If you have a soft spot for a Z80 computer but want a new operating system experience, try Zeal. You can watch a demo of the open-source OS in the video below.
As you might expect, the whole system is written in Z80 assembly language. The features you expect are there: files, directories, device drivers, a clock, and even memory banking to support up to 16M of memory. The work isn’t totally done, nor is the initial target computer — Zeal — but it looks like a great piece of work so far and will be of interest to anyone who has a Z80.
Some of you may know that the British monarch has two birthdays, but three Norths, what on earth is going on? You’ll guess that two of them are true North, pointing to the North Pole, and magnetic North, pointing to the Earth’s north magnetic field, but how about the third? It’s grid North — the north of the country’s mapping grid system in which the curved surface is projected onto a flat sheet.
It aligns with true North at 2 degrees West of Greenwich, and the news is that for the first time ever due to movement of the magnetic North Pole, the three different Norths will align at a point in the south of England. Magnetic North has been on the move at some pace over the last few decades, from a position somewhere in the Canadian Arctic islands northwards, and it so happens that for Brits its direction is briefly aligned with our view of the Pole. The Ordnance Survey story is of some interest, but for a wealth of information it’s worth consulting NASA. Take a look at the video below the break.
The Slingbox devices used to let you catch up with the programming on your TV when you weren’t near it, using your Internet-connected mobile device. As cable TV became less popular, their business model faded away, and in 2020, they scheduled a service shutdown for November 9th, 2022. If you own a Slingbox, it’s getting bricked tomorrow – for those reading this in EU, that’ll be today, even. Do you have a Slingbox? You might still be able to repurpose it, let’s say, for local media streaming – but only if you waste no time.
[Gerry Dubois] has been developing the “Slinger” software for the past few months, a small app you run locally that proxies commands and video for your Slingbox, thanks to reverse-engineering communications with Slingbox servers. However, it needs a “hardware password” alphanumeric string, that you need to get from the Slingbox service web interface – which is to be promptly shut down. If you think you might have a use for what’s essentially a network-connected analog/digital video capture card with decent hardware, the GitHub repo has a lively discussion tab for any questions you might have.
One one hand, Slingbox shouldn’t be bricking the devices in a way that requires you act fast – perhaps, releasing a final update that makes the device hacker-friendly, like O2 did with their Joggler appliance back in the day, publishing the hardware documentation, or at least setting up a service up that lets anyone retrieve their hardware password indefinitely. On the other hand, at least they gave us two years’ notice, something less than usual – the amount of time between bricking and an announcement can even be a negative number. For those of us stuck with no operational device, a hardware exploration might be in order – for instance, we’ve torn down the Sling Adapter and even ran simple custom code on it!
[Adrian] had a Commodore computer to fix and decided to see how his latest tiny portable scope would work. He paid $57 for the tiny little test instrument although the current price seems higher. It claims to have 120MHz bandwidth along with 500 megasamples per second. There are several versions with different claimed specs, but we did find a similar device for under $60. You can see the unboxing and how it worked in the video below.
Of course, these kinds of instruments often overstate their specs, and [Adrian] was also suspicious. One odd feature of the device is it can echo its output to an NTSC video output so you can send the screen to an external monitor.
Sometimes, you really need a custom shelf. Whether you have a weird-shaped space, weird-shaped stuff, or just want something different, making your own shelving can make your place more like home. The Plus Shelf by [shurly] aims to make building your own shelves a little easier with a 3D printed bracket.
These connectors aren’t just sitting flush against the wood of the shelf. Each end of the + sign actually sits in a 3/8″ drilled recess, giving a more secure fit. The pieces were printed on an Objet and then dyed in various bright shades to really make the shelving pop. The cubbies were assembled with biscuits after cutting down a sheet of plywood to the appropriate sizes. The 45˚ angles around the edges of the cubbies make the whole shelf system that much nicer.
The final shelf has a little wobble, but that’s probably because dying the shelf connectors made them “bendy.” Because of the instability with the friction fit, the shelf connectors were super glued into the shelf boxes. [shurly] hopes that a metal version of the connectors might be able to eliminate these problems in the future.
Oh, the places plastic has taken us. One of the arguably better inventions might be the fake carve-able pumpkin, which is more or less guaranteed not to shrivel up and rot on your porch, though it might get smashed by wily teenagers along with its organic brethren next door.
Though they will be around much longer, the fake kind lend themselves to all kinds of creations, including this one from [BunkEbear] which was “a nightmare” to build. Yeah, we bet it was along the lines of [Aaron Rasmussen]’s spherical keyboard, except inside out, since that one’s concave.
This tasty keyboard is modeled after the Malling-Hansen writing ball, which is arguably the first commercial typewriter and dates to 1865. [BunkEbear]’s pumpkin version features the 54-key layout, plus two additional for Shift and Escape to suit modern needs. Since the inside of the pumpkin is pretty small, [BunkEbear] wired all the connections close together on the protoboard, and used JST extension cables between the Glorious Panda switches themselves and the Arduino Pro Micro.
The build starts with a motorized corner desk frame that can be bought from amazon for just $550. To create the chevron-finish top, [WoodCraftly] grabbed some plywood sheets, and cut them into a series of 1-inch strips. These were then flipped 90-degrees onto their side, and glued together to create a panel that showed off the individual layers of the plywood. This panel was then cut into 3-inch wide strips at a 45-degree angle, and these strips were then placed back to back and once again glued up to create the attractive herringbone design.
From there, it was a simple matter of gluing up panels into the L-shape required for the desk, adding mounting holes, and rounding off the corners for a nice finish. The desk was also given a thick coat of epoxy on the bottom which soaked into the wood and helped give the desk some strength, and a top coat that was sanded back to a natural-look finish.