Raspberry Pi Pico Replaces PlayStation Memory Card

It’s almost hard to believe these days, what with modern game consoles packing terabytes of internal storage, but there was a time when the totality of your gaming career would be stored on an external memory card that held just a few megabytes of save data. Of course, before that you had to write down a sequence of random letters and numbers to pick up where you left off, but that’s a story for another day.

While the memory card concept might be quaint to the modern gamer, its modular nature does provide the hacker with some interesting avenues to explore. For example, take a look at the very impressive PicoMemcard project from [Daniele Giuliani]. Hardware wise, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. You just take the PCB from a cheap (or dead) PlayStation memory card, and solder seven jumpers to the edge connector contacts so you can plug them into the Pico. Then you’ve just got to upload the firmware to the Pico, and you’re done. Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Pico Replaces PlayStation Memory Card”

Another Rubik’s Cube Robot Is Simple But Slow

[AndreaFavero] says that the CuboTino emphasizes simplicity and cost-savings over speed. However, solving the puzzle in about 90 seconds is still better than we can do. The plucky solver uses a Pi and a camera to understand what the cube looks like and then runs it through a solver to determine how to move.

Watching the video below, we were impressed with the mechanics. The titled surface solves a few problems and makes manipulation easier. The way the mechanics are arranged, it only takes a pair of servos to flip the cube around as you like. Continue reading “Another Rubik’s Cube Robot Is Simple But Slow”

Helium Recovery System Saves Costs

Helium is the most common element in the universe besides hydrogen, but despite this universal abundance it is surprisingly difficult to come across on Earth. Part of the problem is that it is non-renewable, so unless it is specifically captured during mining its low density means that it simply escapes the atmosphere. For that reason [Meow] maintains a helium recovery system for a lab which is detailed in this build.

The purpose of the system is to supply a refrigerant to other projects in the lab. Liquid helium is around 4 Kelvin and is useful across a wide variety of lab tests, but it is extremely expensive to come across. [Meow]’s recovery system is given gaseous helium recovered from these tests, and the equipment turns it back into extremely cold liquid helium in a closed-cycle process. The post outlines the system as a whole plus goes over some troubleshooting that they recently had to do, and shows off a lot of the specialized tools needed as well.

Low-weight gasses like these can be particularly difficult to deal with as well because their small atomic size means they can escape fittings, plumbing, and equipment quite easily compared to other gasses. As a result, this equipment is very specialized and worth a look. For a less lab-based helium project, though, head on over to this helium-filled guitar instead.

side by side of upscaling in the AGI engine

Upscaling The Sierras

If you played many games back in the mid-80s to 90s, you might remember the iconic graphics from Sierra’s Online Adventure Games. They were brightly colored (16 colors) and dynamic with some depth. To pay homage, [eviltrout] worked to upscale the images. Despite being rendered at 160×200 at 16 colors and then stretched, storing all those bitmaps even at only 4 bits per pixel would take all the storage available on the floppy disk. The engineers on the game decided instead to take a vector approach to a raster problem.

When [eviltrout] came through to try and upscale the backgrounds, he started by writing some code to extract the draw commands from the engine of the game, known as Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI). Comparing the vector commands to equivalent PNG versions with the best compression, the AGI vector versions were around half the size. Not bad for a couple of game developers in the 80s. Since it is all vector commands under the hood, it should be relatively simple to draw them at a much higher resolution. At least, that’s what he thought. The first issue was with flood fills. Since the canvas is larger, there are gaps between lines, and the flood escapes. A few approaches were taken, such as using a low-resolution reference and marching squares, but neither was satisfactory. Eventually, [eviltrout] expanded flood fills and used thicker lines. He also first rendered to a lower resolution and connected neighboring lines of the same color. Finally, he used ImageMagick to denoise white specs in the output.

We find the effect charming, but some might say you’re distorting art into what the artist never intended to be. But, as with all graphical enhancements, some artistic liberties are being taken without the original artist involved. The code is available on GitHub under an MIT license. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Upscaling The Sierras”

Odd Inputs And Peculiar Peripherals: Touch This Macro Pad

The need to provide custom controls for complex software packages has been satisfied in many ways, the most usual of which is to have a configurable keypad. It’s a challenge [Meir Michanie] has taken up in a slightly different way, by creating a custom touch-screen macro pad. Unlike the buttons, this allows entirely custom layouts with different shaped keys in any configuration.

At its heart is a versatile ESP32 touch screen development board of the type that can be found easily among the pages of your favorite online electronics mart. The Arduino IDE has been used to program the device, and configuration is as simple of providing it with a PNG of the desired layout, and a CSV file to define the buttons. The whole then connects via BLE where it’s presented to the host computer as a keyboard. The result is one of the coolest macro pads we’ve ever seen, with a limitless number of options.

With such a neat idea it’s perhaps no surprise among the numbers of macro pads that have made it to these pages there might be another take on the same idea.

Art of 3D printer in the middle of printing a Hackaday Jolly Wrencher logo

3D Printering: Today’s Resins Can Meet Your Needs

Filament-based 3D printers spent a long time at the developmental forefront for hobbyists, but resin-based printers have absolutely done a lot of catching up, and so have the resins they use. It used to be broadly true that resin prints looked great but were brittle, but that’s really not the case anymore.

A bigger variety of resins and properties are available to hobbyists than ever before, so if that’s what’s been keeping you away, it’s maybe time for another look. There are tough resins, there are stiff resins, there are heat-resistant resins, and more. Some make casting easy, and some are even flexible. If your part or application needs a particular property, there is probably a resin for it out there.

Continue reading “3D Printering: Today’s Resins Can Meet Your Needs”

Low-Cost Nanopositioning Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, June 15 at noon Pacific for the Low-Cost Nanopositioning Hack Chat with En-Te Hwu!

It may sound like a provocative statement to make, but technology has been on a downward trend for a long time. That’s not a moral or ethical proclamation, but rather an observation about the scale of technology. Where once the height of technology was something like a water-powered mill, whose smallest parts were the size of a human hand and tolerances were measured in inches, today we routinely build machines by etching silicon chips with features measured in nanometers, look inside the smallest of cells and manipulate their innards, and use microscopes that can visualize materials at the atomic level.

The world has gotten much, much smaller lately, and operating on that scale requires thinking about motion in a different way than we’ve been used to. Being able to move things at nanometer resolutions isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible, and it can even be accomplished on a DIYer’s budget — if you know what you’re doing.

join-hack-chatTo help us sort through the realities of nano-scale positioning, En-Te Hwu, a professor at the Technical University of Denmark who works on micromachines for intelligent drug delivery, has spun up some really interesting low-cost nanopositioning systems. Using old DVD players or off-the-shelf linear slides, he’s able to achieve nanoscale movement and sensing for a variety of purposes. He’ll stop by the Hack Chat to discuss how we can build nanopositioning and sensing into our projects, and to start exploring the world we can’t even see.

Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, June 15 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.

Featured image:  Low-cost, open-source XYZ nanopositioner for high-precision analytical applications, CC-BY-4.0

Continue reading “Low-Cost Nanopositioning Hack Chat”