Fixing A 30-year Old Roland Bug

The Roland CM-500 is a digital synthesizer sound module released in 1991 that combines two incredibly powerful engines into one unit. However, in 2005 enthusiasts of the Roland MT-25 (one of the engines that went into the CM-500) noticed a difference between the vibrato rate on the MT-25 and the CM-500, rendering it less useful as now midi files would need to be adjusted before they sounded correct. Now thirty-something years later, there is a fix through the efforts of [Sergey Mikayev] and a fantastic writeup by [Cloudschatze].

They reached out to Roland Japan, who decided that since the device’s lifecycle had ended, no investigation was warranted. That led the community to start comparing the differences between the two systems. One noticeable difference was the change from an Intel 8098 to an 80C198. In theory, the latter is a superset of the former, but there are a few differences. First, the crystal frequency is divided by three rather than two, which means the period of the LFO would change even if the crystal stayed the same. Changing the 12 MHz crystal out for 8 MHz gave the LFO the correct period, but it broke the timings on the MIDI connection. However, this is just setting the serial baud rate divisor, which requires changing a few bytes.

Replace the ROM chip with a socket so you can slot your newly flashed PDIP-28 64kx8 ROM into a quick desoldering. Then swap the crystal, and you’ll have a machine that matches the MT-25 perfectly. The forum post has comparison audio files for your enjoyment. Finally, if you’re curious about other fixes requiring an inspiring amount of effort and dedication, here’s a game installer that was brought back from the dead by a determined hacker.

Ugliest Airplane Ever Built Predicted The Future

The airplane that many called “the flying barrel” is also widely considered the ugliest plane ever built. However, [Dark Skies] in the video you can see below argues that the Stipa-Caproni was the direct predecessor of the turbofan engine. Either way, it is an interesting and unique part of aviation history.

The plane was built in the days when inventors were experimenting with many different ways to improve aircraft utility and performance. In this case, the inventor built an “intubated propellor” which used a prop to draw air through a venturi tube in an effort to improve engine efficiency. The 570kg vehicle had a wingspan of just over 14 meters and was a bit more than 6 meters long. It could reach about 72 knots and climb to over 3 km.

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$60 Laser Makes The Cut With New Controller

If you are reading the Lightburn forums, you probably already have a laser cutter of some kind.  But, if you are like most of us, you can always be tempted into another “deal.” [Dkj4linux] has a post where he bought a $79 laser engraver  (now selling for between $59 and $65, we noticed). Like most of these cheap engravers, the machine takes a proprietary controller with Windows-only software. No surprise that [Dkj4linux] would want to use…um… Linux. The answer? Rip the board out and replace it with an old spare.

The machine looks well constructed, as you can see in the video below. For that price, you get a 3-watt laser head (that is likely way less than that in terms of optical power), and a build area of 220x290mm. The controller was in a small metal enclosure, and it was easy to simply unplug the two axis and the laser control cable.

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Power Tool Hack Takes A New Angle On RC Power Plants

For eons, hacker minded people have looked at various items their pile of stuff, came up with an outlandish idea and thought “I wonder if it would work?” Some of us stop there, convincing ourselves that it’s a bad idea that could never work. Others of us such as [Peter Sripol] are well known for not just having those thoughts, but for having the grit to explore them to their impractical limit, such as is shown in the video below the break.

Peter begins by adapting a model airplane propeller to his 9500 RPM battery powered grinder, and then checks thrust with different propellers to see which seemed most efficient. Then [Peter] did what any aerospace engineer out of their right mind would do: He had his brother design the resulting aircraft, which was inspired by an obscure German WWII asymmetric aircraft design.

Did it fly? It did, and you can see a couple of iterations of it tooling around in the video. But what happened next was equally interesting: First, a grinder powered single bladed helicopter and its subsequent hilarious failure, and its slightly more successful successor.

We’ve of course covered many angle grinder hacks, such as this fixture for perfect cuts (something notoriously difficult to do with a handheld grinder), but this is the first time we’ve seen an angle grinder fly out of more than frustration.  Do you have your own angle grinder hack to spin our way? Be sure to let the Tip Line know!

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Retro Speaker Becomes The Perfect Micro PC

We’ve seen many cyberdecks and home built computers in our time here at Hackaday, but we’ve not seen many so tiny and so neatly built as this one from [Carter Hurd]. It takes the form of a tiny retro PC with a working display and keyboard, and we like it a lot.

The diminutive computer started life as a neat little retro themed Bluetooth speaker that a company bravely sent him for a project when he declined the chance to review it. Out came the speaker and electronics, and in went a USB Blackberry keyboard with a custom made bezel where the speaker’s keys had been.

The display is a 4″ LCD designed for a Raspberry Pi, and somewhat incredibly, he trimmed its corners to fit into the case. Making the curved CRT-style display front was achieved with vacuum form plastic, and a new display bezel was 3D printed.

A full-size Raspberry Pi fits in the base of the unit, and here he admits that it’s not the tidiest job. Perhaps a Pi Zero would have been more unobtrusive, but either way from the top and front it’s a really cute little machine. It may not be the only tiny cyberdeck we’ve seen, but it’s certainly a well-built one.

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Leading Edge Erosion: When Precipitation Destroys Wind Turbine Blades

Erosion is all around us, from the meandering course of rivers and other waterways, to the gradual carving out of channels in even the toughest mountains, and the softening of features in statues. Yet generally we expect erosion from precipitation to be gradual and gentle, taking decades to make a noticeable difference. This of course takes into account gentle flows and the soft pitter-patter of rain on stone, not turbine blades passing through the air at many times the terminal velocity of rain drops of up to 9 m/s.

As wind turbines have increased in size and diameter of their blades, this has noticeably increased the speed of especially the blade tips. With more and more wind turbine blade tips now exceeding speeds of 100 m/s, this has also meant a significant increase in the impact of rain drops, hail and other particulates on the lifespan of these turbine blades. As comparison, 100 m/s is 360 km/h (224 mph), which is only slightly slower than the top speed of a Formula 1 car.

The effect of turbine blade leading edge erosion (LEE) not only decreases aerodynamic efficiency, but also invites premature failure. Over the past years, special coatings and leading edge tapes have been developed that act as sacrificial surfaces, but as wind turbines only keep getting larger, so does the effect of LEE. Beyond simply replacing LE tape every year on every turbine, what other options are there?

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Hackaday Wants You: Be A Supercon Volunteer

Spot the volunteers! (Hint: red shirts. And you know what happens to the red shirts…)

The Supercon approaches! If you are thinking of attending, but the cost of admission is too steep, one way to get in for free is to volunteer. That’s three wonderful days of events, two nights of partying, lunch, dinner, and of course Supercon. All you have to do is help us run the show.

Volunteers help out all around, giving out schwag bags, hustling speakers here and there, and just generally working behind the scenes to make Supercon super. We’re looking for three four-hour shifts over the whole long weekend,

So if you’re interested in helping out, and you’d like to get in free and get super volunteer-only gear to boot, put in your application now. We’ll be accepting volunteers until October 20th and getting in touch by email on October 24th.

Of course, we just announced the first round of speakers, we’ve got the badge reveal coming up, and much, much more. Follow along here, or at for more info.