You Can Now Bootstrap Your Amiga Without A Floppy With This One Weird Trick

Traditionally, most Amigas were intended to boot from a floppy disk. . An Amiga can readily make its own boot floppy, but only once it’s already booted up. If you don’t have a floppy ready to go, you’re out of luck, as PCs can’t readily make them for Amigas. [Roc] whipped up the amigaXfer bootstrapping method to solve this very problem.

Shorting a couple of pins together can unlock a serial debug mode that can be used for bootstrapping the machine.

Available on Github, the amigaXfer tool is able to perform several tasks with an Amiga via its serial port. The Amiga must first be turned on while plugged into another computer running amigaXfer via serial connection. When the Workbench floppy prompt comes up, the CrashEntry feature on amigaXfer should be triggered, and the BERR and GND pins on the Amiga’s 68000 CPU should be connected just for a split second, triggering the Amiga to go into a special serial debug mode. This enables amigaXfer to take control, allowing a disk to be formatted and written with a debug bootblock, and this disk can then be used to boot the Amiga without the need for the hack.

It’s a nifty way to get your Amiga up and running if you’ve just bought it off eBay and it didn’t come with any disks. From here, you can use amigaXfer to load other programs onto the Amiga via the same serial cable you used for the bootstrapping process, too. The hack isn’t limited to just the Amiga 500, either. It should work on a range of machines, including AmigaOS versions 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x.

Unlike the Commodore 64, we probably won’t see brand new replica Amigas anytime soon, but we can dream. As always, if you’ve got ’em, send your hottest Amiga projects into the tipsline!

Old CRT Television playing Luigi's Mansion on a rusted out bike (Original Photo by Anete Lusina)

Luigi’s Mansion First Person Mod Brings Spooky New Perspective

The Nintendo GameCube in many ways defied expectations. It was purple, it had buttons shaped like beans, and it didn’t launch with a Mario game. What we got instead was the horror-adjacent ghost adventure game starring Mario’s brother — Luigi’s Mansion. The game was a graphical showpiece for the time, however, the camera angles were all fixed like an early Resident Evil game. Not satisfied with playing within those bounds, modder [Sky Bluigi] created a first person camera patch for the game that finally let players see why Luigi was so freaked out all the time.

The patch dubbed Luigi’s Mansion FPO (First Person Optimized) does a lot to drive home the game’s child-friendly, spooky aesthetic. Along with the ability to explore environments with a new lens, it provides the ability to turn the flashlight on and off manually if you want. Though the most impressive part of Luigi’s Mansion FPO is that it runs on real hardware. All that’s needed to play the mod is clean image of the North American release of Luigi’s Mansion and a .xdelta patching utility like Delta Patcher. GameCube games can be ripped directly to a USB thumb drive using a soft-modded Nintendo Wii console running Clean Rip or similar backup tool.

Luigi’s Mansion FPO actually provides a collection of patches that offer revised controls and increased field of view depending on which patch is used. The original game had inverted controls for aiming Luigi’s ghost vacuum, so the “Invert C-Stick Controls” patch will install a more modern aiming scheme where up on the right stick will aim upwards and vice versa. The “Better FOV” pulls the camera a little further back from where Luigi’s head would be while the original aiming scheme is retained. Though no matter which patch you decide to go with, a mod like this is always a good excuse to revisit a cult classic.

For another fresh GameCube mod check out this post about a Raspberry Pi Pico based modchip for the system.

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Driving Three-Color E-Paper Pricetags With An Arduino

ePaper pricetags are becoming popular parts in the hacker community as a cheap way into tinkering with the technology. [Aaron Christophel] got his hands on a 4.4″ model with red, black, and white colors, and set about programming an ESP32 to drive the price tag instead.

The protocol the display uses was reverse-engineered by prompting the display to update via RF and monitoring the signals sent to between microcontrollers on the display’s control board. Once the protocol was understood, one of the microcontrollers could then be removed and replaced with an ESP32 for direct control. Implementing this takes some disassembly and some delicate soldering, but it’s nothing that should scare off an experienced hacker.

With the right code flashed to the ESP32, as available on Github, it’s possible to run the display directly. The hacked code does a great job driving the display, showing crisp lines and clean colors that indicate the e-Paper display is running properly.

We’ve seen [Aaron’s] work before in this area, when he hacked simpler two-color e-ink price tags. He’s also gone so far as creating entire wall displays out of salvaged displays, which is quite the sight. Video after the break.

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Dylan showing off his giant tractor video game controller

Real Tractor Moonlights As Farming Simulator Controller

Around October, amid all the pumpkin spiced food and beverages, folks make their yearly pilgrimage to a local farm. They load themselves onto hay-filled tractor trailers and ride out in search of the perfect pumpkin to put on the front porch, and let it slowly decompose. The “closest” a video game has come to replicating this seasonal event is the annual Farming Simulator series. One modder, [Dylan], decided to add an extra level of authenticity to the Farming Simulator experience by controlling the game with an actual tractor.

The opportunity for the project presented itself thanks to a local Kiwi farmer (Kiwi as in New Zealand, not the fruit) who provided [Dylan] with access to a Case IH 310 Magnum CVT tractor. [Dylan] built a custom USB controller that mirrored the actual layout of the tractor’s control pad. Tilt sensors were wrapped around the tractor’s steering wheel and throttle to provide analog input for steering and speed control. After a number of hours tweaking the setup on site, [Dylan] live-streamed his Farming Simulator PC play session (video below) with the tractor itself left off for obvious reasons. Without tractor motor engaged there was no power steering, so he deserves a bit of extra credit for making it through multiple hours.

This certainly isn’t the first ridiculous controller project [Dylan] has taken on. He’s created a trombone controller to just to play Trombone Champ, a Nerf bow controller for Overwatch, and he even played through Hades using a literal pomegranate. You can watch more of [Dylan’s] custom controller projects on his Rudeism Twitch channel.

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Mini Mars Rover Runs On Pi Pico W

NASA’s Mars Rovers are robots that have inspired many budding engineers around the world. [Nikodem Bartnik] had a particular fondness for them himself, and set out to build a miniature version of his very own.

The Raspberry Pi Pico W is the brains of the operation, serving as both microcontroller and remote wireless link for control. The robot uses four mecanum wheels for locomotion, with each getting its own motor. This allows the robot to move in all directions simply by rotating the wheels in different configurations. On top, the rover sports a articulated robot arm controlled by servos, which allows it to pick things up and put them down. Plus, there’s an FPV camera on top that delivers a video feed so the robot can be driven remotely. This is achieved over WiFi, thanks to a bit of custom control code written in Python.

It’s a surprisingly capable bot on smooth surfaces, as the mecanum wheels allow strafing and other movements that regular wheels simply can’t do. It’s also fun having a bot that can interact with its environment, thanks to its motorized appendages.

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Cursive Out Loud: Dealing With Dragons

When we last left this broadening subject of handwriting, cursive, and moveable type, I was threatening to sing the praises of speech-to-text programs. To me, these seem like the summit of getting thoughts committed to what passes for paper these days.

A common thread in humanity’s tapestry is that we all walk around with so much going on in our heads, and no real chance to get it out stream-of-consciousness style without missing a word — until we start talking to each other. I don’t care what your English teacher told you — talking turns to writing quite easily; all it takes is a willingness to follow enough of the rules, and to record it all in a readable fashion.

But, alas! That suggests that linear thinking is not only possible, but that it’s easy and everyone else is already doing it. While that’s (usually) not true, simply thinking out loud can get you pretty far down the road in a lot of mental vehicles. You just have to record it all somehow. And if your end goal is to have the words typed out, why not skip the the voice recorder and go the speech-to-text route?

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Hackaday Podcast 191: Researchers Parse Starlink, Switches Sense Muscles, And LFT Plays The Commodordion

This week, Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams and Staff Writer Dan Maloney get together for a look at everything cool under the hardware-hacking sun.

Think you need to learn how to read nerve impulses to run a prosthetic hand? Think again — try spring-loaded plungers and some Hall effect sensors. What’s Starlink saying? We’re not sure, but if you’re clever enough you can use the radio link for ad hoc global positioning. Historically awful keyboards, pan-and-scan cable weather stations, invisibility cloaks, plumbing fittings for electrical controls — we’ll talk about it all. And if you’ve never heard two Commodore 64s and a stack of old floppies turned into an electronic accordion, you really don’t know what you’re missing.

Download it your own bad self!

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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