This project is particularly amusing. It doesn’t have a whole lot of practical use, but it makes up for it in style. They have an SD card with Wikipedia from 2003 downloaded to it. This is accessed with a Parallax propeller microcontroller based system and displayed on a small retro looking screen. We like it. We don’t think we would ever actually use it, but we would definitely keep it around.

33 thoughts on “WikiBrowser

  1. I thought of doing something like this, but with a current loop interface for an old fashioned teletype machine. Not very useful for the zombie apocalypse maybe, but great if you get transported back in time to the 1930s or later.

  2. i think some of the expected citations are missing here. like the project home for starters

    the project is hosted on google under “bitwinprokect”

    after looking around the project site it can be found that these are two kids and i quote “two public high school freshmen living in Pennsylvania.”

    I don’t know about you but this made my day. i know there are at least two kids left in this country who have been interested in electronics since they were very young (one of them has been tinkering since 6 years old!)

    aight caleb i think you slacked a bit on this write up!!

  3. the text scrolling through does look like debug output, but this could be made into a very cool prop like from “Brazil”. just needs a bigger screen, with no box around it, an old typewriter keyboard, and of course a magifying glass over the important portion of the screen.

  4. @dev-null:

    Last time I checked, the wikipedia sql XML download was roughly 150 gb. Given, much of that is markup, that still gives you an estimate of how much information is on wikipedia.

    Now, what would be great is if someone dumped that 150 gb onto a very lightweight handheld interface. The storage space of micro SD cards has become pretty large lately (32gb is the largest I’ve seen). An array of a few of them and some circuitry and, voila, a tiny pocket interface to all recorded human knowledge.

  5. Pretty cool project considering their age and the materials they’re working with.

    Let’s all congratulate guiness, who is working very hard to convince everyone he’s nine-years-old, and doing a great job at it!

    Way to come off like an infant!

  6. i am the kid who made this device and also the person who programmed it. thank you so much to hackaday for posting an article on my work.

    I want to clear up some confusion, so here are some answers to your comments:

    @frank: I did use some work from other people, like the drivers for the SD card and video, but that is what programmers do all the time, it’s what you have to do and it would be stupid not to do it, because you would be recreating something that has already been figured out. I wrote the code that makes this what it is.

    @bertoelcon + dev-null: The wikipedia dump from 2003 that i used is just under 2 gigs, it is in html, with links, and not plain text. If anyone noticed, in the vid i only looked at articles that started with A, because that is all i loaded on the sd card. Unless someone out there can come up with a batch program to do it for me, i have to copy and paste the articles from their dump folders by hand, which is really slow and menial work.

    @aonomus: This is not a beta release of the hgttg, but I think i might google that now that you mentioned it.

  7. wrt “aonomus”‘s post: ‘I think that this is the beta release of the HGTTG’…

    2003 database fits on 2GB SD card stated on project page,

    150GB for XML now (presumably no graphics, etc & wikipedia only) according to previous comment.

    Presuming SD cards are the way to go is somewhat presumptious. I believe there was at least a 128GB “flash disk” or something to that effect at least 1/2 year ago.

    The biggest problem would be, more or less as Ford Prefect alludes to, is trying to keep the thing updated (“harmless” vs. “mostly harmless”).

    So – are you going to subscribe to a service that syncs your local wikipedia store with “the real one”? Are you simply (if SD cards or the like -were- the way to go) buying the database, say, for a given year? Anyhow, torrents are wonderful things but I kind of think the wikipedia is expanding at a rate that your “handheld interface” would not be able to deal with & eventually you wouldn’t even be able to afford the bandwidth. and then, once synced, presuming that you wished for it to _be_able_to_ run stand-alone (i.e. no wi-fi, i.e. COMPLETELY disconnected from the Internet [of which the Web is merely a portion, even still]) makes life very difficult.

    I don’t know – as it is, wikipedia has a moderately gruesome front end: jamming a google clone on the front would be better than having it mindlessly returning “No article title matches ‘gigi taco'” just because it is looking for the full-text string. Even then, google isn’t the smartest front end I can think of…

    Random thoughts from a random, uh, whatever it is that I am today. Please fold, spindle, mutilate, and/or burn at will (quick quiz that will tell you how old you are – or how much you’ve read of “ancient history”: what document had the first three words of that sequence on it?).

  8. I actually could put the current wikipedia (which is actually around 15 gigs for just html) onto the wikibrowser setup, because i have a vinculum device that can communicate with usb hard drives, and can also communicate with the propeller with a serial data line. I have a 1 terabyte usb hard drive, so conceivably I could fit the entirety of wikipedia, with pictures, into our computer and browse through it (there is actually picture support in the browser now, along with html formatting changing output to the screen).

  9. damn, that song was worth the admission price alone. cool hack despite it’s lack of real world usefulness. loving the retro screen, a very neat looking addition.

  10. @Nemo: Do you have source code posted anywhere? If you actually have a simple HTML browser with picture support for the propeller, I would love to play around with it!

  11. This is awesome! Good job. To improve the offline mode, maybe get a bigger SD and do a weekly/monthly fetch from Wikipedia, strip out markup from HTML on the host computer, and use rsync to keep the SD card up to date. You could also make it asynchronous by using an rs-232 link…it’d be even cooler if you integrated an X-Bee into it!

    You could totally integrate the SD card into something like this, and deploy it to 3rd world countries. Have our planes not drop leaflets, but cheap-as-dirt devices with a good chunk of all human knowledge in them.

  12. Music Fail.. God i hate it when a video i think might be interesting with ya know a few comments from the creator on the objects operation is negated by a music.

    Looked neat until the track started.

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