Since EMF is a framework that provides a common way to describe the emulated machine, you get a common emulator user interface for free. There’s a lot of flexibility offered here as well. Opcodes can be implemented as a large switch statement or individual functions, depending on the target language’s performance. Self-modifying code can be detected and handled separately. Custom features or hardware can be injected easily by writing a module in the target language.
While the source code for the EMF hasn’t been released yet, several of the machines that [Marquis de Geek] has built with EMF are open-source on GitHub. So far the list includes Dragon32, Sinclair ZX80, Sinclair ZX81, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Elliott 903, Chip8, Cosmac VIP, and the MegaProcessor. Each has a live emulator that runs in your browser.
While [Marquis de Geek] hopes to release a binary version of the EMF soon, we’re very much looking forward to the EMF source coming out once the code has been cleaned up. We love the trend towards creating easier and more accessible emulators, such as this Twitter bot that runs Atari programs.
Continue reading “Procedurally Generated Retrocomputer Emulators”
Companies spend thousands developing a project for the market, hoping their investment will return big. Investing like this happens every day and won’t shock anyone. What may surprise you is someone who spends more than a decade and thousands of their own dollars to make an open-source version of a highly-marketable product. In this case, we’re talking about genetically modified yeast that produces spider silk. If that sounds like a lead-in to some Spiderman jokes and sci-fi references, you are correct on both accounts. [Justin Atkin] had some geneticist work under his belt when he started, so he planned to follow familiar procedures like extracting black widow DNA, isolating and copying the silk genes, and pasting them into a yeast strain. Easy peasy, right? Naturally, good science doesn’t happen overnight.
There are a few contenders for the strongest spider silk among which the golden silk orb-weaver gets the most attention, but the black widow’s webbing is nearly as strong, and [Justin] is happy to wear black widow inspired bling, whereas the golden orb-weaver looks like it crawled out of Starship Troopers. His first attempt to extract DNA starts with a vial of preserved
nightmare fuel spider specimens because that is a thing you can just go online and buy. Sadly, they were candied in alcohol, and that obliterates DNA, so he moved to dried specimens from breeders, which also failed to produce results, and those were just the landmark hangups.
Continue reading “Spider Silk, Spider Silk, Made Using A Strain Of Yeast”
Eight-bit computers are all the retro rage these days, with people rushing to build computers either from chips like the 6502 or the Z80, or even recreating these chips from a collection of TTL logic chips. And while we respect and covet those builds immensely, 8-bit computers aren’t the only game going on. To wit we present this lovely single-board computer sporting a 1-bit CPU.
The machine, which creator [Simon Boak] cheekily dubs “the world’s least-powerful computer,” is based on the Motorola MC14500B, a chip from the 1970s that was aimed at the industrial controls market. There, the chip’s limited instruction set and narrow bus width were not as limiting as they would be in a general-purpose computer. In fact, since the chip requires an external program counter, it offers a great degree of design flexibility. [Simon] chose a 4-bit address space, but with a little wizardry he was able to get eight bits of input in the form of DIP switches and eight bits of output LEDs. It’s not good for much past making lights blink, but it does that with nary an Arduino in view — although it does sport a couple of 555s.
[Simon]’s goal for the build was simply to build cool from an unusual chip, and we think he succeeded. In fact, we can’t recall seeing a neater perfboard build — it’s almost to the level of circuit sculpture. We especially like the hybrid solder and wirewrap construction. We’ve seen builds based on this chip before, but never one so neat and attractive.
What’s the use of waiting around for something to break in order to hack into something else? As long as it’s just sitting around not being used, who cares? [OmniSaiRen] had a Behringer MIDI controller just taking up space. Instead of selling it, they decided to build it into something they would definitely use — a multi-volume controller with mute keys and other useful macros.
After gutting the case, [OmniSaiRen] gave it a couple coats of glossy white paint that looks really nice with the black keycaps and knobs. The plan was to use the original encoders, but [OmniSaiRen] replaced them with potentiometers when they couldn’t get the encoders working with the Arduino Nano. We are sad to report that Cherry Blues only made it to the build because they have all black housings and were also lying around taking up space, but maybe [OmniSaiRen] will grow to love them.
If you’re tired of all the mousing and clicking it takes to turn down this or that volume, you need to build one of these things. It runs on deej, an open source volume mixer that works with Linux and Windows, so what are you waiting for? If you only want a single hardware volume knob, you can’t go wrong dialing it in rotary style.
Our smartphones are incredibly powerful computers in their own right, yet we don’t often see them directly integrated into projects. Intel Intelligent Systems Lab has done exactly that with the release OpenBot, an open source smartphone based self-driving robot.
Most of the magic happens on the smartphone, which runs an app built on TensorFlow Lite, and integrates the camera and array of sensors on the smartphone, as well as the data from ultrasonic sensors and wheel encoders on the robot. The robot itself is relatively simple, with four geared DC motors, motor drivers wired to an Arduino Nano that interfaces with an Android Phone over serial.
The app created by the Intel ISL team comes preloaded with three AI models that can do either person following, or two different modes of autonomous navigation. By connecting a Bluetooth controller to the smartphone and drive the robot around manually in your specific environment while collecting data, you can train a custom autonomous driving policy to suit your environment.
This looks like an excellent way to get a taste of autonomous robots on a small budget, while still being a viable base for more demanding applications. We’ve seen only a few smartphone based robots like DriveMyPhone and SmartiPresense, which don’t have AI capabilities, but are intended for telepresence applications. We’ve always wondered why we don’t see more projects with cellphones, so we welcome the example.
Continue reading “Open Source Self-Driving Smartphone Robot”
As a debugger, GDB is a veritable Swiss Army knife. And just like exploring all of the non-obvious uses of a those knives, your initial response to the scope of GDB’s feature set is likely to be one of bewilderment, subsequent confusion, and occasional laughter. This is an understandable reaction in the case of the Swiss Army knife as one is unlikely to be in the midst of an army campaign or trapped in the wilderness. Similarly, it takes a tricky debugging session to really learn to appreciate GDB’s feature set.
If you have already used GDB to debug some code, it was likely wrapped in the comfort blanket of an IDE. This is of course one way to use GDB, but limits the available features to what the IDE exposes. Fortunately, the command line interface (CLI) of GDB has no such limitations. Learning the CLI GDB commands also has the advantage that one can perform that critical remote debug session even in the field via an SSH session over the 9600 baud satellite modem inside your Swiss Army knife, Cyber Edition.
Have I carried this analogy too far? Probably. But learning the full potential of GDB is well worth your time so today, let’s dive in to sharpen our digital toolsets.
Continue reading “Local And Remote Debugging With GDB”
Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys catch the best hacks you may have missed. This week we look at the new Raspberry Pi 400, use computer vision to get ready for geeky Christmas, and decypher a negative-space calendar. We get an answer to the question of what happens if you scale up a styrofoam airplane to human-size. Facebook is locking down VR headset, will hackers break them free? And take an excellent stroll down memory lane to find out what it was like to be a space-obsessed ham at the dawn of personal computers.
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Direct download (~60 MB)
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Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 092: Orbital Data By Mail, Human Flight On Styrofoam Wings, And Seven Shades Of E-Ink”