Most consumer remote controls operate using infrared light. This works well assuming the piece of equipment has a line of sight to the remote. But if you have, say a receiver in a cabinet or closet, the IR remote signal can’t reach the sensor. Some equipment has remote receivers that you can leave poking out, but it is still not very handy. That’s why some equipment now uses RF remotes. [Xtropie] used a pair of inexpensive 433 MHz RF modules to convert an IR system to RF. You can see a short video about the project below.
We might have been tempted to simply put an IR LED on the receiver so it could feed IR into the device sensor, but [Xtropie] took a different approach. He found the IR sensor and tied the RF receiver directly into its output. It seems to work, but we probably would have removed the IR sensor to make sure there were no conflicts.
Arguably one of the most important pieces of software to have in your hardware hacking arsenal is a nice serial terminal emulator. There’s plenty of choice out there, from classic command line tools to flashier graphical options, which ultimately all do the same thing in the end: let you easily communicate with gadgets using UART. But now you’ve got a new choice — instead of installing a serial terminal emulator, you can simply point your browser to the aptly-named serialterminal.com.
Well, maybe. As of this writing it only works on Chrome/Chromium (and by extension, Microsoft Edge), so Firefox fans will be left out in the cold unless Mozilla changes their stance on the whole Web Serial API concept. But assuming you are running the appropriate browser, you’ll be able to connect with your serial gadgets with a simple interface that should be familiar to anyone who’s worked with more traditional terminal software. In a quick test here at the Hackaday Command Center, we were able to bring up the Bus Pirate UI with no problems using Chrome on Linux. Continue reading “Web Serial Terminal Means It’s Always Hacking Time”→
There are several projects you can imagine where it would be useful to have a robot follow you. For example, we’ve always wanted luggage that would trail us at the airport and we’ve seen several coolers that will follow you. [Madmax95] apparently dream of having a medical cart following a patient, though, and that’s good too. But how do you do it? [Max’s] method was to strip down a Roomba and build a work table and electronics on it. An Arduino controls the motor and communicates with a PC. The PC reads video from a Kinect camera on the robot and uses special tracking software to follow the patient.
We could easily imagine all of this project except the tracking. That depended on a service called Nuitrack. There is a free version that only works for 3 minutes, but it costs if you want to use it practically. However, it would still be cheaper than rolling your own if your time has value.
Scanning electron microscopes are one of those niche instruments that most of us don’t really need all the time, but would still love to have access to once in a while. Although we’ve covered a few attempts at home-builds before, many have faltered, except this project over on Hackday.IO by user Vini’s Lab, which appears to be still under active development. The principle of the SEM is pretty simple; a specially prepared sample is bombarded with a focussed beam of electrons, that is steered in a raster pattern. A signal is acquired, using one of a number of techniques, such as secondary electrons (SE) back-scattered electrons (BSE) or simply the transmitted current into the sample. This signal can then be used to form an image of the sample or gather other properties.
The project is clearly in the early stages, as the author says, it’s a very costly thing to build, but already some of the machined parts are ready for assembly. Work has started on the drive electronics for the condenser stigmator. This part of the instrument takes the central part of the rapidly diverging raw electron beam that makes it through the anode, and with a couple of sets of octopole coil sets, and an aperture or two, selects only the central portion of the beam, as well as correcting for any astigmatism in the beam. By adjusting the relative currents through each of the coils, a quadrupole magnetic field is created, which counteracts the beam asymmetry.
Scanning control and signal acquisition are handled by a single dedicated card, which utilises the PIO function of a Raspberry Pi Pico module. The Pico can drive the scanning operation, and with an external FTDI USB3.0 device, send four synchronised channels of acquired sample data back to the host computer. Using PCIe connectors and mating edge connectors on the cards, gives a robust and cost effective physical connection. As can be seen from the project page, a lot of mechanical design is complete, and machining has started, so this is a project to keep an eye on in the coming months, and possibly years!
The retrocomputing community are experts at keeping vintage Apple iron running, but if you’re looking for a simpler way to pay homage to the original Mac, check out this Raspberry Pi powered ‘desk accessory’ by [John Calhoun], fittingly called ‘SystemSix’.
Housed inside a delightfully Mac-shaped piece of laser-cut acrylic, SystemSix is powered by as Raspberry Pi 3, with the graphics displayed on a sizeable 5.83″ e-ink panel. While it resembles a kind of retro-futuristic take on the ‘classic’ Macintosh, SystemSix is the illusion of a fully interactive computer. While non-interactive, the fake desktop is every bit as charming as a real Macintosh display, albeit scaled down. The desktop updates automatically with new information, and presently includes a calendar, dithered lunar phase graphic, and a local weather report.
Clearly calling it a ‘desk accessory’ is a neat play on words. The original Macintosh implemented simple desk accessory programs, such as the calculator and alarm clock, that could run alongside the main application in memory. This was the only way to run more than one application on the Macintosh, before MultiFinder added rudimentary cooperative multitasking in 1987. As such, SystemSix is a functional, stylish and quite literal ‘desk accessory’.
[John] has the full project write-up over on GitHub, and goes into great detail about maintaining the Macintosh aesthetic. For example, the lunar phase graphic uses ‘Atkinson’ dithering. This technique was pioneered by Apple programmer Bill Atkinson, the author of MacPaint and the QuickDraw toolbox on the original Macintosh (and later, Hypercard).
And in case you were wondering – yes, this is the [John Calhoun], who programmed Glider for Macintosh. Now recently retired from Apple, we’re really excited to see what other Macintosh-inspired creations he comes up with. Maybe he will come back around to his Mac-powered MAME cabinets that we covered all the way back in 2005. Or perhaps a sleeper battlestation, like the iMac G4 lampshade that was upgraded with an M1 processor.
From a performance standpoint we know building a homebrew Raspberry Pi cluster doesn’t make a lot of sense, as even a fairly run of the mill desktop x86 machine is sure to run circles around it. That said, there’s an argument to be made that rigging up a dozen little Linux boards gives you a compact and affordable playground to experiment with things like parallel computing and load balancing. Is it a perfect argument? Not really. But if you’re anything like us, the whole thing starts making a lot more sense when you realize your cluster of Pi Zeros can be built to look like the iconic Cray-1 supercomputer.
This clever 3D printed enclosure comes from [Kevin McAleer], who says he was looking to learn more about deploying software using Ansible, Docker, Flask, and other modern frameworks with fancy sounding names. After somehow managing to purchase a dozen Raspberry Pi Zero 2s, he needed a way to keep them all in a tidy package. Beyond looking fantastically cool, the symmetrical design of the Cray-1 allowed him to design his miniature version in such a way that each individual wedge is made up of the same identical set of 3D printed parts.
In the video after the break, [Kevin] explains some of the variations the design went through. We appreciate his initial goal of making it so you didn’t need any additional hardware to assemble the thing, but in the end you’ll need to pick up some M2.5 standoffs and matching screws if you want to build one yourself. We particularly like how you can hide all the USB power cables inside the lower “cushion” area with the help of some 90-degree cables, leaving the center core open.
The International Space Station was built not only in the name of science and exploration, but as a symbol of unity. Five space agencies, some representing countries who had been bitter Cold War rivals hardly a decade before the ISS was launched, came together to build something out of a sci-fi novel: a home among the stars (well, in Low Earth Orbit) for humans from around the globe to work with one another for the sake of scientific advancement, high above the terrestrial politics that governed rock below. That was the idea, at least.
So far, while there has been considerable sound and fury in social media channels, international cooperation in space seems to continue unhindered. What are we to make of all this bluster, and what effects could it have on the actual ISS?