Analyzing and troubleshooting a modern AM/FM radio, digital radio, or TV can be a pretty daunting task. However, a common AM radio is easy to understand, experiment with, and repair. Learning about that will help you understand more complex circuits later. That’s the idea behind the Elenco AM radio which is built on a wide-open PCB with markings for all the important sections. [The Offset Volt] uses one of these to explain how a receiver works, especially how a diode detects the signal and how the automatic gain control works.
Between a series of diagrams and live scope demonstrations, you can see the effects of capacitance in the receiver along with other circuit effects.
Fresh from ETH Zurich comes the new Silq programming language. They also have submitted a paper to the PLDI 2020 conference on why they feel that it is the best quantum programming language so far. Although it may be not common knowledge, the lack of usable general purpose quantum computers has not kept multiple teams from developing programming languages for such computer systems.
Microsoft’s Q# is a strong contender in this space, along with the older QCL language. The claims by the Silq team on exactly why their language is better appear to come down to it being ‘more high level’, and by supporting automatic (and safe) uncomputation. While the ‘high level’ aspect is suspect since Q# is most decidedly a high-level programming language, their uncomputation claim does at least have some merit.
Uncomputation is a concept in quantum programming, where one occasionally has to remove a few intermediate objects from the current state because they may cause quantum interference that would affect the resulting output. Normally, one would save the intermediate result to a register for this, then reset the state and continue. Which parts of the state to keep and what to uncompute is however not easily determined, as a quick glance at related answers over at the Quantum Computing StackExchange and Theoretical Computer Science might reveal.
The main question thus appears the validity of this claim about Silq being able to automatically determine what ‘garbage’ can be safely uncomputed, and what should be part of the quantum interference. We have all seen with languages like Java and C# how even with traditional computing something as simple as garbage collecting can go horribly wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t count our quantum chickens yet until this particular waveform has fully collapsed.
Cinemas all over the world have become no-go zones with COVID-19 around, but watching the latest blockbuster on the small screen at home is simply not the same. You could bring the big screen home, but buying a quality projector is going to set you back a small pile of cash. Fortunately [Matt] from [DIY Perks] has an alternative for us, demonstrating how to build your own true 4K projector with parts bought off eBay, for a fraction of the price.
The core of the projector is a small 4K LCD panel, which is from a modified Sony smartphone. [Matt] disassembled the phone, removed the backlight from the LCD, which leaves it semi-transparent, and mounted it at a right angle to the rest of the phone body. The battery was also replaced with a voltage regulator to simulate a full battery. To create a practical projector, a much brighter backlight is needed. [Matt] used a 100W 10 mm diameter LED for this purpose. The LED needs some serious cooling to prevent it from burning itself out, and a large CPU cooler does the job perfectly. Two Fresnel lenses in series are used to turn the diverging light from the LED into a converging light source to pass through the LCD. An old 135 mm large format camera lens is placed at the focal point of light to act as a projection lens. The entire assembly is mounted on a vertical frame of threaded rods, nuts, and aluminium plates. [Matt] also used these threaded rods with GT2 pulleys to create a simple but effective moving platform for the projection lens that allows the focus of the projected image to be adjusted. The frame is topped off by a 45-degree mirror to project the image against a wall instead of the roof, and the frame is covered with aluminium panels.
While the K40 has brought affordable laser cutting to the masses, there’s no question that it took a lot of sacrifices to hit that sub-$400 price point. There’s a reason that we’ve seen so many upgrades and improvements made to the base model machine, but for the price it’s hard to complain. That being said, for users who don’t mind spending a bit more money for a more complete out-of-the-box experience, there are other options out there.
One of them is the beamo, from FLUX. [Frank Zhao] recently picked up one of these $1,900 USD laser cutters because he wasn’t thrilled with the compromises made on the K40. Specifically, he really liked the idea of the internal water cooling system. Oddly enough, something about using a garden hose and buckets of water to cool the laser seemed off-putting. Luckily for us, he’s got a technical eye and the free time necessary to do a teardown and objective analysis of his new toy.
The short version of the story is that [Frank] is not only happy with the results he’s getting, but finds the machine to be well designed and built. So if you’re looking for a rant, sorry. But what you will find is a methodical look at each subsystem of the beamo, complete with annotated pictures and the kind of technical details that Hackaday readers crave.
We especially like his attempts to identify parts which might be difficult to source in the future; it looks like the CO2 laser tube might be proprietary, but everything else looks fairly jellybean. That includes the Raspberry Pi 3B that’s running the show, and the off-the-shelf touch screen HDMI display used for the interface. [Frank] did note that FLUX was unwilling to give him the credentials to log into the Pi and poke around, but with direct access to the SD card, it’s not like that will stop anyone who wants to get in.
Talking to computers used to be reserved for Star Trek and those with overactive imaginations. Now, it’s a regular part of daily life. [CodersCafe] decided to put this technology to work in a chess robot, with the help of Amazon’s digital assistant.
The build relies on an Cartesian motion rig, built out of Lego Technics parts. The end effector is fitted with a magnet , fitted onto the Z-axis screw for engaging and disengaging with the pieces. A Mindstorms EV3 controller is used to run the show, hooked up over Bluetooth to an Amazon Echo. This allows the user to ask Alexa to move the pieces for the white player in natural language – by saying, for example, “move from B1 to C3”.
Neutrinos are some of the strangest particles we have encountered so far. About 100 billion of them are going through every square centimeter on Earth per second but their interaction rate is so low that they can easily zip through the entire planet. This is how they earned the popular name ‘ghost particle’. Neutrinos are part of many unsolved questions in physics. We still do not know their mass and they might even be there own anti-particles while their siblings could make up the dark matter in our Universe. In addition, they are valuable messengers from the most extreme astrophysical phenomena like supernovae, and supermassive black holes.
The neutrinos on earth have different origins: there are solar neutrinos produced in the fusion processes of our sun, atmospheric neutrinos produced by cosmic rays hitting our atmosphere, manmade reactor neutrinos created in the radioactive decays of nuclear reactors, geoneutrinos which stem from similar processes naturally occurring inside the earth, and astrophysical neutrinos produced outside of our solar system during supernovae and other extreme processes most of which are still unknown. Continue reading “Hunting Neutrinos In The Antarctic”→
There was a time when if you wanted a computer, you had to build it. And not by ordering parts from Amazon and plugging everything together in a case — you had to buy chips, solder or wire-wrap everything, and tinker endlessly. The process was slow, painful, and expensive, but in the end, you had a completely unique machine that you knew inside out because you put every bit of it together.
In some ways, it’s good that those days are gone. Being able to throw a cheap, standardized commodity PC at a problem is incredibly powerful, but that machine will have all the charm of a rubber doorstop and no soul at all. Luckily for those looking to get back a little of the early days of the computer revolution or those that missed them entirely, there are alternatives like the Gigatron. Billed as a “minimalistic retro computer,” the Gigatron is a kit that takes the builder back even further in time than the early computer revolution since it lacks a microprocessor. All the logic of the 8-bit computer is built up from discrete 7400-series TTL chips.
The Gigatron is the brainchild of Marcel van Kervinck and Walter Belgers. Tragically, Marcel recently passed away, but Walter is carrying the Gigatron torch forward and leading a thriving community of TTL-computer aficionados as they extend and enhance what their little home-built machines can do. Walter will stop by the Hack Chat to talk all things Gigatron, and answer your questions about how this improbably popular machine came to be.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about. Continue reading “Gigatron Hack Chat”→