A Universal USB To Quadrature Encoder

Computer mice existed long before the Mac, and most of the old 8-bit computers had some software that could use a mouse. These mice had balls and quadrature encoders. While converters to turn these old mice into USB devices exist, going the other way isn’t so common. [Simon] has developed the answer to that problem in the form of SmallyMouse2. It turns a USB mouse into something that can be used with the BBC Micro, Acorn Master, Acorn Archimedes, Amiga, Atari ST and more.

The design of the SmallyMouse2 uses an AT90USB microcontroller that supports USB device and host mode, and allows for a few GPIOs. This microcontroller effectively converts a USB mouse into a BBC Micro user port AMX mouse, generic quadrature mouse, and a 10-pin expansion header. The firmware uses the LUFA USB stack, a common choice for these weird USB to retrocomputer projects.

The project is completely Open Source, and all the files to replicate this project from the KiCad project to the firmware are available on [Simon]’s GitHub. If you have one of these classic retrocomputers sitting in your attic, it might be a good time to check if you still have the mouse. If not, this is the perfect project to delve into to the classic GUIs of yesteryear.

Oh No! It’s the Claw Again!

[Ryan Bates] apparently really likes building claw machines. We noticed his latest build with a new PCB, but then we scrolled down and found other incarnations of the machine going back to 2015.

The laser-cut claw is interesting looking and the brains are an Arduino. You can see the action in the video below and there are plenty of older videos on the project page.

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Paper Circuit Does Binary Math with Compressed Air

Most of us can do simple math in our heads, but some people just can’t seem to add two numbers between 0 and 3 without using paper, like [Aliaksei Zholner] does with his fluidic adder circuit built completely of paper.

Pneumatic AND gate

There’s some good detail in [Aliaksei]’s translated post on the “Only Paper” forum, a Russian site devoted to incredibly detailed models created entirely from paper. [Aliaksei] starts with the basic building blocks of logic circuits, the AND and OR gates. Outputs are determined by the position of double-headed pistons in chambers, with output states indicated by pistons that raise a flag when pressurized. The adder looks complicated, but it really is just a half-adder and full-adder piped together in exactly the same way it would be wired up with CMOS or TTL gates. The video below shows it in action.

If [Aliaksei]’s name seems familiar, it’s because we’ve featured his paper creations before, including this working organ and a tiny working single cylinder engine. We’re pleased with his foray into the digital world, and we’re looking forward to whatever is next.

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New Brain for Smart Vacuum

The ESP8266 has found its way into almost everything now. With its tiny size, low price tag, and accessible programmer, it’s perfect for almost any application that requires WiFi. [HawtDogFlvrWtr] decided that will all of the perks of the platform, an ESP8266 was practically begging to be shoehorned into his automatic vacuum cleaner. This isn’t a Roomba, though, it’s a Neato that now has a custom WiFi interface.

The new WiFi modification comes with some additional features as well. First of all, it ditches the poorly designed default user interface (often the most annoying proprietary component of any consumer product). In addition, the vacuum can now be placed on a completely custom schedule and can also be deployed at the push of a button. Now that it has a custom interface, it can report its status over the network to a phone or other computer as well.

[HawtDogFlvrWtr] is still developing his project and it looking for some help beta testing his new platform. He also has how to videos on his project page if you’re in the process of tearing apart your own. There are many other ways of modifying vacuum cleaners to add other useful features as well.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Compact Braille Printing Press

For the last few years of the Hackaday Prize, we’ve seen a few projects that aim to bring Braille to the masses in a cheap, easy to use electronic device. Aside from the interesting technology that would go into such a device like tiny motors moving even tinier bumps, these projects are a great example of an enabling technology.

For his Hackaday Prize project, [haydn jones] is building something that makes Braille more accessible, but without all that messy technology. It’s 3D printed movable type for Braille. It’s a Braille printing press for nurses, teachers, and anyone else who would like to leave small notes for people who read Braille.

This Hackaday Prize project is the answer to the question, ‘how do you leave a note for a blind person’. Yes, digital voice recorders exist, but movable type is a technology that’s thousands of years old and doesn’t require batteries or any of the other failings of modern electronics. To use this device, all you need to do is assemble a message — a handy Braille cheat sheet is coming soon — and emboss a piece of paper. Keep in mind Braille embossers cost a small fortune, and this project is simple and cheap bits of plastic.

It’s a great idea, and one we’re surprised we haven’t seen before. All in all, a great entry for The Hackaday Prize.

PrusaControl: The Beginner’s Slicer

There are two main applications for managing 3D prints and G-Code generation. Cura is a fantastic application that is seeing a lot of development from the heavy hitters in the industry. Initially developed by Ultimaker,  Lulzbot has their own edition of Cura, It’s the default software packaged with thousands of different printers. Slic3r, as well, has seen a lot of development over the years and some interesting hacks. Do you want to print non-planar surfaces? Slic3r can do that. Slic3r and Cura are two sides of the CAM part of the 3D printing coin, although Cura is decidedly the prettier side.

The ability to combine the extensibility of Slic3r with the user interface of Cura has been on our wish list for a while now. It’s finally time. [Josef Prusa] has released PrusaControl, a 3D printing CAM solution that combines the best of Slic3r into a fantastic, great looking package. What are the benefits? What’s it like? Check that out below.

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Wings, Wheels, and Walkers that Move Humanity Forward

Rise to the challenge of building Wings, Wheels, and Walkers. Today, we begin the search for things that move and make the world a little bit better place. This is the first day of a new round in the 2017 Hackaday Prize and your renewed opportunity to show us what you’ve got.

We just closed off the IuT ! IoT round, a more inward focused challenge which called for builds that added meaningful connectivity to devices in our lives. With the Wings, Wheels, and Walkers challenge we turn our gaze outward to see what you can do build that really moves.

There is so much that falls into this category; personal transport, robotic assist, automated delivery, airborne agriculture — anything that moves or supports movement. Many of the finalists and winners from the past few years fall into this category. In 2015 the Light Utility Electric Vehicle won 3rd place, and of course the grand prize winner that year was a wheelchair-based system. In 2016 we saw a shoreline debris clearing robot and a modular robot system took the top spot. Now we want to see even more creations that move humanity forward.

The Hackaday Prize is a global engineering initiative that seeks out ideas and creations that have the power to do social good. Show off your creation and you’ve already accomplished that and inspired others to do the same. Many of the entries will be recognized beyond that. This year’s cash prizes total more than $250,000. Just for this challenge (which ends on July 24th) we’ll award 20 entries $1000 each. At the end of all six rounds, 6 of the 120 finalists will be selected to receive $50k, $30k, $20k, $15k, $10k, and $5k. Enter now!

Check out all of the entries so far, and keep your on Hackaday to find out the twenty finalists from the IuT ! IoT round, an announcement due in about a week.