Hackaday Links: May 26, 2019

Thinkpads are great, especially the old ones. You find a T420, and you can have a battery hanging off the back, a battery in the optical drive bay, and for some old Thinkpads, there’s a gigantic ‘slice’ battery that doubles the thickness of your laptop. Here’s the most batteries in a Thinkpad ever, with the requisite reddit post. It’s 27 cells, with an all-up capacity of 212 Watt-hours. There are two interesting takeaways from the discussion here. First, this may, technically, be allowed on a commercial flight. The FAA limit is 100 Watt-hours per battery, and the Ultrabay is a second battery. You’re allowed two additional, removable batteries on a carry on, and this is removable and reconfigurable into some form that the TSA should allow it on a plane. Of course no TSA agent is going to allow this on a plane so that really doesn’t matter. Secondly, the creator of this Frankenpad had an argument if Hatsune Miku is anime or not. Because, yeah, of course the guy with a Thinkpad covered in Monster energy drink stickers and two dozen batteries glued on is going to have an opinion of Miku being anime or not. That’s just the way the world works.

Prices for vintage computers are now absurd. The best example I can call upon is expansion cards for the Macintosh SE/30, and for this computer you have a few choice cards that have historically commanded a few hundred dollars on eBay. The Micron XCEED Color 30 Video Card, particularly, is a special bit of computer paraphernalia that allows for grayscale on the internal monitor. One of these just sold for two grand. That’s not all, either: a CPU accelerator just sold for $1200. These prices are double what they were just a few years ago. We’re getting to the point where a project to reverse engineer and produce clones of these special cards may make financial sense.

The biggest news in consumer electronics this week is the Playdate. It’s a pocket game console that has a crank. Does the crank do anything? No, except that it has a rotary encoder, so this can nominally be used for games. It will cost $150, and there are zero details on the hardware other than the industrial design was done by Teenage Engineering. There’s WiFi, and games will be delivered wireless on a weekly basis. A hundred thousand people are on the wait list to buy this.

If you want a pick and place in your garage workshop, there aren’t many options. There’s a Neoden for about ten grand, but nothing cheaper or smaller. The Boarditto is a two thousand dollar pick and place machine that fits comfortably on your desk. It has automatic tape feeders, a vision system, and for the most part it looks like what you’d expect a small, desktop pick and place machine to be. That’s all the information for now, with the pre-order units shipping in December 2019.

10 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: May 26, 2019

  1. > If you want a pick and place in your garage workshop, there aren’t many options. There’s a Neoden for about ten grand, but nothing cheaper or smaller.

    Liteplacer exists, so do OpenPnP setups.

    1. Boarditto also appears to be very slow.
      But still faster and less troublesome than hand soldering boards.
      I guess its good for really low volume production, I wonder if it has a paste dispenser.

  2. You could technically do the same with Dell E6{3,4,5}{2,3}0. Main, drive bay and also a slice battery that goes into docking station connector.
    A hacker friend of mine made an adapter to power his laptop off of a RC model li-po battery via balancer connector.

    1. The most factory battery I’ve seen in person that was still portable was an old Dell 300m (10″ subnote) with the “media bay” dock thing that clipped to the bottom (no internal CD bay). 6-cell in the laptop, 6-cell in the extra battery bay in the media dock thing, and a 4-cell LiPo in the dock CD bay for a total of 16 cells. With a 7W Pentium M ULV 1Ghz processor the average runtime was impressive to say the least, especially for circa 2003.

  3. Two grand is cheap in the vintage computer market. A C65 was just sold for EUR 20,550, and no free shipping:
    https://www.ebay.de/itm/Ultra-rare-Commodore-65-prototype/223509001295
    Regarding the hardware spec of the Playdate: it probably uses an STM32F407
    https://twitter.com/MstrBlinky/status/1132330904154771456
    With the black/white display and cheap plastic case I guess it will cost less than $30 to produce it in volume, good profit.

  4. I looked at the photo gallery on the mega battery thinkpad. One shows as 65W AC adapter connected. WTH isn’t he using a 90W adapter? They’re interchangeable, though it’s not a good idea to use a 65W on a Thinkpad that shipped with a 90W.

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  6. There’s an article (and he front cover) dedicate to playdate in the current issue of Edge. In that article there are photos that show a development contraption based on the STM32F4Discovery board, with a Sharp memory display attached, along with a protoboard that holds an SD card. This is maybe a hint on what to expect.

  7. Five minutes on Twitter reveals that PlayDate uses LS027B7DH01A for the display, and STM32F7 for the microcontroller. We still don’t know what it uses for its WiFi and Bluetooth, though, or the exact model numbers of the microphone, encoder or speaker, so I guess you are totally right about the zero details.

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