Fixing POST errors with a single key

one_key_keyboard

Instructables user [Mike Craghead] was in the middle of building a very compact public computer kiosk when he ran into a problem with the processor fan. It was too big for the enclosure and had to be swapped out with a fan that did not allow the motherboard to monitor its rotational speed.

Motherboards don’t like this situation very much, and each time the computer was started, it would hang at the BIOS screen waiting for someone to press the F1 key to continue. Knowing that everything was just fine, and that there were no BIOS options which would allow him to ignore the error, he crafted a simple solution to the problem.

Since the computer just needed someone to press the F1 key, he figured he could rig up a small dongle that would always hold down the key for him. After verifying that the OS would ignore the stuck key, he tore apart a keyboard and traced the circuit matrix to identify which pins he had to short in order to represent the F1 key press.

Satisfied with his handiwork, he plugged the board into his computer and found that everything worked just fine. Sure it might not be the most elegant solution to the problem, but it gets the job done at a cost of zero dollars – you can’t beat that!

My desk IS my computer case

l3pdesk

If you think that your water cooled rig is pretty sweet, check out this creation by Dutch PC enthusiast [Peter Brands] (Google Translation).

With his computer tweaked as far as he could imagine, he decided to spruce up his office a bit. In the process, he ended up tweaking his computer just a little bit more. After seeing a build put together by another computer enthusiast, he set off to construct a desk in which he could show off his computer. He spent some time drawing up plans with Google Sketchup and with the help of a friendly neighbor, started construction of his desk/PC case.

The desk is constructed from 3mm thick aluminum, and houses most of his computer’s components under a thick piece of glass. The only portion of the computer that is not enclosed in the desk is the 9-fan radiator he used for his water cooling setup. That part resides in his crawl space, which he connects to his PC via a pair of large water hoses he punched through his tile floor. If you are interested, you can see all 800+ pictures of the build here.

Simply awesome!

[Thanks duchie]

The origin of CTRL-ALT-DELETE

You may not have ever thought about it, but the far-too-often-used keyboard combination of Control + Alt + Delete had to have been brought into existence by some random coder at some point in technological history. But wait, it wasn’t just a random coder. The keystroke combo is attributed to [David Bradley]. He was one of the original designers of the IBM Personal Computer. You can even hear his own recount of the story in the video after the break.

He came up with the idea after growing weary of waiting for the Power-On Self Test (POST) routine to finish during each reboot of his software testing regiment. We remember the old days of slow hardware and can understand his frustration at the lost time. He decided to throw in a shortcut that allowed the software to reboot without power cycling the hardware. The original implementation used CTRL-ALT-ESC, but was later changed so that one frustrated keyboard mash couldn’t accidentally reboot the system.

[Read more...]

Hacking game port peripherals to work with modern PCs

gameport_hack

[Atiti] has a bad habit of hanging on to old things. Some people call this sort of behavior “hoarding”, but around here we understand his affliction. It turns out that in his collection of old computer peripherals, he located a Thrustmaster Formula 1 racing wheel he used back in the day. Analog racing wheels can cost a pretty penny nowadays, depending on what you buy, so he decided to see if he could hack this outdated controller to work with his new PC.

You see, the problem with this wheel is that it utilized a “game port” connecter to interface with the computer. If you don’t remember the game port, go dig up an old PCI sound card and take a look on the back. That 15-pin connector? That’s a game port. Microsoft discontinued support for the game port once Vista was released, so [Atti] had to figure out how in the world he would get it to work on his new PC.

His solution was an Arduino, which is used to read the analog signals output by the wheel. Those signals are processed and sent to a parallel port joystick emulator, enabling him to use the wheel with any game supporting a standard joystick.

Obviously he could have just gone out to the store and bought a USB wheel, but where’s the fun in that?

Stay tuned for a video demo of his refreshed wheel in action.

[Read more...]

DIY Racing Sim shift box

diy_pc_racing_shiftbox

Ask anyone who has ever owned a car with a manual gearbox – in real life and in video games, nothing beats stick shift. Rather than shell out gobs of money to purchase a pre-made shift box, forum member [nikescar] built his own for about $20.

Using some scrap wood and a plastic cutting board, he went to work building a prototype. The “H” shift pattern was designed in CAD and laid over the cutting board, which was hand-cut with a Dremel. Using some tips found online, he constructed a simple shifting mechanism, then wired in a cheap USB game pad found on Ebay. Using safety pins as temporary micro switches, he ran a few laps, and was quite happy with the results. Once the switches arrived, they were fitted to the shift box and it was off to the races.

[nikescar] reports that the shifter works extremely well, allowing him to row through the gears with the greatest of ease, sans any fear of breaking things. Keep reading to get a better look at the shift box internals.

[Read more...]

CNC machine from PC parts

[Mike Rankin] built a small CNC machine using some PC parts. He repurposed two optical drives and a floppy drive to create the plotter seen drawing the Hackaday logo above. The X and Y axes use the stepper motor controlled read heads from two optical drives. The Z axis is built using the read head hardware from a floppy drive. A 3-axis controller module from eBay drives the little machine, keeping the cost quite low at around $45.

As you can see in the video after the break it does a great job as a plotter. [Mike] doesn’t think there’s enough power in the hardware to be used as a mill. We’d still like to try adding a flexible shaft rotary tool and see if this could mill some rudimentary PCBs, but maybe you need to shell out just a little bit more for that functionality. It might also be possible to use an etchant resist marker instead of toner transfer or photo-resist.

[Read more...]

PC game controller with a touch of class

The above is a specially designed game controller made by [Giorgos] solely for the RTS game Men Of War (now that’s dedication to a game). [Giorgos] started off with a rough breadboard and 11 buttons. Slowly overtime he included a joystick, countdown timers, and the wonderfully lit case. Under the hood is a couple of PIC microcontrollers multiplexing the switches, LEDs, timers, and also interfacing with the computer via how is it not dead yet PS/2 port. The build log is a very detailed read and well worth it, even if you’re not planning on making a custom controller. [Ben Heck] better watch out, there is a new controller making enthusiast on the loose.

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