A Keyboard For Your FIGnition

[Carl] sent in his keyboard he made for his FIGnition microcomputer. At least now he has more than 8 buttons.

The FIGnition is a tiny little microcomputer that harkens back to the 8-bit days of yore. Designed to be an educational computer like the Altair or Heathkit (sans blinkenlights), the FIGnition gives its students ‘bare metal’ access to everything in the system. It’s powered by an ATMega168, a 4 Kb SRAM and an 8Mb Flash chip for storage. Unfortunately, the FIGnition only has 8 buttons to program Forth with, so [Carl]’s project is very much desired in the community.

To expand 8 buttons into an alpha-numeric keyboard, [Carl] came up with the solution of using two tact switches per character. The switches are of different button heights, so pressing a pair of buttons actuates the two buttons in order, which is natively interpreted by the FIGnition. It’s a perfect match for the chord-keys of the FIGnition.

Check out the video of [Carl]’s bundle of wires after the break.

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Pick Up That Can, [Jeri]

We all need an excuse to play Half-Life 2 sometimes. [Jeri Ellsworth] put together a My First Crowbar controller to throw a few headcrabs across the room. It’s pretty much Half-Life 2 for the Wii.

The build is very simple – just a tilt switch hot glued to the underside of a childs-size crowbar. Two leads go from the tilt switch to the contacts on a (PS3?) controller. All you need to do to attack is swing the crowbar wildly.

[Jeri] has us wondering what other awesome game controllers could be made. Of course we’ve been wanting a real-life Gravity Gun or Portal Gun for years now, but right now we’re thinking about a real Katamari. We might need more hot glue.

As far as building our own, we’re thinking about using one of the Cheap DIY tilt switches we saw the other day. It’s a simple build, and sure looks like a lot of fun.

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An EEWeb Interview With Todd Harrison

Although Todd Harrison could be one of many of our readers (and most of our writers), it was nice to see one of “us” featured in [EEWeb]. [HAD] has featured him before in posts such as this recent one about replacing solder tab batteries.

What may be interesting to many is that soon after [Todd] graduated he took a job as a computer programmer, but like many other part-time makers, he still had the need to physically create and modify things. This article goes over some of his preferred tools, as well as some of the various projects that he’s done or is working on now.

In the article, [Todd] goes over what he sees as the biggest challenges to inspiring new generations of engineers. One of these is that circuitry is increasingly locked down and are not easily tinkered with. Without exploring how things work, his view is that fewer will be inspired to go into engineering. Although there is certainly some validity to his point, as some doors close, others hopefully will open. The accessible learning environment of the Internet, open source resources, and many maker-friendly materials like the Arduino should help to fill in the gaps.

For more information, [Todd] also has his own blog, Toddfun.com, which features his projects.