Have you ever come across an interesting chip or component that you wanted to experiment with, only to find that there doesn’t seem to be a development board for it? Spinning up your own board is a lot easier today than it has been in the past, but it’s still a bit of a hassle to do it just for your own personal use. This is why [Nikolaj Andersson Nielsen] has decided to release RFCat, his custom long-range Bluetooth development board, onto the community.
The board is based around a module from MeshTek that’s essentially an amplified version of the Nordic nRF52832. According to [Nikolaj], this gives the module 30 times the transmit power of the base model chip.
RFCat is compatible with the Arduino IDE and uses the Adafruit nRF52 bootloader, making it easy to write your own code to take advantage of all this new-found power. Primarily you’d be programming the board over USB-C, but it also supports Serial Wire Debug (SWD) and over-the-air updates that can be triggered with a physical push button on the device.
If you want to get an RFCat of your own, it’s available on Tindie now. The amplified modules were originally intended for building Bluetooth mesh networks, but we’re sure there are other interesting applications out there just waiting to be discovered.
Continue reading “Bluetooth Development Board Goes The Distance” →
Date and time handling is hard, that’s an ugly truth about software development we’ll all learn the hard way one day. Sure, it might seem like some trivial everyday thing that you can easily implement yourself without relying on a third-party library. I mean, it’s basically just adding seconds on top of one another, roll them over to minutes, and from there keep rolling to hours, days, months, up until you hit the years. Throw in the occasional extra day every fourth February, and you’re good to go, right?
Well, obviously not. Assuming you thought about leap years in the first place — which sadly isn’t a given — there are a few exceptions that for instance cause the years 1900 and 2100 to be regular years, while the year 2000 was still a leap year. And then there’s leap seconds, which occur irregularly. But there are still more gotchas lying in wait. Case in point: back in May, a faulty lunar leap month handling in the Chinese calendar turned Samsung phones all over China into bricks. And while you may not plan to ever add support for non-Gregorian calendars to your own project, it’s just one more example of unanticipated peculiarities gone wild. Except, Samsung did everything right here.
So what happened?
Continue reading “Samsung’s Leap Month Bug Teaches Not To Skimp On Testing” →
Being a fan of pinball is bittersweet these days. In the go-go 1990s, you could still find pins in places like coffeehouses and the odd gas station here and there as the commercial arcade began to fade into the past. Things were looking up once booze-fueled b-arcades became a thing, but the pandemic economy may come for them soon enough.
Poor [smithsa3] doesn’t have a table around for hundreds of miles. Instead of settling for an older table or agonizing over the average price of newer tables, [smithsa3] found a happy medium and built a full-size virtual pinball cabinet to play pretty much any table there is. The only non-negotiable game was Addams Family, which you can see in the demo after the break.
Inside is a PC running PinballX, along with a 37″ TV for the playfield and two 17″ monitors that make up the backboard. Between the physical inputs and the faithful recreations of current and classic pinball games that are out there, this really is the best of both worlds.
We love that [smithsa3] combined stock and DIY hardware to pull this together. The cabinet uses standard legs and arcade buttons, but [smithsa3] built the plunger, interfaced it with an old keyboard controller, and made a coin slot mechanism that rejects everything but 10p coins.
Spend enough time playing pinball, and you’ll no doubt begin to fantasize about building your own. We’ve seen one or two of those, but not too many that can play themselves.
Continue reading “Virtual Pinball Cabinet Provides Real Thrills” →
One of the most interesting streams through which we receive new projects to write about here at Hackaday comes from the intersection between technologists and artists. Those artists who straddle both disciplines bring creativity that those of us without their backgrounds can only dream of. The artist [Rosa Francesca] produced a piece called Cinematica, in which she monitored her brain waves with an EEG and from them produced on-paper visualizations with a pen plotter.
The hardware in use is an Interaxon Muse EEG headband read through the Muse Monitor app, and some code to drive an Evil Mad Scientist AxiDraw V3 plotter via its serial port. The write-up goes in some depth into the different types of brain waves, explaining her choice of monitoring gamma and theta waves for her source data. The result is a series of repeating shapes that vary with the brain waves of the wearer, creating drawings that are both pleasing and unique.
If you’re interested by the Muse headset used in this artwork, you might find a teardown we covered a few years ago to be of interest. And if you’re tempted by the plotter, you can always try making your own.
Thanks, @tanurai for the tip!