USB-C Charging Mod Brings In The Juice

By now we’re well under way with the consolidation of low-voltage power supplies under the USB-C standard, and the small reversible connector has become the de facto way to squirt some volts into our projects. But for all this standardization there are still a few places where the harmony of a unified connector breaks down, and things don’t work quite the way they are supposed to. One such case has occupied [James Ide] — devices which will accept power from a USB-A to USB-C cable, but not from a USB-C to USB-C one. His solution? A small flexible PCB upgrade.

The problem lies with how different power supplies and peripherals identify each other, and quite likely in device manufacturers skimping on a few components here and there. A compliant USB-C power supply expects to see pull-down resistors on the data lines, and will thus refuse to serve power to devices that don’t possess them. Meanwhile the USB-A supply will quite happily serve juice without such checks, which is what the manufacturer is relying on. The solution is a tiny flexible PCB with the resistors, designed to be retrofitted behind a USB-C socket. On one hand it’s probably one of the simplest circuits we’ve ever shown you, and on the other it’s a cleverly designed solution to the issue at hand.

If the nitty-gritty of USB-C interests you, then we’ve taken a much closer look in the past.

Thanks to [Andrea] for the tip.

SquareBoi Is The DIY Game Boy Cart You’ve Always Wanted

Running unofficial code on a Nintendo Game Boy has long been a solved problem. However, you still need a way to get that code onto the handheld console. The Squareboi cartridge promises to do just that, as created by [ALXCO-Hardware].

It’s a well-featured cartridge, with up to 4 MB of ROM storage onboard. It also features a ferromagnetic RAM part for savegame storage, which doesn’t need a battery to hang on to your precious data. It’s designed to be compatible with the vast majority of Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, with efforts made to support the most common mapping schemes. It can be built using entirely through-hole components, and is readily programmable via an Arduino.

For those eager to tinker with code on the Game Boy, diving into the Squareboi is a great way to get closer to the bare metal and understand what’s really going on at the low level. Those interested in building their own can get all the relevant details over on Github.

We’ve seen similar hacks before, too, like the cartridge that brought Wikipedia to the humble Nintendo handheld. If you’ve been whipping up your own Nintendo hacks, be sure to drop us a line!

Halloween Mirror Offers A Mighty Fright

Jump scares are controversial in the horror world, whether you’re talking about movies or video games. You can bring that same irritating thrill into real life, too, with this Halloween mirror from [jasonwinfieldnz].

During the day, or simply when it’s bright inside, the mirror appears normal, like any other. However, behind the special two-way mirrored glass surface is a spooky 3D print, such as a skull or an annoying yellow cartoon character. When the lighting level gets low, everything changes. A light-dependent resistor hooked up to a Digispark detects the change, and then fires up some 5V LEDs to light the scary image, revealing it behind the mirror. Even better, it plays a loud screaming sound with the help of a DFplayer MP3 module.

We’d love to see the concept taken even further, too. It would be quite something if, when a passer-by approached, the room lights suddenly cut out and the mirror activated in its full glory.

We’ve seen some great Halloween builds over the years. If you’re eager to get one out this season, you might wanna get hacking now! Video after the break.

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Revamping The Camping Trailer With More Power

Pulling a trailer behind your bike has an aspect of freedom and exploration to it. However, the reality is that pulling a large, heavy box behind your bike is incredibly draining physically. So [Drew] returned to the drawing board for his bike camper and added a motor, making some tweaks along the way.

We covered his first attempt at a bike trailer; this update encompasses everything he mentioned as future improvements. First, he strengthened the axle, and the trailer mount bolted straight into the chainstay arm for added strength. Then he built a custom battery pack out of 18650 cells clocked in at just under 3kw. Next, he installed a hub motor kit into the bike’s back wheel. Finally, a flexible 100W PV solar panel was added to the roof and routed to a small battery bank inside that provides USB and a few AC outlets for laptops and phones while camping. [Drew] does note that he could charge the big e-bike battery with the smaller bank, but since the e-bike battery is much larger than the small one, it would take a few cycles.

[Drew] takes a journey to a music festival and is happy to report better stability and the battery having fantastic range even without him pedaling. We love seeing a good project revisited, and we hope [Drew] gets some good use out of his camper. Video after the break.

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2022 Hackaday Prize: Talking Clock Built With Old-School Gear

Any smartphone or laptop could be a talking clock if you wished it so. However, we think this build from [Marek Więcek] is more fun, which uses discrete vintage chips to get the job done the old fashioned way.

The work started when [Marek] was tinkering with a 65C02 CPU, giving it an EPROM, some RAM, and some logic ICs to create something akin to a modern microcontroller in functionality. It came to be known as the 6502 Retro Controller Board. Slowly, the project was expanded with various additional modules, in much the same way one might add shields to an Arduino.

In this case, [Marek] expanded the 6502-powered board with a series of 7-segment displays, along with an RTC to keep accurate time. A classic SP0256-AL2 speech synthesis chip was then added, allowing the system to not only show the time, but read it aloud, too. As a bonus, not only can it tell you the hour, minute, day, and date, but it will also read various science-fiction quotes on demand.

Like most 80s speech synths, the output is robotic and a little difficult to parse. However, that’s part of the charm that makes it different compared to the speaking virtual assistants of today.

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Ask Hackaday: How Can You Store Energy At Home?

Amidst the discussions about grid-level energy storage solutions, it is often easy to forget that energy storage can be done on the level of a single house or building as well. The advantages here are that no grid management is needed, with the storage (electrical, thermal, etc.) absorbing the energy as it becomes available, and discharging it when requested. This simplifies the scale of the problem and thus the associated costs significantly.

Perhaps the most common examples of such systems are solar thermal collectors with an associated hot water storage tank, and of course batteries. More recently, the idea of using a battery electric vehicle (BEV, ‘electric car’) as part of a home storage solution is also gaining traction, especially for emergencies where the grid connection has failed due to a storm or similar emergencies. But all-in-all, we don’t see many options for home-level energy storage.

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This Simple Media Player Will Inspire Beginners And Invite Experimentation

While it would have been considered science-fiction just a few decades ago, the ability to watch virtually any movie or TV show on a little slab that fits in your pocket is today no big deal. But for an electronics beginner, being able to put together a pocketable video player like this one would be quite exciting, and might even serve as a gateway into the larger world of electronics design.

For inspiration, [Alex] from Super Make Something on YouTube looked to the Rickrolling keychain media players we featured back in January. His player is quite a bit larger and more capable, with a PCB design that allows the player to be built in multiple configurations, from audio-only to full video and a LiPo battery. The guts of the player center around an ESP32 module, with an audio amp and speakers plus a 1.8″ LCD screen with SD card reader for storing media files. Add in a few controls and switches and a little code, and you’ll be playing back media files in a snap. Build info and demo in the video below.

It may be a simple design, but we feel like that’s the whole point. [Alex] has taken pains to make this as approachable a build as possible. All the parts are cheap and easily available, and the skills needed to put it together are minimal — with the possible exception of soldering down the ESP32 module, which lacks castellated edge terminals. For a beginner, getting a usable media player by mixing together just a few modules would be magical, and the fact that it’s still pretty hackable afterward is just icing on the cake.

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