Intel 4004 Internals

The silicon wizards at Flylogic have certainly posted an interesting chip this time around. The Intel 4004 was the first widely used microprocessor. The logic gates are much larger than you’d find in modern chips. The unique feature is that each gate is designed to make the most efficient use of the silicon instead of the standardized shapes you find now. They’ve uploaded a full image of the chip.

For an introduction to silicon hacking, we reccomend [bunnie]’s talk from Toorcon and [Karsten]’s talk from 24C3. You can find many more posts on the topic in our silicon tag.

30’s Style Regenerative Receiver


[Des] sent in this really cool writeup on building a Regenerative receiver using VFDs. Regenerative receivers are basically short wave radio receivers that use positive feedback to more finely tune the signal. Though they can be built with modern components, [Des] wanted to try to make something that not only looked like it was made in the 30’s, but actually used the same technology. He utilized some VFDs in various places where vacuum tubes were needed. After building, [Des] found that the unit performed very well, better than his authentic 30’s radio that he compared it with.  Those VFD’s seem to be everywhere recently. We did the story on using them as amplifiers, and and building display drivers for them too.

NoiseAXE Minisynth


The NoiseAXE is a miniature synthesizer based on the Picaxe 08M microcontroller.  Its operating principle is fairly simple: a conductive stylus touches the leg of one of eight resistors to play one of eight notes, while a photoresistor controls the amount of modulation, creating a variable vibrato effect.  While the synthesizer’s output is rather limited (the NoiseAXE isn’t exactly a Yamaha DX7), it’s still a pretty cool little project; you could use its unique sounds to add that gritty analog touch to your next electro hit.  Check out the video clip below to see and hear it in action.

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Atari Xbox 360 Controller


It’s amazing what [Ben Heckendorn] can manage to crank out in just five hours. This time it’s a wireless Xbox 360 controller stuffed inside an Atari 2600 controller. The guts are from a Guitar Hero 3 controller. It’s a fairly compact board and [Ben] used thin ATA wire for the connections. While it doesn’t have all the buttons of a true Xbox controller, this 3600 controller has enough to make it useful in arcade games. The joystick portion was reused without any modification. Things like the guide button and ring of light are located underneath.