Emulating an Amiga floppy drive

[Retromaster’s] Ultimate Floppy Emulator is a wicked display of hardware mastery. It is the culmination of several design stages aimed at replacing an Amiga floppy drive with a modern storage solution. You may be thinking that using an SD card in place of a floppy isn’t all that interesting but this hack does much more. The board, controlled by a PIC32,¬†patches into the Amiga keyboard and monitor. This allows you to bring up an overlay menu for controlling the emulator in order to configure which virtual floppy disk is currently ‘in the drive’. He’s even gone so far as to add a piezo speaker to mimic the sounds the original drive head would make while reading a disk.

[Thanks Gokhan]

Internet radio player wins Propeller Design Contest

It’s got a NIC, a remote, a character display, and can record and play back streaming audio. Thumper is [Harrison Pham’s] contest-winning Internet radio player.His finished board is roughly the same size as the 16×2 character display and piggy-backs the device for a small form-factor. It can be controlled via an infrared remote control, or through a remote web interface. Source files are available from the link at the top, but the really juicy details are included in the shockingly comprehensive PDF writeup.

The photo above is a bit misleading. The board has a micro SD slot on the back even though a USB card reader is shown. This project would need USB host control for Propeller chips in order to use that reader. Don’t forget to check out some of the other submissions to the the contest once you’ve had your fill of this one.

[Thanks Drone]

Adding words to Catch Phrase

[Brandon Meyer] spared no expense in modding the Catch Phrase game to use custom word lists. The altered version of the game, normal sold for around $25, now comes in at a whopping $230! That’s because the internals were gutted and replaced with an Arduino, 20×2 LCD display, and some other interesting bits. The device now features an SD slot for storing your own lists and a USB port for programming.

At first glance we were hoping some simple EEPROM hacking had unlocked the secrets of the device but that wasn’t he case. We’d love to see some more economical versions of [Brandon’s] prototype. Perhaps reusing the original LCD, replacing the Arduino with the ATmega168 that makes up its core, and using a diy SD cradle for a card reader.

So yes, this version is a bit of overkill but still very nicely done!

[Thanks Zoidberg]

Ideas based on photo frame clock

[Mahto] bought a digital picture frame but the image quality turned out to be terrible. He decided to turn it into a clock in a unique way. He loaded up 720 images, one for each minute in a twelve hour period. He then used an Arduino to simulate a button once a minute, cycling to the next image.

This is a simple solution and it works. Visions of hardcore hacks danced through our head when we first looked at this. We’re wondering if there is a way to inject image data into the frame’s memory? How about rewriting the SD card location where the image file that’s currently being displayed is stored, then having the frame reload the picture? Those are projects for a snowy weekend, but we’re sure that [Mahto] finished this hack long before we would have because he kept it simple.

Sooner or later we’re going to need a category for all of these clock hacks.

[Thanks Drone]

Touchscreen picture frame


Circuit Ideas Design has posted a digital picture frame project based on their 240×320 16-bit color QVGA display. We made our own digital frame from a smaller screen a while back and this is pretty much the same implementation except with a larger screen and built around the AVR family of microcontrollers rather than PIC controllers.

The thing that piqued our curiosity was the five icons silk screened on one end of the display. That’s right, this is a touch screen. The board also has a built in SD slot and a bit of flexibility for connecting to a microcontroller. It can be controlled from a 40-pin header, or from headers that are designed to work as an Arduino shield. We’d love to get our hands on one but we were unable to figure out what currency the list price was in. Has anyone used this board yet?

New Wii drive hardware emulation


The Wii-Optical-Drive-Emulator (WODE) makes it possible to load Wii and GameCube ISO files from an SD card or USB storage device. This hack uses the ribbon cable for the optical drive to connect to the Wii, requiring no soldering. The WODE is based on an ARM9 processor, runs Linux, and features a backlit LCD screen and 4-way center click joystick. Storage can be hot plugged and then an ISO selected using the stick and LCD display. Selected ISO files appear in the game channel as if an original disc had just been inserted into the drive.

The developers claim that a Wii firmware upgrade will not be able to lock out the WODE. There is also a second ribbon-cable connector to use as a pass-through, giving the option to keep the optical drive hooked up if you so desire. Now the race is on for a replacement case that can house all of this new hardware and still look nice like the original. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a homebrew channel program that allows ISO selection without having to walk over to the console.

The original report (in dutch) is a dead link so here’s the Google cache copy translated. These links came via the translated Tweakers article (here’s the original Dutch). Video after the break. Don’t pirate video games!

[Thanks Roy]

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Cheap SD card cradle

SD (Custom)

When utilizing an SD card in your projects, you would generally buy an SD card slot to wire in. Sometimes, you just don’t plan that far ahead, or maybe you just want to play with an SD a little bit to see what you think. [Kroden] shows us how to make a fairly simple and cheap SD card dock. The result is actually pretty impressive looking. He has simply bent some header pins and soldered them together to make a simple SD slot. It can even be adapted to a horizontal layout for more permanent use.