The Catweazle Mini: A Super Small ARM Based Embedded Platform

Catweazle

There has been a recent trend in miniaturizing embedded platforms. [Jan] wrote in to tell us about his very tiny ARM based embedded platform, the Catweazle Mini. Who knew that an ARM based system could be so simple and so small?!?

With the success of the Trinket and Femtoduino (miniature Arduino compatible boards) and many other KickStarter campaigns, it is only natural for there to be a mini platform based on the ARM architecture. Built around the NXP LPC810 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU at 30MHz (which only costs slightly more than $1, by the way), this small embedded platform packs some pretty impressive processing power. The board contains a simple linear regulator, and can be programmed via UART. [Jan's] development environment of choice is the mbed compiler, which is free and requires no installation. If you need some help getting started Adafruit has a nice guide for the LPC810.

Do you need some more processing power for your next wearable project? Be sure to use the Catweazle Mini.

LittleBits Little Lathe

LittleBits Lathe

Do you need a practical, useful and fun project for a young hacker who is under your wing? How about letting them get a bit of electronics experience snapping together a LittleBits little lathe to customize their crayons. Truthfully, this isn’t much of an electronics hack, but it does make fun use of a LittleBits motor module and all those old crayons you might have lying around. You could make this a weekend project to share with the kids, plus you never know what will spark that first interest in a young engineer.

If you’re unfamiliar with LittleBits, they are small electronic modules that magnetically snap together to build larger circuits. The modules are color-coded by functionality with non-reversible magnetic connectors to help the little ones understand how to connect and integrate the modules. These LittleBits kits are great for the young beginner in electronics or just for fun at any age. Individually, the modules are quite expensive, but the parts are well worth the price because children will find the system intuitive to use and the modules are robust in the hands of careless kids. A more cost-effective purchase would be one of the kits from Adafruit.com.

In this Instructable, [maxnoble440] demonstrates the little lathe turning a crayon using a variety of tools from the very sharp to the “safe for all ages.” The geared LittleBits motor turns slowly and appears to have enough torque to carve crayons—and possibly clay—packed around a small dowel. To build this project you will need a “little bit” of wood-crafting skill to construct the mini-lathe bed. All the instructions are available in the Instructable as well as a short video, which you can watch after the break below.

[Read more...]

Building a tiny arcade cabinet from a Game Boy Advance

building-a-tiny-arcade-cabinet

[Jani 'Japala' Pönkkö] found a way to make his old Game Boy Advance exciting again. He poured a ton of time and craftsmanship into building a miniature arcade cabinet. He did such a good job it’s easy to think this is a commercial product. But when you open the back of the case to switch games one look at what’s crammed inside let’s you know this is custom work.

What’s most surprising to us is that he didn’t draw out a full set of plans before beginning. He simply measured the circuit board and LCD screen from the Game Boy and went with his gut for everything else. The case itself is crafted from baltic birch plywood, which was primed and painted before applying the decals. There is also a screen bezel made of acrylic with its own decal like you’d find on coin-op machines. These were made using printable sticker paper. The electronic part of the build involves no more than extending contacts from the circuit board to buttons mounted on the case. But he did also replace the stock speaker for one that produces better audio.

Halloween Prop: Mario Bros. with full sound effects

Creativity abounds in putting together this pair of Super Mario Bros. costumes. [Rob] and his wife didn’t stop with a well-assembled troupe of familiar wardrobe items, but decided to go for authentic sound effects as well. It started by finding a few of his favorite Mario sounds on the Internet. From there he grabbed a greeting card that allows you to record several message. He recorded each of the sounds and removed the electronics from the card. From there an Arduino mini was connected to the playback buttons and to a Wii nunchuck. After the break you can see that when the kids press a button, the card plays back the sound of jumping, shooting fireballs, etc. So far it’s the best use of an audio greeting card that we think eclipses its intended use.

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Building the Banana Jr. 6000

[John's] latest build strikes a chord of nostalgia by realizing the Banana Jr. 6000. The whimsical hardware is the product of the Bloom County comic strip. It first appeared in 1984, the same year as the Macintosh. [John] used a Mac Plus as the case but completely revamped the insides. An 8″ touchscreen takes the place of the original cathode ray tube. There’s also a Mac Mini and a couple of speakers salvaged from other Macs. To get things looking just right he altered the case’s logo, painted it yellow, and even altered the Leopard operating system. Now when you boot up you’ll see a Banana and not a partly consumed pomaceous fruit.

[Thanks Captain DaFt]

Mini pinball is all-pixels

You won’t find those familiar steel balls inside this mini-pinball cabinet. That’s because [Luis'] latest creation is a fun way to play virtual pinball. The playing field is a 10″ LCD screen with an accompanying 8″ screen in the marquee. Inside the well-crafted case you’ll find a mini-ITX motherboard running HyperPin, a frontend software suite for LCD-based virtual pinball. He’s also using PinMame for the score board that was often provided by a gas plasma display on newer mechanical machines. There’s video after the break, and take a moment to check out [Luis'] other mini-cabinet builds.

What’s that you say? No substitute for the real thing? That’s exactly what [Ben Heck] thinks too.

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All that’s needed is a retro paintjob, miniMAME

[Tim's] miniMAME‘s construction follows the “light and cheap” approach, using foam core board and hot glue. Sure it won’t last a nuclear attack, but at least it’s light enough to carry to a friend’s house.

With a removable netbook at the core, CCFLs, speakers, trackball, and mini arcade fighting stick, the project completely surpassed our expectations. For those looking to build a miniMAME, [Tim] includes lots of pictures, details, and plans allowing anyone to make their own in about an afternoon.

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