We’ve seen credit card-sized computers before, but [Kn/vD] shows us a PIC18-based computer with 9 components that is only 2 mm thick! With 13 K of RAM and 128 K of flash, you can’t do much with it, but a built-in BASIC interpreter can use half the flash like a disk drive and operate with the 20×4 LCD display and the PCB touch-panel keyboard.
The whole thing only has eleven parts, but that’s only because it needed ancillary components like decoupling capacitors and the battery along with a physical reset switch. All the real functions are in the CPU and the LCD display. The schematic is online, but we didn’t see the files for the PCB or the interpreter yet, but it sounds like they are forthcoming. Meanwhile, we wonder if anyone is up to the challenge of going even thinner.
[Kn/Vd] loves small computers. There are plans for a few other versions of the board with AVR and PIC24 processors. The last time we saw a tiny module from [Kn/vD] it ran C. If you check out other Hackaday.io projects on the account, there are several tiny computers there. If you want a business card that can run Linux, you might need to go a little bit thicker.
Electronics components are steadily moving away from through hole parts to using surface mount technology (SMT) exclusively. While the small size of the SMT components can be intimidating, with a little practice, soldering can come pretty naturally. To help folks get over their fear of soldering small parts, [Alpenglow Industries] have created a charming board to practice SMT soldering skills on.
[Alpenglow Industries] board, called the “SMT Garden”, combines a variety of SMT sizes ranging from 0402 to 1206 with beautiful PCB artwork to highlight the variety of LEDs on board. [Alpenglow Industries] provides detailed instructions on the various aspects of SMT soldering including what the terminology is and providing various techniques to help in soldering. The boards have practice “stalks” of surface mount component pads, so that folks can practice on columns of similarly sized SMT components to perfect their technique. The training stalks themselves aren’t functional but are there to provide practice for when folks feel comfortable soldering the LEDs, 555 timer and inverter chips to make the board functional.
[Alpenglow Industries] have provided all the KiCAD project files, gerbers and schematics available online. SMT soldering is more accessible than ever and when you can even use your phone as a microscope, it’s a good excuse to try it out, if you haven’t already.
Being an early adopter is great if you enjoy showing off new gadgets to your friends. But any new technology also brings the risk of ending up at the wrong side of a format war: just ask anyone who committed to HD-DVD fifteen years ago. If, on the other hand, you were among the few who invested in CD-ROM when it was first released in the mid-1980s, you definitely made the right choice when it came to storage media. However, it was a bit of a different story for the interface that hooks up the CD drive to your computer, as [Tech Tangents] found out when he managed to get his hands on a first-generation CM100 drive. (Video, embedded below.)
That wonderful piece of 1985 technology is not much smaller than the IBM PC it was designed to connect to, and it originally came with its own CM153 ISA interface card. But while most eBay sellers recognized the historic value of a pioneering CD-ROM drive, the accompanying PC was typically a dime-a-dozen model and was thrown out with the rare interface card still inside. Even after searching high and low for over a year, the only information [Tech Tangents] could find about the card was a nine year old YouTube video that showed what the thing looked like.
Luckily, the maker of that video was willing to take high-resolution pictures of the card, which allowed [Tech Tangents] to figure out how it worked. As it turned out, the card was entirely made from standard 7400 series logic chips as well as an 8251 USART, which meant that it should be possible to design a replacement simply by following all the traces on the board. [Tech Tangents] set to work, and after a few weeks of reverse-engineering he had a complete schematic and layout ready in KiCAD.
After the PCBs were manufactured and populated with components, it was time to test the new card with the old drive. This wasn’t a simple process either: as anyone who’s tried to get obscure hardware to work in MS-DOS will tell you, it involves countless hours of trying different driver versions and setting poorly documented switches in CONFIG.SYS. Eventually however, the driver loaded correctly and the ancient CD-ROM drive duly transferred the files stored on a Wolfenstein 3D disk.
If you’re lucky enough to own a CM100 or a similar drive from that era, you’ll be happy to know that all design files for the CM153 clone are available on GitHub. This isn’t the first time someone has had to re-create an interface board from pictures alone: we’ve seen a similar project involving a SCSI card for a synthesizer. Thanks for the tip, [hackbyte]!
Continue reading “Reverse-Engineering An ISA Card To Revive An Ancient CD-ROM Drive”
Opinions vary as to what actually constitutes a “complete” shop, but one thing is for sure: the more tools, the better. That doesn’t mean running out to buy a tool every time you have a need, of course. Sometimes you can throw together what you need from scrap, as with this ad hoc sandblaster. (Video, embedded below.)
Fans of junk builds — and we mean that with the highest respect — will want to pay special attention to [GARAGEUA]’s video below. It looks like pretty much everything he uses to make this sandblaster comes from the junk pile — bits of old plumbing fixtures, a blow gun that’s seen much better days, some old nuts and bolts, and even a deceased spark plug all make an appearance. That last one is perhaps the most interesting, since with some clever dissection the spark plug’s body and its ceramic insulator were used for the nozzle of the sandblaster. And best of all, no lathe was needed for this job — everything was done with a hand drill and an angle grinder. Check out the build details in the video below; you might pick up some useful tips.
We’ve featured even junkier sandblaster builds before, but this one is a clever way to save a few bucks and flex a bit on your mechanical ingenuity. If you need a sandblaster and it’s something you’re going to use again and again, by all means go out and buy one — we won’t judge. But rolling your own is cool too.
Continue reading “Home Brew Sandblaster Is A Junk Bin Delight”
[Rob]’s IP00-Minus watch stands out on the Cyberdeck Contest project list page; it’s clear he decided to go a different path than most other hackers, and we can certainly see the advantages. For example, if there’s no case, there’s no need to redesign it each time you want to add a module — and [Rob] has added many, many modules to this watch.
Picking between regular LCD, memory LCD, and OLED displays can be a tricky decision to make when planning out your gadget, so he just added all three. The CircuitPython firmware initially attempted to resist the trio, but was eventually defeated through patching. Jokes aside, we can almost feel the joy that [Rob] must have felt after having put this watch on for the first time, and this project has some serious creative potential for a hacker.
[Rob] has been focusing on day-to-day usability first and foremost, with pleasantly clicky encoders, impeccable performance of its watch duty, unparalleled expandability, and comfortable wrist fit — it provides a feeling no commercial wearable could bring.
Out of the myriad of sensors, the air quality sensor has been the most useful so far, letting him know when to open a window or leave a particularly crowded place. The ESP32-S3 powered watch has been quite a playground for [Rob]’s software experiments, and given the sheer variety of hardware attached, we’re sure it will bring unexpected synergy-driven ideas. Plus, it’s no doubt a great conversation starter in nerd and non-nerd circles alike.
Good things happen when you give hackers a wrist-worn watch full of sensors, whether it’s a particularly impressive event badge, a modified firmware for an open source smartwatch, or a custom piece that pushes the envelope of DIY hardware.
The return of Supercon is taking place in just a month. We’ve got 45 fantastic talks and workshops planned for the three-day weekend, and they are as varied and inspiring as the Hackaday community itself. From molecules to military connectors, here’s an even dozen talks to whet your appetite.
Supercon is the Ultimate Hardware Conference and you need to be there! We’ll continue to announce speakers and workshops over the next couple weeks. Supercon will sell out so get your tickets now before it’s too late. And stay tuned for the next round of talk reveals next week! Continue reading “2022 Hackaday Supercon Speakers Will Inspire You”
You can buy small modules with capacitive touch detection ICs — most often it’s the TTP223, a single-button capacitive model with configurable output modes. These are designed to pair with a microcontroller or some simple logic-level input, but [Alain Mauer] wanted was to bring touch control to a simple LED strip. Not to be set deterred, he’s put together a simple TTP223-based switch board.
Initially, he made a prototype using one of the regular TTP223 boards as a module, but then transferred the full schematic onto a single PCB. The final board uses an NPN transistor capable of handling up to 3 amps to do the switching job, and Zener-based regulation to provide 5 V for the TTP223 itself from the 12 V input. [Alain] shares the schematic, as well as BOM together with Gerber files for a 2×3 panel in case you’re interested in adding a few of these handy boards to your parts bin.
The TTP223 is a ubiquitous and quite capable chip – we’ve seen it used for building a mouse with low actuation force buttons, a soft power switch, and even a UV-sensing talisman that’s equal parts miniature electronics and fascinating metalwork.
Continue reading “TTP223 Brings Simple Touch Controls To A LED Lamp”