Everything Old Is New Again: Another 6502 Board Is Born

[Jeff] says that designing your own 6502 computer is a rite of passage, and he wanted the experience. His board can accept a real 6502 or the newer CMOS variant that is still available. There are a few modern conveniences such as USB power and provisions for using a USB serial port.

We are spoiled today with microcontrollers having everything in one package, but with this class of CPU you need your own memory, I/O devices, and other support chips. [Jeff] took a traditional approach, but picked components that are still easy to obtain. Some designs now push all the support functions to a more modern processor like an Arduino, which is very simple to do, but doesn’t feel as authentic, somehow.

Continue reading “Everything Old Is New Again: Another 6502 Board Is Born”

MIT Prints Robots With Lasers

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) wants to convert laser cutters into something more. By attaching a head to a commercial laser cutter and adding software, they combine the functions of a cutter, a conductive printer, and a pick and place system. The idea is to enable construction of entire devices such as robots and drones.

The concept, called LaserFactory, sounds like a Star Trek-style replicator, but it doesn’t create things like circuit elements and motors. It simply picks them up, places them, and connects them using silver conductive ink. You can get a good idea of how it works by watching the video below.

Continue reading “MIT Prints Robots With Lasers”

Your Own 11.2 GHz Radio Telescope

Modern life has its conveniences. Often, those conveniences lead to easier hacks. A great example of that is the rise of satellite television and the impact it has had on amateur radio telescopes. There was a time when building a dish and a suitable low noise amplifier was a big deal. Now they are commodity parts you can get anywhere.

The antenna in use is a 1.2-meter prime focus dish. Some TV dishes use an offset feed, but that makes it harder to aim for use in a radio telescope. In addition to off-the-shelf antenna and RF components, an AirSpy software-defined radio picks up the frequency-shifted output from the antenna. There is more about the software side of the build in a follow-up post. We liked that this was a pretty meaty example of using GNU Radio.

Continue reading “Your Own 11.2 GHz Radio Telescope”

IKEA Shelf Becomes Kid Friendly MP3 Player

IKEA’s flatpack furniture has long been popular among makers for its modular nature and low cost, making it ideal for whacky experiments and custom builds. [Claus] is one such person, and built a fun MP3 player for his kids out of a basic LACK shelf.

The music is handled by an NodeMCU ESP8266, working in concert with a VS1053 audio board. The VS1053 is a highly capable chip, capable of decoding a variety of raw and compressed audio formats as well as MIDI, but here it’s used to read SD cards and play MP3s. An RC522 is used to read RFID cards to trigger various tracks, allowing kids to choose a song by simply placing a tag on the shelf. A cheap PAM8302 amplifier and speaker are used to output the music. All the hardware is installed neatly inside the LACK shelf, an easy job thanks to the primarily cardboard construction.

RFID cards are more fun than we normally give them credit for, and we’ve seen a few builds along similar lines to this one. Video of [Claus’s] child rocking out after the break.

Continue reading “IKEA Shelf Becomes Kid Friendly MP3 Player”

VGA Without The Hassle, From Your PlayStation One

The original Sony PlayStation was a nifty console for its day; that grey box may have only had a 33 MHz MIPS processor and 4 MB of RAM, but for the early to mid 1990s its games were some of the best to be had. From the days when it would have sat under a family TV with a composite video or RF connection, you might expect that the PlayStation would require some form of converter box to drive a higher quality monitor. As [Wesk] found out though, present on the PS1 mainboard are all the required H and V sync as well as RGB video signals to drive a VGA monitor at 15 kHz.

It’s a wallow in the past for anyone who spent the 1990s using their SMD soldering skills to install modchips in PS1s, but it’s pleasing to find that those sync lines aren’t only available from tricky-to-solder IC pins, instead they appear on handy pads. Along with RGB lines from the normal video output they’re brought out via lightweight co-ax to a VGA socket that sits in a 3D printed bracket in the space where a removed system link port would have been. A small trim of the internal shield is requited to clear the new socket, leaving the VGA port on the back of the reassembled console looking for all the world as though it was installed in the Sony factory. Given how simple this mod turned out to be and the sharpness of the resulting image, it’s surprising that this wasn’t tried back in the day. Perhaps we were all too busy playing Wipeout.

While you’re idly rekindling your interest in a PS1, should you buy one then perhaps you’ll need a modchip.

Thanks [John] for the tip.

Europa Decision Delivers Crushing Blow To NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)

These days, NASA deciding to launch one of their future missions on a commercial rocket is hardly a surprise. After all, the agency is now willing to fly their astronauts on boosters and spacecraft built and operated by SpaceX. Increased competition has made getting to space cheaper and easier than ever before, so it’s only logical that NASA would reap the benefits of a market they helped create.

So the recent announcement that NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will officially fly on a commercial launch vehicle might seem like more of the same. But this isn’t just any mission. It’s a flagship interplanetary probe designed to study and map Jupiter’s moon Europa in unprecedented detail, and will serve as a pathfinder for a future mission that will actually touch down on the moon’s frigid surface. Due to the extreme distance from Earth and the intense radiation of the Jovian system, it’s considered one of the most ambitious missions NASA has ever attempted.

With no margin for error and a total cost of more than $4 billion, the fact that NASA trusts a commercially operated booster to carry this exceptionally valuable payload is significant in itself. But perhaps even more importantly, up until now, Europa Clipper was mandated by Congress to fly on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). This was at least partly due to the incredible power of the SLS, which would have put the Clipper on the fastest route towards Jupiter. But more pragmatically, it was also seen as a way to ensure that work on the Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift rocket would continue at a swift enough pace to be ready for the mission’s 2024 launch window.

But with that deadline fast approaching, and engineers feeling the pressure to put the final touches on the spacecraft before it gets mated to the launch vehicle, NASA appealed to Congress for the flexibility to fly Europa Clipper on a commercial rocket. The agency’s official line is that they can’t spare an SLS launch for the Europa mission while simultaneously supporting the Artemis Moon program, but by allowing the Clipper to fly on another rocket in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress effectively removed one of the only justifications that still existed for the troubled Space Launch System.

Continue reading “Europa Decision Delivers Crushing Blow To NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)”

Hackaday Podcast 105: 486 Doom On FPGA, How Thick Is Your Filament, Raspberry Pi Speaks Android Auto, And We’re Headed To Mars

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams unpack great hacks of the past week. We loves seeing the TIL311 — a retro display in a DIP package — exquisitely recreated with SMD electronics and resin casting. You might never need to continuously measure the diameter of your 3D printer filament, but just in case there’s a clever hall-effect sensor mechanism for that. Both of us admire the work being done in the FPGA realm and this week we saw a RISC-V core plumbed into quite the FPGA stack to run a version of Doom originally played on 486 computers. And we’re getting excited for the three ring circus of engineering acrobatics that will land NASA’s Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars next week.

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)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 105: 486 Doom On FPGA, How Thick Is Your Filament, Raspberry Pi Speaks Android Auto, And We’re Headed To Mars”