It seems that stick shift has become a sticking point, at least for American car buyers. Throughout 2019, less than 2% of all the cars sold in the US had a manual transmission. This sad picture includes everything from cute two-seater commuters to — surprisingly enough — multi-million dollar super cars built for ultimate performance.
But aside from enthusiasts like myself, it seems no one cares too much about this shift away from manual transmissions. According to this video report by CNBC (embedded below), the fact that demand is in free-fall suggests that Americans on the whole just don’t enjoy driving stick anymore. And it stands to reason that as more and more people live their lives without learning to drive them, there would be a decline in the number of teachers and proponents. It’s a supply and demand problem starring the chicken and the egg.
But giving up the stick is one more example of giving up control over the vehicle. It’s not something everyone cares about, but those that do care a lot. Let’s grind through the ebb and flow of the manual transmission — more lovingly called the stick shift.
Continue reading “Sticking Up For The Stick Shift”
Remember the days when computers booted up straight into a BASIC screen, where theoretically you could program yourself a full game without any further software needed? Well, in reality most of us were amused enough making it print “butts” over and over again, but there are those who are adept in the dark arts of making impressive things with such a limited language. [Bugtaro] is one of those people, and to help with his game development in SmileBASIC 4 on the Nintendo Switch, he built himself a dock that turns it into a laptop with an integrated keyboard.
Details on the build are scarce as it’s only outlined in his Twitter account, but there’s enough to give us an idea about what it’s composed of. The Switch slides into the top just like the official dock it comes with, and the laptop shell takes advantage of those functions. Inside it is a 5000 mAh battery to extend the portable life of the whole ensemble, plus a USB hub which gives it its built-in keyboard and allows for a mouse to be plugged in as well. The laptop also gives the Switch its docked TV output mode and can hold the Joy-cons slotted on its sides.
This project would pass for any other case mod here at Hackaday if it weren’t for the fact that [Bugtaro] is in fact a programmer that has been releasing BASIC software on Japanese magazines since the 1980s and worked on several cult classic Mega Drive games with Wolf Team and NexTech during the 1990s. His latest game is GIVERS P3D, a game programmed in SmileBASIC using a 3D engine of his own design and one of the flagship games for the platform. It would be interesting to see if more SmileBASIC programmers end up coming up with their own solutions to aid their development experience following this project.
If you’re interested in the possibilities of custom-made Switch docks like these but don’t fancy giving it a keyboard, how about this one that wraps a Gamecube controller around the screen? And if you don’t have a Switch yet and are looking for a bigger challenge, well, you can make your own from scratch.
You might be wondering why anyone would build device to dump Sega Genesis and Mega Drive cartridges. Perhaps they want to play their well-worn copy of The Lost Vikings on their phone, or they want to keep their QVC Limited Edition Maximum Carnage box set in near mint condition. Maybe. But we’re betting that [tonyp7] was just looking for a challenge, and as an added bonus, the world gets another cool open hardware gadget in the process. Sounds like a good deal to us.
Based on the ATmega324PB, the GenDumper can take those dusty old Sega cartridges and back them up to an image file on your computer. Right now the hardware depends on a Windows program, but according to the documentation, [tonyp7] is working on a platform-agnostic Python script so everyone can play along. What you do with the image file after you’ve dumped it is your business, but presumably loading it up in an emulator would be the next step.
Considering how easy it is to find ROMs for these old games online, do you actually need a GenDumper of your own? Probably not. But it’s still an interesting piece of hardware, and if you look close enough, you just might learn a thing or two from the design. For example, [tonyp7] shows how a relatively easy to work with 12 pin USB-C connector can be used on your USB 2.0 projects to embrace the new physical connector without diving into a full USB 3.0 implementation. The keen-eyed reader might also note there’s a lesson to be learned about finalizing the name of your project before sending off your PCBs for manufacturing.
A perusal of the archive uncovered a similar project from 2012 that, believe it or not, was also tested on a copy of Madden 96. Whether that means the game is so beloved that hackers want to make sure its preserved for future generations, or so despised that they are secretly hoping the magic smoke leaks out during testing, we can’t say.