The Tandy 1000, among other contemporary computers and consoles of the 1980s, used the Texas Instruments SN76489 for its sound and musical output. This venerable sound chip can now be used on virtually any DOS machine, as long as it has a parallel port – thanks to the TNDLPT adapter!
The adapter consists of the SN76489, hooked up to the parallel port so that it can be addressed by the host computer via a DOS Terminate and Stay Resident program acting as a driver. With the TSR loaded, classic DOS games can be used with the TNDLPT sound output by simply selecting the Tandy 1000 soundcard at install. It can also be used in a variety of other ways, such as with the TNDY tracker for music creation, or the SBVGM soundtrack player.
Reported in a pre-published paper, researchers used implanted electrodes to capture signals from the median and ulnar nerves in the forearm of Shawn Findley, who had lost a hand to a machine shop accident 17 years prior. An AI decoder was then trained to decipher signals from the electrodes using an NVIDIA Titan X GPU.
With this done, the decoder model could then be run on a significantly more lightweight system consisting of an NVIDIA Jetson Nano, which is small enough to mount on a prosthetic itself. This allowed Findley to control a prosthetic hand by thought, without needing to be attached to any external equipment. The system also allowed for intuitive control of Far Cry 5, which sounds like a fun time as well.
The research is exciting, and yet another step towards full-function prosthetics becoming a reality. The key to the technology is that models can be trained on powerful hardware, but run on much lower-end single-board computers, avoiding the need for prosthetic users to carry around bulky hardware to make the nerve interface work. If it can be combined with a non-invasive nerve interface, expect this technology to explode in use around the world.
Teardowns of cheap electronic devices can produce results that are interesting, horrifying, or both, especially when mains power is involved. [bigclivedotcom] gave a minimalist LED lamp his reverse engineering treatment, and discovered a new chip that requires only four additional passive components to run LEDs on AC power.
The chip in question is a Joulewatt JWB1981, for which no datasheet is available on the internet. However, there is a datasheet for the JW1981, which is a linear LED driver. After reverse-engineering the PCB, [bigclivedotcom] concluded that the JWB1981 must include an onboard bridge rectifier. The only other components on the board are three resistors, a capacitor, and LEDs. The first resistor limits the inrush current to the large smoothing capacitor. The second resistor is to discharge the capacitor, while the final resistor sets the current output of the regulator.
It is possible to eliminate the smoothing capacitor and discharge resistor, as other LED circuits have done, which also allow the light to be dimmable. However, this results in a very annoying flicker of the LEDs at the AC frequency, especially at low brightness settings.
As always, this is a very informative video from [bigclivedotcom], and it was all done based on a single picture of the PCB sent in by a viewer. He also mentions that the lifespan of the lamp would likely be increased by swapping out the current setting resistor for a larger one.
Commercial Bluetooth pedals, designed to allow musicians to flip pages of sheet music on a tablet, have the sort of inflated price tag you’d expect for a niche electronic device. Rather than forking as much as $100 USD over for the privilege of hands-free page flipping, [Joonas Pihlajamaa] decided to build his own extremely low cost version using an ESP32 and a cheap foot pedal switch.
In terms of hardware, it does’t get much easier than this. All [Joonas] had to do was hook the pedal up to one of the ESP32’s digital pins, and plug the microcontroller into a USB power bank. From there, it became a software project. With the ESP32-BLE-Keyboard library, it only took a few lines of code to send RIGHT_ARROW or LEFT_ARROW depending on whether the pedal was quickly tapped or held down for a bit; allowing him to navigate back and forth through the pages with just one button.
[Joonas] mentions that the ESP32 development board he’s using is too large to fit inside the pedal itself, though we wonder if the bare module could get slipped in there someplace. Of course you could always build your own pedal with a bit of extra room to fit the electronics, but for less than $2 USD on AliExpress, it’s hard to go wrong with this turn-key unit.
In advanced engineering circles, the finite element method — or, more commonly, finite element analysis — is a real staple. With the advent of more powerful home computers, though, even your home projects can benefit. The technique itself is very general, but you usually see it used for structural analysis. However, you might wonder how well it corresponds to reality. That is if analysis shows a segment of your part is weak (or strong) does that hold true when you actually build the part? [Fiveohno] wondered the same thing and decided to do some testing, which you can see in the video below.
Of course, like any simulation, the accuracy will only be as good as your data input and model. But if you work carefully, it should match up pretty well to the real world, so it is interesting to see the results of a real-world test. In fact, a video from Solidworks that shows a similar part points out — inadvertently — what not to do. For example, the force used in that analysis was too low and at a point where the part was at relatively low stress instead of at the maximum stress.
When you want to read what is being said on a television program, movie, or video you turn on the captions. Looking under the hood to see how this text is delivered is a fascinating story that stared with a technology called Closed Captions, and extended into another called Subtitles (which is arguably the older technology).
I covered the difference between the two, and their backstory, in my previous article on the analog era of closed captions. Today I want to jump into another fascinating chapter of the story: what happened to closed captions as the digital age took over? From peculiar implementations on disc media to esoteric decoding hardware and a baffling quirk of HDMI, it’s a fantastic story.
There were some great questions in the comments section from last time, hopefully I have answered most of these here. Let’s start with some of the off-label uses of closed captioning and Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI) data.
Inkscape is an amazing piece of open source software, a vector graphics application that’s a million times more lightweight than comparable commercial offerings while coming in at the low, low price of free. The software also has plenty of extensions floating around on the Internet, though until now, they haven’t been organised particularly well. The MightyScape project aims to solve that, putting a bunch of Inkscape plugins into one useful release.
The current MightyScape release has a whole bunch of useful stuff inside, for tasks as varied as laser cutting, 3D printing, vinyl cutting, as well as improvements on areas where Inkscape is a bit weak out of the box – like CAD, geometry and patterning. The extensions are maintained and working, albeit with some bugs, and are intended for use with Inkscape 1.0 and above.
The aim is that by creating an overarching collection, the MightyScape project will help inspire the community to come together and actively maintain Inkscape plugins rather than allowing them to wither and die when forgotten by their original creators. That’s the benefit of open-source, after all – you can do whatever you want with the software when you have the code to do so!