We should probably have a new metric for measuring mass storage performance: bytes per pound. An old IBM tape drive from the S/360 days, for example, could hold almost 6 megabytes of data. It also weighed more than a typical refrigerator. Today, a tiny postage-stamp-sized card can hold gigabytes of data and weighs — at most — a few ounces. Somewhere in the middle is the old 8 inch floppy drive. At its peak, you could cram about 1.2 megabytes on it, but even with the drive you could lift it all in one hand. These disks and their descendants ruled the computing world for a while. [Adrian asks the question: can you use an 8″ floppy drive on a PC? The answer is in the video below.
He didn’t do it on a lark. [Adrian] is getting ready to restore a TRS-80 Model II so he wanted to create some 8″test floppies. But how do you marry a 40-something-year-old drive to a modern computer? He had a few drives of unknown condition so there was nothing to do but try to get them working.
Continue reading “8″ Floppy On Your PC?”
A month ago Microsoft officially released Windows 11. One of its features is the ability to run Linux GUI applications side by side as peers to normal Windows desktop apps. [Jim Salter] of Ars Technica took a closer look and declared it works as advertised.
This is an evolution of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which has existed for a few years but only in command-line form. Linux being Linux, it was certainly possible to put visuals onscreen, but doing so required jumping through some hoops and dealing with limitations. Now “WSLg” gives a smoother and more accessible experience.
While tremendously valuable for those who need it, WSLg is admittedly a niche feature. The circumstances will be different for different needs. Around these parts, one example is letting us work with pieces of proprietary Windows software (such as low level hardware drivers or hardware-specific dev tools) while still retaining Linux tools for the rest of our workflow.
It’s also interesting to take a peek behind the scenes for an instructive look at bridging two operating systems. A Microsoft blog post describes the general architecture, where we were happy to see open-source work leveraged. And by basing this work on Wayland, it is more forward-looking than working with just X11.
The bad news is that WSLg is limited to Windows 11, at least for now. WSL users on Windows 10 will have to continue jumping through hoops (We described one method using X11.) And opening this door unfortunately also opened the door to security issues, so there’s still work ahead for WSL.
[JanHerman] knows that tuning musical instruments is all about precision and that precision is measured in a logarithmic unit called a cent. A cheap tuner unit might be accurate to 1.5 cents which sounds good until you look at one for ten times the price and find it is accurate to 0.1 cents. So you can spend $800 for precision or $60 for something less. [Jan] decided to build something better and cheaper using a 32-bit Arduino and a DDS frequency generator chip on a breakout board.
Oddly enough, the device doesn’t have a display. Instead, it generates a precise frequency and couples it to the piano using a transducer. You tune the string to the corresponding note. The post has a lot of detail about how piano tuning works.
Continue reading “Arduino Piano Tuner Is Pitch Perfect”
Swinging an axe to split firewood is great exercise and a wonderful way to blow off steam. However, if you’re not a muscled-up Hollywood character that needs to do some emotional processing, it can get pretty dull. Building a powered log splitter could make the work less strenuous, as [Made in Poland] demonstrates. (Video, embedded below.)
The build relies on a big electric motor, which is connected to a set of gears via a big belt drive. Those gears subsequently drive a rack forward when engaged via a lever, which pushes a log towards a splitter blade. The blade itself is a beautifully simple thing, being made out of a flat piece of steel bar carved up with a saw to form a pointy wedge.
The machine is remarkably effective, and greatly reduces the effort required to split even large 30 and 45 cm logs, as demonstrated in the video. We’ve featured a rundown on a few different designs before, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Kinetic Log Splitter Gets The Job Done Kinetically”
The twin challenges of the pandemic and now the semiconductor shortage have been particularly hard on the designers of event badges, as events have been cancelled and uncertain supply issues render their task impossible. When an event goes virtual, how do you even start to produce a badge for it? Make the badge and rely on enough stalwarts buying one? Or maybe produce a badge that’s a fancy take on a prototyping board?
For Hackaday Remoticon 2021, [Thomas Flummer] has produced a novel take on the second option by distributing a badge as a set of KiCAD files that can either be ordered from a PCB fab as a prototyping board or used as the canvas for a PCB to use whatever components are to hand. To demonstrate this, he’s produced an example badge that’s a MicroMod carrier.
So if you’d like to chase the full Remoticon experience with a badge there should still be enough time to order a set of boards, but to design your own electronics you’ll need to get a move on. What you might build upon it is up to you, but if you have an ESP32 module lying around you might wish to consider cloning the SHA2017 badge or its successors with the badge.team platform.
We’ve seen Thomas’ work before more than once on these pages, most notably as the man behind the BornHack badges.
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is not nearly as infamous as CO2, with the latter getting most of the blame for anthropogenic climate change. Yet while measures are being implemented to curb the release of CO2, for SF6 the same does not appear to be the case, despite the potentially much greater impact that SF6 has. This is because when released into the atmosphere, CO2 only has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1, whereas that of methane is about 28 over 100 years, and SF6 has a GWP of well over 22,000 over that same time period.
Also of note here is that while methane will last only about 12.4 years in the atmosphere, SF6 is so stable that it lasts thousands of years, currently estimated at roughly 3,200 years. When we touched upon sulfur hexafluoride back in 2019 in the context of greenhouse gases, it was noted that most SF6 is used for — and leaks from — high-voltage switchgear (mechanical switches), transformers and related, where the gas’ inert and stable nature makes it ideal for preventing and quenching electrical arcing.
With the rapid growth of highly distributed energy production in the form of mostly (offshore) wind turbines and PV solar parks, this also means that each of these is equipped with its own (gas-filled) switchgear. With SF6 still highly prevalent in this market, this seems like an excellent opportunity to look into how far SF6 usage has dropped, and whether we may be able to manage to avert a potential disaster.
Continue reading “Sulfur Hexafluoride: The Nightmare Greenhouse Gas That’s Just Too Useful To Stop Using”
Here at Hackaday, we pride ourselves on bringing you the very freshest of hacks. But that doesn’t mean we catch all the good stuff the first time around, and occasionally we get a tip on an older project that really should have been covered the first time around. This remarkable circuit sculpture clock is a perfect example of one that almost got away.
[Gislain Benoit] creation is called “The Tower” for good reason: it’s built inside what amounts to a giant glass test tube. Inverted and adorned with MDF discs, the Pyrex tube stands 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, and is absolutely stuffed with electronic goodness. There are more than 2,100 discrete components mounted inside on a helical framework of carefully bent wires, forming a vertical sculpture that displays the time on three separate pairs of seven-segment displays. All the diode-transitor logic circuits are built from discrete components; nary a chip was used, and to spice things up, [Gislain] used LEDs in place of regular diodes everywhere in the circuit. The result is a constant light show as the clock goes through its paces.
The whole thing looks amazing, and even the power supply at the base works in the overall presentation. The design is a bit of a departure from [Gislain]’s previous circuit sculpture clock, but it’s just as beautiful, and equally as mind-boggling in terms of construction difficulty.
Thanks to [Maarten] for the belated tip on this one.