The Nottingham Hackspace


Hackerspaces (or hackspace in this case) come in all shapes and sizes, from those just starting up, to some that are very impressively equipped. [Dominic] wrote in to tell us about the Nottingham Hackspace, which would fall solidly into the second category. We’d invite you to take a look at their intro video after the break, but be prepared to wish you lived near their location.

If you do happen to live there, in addition to a nicely polished website and intro video, they have nearly 4500 square feet of space at their facility. Naturally they have the now ubiquitous 3D printers, but they also have an impressive array of more traditional as well as computer-controlled tools. These include a lathe, welders, CNC router, laser cutter, and even basic PCB-making facilities. Storage space is also included, both for member projects and bicycles.

So be sure to check them out. They have around 130 members right now, but naturally would love to see you there! Continue reading “The Nottingham Hackspace”

Making A Better, MIDI Controlled Leslie Stompbox


Way back before the advent of commercial DSP, musicians had really cool looking gear. One of these devices to change the sound of organs, guitars, and other electronic instruments was a Leslie speaker – a speaker cabinet with rotating horns that gives that wonderful warm warble heard on so many classic recordings. [Nigel] doesn’t have an original Leslie, but he does have a much less expensive and lighter digital effect that emulates the original Leslie sound very well. The only problem, though, is the requirement for a proprietary footswitch. No problem, then, because a transistor, a resistor, and a mint tin can take care of that.

[Nigel]’s Leslie simulator – a Neo Instruments Ventilator – has a foot switch to control the speed of the emulated rotary speakers. There are three possible states for the speakers, fast, slow, and brake, all controlled with a TRS phono connector. Possibly in an attempt to price gouge consumers on a proprietary footswitch, Neo Instruments decided they would use the ring and tip of the phono connector to control the speed. They did so in a way that made it impossible for a single relay or switch to change the speed, however.

No problem for [Nigel], then, because with a very simple circuit consisting of just a transistor and resistor he can use any footswitch he wants with his Leslie simulator. The build doesn’t support the brake function, but he doesn’t use that anyway. Not bad for less than a dollar in parts, and a buck fifty in mint tins.

Bringing The Zach Morris Phone Into The 21st Century


With the gravitas of [Michael Douglas] in Wall Street and the technological amazement of [Zach Morris] on Saved By The Bell, the classic 1980s ‘brick’ cell phone has a lot to offer these days. Not only is it large enough to be used as a blunt weapon, it’s also useful as an anchor and more durable than an old-school Nokia. Most, if not all of these phones have gone silent since analog cellular service went dead a few years ago, but that didn’t stop [Andrew] from bringing his back to life.

The core of this build is a 128×64 OLED screen that replaced the old seven-digit, seven-segment display and a very small GSM module. The ancient PCB was discarded and a new hardware revision was created in Eagle based on an Arduino-powered microcontroller. The buttons from the original phone remained, thanks to a custom designed resistive button footprint on the PCB and a bit of conductive ink.

What’s surprising is this phone¬†actually works. [Andrew] can not only receive texts on his phone, but also send them using his own implementation of a number pad keyboard. It’s an awesome build, and from what we can tell, the first proper DIY cell phone we’ve ever seen. About time someone got around to that, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better form factor.