s been monitoring their progress, and from the looks of it, the hack seems to have worked. More power to [Abhijit] and others like him around the world who are trying to bring the spirit of making to those who probably stand to benefit from it the most. Check out the videos below where they show off their work.

PS : Here’s the latest update from [Abhijit] : “Got back to the Banjarapalya Makerspace after quite a while, and this is what they show me – they built a little plane. Of course it crash lands, and needs a better programming, but I am super impressed that they are ready to fly.
Anyone who wants to help them technically? Financially? With parts and components ?”

Continue reading “Hacking Education – A Makerspace Experiment”

Hackaday Prize Worldwide : Maker’s Asylum New Delhi

Join me on July 18th for Hackaday Prize Worldwide: New Delhi — a KiCad workshop, hardware show & tell, and a chance for you to meet other hackers and makers in the area.

Hacker spaces are on the rise in India, a development that really excites me. When I helped co-found India’s first, community Hacker Space – Maker’s Asylum – in Mumbai, things were pretty lonely. And this was less than 2 years back in 2013 November. Last month, we opened New Delhi’s latest, and the Maker’s Asylum’s second space. There’s already a couple of other hacker spaces in New Delhi, and you can now find hacker spaces in Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Meerut, Kolkatta, Surat, Ahmedabad, Dharamsala, Hyderabad, Ramachandrapuram – and the list continues to grow.

To help build the community, and to bring the opportunity presented by the Hackaday Prize to local hackers, I hosted Hackaday Prize Worldwide events at the Maker’s Asylum in Mumbai and at Workbench Projects in Bangalore. This month, on July 18th, I’ll do another Hackaday Prize Worldwide event at the Maker’s Asylum in New Delhi. I love talking about, and supporting, Open Source Hardware at every opportunity. So for this event, I’ll be doing a fairly long and detailed workshop on KiCad – the awesome, open source EDA tool – lasting several hours. At the end of the day long workshop, I hope to get fellow hackers to complete a design that can be sent off for PCB fabrication. After a short break in the evening, we will have a Show-n-Tell, getting the assembled folks to show off the projects they are working on. There are a number of them who have submitted entires for the Hackaday Prize, so it will be interesting to hear them talk about their experience and share tips and ideas.

We can hold only a limited number of folks at the event, and slots are quickly filling up. So, if you’re in New Delhi or somewhere close by, do RSVP at this link quickly. Looking forward to an interesting event. Check out some pictures from the opening party of the New Delhi Maker’s Asylum after the break.

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Worldwide : Maker’s Asylum New Delhi”