Nintendo’s Game Boy line were the world’s most popular handheld gaming systems, but did have their drawbacks. Most notably, the Game Boy didn’t receive a backlit color LCD until the Game Boy Advance SP launched in 2003. Of course, you can always build your own Game Boy that rectifies this and other shortcomings, and that’s what [JoshuaGuess] did with this Gameboy Macro build.
The build is based around a Nintendo DS Lite, one of Nintendo’s later handhelds featuring dual screens. In this build, the top screen is removed and discarded entirely. The motherboard is then hacked with a resistor on some test points to allow it to still boot with the top missing. The shell of the bottom half is then cleverly modified with epoxy clay and paint in order to hide the original hinge and give a clean finished aesthetic.
The final result is essentially a larger version of the Game Boy Micro, the final handheld in the Game Boy line. It also has the benefit of a bigger, brighter screen compared to virtually any Game Boy ever made. The only thing to note is that the DS hardware can only play Game Boy Advance games, not the earlier 8-bit titles.
It’s a fun build, and one that goes to show you don’t have to throw a Raspberry Pi in everything to have a good time. That can be fun too, though. If you end up building the Game Boy Nano or Game Boy Giga, please let us know. Be sure to include measurements to indicate how it’s scaled in SI units relative to the Game Boy Micro itself.
There’s a famous scene in the movie version of Frankenstein — but not in the book — where the doctor exclaims: “It’s alive!” We wonder if researchers at TU Delft had the same experience after printing living structures using algae. Of course, they aren’t creating life or even reanimating it. They are simply depositing living cells in artificial structures using a bio-compatible substrate. According to the paper, the living cells or bio ink can build up layers in a 3D printing fashion and the structures are “self-standing.”
There are some advantages, for example that the algae get their energy from sunlight. Of course they also have to eat, so unless you provide some snacks, your print will die off in about 3 days.
Why buy a num pad or a macropad when you can build something new and beautiful, open source that bad boy, and be a hero to the community? We think that should be all the justification you ever need to build instead of buy, even if you think your thing is Just Another Keypad [JAnK] as [Clewsy] claims.
At first glance, JAnK appears to be a standard number pad with four macro keys across the top. But when you roll your own ‘board, all the keys are programmable. [Clewsy] took advantage of this by adding a second layer that’s accessible with (what else?) the Num Lock key. This switches JAnK over to 21-key macro pad mode.
[Clewsy] rolled their own PCB for this and used the venerable ATMega32u4 because of its HID and USB host capabilities. Every key is backlit, and these LEDs are driven by an MP3202 LED driver and PWM from the AVR. [Clewsy] was able to build a prototype by sawing the num pad off of a stainless steel key switch plate from another build, but eventually ordered JAnK its own custom, laser-cut, stainless steel plate. The lovely enclosure is made of spotted gum wood and an acrylic base.
Putting it all together proved to be a bit problematic. [Clewsy] soldered up the minimum viable components for testing and discovered that the ATMega’s VCC and GND pins were both shorted. This killed the AVR programmer, but not the chip itself, and [Clewsy] happened to have a spare. To add insult to injury, the Num Lock light didn’t work, but [Clewsy] was able to simply reverse the LED instead of ordering a new pile of boards. Check out the detailed write-up with code and tons of pictures over on [Clewsy]’s personal site.
The TV-B-Gone is a well known piece of kit in hacker circles: just point it at a noisy TV in a public space, hit the button, and one of the hundreds of IR remote codes for “Power Off” that it blinks out in rapid succession is more than likely to get the intended response. Unfortunately, while a neat conversation starter, its practical use is limited to a single function. But not so with this programmable IR development board that creator [Djordje Mandic] describes as a “TV-B-Gone on steroids”.
Sure you can point it at a random TV and turn it off with a single button press, but you can also plug the board into your computer and control it directly through the serial connection provided by its CP2104 chip. Using a simple plain-text control protocol, the user can modify the behavior of the device and monitor its status. [Djordje] imagines this feature being used in conjunction with a smartphone application for covert applications. To that end, the device’s support for an onboard battery should keep it from draining the phone during extended operations.
For seven months, [Bernardo Kastrup] at [TheByteAttic] has been realizing his childhood dream of building his own computer. It was this dream that steered him into the field of computer design at the age of 17. After thirty years in the industry, he finally has some time to design the computer he dreamt about as a kid. His requirements are ambitious: fully open design, gate-level details, thru-hole or PLCC for easy hacking, well-established processors with existing tool chains, low-cost development tools for CPLDs, no FPGA, standard ITX case compatible, and so on. He quite reasonably decides to use more modern electronics for video (VGA), keyboard (PS/2), and program storage (flash drive). Along the way, he chooses to put three processors on the board instead of one:
Zilog Z84C0010 (Z80)
WDC W65C0256 (6502)
AVR ATMEGA328 (RISC Controller)
When coming up with the concept and requirements, [Bernardo] had a fictitious alternate history in mind — one where there were follow-ups to the ZX80, PET/CBM, or TRS-80 from the late 1970s that were extensions to the original systems. But he also wanted a clean design, without cost-cutting gimmicks, in order to make it easier for learners to focus on computing itself — a didactic architecture, as he describes it. Turn the crank for seven long months, and we have the Cerberus 2080. [Bernardo] has put the design on GitHub, and made a video series out of the whole process, of which the introduction video is below the break. There’s even an online emulator developed by retro hacker [Andy Toone].
It is funny how exotic computer technology eventually either fails or becomes commonplace. At one time, having more than one user on a computer at once was high tech, for example. Then there are things that didn’t catch on widely like vector display or content-addressable memory. The use of mass storage — especially disk drives — in computers, though has become very widespread. But at one time it was an exotic technique and wasn’t nearly as simple as it is today.
However, I’m surprised that the filesystem as we know it hasn’t changed much over the years. Sure, compared to, say, the 1960s we have a lot better functionality. And we have lots of improvements surrounding speed, encoding, encryption, compression, and so on. But the fundamental nature of how we store and access files in computer programs is stagnant. But it doesn’t have to be. We know of better ways to organize data, but for some reason, most of us don’t use them in our programs. Turns out, though, it is reasonably simple and I’m going to show you how with a toy application that might be the start of a database for the electronic components in my lab.
You could store a database like this in a comma-delimited file or using something like JSON. But I’m going to use a full-featured SQLite database to avoid having a heavy-weight database server and all the pain that entails. Is it going to replace the database behind the airline reservation system? No. But will it work for most of what you are likely to do? You bet. Continue reading “Linux Fu: Databases Are Next-Level File Systems”→
Cryptologist [Lambros Callimahos] was a victim of his own success. He wrote a trilogy of books called Military Cryptanalytics covering code breaking in 1977. The first two volumes were eventually published, but the NSA blocked the public release of the third volume back in 1992. But last December, it finally saw the light of day.
Of course, some parts of the book are redacted, including parts of the table of contents. That’s pretty bad when even your chapter headings can be classified. [Richard Bean] over on Phys.org has some notes about the book along with some examples of hard-to-solve crypto puzzles.