Weird Clocks and a Two Chip Apple I

The Apple I, [Woz]’s original, had about sixty chips on a single board. Most of these chips were logic glue or hilariously ancient DRAMs. The real work was done by the 6502, the 6821 PIA, and the Signetics video chip. It’s a simple computer, really, and following the now popular tradition of two-chip computers, [Dave] built a replica of the Apple I using a 6502 and an ATMega.

The ATMega in this project takes care of everything – the 4k of RAM, the few bytes of ROM, the IO, and even the clock. With the 6502 you can have a little bit of fun with the clock; because the 6502 reads data off the bus a few nanoseconds off the falling edge of the clock and writes on the rising edge, [Dave] played around with the duty cycle of the clock to give the ATMega a bit more time to do its thing. With a 50% duty cycle, the 16Mhz ‘Mega has about eight cycles to decode an address and read or write some data. By making the low part of a clock cycle longer, he has about 45 cycles on the ‘Mega to do all the work. All of this was inspired by a fantastic tutorial on the 6502 clock.

Right now [Dave] has some hex values displaying on a small LCD, while the real I/O is handled by a serial connection to a computer. It’s retro enough, and a future update will include a faux cassette interface, possibly using an SD card for storage.

[Woz] prints and spends his own $2 bills

[Steve Wozniak’s] damn the man, devil may care attitude continues to show with this recent interview. Here he shows off the pad of $2 bills he had made up. He’ll sell one sheet of them to you for $5. Do you think that’s a scam? He say’s “you’d be an idiot not to buy it for five bucks” and after we dug a little deeper, he’s right.

Now, you really need to watch the video after the break before you read the rest of this feature. Trust us, it’s extremely entertaining. [Woz] mentions that he hired a local printer to make the pads for him, but he got the paper from a high-quality print shop. They meet the specs of the federal government and by law they’re legal tender. Each pad has a page of four bills which can be torn off of the gummed top, and there are perforations between each bill for easy separation.

Nothing illegal is going on here. We followed one of the YouTube commentor’s links to this article [Woz] wrote about his $2 bill exploits. The high-quality printer he buys the paper from is the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. He buys the bills in sheets and pays a premium for that option. Each $2 bill costs him $3. But the fun he’s had over the years is probably worth it.

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Woz’s watch makes air travelers nervous

[Steve Wozniak], Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world, lives a hacker life you couldn’t even dream about. The folks over at medGadget ran into him and learned about his watch. In their interview (embedded after the break) [Steve] shows off the Nixie tube wristwatch that we can only assume he created himself.

The watch consists of two tiny tubes, a PCB, and battery. There must be an accelerometer in there because the display is switched off unless the watch is held at a certain configurable angle. Once held in the correct position the display flashes the hours, then the minutes.

The time is set by two buttons inside the watch’s case. [Steve] goes on to explain the trepidation his fellow passengers have when he disassembles the watch mid-flight and starts to monkey around with the buttons inside. Not to be stopped at electronic tomfoolery, he also shares his delight in sneaking ceramic knives on board so that he can properly cut his steaks.

Lifestyle aside, the small Nixie clock packages we’ve seen don’t even come close to this. We assume this is pretty hard on the battery and wonder if the watch gets hot if you’re stuck in a long meeting and constantly looking at the time. We can get over both of those limitations just for the cool factor alone.

Update: Reader [Stephen] left a comment pointing to the origin of  the watch. It is controlled by a PIC microprocessor, boasts a four-month battery life at 50 viewings per day, and there’s some code available.  It is for sale but currently out of stock.

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