Back in 1996, the Tamagotchi was a triumph of hardware miniaturization. Nearly 25 years later, our expectations for commercially designed and manufactured gadgets are naturally quite a bit higher. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be impressed when somebody pulls off a similar feat in the DIY space.
The Xling by [dsl] follows the classic Tamagotchi concept. A little creature, apparently inspired by the demon from Netflix’s Disenchantment, lives in your pocket and needs occasional attention to remain healthy. The user pushes a few buttons to interact with the creature displayed on the display to do…whatever it is you do with a pet demon. Feed it souls and what have you.
But unlike the iconic 90s toy, both the hardware and software for the Xling are open source. The CERN-OHL-W licensed PCB was designed in KiCad and features an ATmega1284P microcontroller and SH1106G controller for the 128 x 64 OLED display.
Power is provided by an AP3401 DC-DC converter, MCP73831 charge controller, and a 400 mAh 3.7 V battery. Everything fits inside of a 3D printed case that looks like it could easily hang off of a keyring.
While the hardware is admirable enough, the software side of things is quite interesting as well. The Xling is running on a FreeRTOS kernel ported to the ATmega, but the GPLv3 licensed firmware sill needs some work. Right now only a few core functions are implemented, and [dsl] is hoping to get some ideas and feedback from the community so his dream of a fully open source demonic Tamagotchi can finally be realized.
When you put a human driver behind the wheel, they will use primarily their eyes to navigate. Both to stay on the road and to use any navigation aids, such as maps and digital navigation assistants. For self-driving cars, tackling the latter is relatively easy, as the system would use the same information in a similar way: when to to change lanes, and when to take a left or right. The former task is a lot harder, with situational awareness even a challenge for human drivers.
In order to maintain this awareness, self-driving and driver-assistance systems use a combination of cameras, LIDAR, and other sensors. These can track stationary and moving objects and keep track of the lines and edges of the road. This allows the car to precisely follow the road and, at least in theory, not run into obstacles or other vehicles. But if the weather gets bad enough, such as when the road is covered with snow, these systems can have trouble coping.
Looking for ways to improve the performance of autonomous driving systems in poor visibility, engineers are currently experimenting with ground-penetrating radar. While it’s likely to be awhile before we start to see this hardware on production vehicles, the concept already shows promise. It turns out that if you can’t see whats on the road ahead of you, looking underneath it might be the next best thing. Continue reading “Navigating Self-Driving Cars By Looking At What’s Underneath The Road”→
If you are a devotee of the Sinclair series of 8-bit home computers then a piece of news from the Centre For Computing History in Cambridge may be of interest to you, they’ve released a copy of the ROM from their ZX Spectrum prototype. This machine surfaced last year as part of a donation form the company originally contracted to write the Spectrum ROM and has been given pride of place int heir exhibition ever since. They’ve been doing some very careful work on it, and while The Register reports they can’t yet make the board boot, they have extracted the code for study. In the video below the break, we see it running on the Speccy emulator on an older Windows PC.
The ROM comes with an invitation to the ZX Spectrum community to analyze it against the stock version, in the hope of revealing ossified fragments of code such as that for the Microdrive storage peripheral which never made it into the stock Spectrum. But should you simply want to try your favorite games with the earliest possible version of the ROM, you can do that too.
When it comes to keeping abreast of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are basically two schools of thought. Some people would rather not hear the number of confirmed cases or deaths, and just want to focus on those who recovered. That’s fair enough. But others want to have all of the available data at their disposal so they can form their own conclusions about what’s happening with this virus on a global scale. Looking at this incredible COVID-19 status board, we’ll give you one guess which category [Reuben] falls into.
Constructed out of 2020 extrusion with both 3D printed and laser cut parts, this wall-mounted display is built to last. Clearly [Reuben] believes we’re in this one for the long haul, and taking a peek at the plethora of data points this device can show at once, it’s not hard to see why.
Stats are pulled down every hour from a JSON API by an ESP32 and stored on an SD card. A running total of confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries are shown on several TFT displays located behind the face of the display. On the right, the relative severity of the infection in 32 different countries is visualized with LEDs of varying brightness.
Perhaps the most visually striking element of the display is the large annunciator panel on the left side, which lights up to show various conditions all over the world. We appreciate that [Reuben] has thought ahead and added a light that can be used once a vaccine is deployed for COVID-19, but the inclusion of a “MARTIAL LAW” indicator certainly doesn’t help us shake the feeling we’ve all found ourselves in a proper dystopia.