The Raspberry Pi the closest thing to a modular laptop. That’s the idea behind the Pi-Top, a laptop with a Raspberry Pi as a brain. Need an upgrade? No problem, just get the latest Pi, they’re up to four now.
Now the people behind the Pi-Top are releasing what can best be described as a brick of computing. The Pi-Top 4 is a designed as ‘The Sony Walkman for Making’, in which the form factor becomes a building block of anything you can imagine and probably a lot of things you can’t. Inside is a Raspberry Pi 4, a small OLED display, and a few buttons. On the bottom is a detachable ‘foundation plate’ that allows the Pi-Top 4 to connect to sensors, LEDs, and switches. The idea of all this building is that the brick-shaped Pi-Top 4 becomes a building block in anything you can imagine, be that a drone, a humanoid robot, or a portable photo booth. All of this is powered by the Raspberry Pi 4, no slouch when it comes to computational power.
The Gigatron TTL microcomputer is an exercise in alternative history. What if, by some bizarre anomaly of invention and technology, the 1970s was not the age of the microprocessor? What if we could have had fast, high density ROM and RAM in the late ’70s, but the ability to put a microprocessor in silicon was beyond our comprehension? Obviously we would figure out a way to compute with this, and the Gigatron is the answer. It’s a computer from that era that’s designed with a CPU that’s entirely made of microcode.
While the Gigatron is a popular product in the world of weird electronics kits, the creator, [Marcel van Kervinck], is going beyond what anyone thought possible. Now the Gigatron is emulating a 6502 processor, the same CPU found in the Apple II and almost every other retrocomputer that isn’t running a Z80.
There’s a thread over on the Gigatron forums for this. Although it’s still very early in development, the Gigatron can now run 6502 machine code, and in doing so the Gigatron is now the only dual-core computer without a CPU. All of the addressing modes have been implemented, along with half of the instructions and most of the status flags. All of this interacts with the Gigatron’s existing video subsystem, and all code can switch in between the Gigatron’s virtual CPU and 6502 code with just a few instructions.
This opens the door to a wide variety of software that’s already written. MicroChess is possible, as is MS Basic. This is great; the biggest downside of the Gigatron is that there was no existing code for the machine when it was first designed. That changed when the Gigatron got a C compiler, but now somehow we’ve got a logic chip implementation of a 6502 in far fewer chips than are found in an Apple II. It’s not fast ( about 1/8th the speed of a 1 MHz 6502), but in the video below you can see a munching squares demo.
The build is a small, radio-controlled FPV trike. Instead of the usual skid-steer setup, the rear wheel is mounted on a pair of horizontal bearings which allows it to pivot left and right. A servo is used to control the rear wheel position, with a pair of tie rod ends used to connect the horn to the rear steering assembly. It’s not the only unconventional design choice, either – magnets are used to affix the top plate to the vehicle chassis, rather than screws or clips. For video, the user can mount either a small dedicated FPV camera, or a GoPro with the included mount.
Without any code or control details posted, we can’t be 100% sure how it all works. However, from the video, it appears that both front wheels are being driven at the same speed, with steering handled solely by the rear wheel. This is apparent when driving on a smooth surface, where the vehicle can be seen to slide when turning. While it’s unlikely this setup has many advantages over a simpler differential steering build with a caster, it does show that rear steering can be effective on its own.
Fish are easy to keep as pets, requiring little more than regular feeding to keep them happy in the short-to-medium term. If you’re going on holiday, it can be nice to know that your pets are being taken care of, but finding someone to take on the chore can be hard. [Trevor_DIY] doesn’t need to worry about that, however – he’s built an automatic feeder to handle the job.
The build uses an Arduino Uno as the brains, with the only additional hardware required being a stepper motor and driver. The stepper motor drives a 3D printed wheel, with 14 slots – each one holding one meal for the fish. This allows the feeder to deliver two meals a day for a full week before requiring attention.
The feeder is configured to feed a breakfast meal, then a dinner meal 8 hours later, and then wait 16 hours before breakfast comes around again. Rather than use a real-time clock, this is simply handled with the Arduino’s built in delay function. While it isn’t super accurate, this should be close enough over a week to keep the fish alive. We’d be interested as to just how far it drifts over time.
Overall, it’s a quick and tidy way to keep the pets going without a lot of fuss. Pet feeders are a popular project, as they solve a common problem faced by owners the world over; this one can even handle wet cat food. Video after the break.
Those who have been around the block, and the sun, a fair few times will know that they certainly don’t make ’em like they used to. It doesn’t particularly matter what “them” is; it’s merely a widely accepted fact that society has trended towards more disposable products over ones that have a long service life. [mcu_nerd] was suffering from this very problem, as their TV remote had its power button begin to fail. Of course, hackers don’t see problems – they merely see opportunities for projects.
[mcu_nerd] decided to skip repairing the TV remote, under the suspicion that disassembling the device would likely lead to its destruction. Instead, an Atmega328P development board was pressed into service as a replacement remote, with the addition of an IR LED and a push button. Whereas the TV-B-Gone existed as a device to cause havoc by switching televisions off, [mcu_nerd]’s TV-B-On does the opposite job.
A later revision was spun up with its own PCB, and features an Attiny85, which is more than capable of handling the job. Showing thoughts of the future in the design, there are provisions for extra buttons to be added should the project require a nicer enclosure, and a space for an external crystal if necessary.
In the fall of 1957, it seemed as though the United States’ space program would never get off the ground. The USSR had launched Sputnik in October, and this cemented their place in history as the first nation in space. If that weren’t bad enough, they put Sputnik 2 into orbit a month later.
By Christmas, things looked even worse. The US had twice tried to launch Navy-designed Vanguard rockets, and both were spectacular failures. It was time to use their ace in the hole: the Redstone rocket, a direct descendant of the V-2s designed during WWII. The only problem was the propellant. It would never get the payload into orbit as-is.
The US Army awarded a contract to North American Aviation (NAA) to find a propellant that would do the job. But there was a catch: it was too late to make any changes to the engine’s design, so they had to work with big limitations. Oh, and the Army needed it two days before yesterday.
The Army sent a Colonel to NAA to deliver the contract, and to personally insist that they put their very best man on the job. And they did. What the Army didn’t count on was that NAA’s best man was actually a woman with no college degree.
We all have awesome hardware projects to show off. Great photos of them are how you unlock the excitement others see in your work. Whether you’re using a DSLR or the camera in your smartphone, it’s not difficult to capture an amazing picture of the project you pour so much effort into. We want you to unleash your photography skills for the Beautiful Hardware contest. Show us your epic hardware photos and win prizes.
The only real barrier between us and superb hardware photos is having an eye for framing your shots, and a few simple tricks to get everything else right. Think about good lighting, shooting with an interesting background, framing off to the side and at an angle (as just one example) for more interest, and spending a few moments with an image editor to complement what the camera captured. With this contest, we want you to take those tricks for a spin on your own workbench.
There are three top prizes of $100 cash waiting for you. Just start a new project on Hackaday.io and upload the finest photos you can take of some fun hardware. In the left sidebar of that project use the “Submit project to…” menu to enter it in the Beautiful Hardware contest.