Retro gaming enthusiasts have always had great interest in rarities outside the usual commercial titles. Whether they be early betas, review copies, or even near-complete versions of games that never made it to release, these finds can be inordinately valuable. [Modern Vintage Gamer] recently came across a pre-release version of Turok 3 for the Nintendo 64, and set about dumping and preserving the find. (Video, embedded below.)
With one-off cartridges like these, it’s important to take the utmost care in order to preserve the data onboard. Simply slapping it into a regular console might boot up the game, but carries with it a non-zero chance of damaging the cart. Instead, the first step taken was to dump the cart for archival purposes. When working with a prototype cart, commodity dumpers like the Retrode aren’t sufficient to do the job. [Modern Vintage Gamer] notes that a Doctor V64 or Gameshark with a parallel port could work, but elects to use a more modern solution in the form of the Ultrasave and 64drive.
With the cartridge backed up and duplicated onto the 64drive, the code can be run on a real console without risk of damage to the original. At first glance, the game appears similar to the final retail version. Analysis of the dump using a file comparison tool suggests that the only differences between the “80% Complete” ROM and the retail edition are headers, leading [Modern Vintage Gamer] to surmise that the game may have been rushed to release.
While in this case the dump didn’t net an amazing rare version of a retro game, [Modern Vintage Gamer] does a great job of explaining the how and why of the process of preserving a vintage cartridge. We look forward to the next rare drop that shakes up the retro world; we’ve seen efforts on Capcom arcade boards net great results. Video after the break.
In addition to just being fun and interesting, there were a lot of links of interest in the video (see below) and its comments. For one, someone watching the channel took the code and made a Verilog-like IDE that is impressive.
The goal of the project was to create a circuit to match the TSB2555B electret capsule that could be used with phantom power, and that could be built with easily obtainable parts. [DJJules] had used FETs in the past, but grew tired of routinely having to hunt for obsolete parts. Instead, this design relies on a dual OPA1642 op-amp, with its low quiescent current meaning it’s perfect for running off phantom power. This means the microphone needs no batteries, and using a dual op-amp enables the circuit to properly drive a balanced audio connection.
Peter Sripol really likes building gravity defying death traps. He recently flew the fourth ultralight, which he designed and built himself. For a taste of what’s going on here, the wings have aluminum tube spars and are made of hot-wire-cut styrofoam sections.
To keep the plane simple, he got rid of ailerons entirely. For roll stabilization he angled up the wings noticeably, adding dihedral. This gives the aircraft passive stability, because as it rolls to a side, the upper wing’s lift decreases and the lower wing’s lift increases, forcing the plane to correct itself. Interestingly he kept the rudder controls on pedals instead of moving it to the stick, so the stick only controls the elevator.
It is powered by a single large brushless electric motor borrowed from the OpenPPG project. On the first test he used a two-bladed propeller, with a small pitch angle which required full throttle to keep flying. It can be compared to driving a car only in first gear. By moving to a three bladed propeller with a higher pitch angle, and increasing the length of the wings for more lift, [Peter] was able to cruise comfortably at about 30 MPH or 48 km/h.
Although this aircraft definitely performed better than [Peter]’s previous ultralight builds, piloting something like this isn’t for the faint of heart. Although he does extensive weight-loading and thrust testing before taking to the air, adding tail weight to piloted aircraft by simply taping a water bottle to the tail just felt wrong. But we aren’t aviation experts, so we won’t pass final judgement.
The humble kitchen sink has remained relatively unchanged over the last century. While there are now fancier mixing taps and sleeker fittings available, for most of us, there’s a nozzle that squirts water of varying temperature, and a tub in which to soak dishes. Of course, this leaves plenty of room for improvement, as [Jake] found with his robot sink build.
The sink consists of a robotic nozzle, which he refers to as a “continuum manipulator”. In essence, it’s a nozzle that can be steered with a joystick to aim the flow of water throughout the sink. To move the nozzle, motors pull on steel cables attached to 3D printed collars fastened around the hose. Combined with an on/off switch for the water flow, the sink could be a useful assistive technology for those with disabilities, as demonstrated in the project’s demo video.
When it comes to open source office suites, most people choose OpenOffice or LibreOffice, and they both look suspiciously similar. That isn’t surprising since they both started with exactly the same code base. However, the LibreOffice team recently penned an open letter to the Apache project — the current keepers of OpenOffice — asking them to redirect new users to the LibreOffice project. Their logic is that OpenOffice has huge name recognition, but hasn’t had a new major release in several years. LibreOffice, on the other hand, is a very active project. We could argue that case either way, but we won’t. But it did get us thinking about how things got here.
It all started when German Marco Börries wrote StarWriter in 1985 for the Zilog Z80. By 1986, he created a company, Star Division, porting the word processor to platforms like CP/M and MSDOS. Eventually, the company added other office suite programs and with support for DOS, OS/2, and Windows, the suite became known as StarOffice.
The program was far less expensive than most competitors, costing about $70, yet in 1999 that price point prompted Sun Microsystems to buy StarOffice. We don’t mean they bought a copy or a license, they bought the entire thing for just under $74 million. The story was that it was still cheaper than buying a license for each Sun employee, particularly since most had both a Windows machine and a Unix machine which still required some capability.
Sun in Charge
Sun provided StarOffice 5.2 in 2000 as a free download for personal use, which gave the software a lot of attention. It eventually released much of the code under an open source license producing OpenOffice. Sun contributed to the project and would periodically snapshot the code to market future versions of StarOffice.
This was the state of affairs for a while. StarOffice 6.0 corresponded to OpenOffice 1.0. In 2003, release 1.1 turned into StarOffice 7. A couple of years later, StarOffice 8/OpenOffice 2.0 appeared and by 2008, we had StarOffice 9 with OpenOffice 3.0 just before Oracle entered the picture.
Do you ever wonder just how many punches you have thrown? The answer is going to be different if you happen to use a punching bag as part of your exercise routine. So is the case with the [DuctTapeMechanic] and while restoring an old speed ball punching bag, he decided to combine his passions for sports and electronics by adding a punch counter.
Perhaps most interesting in this build is the method used to monitor the bag. A capacitance proximity sensor most often used for industrial automation is mounted in the wooden base. He just calls it “an NPN capacitive sensor” without mentioning part number but these are rather easy to find from the usual places. It has no problem sensing each punch — assuming you swing strong enough so that the bag comes near the sensor. Two battery packs, an Arduino, and an optocoupler round out the bill of materials. We were a little disappointed not to see any duct tape in the construction of this project, but since the electronics are outside and exposed to the elements, maybe duct tape will be used to install a roof in a future episode.
The [DuctTapeMechanic] likes to repurpose items which would otherwise be thrown away, which is something to be applauded. The frame of this punching bag was welded from a discarded metal bed frame (a regular occupant of crawl spaces and self storage places), and you might remember he repurposed the electric motor from a discarded clothes dryer last month, changing it into a disk sander.