Restoring vintage electronics is a difficult hobby to tackle. Even the most practical builds often have to use some form of modern technology to work properly, or many different versions of the machine need to be disassembled to get a single working version. Either way, in the end someone will be deeply hurt by the destruction of anything antique, except perhaps with [Marco]’s recent tiny arcade with a unique CRT display.
The CRT is a now-obsolete technology, but Arcade and MAME purists often seek them out because of the rounded screen and vintage feel these devices have when compared to modern LCD or LED displays. For a build this small, though, [Marco] couldn’t just use parts from an old TV set as there wouldn’t be clearance in the back of the cabinet. An outdated video conferencing system turned out to have just the part he needed, though. It has a CRT mounted perpendicularly to a curved screen in order to reduce the depth needed dramatically.
The final build uses a tiny Namco system meant to plug into the RCA jack on a standard TV, but put in a custom case that makes it look like an antique video game cabinet. It’s an interesting build that doesn’t destroy any valuable antique electronics, while still maintaining a classic arcade feel. If you’re building a larger arcade cabinet which will still satisfy the purists out there, make sure you’re using a CRT with the right kind of control system.
Continue reading “Tiny Arcade Uses Tiny CRT”
The widespread adoption of the CAN bus (and OBD-II) in automobiles was largely a way of standardizing the maintenance of increasingly complicated engines and their needs to meet modern emissions standards. While that might sound a little dry on the surface, the existence and standardization of this communications bus in essentially all passenger vehicles for three decades has led to some interesting side effects, like it’s usage in this project to display some extra information about an electric car’s battery.
There’s not a ton of information about it, but it’s a great proof-of-concept of some of the things CAN opens up in vehicles. The build is based on a Citroën C-Zero (which is essentially just a re-badged Mitsubishi i-MiEV) and uses the information on the CAN bus to display specific information about the state of charge of the battery that isn’t otherwise shown on the car’s displays. It also includes a build of a new secondary display specifically for this purpose, and the build is sleek enough that it looks like a standard part of the car.
While there are certainly other (perhaps simpler) ways of interfacing with a CAN bus, this one uses off-the-shelf electronics like Arduino-compatible microcontrollers, is permanently installed, and has a custom case that we really like. If you’re just starting to sniff around your own vehicle’s CAN bus, there are some excellent tools available to check out.
Thanks to [James] for the tip!
Continue reading “Probing CAN Bus For EV Battery Info”
Back in the early days of the home computer revolution, data was commonly saved on tape. Even better, those tapes would make an almighty racket if you played them on a stereo, because the data was stored in an audio format. The Simple Universal Modem from [Anders Nielsen] is built to work in a similar way, turning data into audio and vice versa.
The project consists of a circuit for modulating data into audio, and demodulating audio back into data. It’s “universal” because [Anders] has designed it to be as format-agnostic as possible. It doesn’t matter whether you want to store data on a digital voice recorder, a cassette deck, or an old reel-to-reel. This build should work fairly well on all of them!
On the modulation side of things, it’s designed to be as analog-friendly as possible. Rather than just spitting out rough square waves, it modulates them into nice smooth sine waves with fewer harmonics. On the demodulation side, it’s got an LM393 comparator which can read data on tape and spit out a clean square wave for easy decoding by digital circuitry.
If you find yourself trying to recover old data off tapes, or writing to them for a retrocomputing project, this build might be just what you need. [Anders] even goes as far as demonstrating its use with an old reel-to-reel deck in a helpful YouTube video.
There really were some weird ways of storing data way back when. Just ask IBM. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Simple Universal Modem Helps Save And Load Data From Tape”
Sometimes you need to display a number nice and large, making it easily readable at a good distance. [Lewis] has just the thing for that: a big expandable 7-segment display.
The build is modular, allowing it to be extended from 2 to 10 digits and beyond. The digits themselves are made of 3D-printed parts assembled onto acrylic. These can then be ganged up in a wooden frame for displaying larger numbers with more digits. Individual elements are lit by addressable LEDs, and the project can be built using an Arduino Nano or an ESP8266 for control. The latter opens up possibilities for controlling the screen over WiFi, which could prove useful.
[Lewis] has built his own version for a local swim club, where it will be used as a laptimer. Other applications could be as a scoreboard in various sports, or to confuse your neighbours by displaying random numbers in your front yard.
We’ve seen a similar build from [Ivan Miranda] that served well as a workshop clock, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “You Can Build A Giant 7-Segment Display Of Your Very Own”
Laptop computers may be ubiquitous today, but there was a time when they were the exclusive preserve of rich businesspeople. Back in the early ’90s, the significant added cost of portability was something that few were willing to pay. As a result, not many laptops from those days survive; for those that do, keeping them running can be quite a challenge due to their compact construction and use of non-standard components.
[Adalbert] ran into these problems when he got his hands on a Toshiba T3200SXC from 1991. As the first laptop ever to feature a color TFT display, it’s very much worth preserving as an historical artifact. Sadly, the original display was no longer working: it only displayed a very faint image and went completely blank soon after. Leaky capacitors then destroyed the power supply board, leaving the laptop completely dead. [Adalbert] then began to ponder his options, which ranged from trying to repair the original components to ripping everything out and turning this into a modern-computer-in-an-old-case project.
In the end he went for an option in between, which we as preservationists can only applaud: he replaced the display with a modern one of the correct size and resolution and built a new custom power supply, keeping the rest of the computer intact as far as possible. [Adalbert] describes the overall process in the video embedded below and goes into lots of detail on his hackaday.io page.
Connecting a modern LCD screen was not as difficult as it might seem: where the old display had an RGB TTL interface with three bits per color, the new one had a very similar system with six bits per color. [Adalbert] made an adapter PCB that simply connected the three bits from the laptop to the highest three bits on the screen. A set of 3D-printed brackets ensured a secure fit of the new screen in the classic case.
For the power supply [Adalbert] took a similar approach. He designed a PCB with several DC/DC converters that fit easily inside the computer’s case, leaving enough space to add a battery. This made the old Toshiba more portable than it ever was — believe it or not, the original T3200SXC could only be used with a mains connection.
Once the laptop was restored to working order, [Adalbert] added a few finishing touches: a sound card and speakers made it suitable as a gaming platform, and a network card gave it rudimentary online capabilities. The end result is a T3200SXC that looks and feels exactly the way it did when it was new, but with a few added features. That’s a really satisfying result: many classic laptop projects add modern computing hardware, or even completely replace the original contents. You might also want to check out [Adalbert]’s unusual 3D printer based PCB manufacturing technique that he used for the new power supply.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2022: Repairing A Vintage Laptop With Modern Components”
The oddly prophetic 2006 comedy film Idiocracy features an isotonic drink called Brawndo, whose marketing continuously refers to its electrolytes as a miraculous property. Brawndo is revealed in the film to be useless for agricultural irrigation, but yesterday perhaps a couple of Hackaday writers could have used a bottle or two. At the MCH hacker camp, the record heat of a Dutch summer under the influence of global warming caused us to become dehydrated, and thus necessitated a trip to the first aid post for some treatment. We’d done all the right things, staying in the shade, keeping as cool as we could, eating salty foods like crisps, and drinking plenty of liquids, so what had gone wrong?
Perhaps Club-Mate Should Have An Isotonic Version
The answer will probably be obvious to trained observers, we’d become deficient in those electrolytes. Our bodily stocks of sodium and potassium salts had become exhausted by sweat and all that extra water requiring trips to the toilet, so while we weren’t dehydrated in liquid terms we had exhausted some of the essentials to our cellular function.
The symptoms would have been easy to spot given the right training, but at a hacker camp it was too easy to attribute a headache and tiredness to a late night. For me the point at which it became obvious something was significantly wrong came when my thought processes started to slow down and my movement became a lot less easy. I’m a long-distance walker and cyclist, yet here I was walking like an octogenarian. If I’d know what to spot I might also have noticed that I had stopped sweating despite the heat. I found a friend (Thanks Gasman!), and together we made our way to the first aid post. MCH2022 first aiders were very efficient, and I was given a cup of oral rehydration salts which restored me to health in a matter of minutes. Continue reading “Electrolytes, They’re What Dehydrated Hackaday Writers Crave!”
Building and flying model rockets is great fun. Eventually, though, the thrill of the fire and smoke subsides, and you want to know more about what it’s doing in the air. With a thirst for knowledge, [archy587] started building a project to monitor the vital stats of rockets in flight.
The project mounts an M0 Feather microcontroller board into the rocket, along with a 900 MHz LoRa transmitter and a GPS module. This allows the rocket’s journey to be measured and logged, and is particularly useful for when a craft floats off downrange during parachute recovery. There’s also a relay module onboard, which dumps power from a dedicated separate battery into the rocket motor igniter. This allows the rocket to be fired wirelessly.
On the ground, the setup uses an ESP32 fitted with another LoRa module to receive signals from the rocket. It’s designed to hook up to an Android smartphone over its USB-C port. This allows data received from the rocket to be displayed in an Android app, including the rocket’s GPS location overlaid on Google Maps.
Being able to remotely ignite your rockets and track their progress brings some high-tech cool to the launch pad. You’ll be upgrading your rockets with micro flight controllers and vectored thrust in no time. Just be sure whatever tech you’re using is compliant with the rules for model rocketry in your local area.
Continue reading “Launch And Track Your Model Rockets Via Smartphone”