Homebrew 68k extravaganza

Introduced in 1979, the Motorola 68000 CPU was first used in very expensive and very high-end workstations from the likes of Sun and SGI. As the processor matured it became well-known for its use in the original Macintosh, early Amigas, and even the TI-89 graphing calculator and a few video game consoles such as the Sega Genesis and Atari Jaguar.

A few days ago when I posted a homebrew computer build based on the 65816 CPU, I lamented the lack of builds using the venerable Motorola 68k. Hackaday readers were quick to point out the many homebrew computers making use of this classic CPU, and I’m glad to post them here.

First up is an amazing 68008 build featuring an IDE disk interface, a floppy disk interface, 10base-T Ethernet connectivity, a real-time clock, and two SID synthesizer chips. As far as features go, this build takes the cake. Pity I can’t find a writeup.

Here’s a 68000-based computer built around the S-100 bus. Like the first computer to use the S-100 bus, the Altair 8800, this computer is plugged into a backplane that breaks out the data, address, and interrupt lines to every device on the bus.

Of course, no mention of backplane computers would be complete without a Eurocard version. [N8VEM] built a 68000 computer able to be plugged in to a backplane along with an IDE controller card and a display controller.

Finally, in true ‘giant mess of wires’ spirit, [Dajgoro] sent in his 68k single board computer featuring 512 kB of RAM and a 16k ROM. [Dajgoro] also took the time to wire in a PIC microcontroller, allowing him to expand his computer far beyond what vintage components would allow.

The 68k was – and still is – a very powerful CPU that far surpasses the capabilities of the 6502 and Z80 homebrew computers we see from time to time. Short of building a 486 or Pentium-based computer from scratch, building a 68k machine is one of the crowning achievements of hardware hackery, and something we hope to see more of in the future.

Building a custom interface for surplus HF radios

[PRC148] picked up a Motorola Micom radio from eBay. These are US State Department surplus, but apparently the 125 Watt HF units are top-of-the-line at a tenth of the sticker price. The one hangup is that they’re headless; you can’t control them without additional hardware. But the Internets are often kind to the hobbyists, and this is no exception. You can get software to run the radio from a PC thanks to the Micom Yahoo Group. [PRC148] took that software as an example and built his own stand-alone interface. [Cached version of the page]

The head unit is an Arduino driving a four-line LCD display and a rather large array of buttons. The forum thread linked above shows his humble beginnings on a breadboard. During the project [PRC148] learned a lot of skills to end up with what you see above. Hiding behind the reused bezel is a PCB he designed in Eagle CAD and etched himself. It allowed him to cram the tactile switches close enough to work with the button overlay on this keypad.

UPDATE: The traffic from this feature took down the forum hosting the content. They requested that we do not link to them because of this. A cached version without images can be found above thanks to [Termm].

Custom flat cables to suit your needs

[Cosimo Orlando] has a Motorola Xoom tablet. It’s an Android device that works great as a tablet, but can double as a Laptop when you need it to by adding a keyboard. The problem he was having is that the USB On-The-Go cables that he tried were never the right size or orientation. So he scavenged them for parts and built his own flat cable for a custom fit.

The final product pictured here actually uses protoboard to give the body some strength. [Cosimo] first laid out the dimensions on the substrate using a felt-tipped pen. He then took connectors from his mis-sized commercial cables and affixed them to the board with a combination of hot glue and solder. From there, just connect the five data lines and ground with some jumper wire and test for continuity. He finished this off with what he calls ‘adhesive plastic glossy black’ shaped to make a decent looking case. If you have any idea what product was used here, let us know by leaving a comment.

DroidX gets a custom recovery image

[Birdman] has managed to push a custom recovery image to the DroidX. This previously impossible action opens the doors to all kinds of fun hacking. While you can’t just drop a custom Rom on the phone right now, this is the first step in making that happen. You can find the directions in the post, but they’ve got a while to go before they become as easy as something like a jailbreak.

[via phandroid]

6809 computing

[Matthew Arnoff] built an 8-bit computer around the Motorola 6809 processor. He chose this processor because it seems there are a lot of Z80 builds out there and he wanted to try something different.

This actually packs quite a punch. He’s clocking the machine at 2 MHz with 512 KB of SRAM memory. Compact Flash that is FAT formatted provides mass storage. He’s using a serial connection for a user interface. After the break you can see his oscilloscope is used as the monitor. This was easy to accomplish by connecting the serial out to Terminalscope, one of his previous projects. Continue reading “6809 computing”

Verizon users shout “I am root!”

Droid has been rooted. It was only a matter of time but we do like to celebrate this sort of thing. Why? Because if you pay for it you should own it. This will probably spark a flame war about licensing agreements and such in the comments but answer this: if it breaks, who pays to fix it? If you’re the one paying for it, you should be able to do what you want with it.

The process seems simple. Copy the magic file onto your SD card and go through the firmware upgrade process. Just make sure you know what you’re doing so that you don’t brick this sexy device.

[via Gizmodo]

Pictures from space for $150


Ever wanted to be able to launch a balloon into space, track its location via GPS, take some photographs of the curvature of the earth, and recover the balloon, all for the low low cost of $150? [Oliver Yeh] sent in his teams project, Icarus, which does just that. The group of MIT students found that they could use a weather balloon filled with helium to reach heights of around 20 miles above the earth;  their particular balloon achieved 93,000 feet (17.5 miles). Then, utilizing only off the shelf components with no soldering, conjured up a GPS tracker using a Motorola i290 Prepaid Cellphone. They then used a Canon A470 loaded with the chdk open source firmware to take pictures. After seeing the results of their launch, the team hopes that this could rejuvenate interests in science and the arts.