Before the World Wide Web became ubiquitous as the de facto way to access electronic information, there were many other ways of retrieving information online. One of the most successful of these was Minitel, a French videotex service that lasted from 1980 all the way until 2012. But just because the service has been deactivated doesn’t mean its hardware can’t be used for modern builds like this Arduino-based operating system. (Google Translate from French)
Called ZARDOS, the operating system is built to run on an Arduino MEGA although a smaller version is available for the Uno. The Arduino is connected by a serial cable to the Minitel terminal. It can take input from a keyboard and PS/2 mouse and displays video on the terminal screen with the same cable. There is functionality built-in for accessing data on a cartridge system based on SD cards which greatly expands the limited capabilities of the Atmel chip as well, and there is also support for a speaker and a Videotex printer.
Even though the build uses a modern microcontroller, it gives us flashbacks to pre-WWW days with its retro terminal. All of the code is available on the project site for anyone looking to build an Arduino-based operating system, although it will take a little bit of hardware hacking to build a Minitel terminal like this. Either way, it’s a great way to revive some antique French hardware similar to a build we’ve seen which converts one into a Linux terminal.
A recent trend has been to convert high-level constructs into FPGA code like Verilog or VHDL. Silice goes the other way: it converts very hardware-specific concepts to Verilog and aims to be a more expressive and easier to use language.
Why Silice? The project’s web page enumerates its design goals:
A clean, simple syntax that clearly exposes the flow of operations and where clock cycles are spent.
Precise rules regarding flow control (loops, calls) and their clock cycle consumption.
Familiar hardware constructs such as always blocks, instantiation, expression tracking (wires).
An optional flow-control oriented design style (automatic FSM generation), that naturally integrates within a design: while, break, subroutines.
The possibility to easily describe pipelines.
Automatically takes care of creating flip-flops for variables, with automatic pruning (e.g. const or bindings).
Generic interfaces and grouped IOs for easy reuse and modular designs.
Generic circuits that can be instantiated and reused easily.
Explicit clock domains and reset signals.
Familiar syntax with both C and Verilog inspired elements.
Inter-operates with Verilog, allowing to import and reuse existing modules.
It’s an involved swap, requiring the substitution of several parts and surgery on the wiring loom. Cost of components was just 700 euros but the swap required 20 hours of labor. The vehicle in question is an early model Leaf that was already fitted with an upgraded 40 kWh battery, and the owner desired an upgrade to CHAdeMO fast charging to better use the larger pack.
The swap required the power distribution unit to be replaced, and the CHAdeMO port to be installed in the front of the car. The vehicle control module (VCM) also had to be opened in order to run a wire to a relay to activate the fast charging subsystem. Finally, wires had to be spliced to get everything to play nicely between the car and the fast charger.
[Daniel] had the benefit of quality forum resources and a Nissan Leaf that already had CHAdeMO to reference, which helped a lot. At the end of the day, the fast charger worked first time, much to [Daniel]’s relief. We’ve featured his work before, too. Video after the break.
Back before the industry agreed on the now ubiquitous clamshell form factor of portable computers, there were a class of not-quite-desktop computers that the community affectionately refers to as “luggable” PCs. These machines, from companies like Kaypro and Osborne, were only portable in the sense that their integrated design made it relatively easy to move them. Things we take for granted today, like the ability to run on battery power or being light enough to actually place in your lap, wouldn’t come until later.
For a contemporary take on this decades old concept, take a look at this fantastic build by [Ragnar84]. It packs a modern desktop computer and a 15.6 inch laptop display into a custom designed case, but like so many other projects, the devil is truly in the details for this one. Little touches such as the kickstand on the bottom, the removable handle on the top, and the right angle adapter that takes the HDMI output from the GeForce GTX 1060 video card and redirects it back into the case really add up to create a surprisingly practical computer that’s more than the sum of its parts.
While the case might look like your standard gamer fare, [Ragnar84] built the whole thing out of miniature T-Slot extrusion and custom-cut aluminum and acrylic panels. But not before modelling the whole thing in 3D to make sure all of his selected components would fit. For the most part the internals aren’t unlike a standard Mini-ITX build, though he did need to make a few special additions like a shelf to mount the driver board for the N156H LCD panel, and a clever clamp to hold down the rounded USB speakers.
We asked you to rethink what displays can look like and you didn’t disappoint. From almost 150 entries the judges have winnowed the list down to ten projects which are awarded a $500 prize and will go on to the final round of the 2021 Hackaday Prize in October.
This was the first of five challenges in the 2021 Hackaday Prize and the great news is that these finalists — all of which are listed below — will have until the end of October to refine their designs for the final judging round. Meanwhile the next round has already begun with the Refresh Work-From-Home Life challenge. Show off your solutions to being productive when working (or studying) from home while still preserving your personal life and your health.
Ten Finalists from the Rethink Displays challenge:
Back in September of 2019, I had the opportunity to climb aboard the restored B-17G bomber Nine-O-Nine as part of a national “Wings of Freedom” airport tour operated by the Collings Foundation. I was excited to get up close and personal with such an iconic aircraft, particularity since Hackaday gave me a platform to share the experience with a global audience. With fewer than 50 B-17s left in the world, and most of those in the United States, taking this sort of “virtual tour” was as close as most people would ever get to seeing what it was really like for the crews who operated these machines over the skies of Europe more than 75 years ago.
In the weeks and months that followed, many voiced their concerns over what the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) calls “Living History Flight Experience” aircraft such as those operated by the Collings Foundation. The main point of contention was whether or not these planes were too old to safely carry passengers, and by extension, whether continuing to fly them around the country presented a menace to the national airspace. Critics argued that whatever cultural benefit offered by the chance for the public to tour or ride these antique aircraft was not worth anyone losing their lives over; a line of logic that’s difficult to find fault in.
Then came COVID-19. By March of 2020, individual states had already started going into lockdown, and suddenly there were far more pressing matters to address than the fate of a few dozen teetering WWII aircraft. It was around this time that the FAA pulled the Collings Foundation’s license to conduct any more paid flights, but since outdoor gatherings such as airshows were being put on hold for the foreseeable future, the measure had little immediate impact. It was clear these airborne museum pieces were going to spend most of 2020 in their hangers anyway.
Now, thankfully, the pall of COVID-19 is finally beginning to lift over the United States. In response to widespread vaccine availability, most states are ending or at least reducing their restrictions on outdoor events. With major airshows like the “World War II Weekend” in Reading, Pennsylvania given the green light to proceed, these legendary aircraft are being awakened from their long slumber and making their first tentative flights of the post-pandemic era.
When it comes to inspiring a lifelong appreciation of science, few experiences are as powerful as that first glimpse of the world swimming in a drop of pond water as seen through a decent microscope. But sadly, access to a microscope is hardly universal, denying that life-changing view of the world to far too many people.
There have been plenty of attempts to fix this problem before, but we’re intrigued to see Legos used to build a usable microscope, primarily for STEM outreach. It’s the subject of a scholarly paper (preprint) by [Bart E.Vos], [Emil BetzBlesa], and [TimoBetz]. The build almost exclusively uses Lego parts — pretty common ones at that — and there’s a complete list of the parts needed, which can either be sourced from online suppliers, who will kit up the parts for you, or by digging through the old Lego bin. Even the illuminator is a stock part, although you’ll likely want to replace the orange LED buried within with a white one. The only major non-Lego parts are the lenses, which can either be sourced online or, for the high-power objective, pulled from an old iPhone camera. The really slick part is the build instructions (PDF), which are formatted exactly like the manual from any Lego kit, making the build process easily accessible to anyone who has built Lego before.
As for results, they’re really not bad. Images of typical samples, like salt crystal, red onion cells, and water fleas are remarkably clear and detailed. It might no be a lab-grade Lego microscope, but it looks like it’s more than up to its intended use.