The Nintendo 64 was one of the consoles that properly heralded in the era of 3D gaming. However, its controller is of a design we wouldn’t consider ideal today. For the FPS games that were so popular on the N64, a mouse and keyboard could do much better. [The Hypocaust] set out to make it happen.
The N64 polls the controller and receives button and analog stick data in return. Four bytes are sent by the controller, with 14 bits covering the buttons and 8 bits covering the horizontal and vertical axes of the analog stick, respectively. Thus, if keyboard presses and mouse movements from a PC could be pumped to a microcontroller which reformatted the data into signals the N64 could understand, everything would work nicely.
Initial attempts to get things working with code borrowed from a [James Read] faced an issue of a 3-second lag between keypresses and actions reaching the N64. Upgrading to a faster microcontroller only made things worse, taking the lag out to a full 16 seconds. The problem? The code borrowed for the project was storing keypresses in a buffer that was creating the delay. Once eliminated, the system worked.
Finally, someone decided to answer the question that nobody was asking: what if [Benjamin Franklin] had had a drone rather than a kite?
Granted, [Jay Bowles] didn’t fly his electricity-harvesting drone during a thunderstorm, but he did manage to reach some of the same conclusions that [Dr. Franklin] did about the nature of atmospheric electricity. His experimental setup was pretty simple: a DJI Mini2 drone with enough payload capacity to haul a length of fine-gauge magnet wire up to around 100 meters above ground level. A collecting electrode made of metal mesh was connected to the wire and suspended below the drone. Some big nails were driven into the soil to complete the circuit between the drone and the ground.
[Jay] went old-school for a detector, using a homemade electroscope to show what kind of static charge was accumulating on the electrode. Version 1 didn’t have enough oomph to do much but deliver a small static shock, but a larger electrode was able to deflect the leaves of an electroscope, power a beer can version of a Franklin bell, and also run a homemade corona motor. [ElectroBOOM] makes a guest appearance in the video below to explain the physics of the setup; curiously, he actually managed to get away without any injuries this time. Continue reading “Drone Replaces Kite In Recreation Of Famous Atmospheric Electricity Experiment”→
While conventional safes can be a good place to put valuables, sometimes it’s even better to hide your things where nobody will even look in the first place. [Wesley Treat] has a build that will allow you to do just that, which secrets away papers, money, or small items within the body of a bolt.
The build starts in a proper hacker fashion, using a power drill to turn an aluminium blank against a power sander creating an ersatz lathing setup. The outside of the blank is then threaded with the aid of a socket wrench and die, to great success. A cavity is created inside and threaded internally, and a separate head is then machined to screw on top. It’s all achieved without the use of a real lathe, with [Wesley]’s power drill doing most of the heavy lifting instead. It’s great stuff.
The end result has the appearance of a socket-head cap screw, while being lighter than a typical example due to the aluminium construction. Inside, there’s room for money, matches, and more, and [Wesley] even put in a small hole so the bolt can be used as an attractive keychain.
Put together on a piece of perfboard, the handwired circuit also includes an Adafruit PowerBoost 500 Charger, a 3.7 V 2500 mAh LiPo battery, a IS31FL3731 Charlieplexed PWM LED driver, and a piezo buzzer. The top of the rotary encoder has been capped off with a sold metal knob, which combined with the enclosure made of stacked laser cut 3 mm acrylic sheets, really gives the device a very sleek and classy look.
While the hardware is quite nice, it’s the software that really pulls this whole project together. A game developer by trade, [Martin] went all in on the timer’s GPLv3 licensed firmware. From using the toneAC library to play melodies at the end of the countdown, to the custom fonts and the code that pauses the timer while the user is spinning the knob, there’s plenty of little touches that should make the timer a joy to use. We’ve seen some unique kitchen timers over the years, but the attention to detail put into this build really raises the bar.
[Martin] has provided everything you need to create your own version of his timer, including the SVG file for the laser cut case. While not strictly required, coming up with a custom PCB for this project would be a nice touch, should you want to put your own spin on it.
You’ve finally decided to take the plunge and build a board with surface-mount parts. After carefully dispensing the solder paste with a syringe, it’s time to place the parts. You take up your trusty tweezers and reach to grab a SOIC-14 logic IC—only there’s not a great way to grab it. The IC is too long to grab one way and has leads obstructing the other. You work around the leads, drop the IC into place, and then pick up an 0402 resistor. You gently set the resistor into your perfectly dispensed solder paste, pull the tweezers away, and the resistor has stuck to your slightly magnetic tweezers. [Robin Reiter] realized that hobbyists and small manufacturers needed a better way to assemble their surface-mount designs, so he’s building the Pixel Pump Pick & Place, an open-source vacuum assembly tool.
Vacuum assembly tools use a blunt-tipped needle and suction to pick up surface-mount parts. Pressing an attached foot pedal disables the vacuum, allowing the part to be gently released. [Robin] thought to include a few thoughtful features to make the Pixel Pump even more useful. It has adjustable suction presets and a self-cleaning feature to blow out any solder paste you accidentally suck up. Most of the non-electronic parts are 3D printed, and [Robin] intends to make the entire design open-source.
Another day, another vulnerability. This time, it’s AMD’s turn, with a broad swathe of its modern CPU lines falling victim to a dangerous driver vulnerability that could leave PCs open to all manner of attacks.
As reported by TechSpot, the flaw is in the driver for AMD Platform Security Processor (PSP), and could leave systems vulnerable by allowing attackers to steal encryption keys, passwords, or other data from memory. Today, we’ll take a look at what the role of the PSP is, and how this vulnerability can be used against affected machines.
Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys peruse the great hardware hacks of the past week. There’s a robot walker platform that wirelessly offloads motor control planning to a computer. We take a look at automating your fishing boat with a trolling motor upgrade, building the Hoover dam in your back yard, and playing Holst’s Planets on an army of Arduini. Make sure you stick around until the end as we stroll through distant memories of Gopher, and peek inside the parking garages of the sea.
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!