Many of you will at some time have heard the unfortunate tale of [James Howells], a Welsh IT worker who threw away a hard drive containing 8,000 Bitcoin back in 2013. Over the years he’s hatched various schemes to persuade his local council to let him dig up the landfill where it’s reputed to be buried, and every time he’s been rebuffed. Despite the fall in the price of cryptocurrencies he’s back with another. With the added spice of AI and robot dogs alongside the cryptocurrency angle, it reads like a buzzword bingo card and adds a whole new meaning to “Bitcoin mining”. Seemingly despite generous offers the local council are still not keen on letting him dig for the drive.
We can’t help feeling sorry for the guy — after all, in the early days of cryptocurrency the coins were a worthless curiosity so it’s not impossible there are readers with similar stories. But we’re curious how well the drive will have survived its 9-year interment even if the AI robot arm and robot dog security would ensure its recovery. With that much cash at stake the best in the data recovery business will no doubt be unleashed on whatever remains they might recover, but in the unfriendly environment of a festering landfill we’d be curious as to whether chemical action might have corroded the platters to the point at which nothing might remain. Wales has a high rainfall unlike the American southwest, so we doubt it would survive as well as an Atari cartridge.
Meanwhile, tell us your cryptocurrency might-have-beens in the comments.
Landfill Site sign by Geographer, CC BY-SA 2.0.
With summer in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, millions of people are out on vacation leaving millions of homes empty. Thanks to modern technology it’s easier than ever to keep an eye on those empty homes: internet-connected cameras report suspicious activity, and smart-home devices like curtains and light bulbs can be operated from your holiday home. If you’ve got an aquarium and want to keep your fish well-fed during your vacation, then [FoxIS]’s internet-connected automated fish feeder might come in handy too.
The heart of the system is a 3D-printed mechanism that holds a bottle of fish food in a funnel and dispenses a set amount through a servo-operated shutter. The servo is driven by an ESP32 sitting inside an M5StickC IoT development kit. [FoxIS] wanted to use TinyGo for this project, which unfortunately meant that he couldn’t use the ESP32’s built-in WiFi system due to software limitations. He therefore connected the M5StickC to a Raspberry Pi, which he can log into from anywhere in the world to operate the feeding mechanism or to watch his aquatic pets through a USB camera.
Apart from automating the feeding process, the FishFeeder system also keeps track of the aquarium’s temperature through an IR thermometer and shows reminders for other maintenance tasks, such as changing the water or cleaning the filter. A minor inconvenience is the requirement to have that Raspberry Pi present for internet connectivity, but perhaps a future version of TinyGo will support WiFi on the ESP32 and make the FishFeeder a fully self-contained system.
While 3D-printing is an obvious choice for custom mechanisms like this, you can also make a much simpler system from a Tupperware bin and a drill bit. If metalworking is your thing, you can build really accurate fish feeders too.
Attention Hackaday editors: We on the writing crew hereby formally request budget allocation for installing a Stewart platform head massager on the chair of each workstation in the secret underground writer’s bunker. We think the benefits that will accrue thanks to reduced stress alone will more than justify the modest upfront costs. Thank you for your consideration.
OK, maybe that request is going nowhere, but having been on the receiving end of these strangely relaxing springy scalp stimulators, we can see where [David McDaid] was going with this project. As he clearly states up front, this is a ridiculously over-engineered way to get your scratchies on, but there’s very little not to love about it. Stewart platforms, which can position a surface with six degrees of freedom and range in size from simple ball balancers to full-blown motion simulators, are fascinating devices, and we can’t think of a better way to learn about them than by building one.
Like all Stewart platforms, [David]’s is mechanically simple but kinematically complicated, and he takes great pains to figure out all the math and explain it in an approachable style. The device is mounted with the end-effector pointed down, allowing the intended massagee to insert their noggin into the business end and receive the massage pattern of their choice. Looking at the GIFs below, it’s easy to see why [David] favors the added complexity of a Stewart, which makes interesting patterns like “The Calmer” possible. They’re all intriguing, although the less said about “The Neck Breaker” the better, we’d say.
Hats off (lol) to [David] for this needless complex but entertaining build.
Continue reading “Stewart Platform Wields Magic Fingers To Massage Your Scalp”
Typewriters may be long past their heyday, but just because PCs, word processor software, and cheap printers have made them largely obsolete doesn’t mean the world is better off without them. Using a typewriter is a rich sensory experience, from the feel of the keys under your fingers that even the clickiest of PC keyboards can’t compare with, to the weirdly universal sound of the type hitting paper.
So if life hands you a typewriter, why not put it back to work? That’s exactly what [Artillect] did by converting an 80s typewriter into a Linux terminal. The typewriter is a Brother AX-25, one of those electronic typewriters that predated word processing software and had a daisy wheel printhead, a small LCD display, and a whopping 8k of memory for editing documents. [Artillect] started his build by figuring out which keys mapped to which characters in the typewriter’s 8×11 matrix, and then turning an Arduino and two multiplexers loose on the driving the print head. The typewriter’s keyboard is yet used for input, as the project is still very much in the prototyping phase, so a Raspberry Pi acts as a serial monitor between the typewriter and a laptop. The video below has a good overview of the wiring and the software, and shows the typewriter banging out Linux command line output.
For now, [Artillect]’s typewriter acts basically like an old-school teletype. There’s plenty of room to take this further; we’d love to see this turned into a cyberdeck complete with a built-in printer, for instance. But even just as a proof of concept, this is pretty great, and you can be sure we’ll be trolling the thrift stores and yard sales looking for old typewriters.
Continue reading “Converting An 80s Typewriter Into A Linux Terminal”
We live in a time where great software is available with the click of a mouse, often for free or — at least — low cost. But there’s a problem: how do you select from so many alternatives? We were interested in [Lee Teschler]’s review earlier this year of 30 free circuit simulators. If you are selecting one or don’t like the one you are currently using, it is well worth the time to review.
There are several on the list that you’ve probably heard of before like GNUCap and LTspice. There are also some lesser-known products. Some of those are just trial or student versions of paid products. Some are branded versions of commercial products (like Tina) or were made free after selling for higher price tags (like MicroCap 12).
Old favorites like Falstad (which is apparently known as Circuit Sims) and TinkerCAD made the list. Many of the trial versions were very limited. For example, DCAClab only provides an NPN bipolar transistor model. Proteus doesn’t let you save or print unless you pay. While the list includes TI’s Tina, it doesn’t seem to mention that TI also provides a free version of PSpice which is a very popular professional product.
While the capsule descriptions are nice, you may want to dig in a little on the ones you are most interested in. For example, Falstad has a great mixed mode that can even include an AVR microprocessor. But there were a few on the list we had not heard of and maybe you’ll find something new there, too.
When we talk about emissions these days, we typically talk about cutting them back for the good of the environment. However, the climate system is a complex beast, and one we’re still learning to understand.
As it turns out, cutting back on emissions may have unexpected or undesirable effects. Some scientists are concerned that cuts to human-induced sulfur emissions may actually be warming the Earth.
Continue reading “Reduced Sulfur Emissions Could Cause Climate Shock”
To some folx, puzzles are the ultimate single-player game, but to others, they are like getting a single Tootsie Roll on Halloween. [Shane] of Stuff Made Here must fall into the latter category because he spent the equivalent of 18 work-weeks to make a robot that solves them automatically. Shots have been fired in the war on puzzles.
The goal of this robot is to beat a hybrid idea of two devilish puzzles. The first is all-white which could be solved by taking a piece at random and then checking its compatibility with every unsolved piece. The second is a 5000-piece monster painted white. There is a Moby Dick theme here. Picking up pieces like a human with fingers is out of the question, but pick-and-place machines solved this long ago, and we learn a cool lesson about how shop-air can create negative pressure. Suction. We wonder if anyone ever repurposed canned air to create a vacuum cleaner.
The meat of this video is overcoming hurdles, like a rhomboidal gantry table, helping machine vision see puzzle pieces accurately, and solving a small puzzle. [Shane] explains the solutions with the ear of someone with a technical background but at a high enough level that anyone can learn something. All the moving parts are in place, but the processing power to decode the puzzle is orders of magnitude higher than consumer machines, so that will wait for part two.
Continue reading “Jigsaw Puzzles Are Defeated”