We’ve talked about feature creep plenty of times around here, and it’s generally regarded as something to be avoided when designing a prototype. It might sound good to have a lot of features in a build, but this often results in more complexity and more difficulty when actually bringing a project to fruition. [Brendan] has had the opposite experience with this custom handheld originally designed for Game and Watch games, though, and he eventually added NES and Game Boy functionality as well.
As this build was originally intended just for Game and Watch games, the screen is about the size of these old games, and while it can easily mimic the monochrome LCD-style video that would have been present on these 80s handhelds, it also has support for color which means that it’s the perfect candidate for emulating other consoles as well. It’s based around a Raspberry Pi Zero 2W and the enclosure is custom printed and painted. Some workarounds for audio had to be figured out, though, since native analog output isn’t supported, but it still has almost every feature for all of these systems.
While we’ve seen plenty of custom portable builds from everything from retro consoles to more modern ones, the Game and Watch catalog is often overlooked. There are a few out there, but in this case we appreciate the feature creep that allowed this build to support Game Boy and NES games as well.
Hacks that bring a vintage flair to modern electronics never get old, and [Jeffrey Stephenson] delivers with his Project Clean Slate inspired by vintage tube amps.
Thinking outside the traditional single box PC, [Jeffrey] built his computer into a series of component-specific boxes all attached to a platform housing the Micro ATX motherboard. The base is made of plywood with a birds-eye maple veneer and each of the component boxes features two different sizes of wire mesh to manipulate the viewer’s perception of the dimensions. Even the I/O and graphics card plates are custom made from aluminum for this build.
If you really want to dig into how this PC came to life, there’s a very detailed build log including every step of the process from bare board to finished product. We love when we get an inside look at the thought process behind each design decision in a build.
We’ve featured [Jeffrey] before with his Humidor Cluster, and you may also like this PC inside a vintage radio.
Continue reading “Clean Slate Is A Vintage Amplifier-Inspired PC”
It’s a rare person who can pick up a cheap laser pointer and not wield it like a lightsaber or a phaser, complete with sound effects. There’s just something about the “pew-pew” factor that makes projecting a laser beam fun, even if it’s not the safest thing to do, or the most efficient way to the light from one place to another.
We suspect that [Les Wright] has pew-pewed his way through more than a few laser projects in his lab, including his latest experiments with fiber coupling of lasers. The video below is chock full of tips on connecting cheap communications-grade fiber assemblies, which despite their standardized terminations aren’t always easy to use with his collection of lasers. Part of the challenge is that the optical fiber inside the cladding is often very small — as few as 9 microns. That’s a small target to hit without some alignment help, which [Les] uses a range of hacks to accomplish.
The meat of the video demonstrates how to use a cheap fiber fault locator and a simple optical bench setup to precisely align any laser with an optical fiber. A pair of adjustable mirrors allow him to overlap the beams of the fault locator and the target laser precisely. The effects can be interesting; we had no idea comms-grade fiber could leak as much light through the cladding as this, and the bend-radius limits are pretty dramatically illustrated. [Les] teases some practical sensing applications for this in a follow-up video, which we’re looking forward to.
Looking for more laser fun with your remaining eye? Check out [Marco Reps] teardown of a 200-kW fiber laser.
Continue reading “Properly Pipe Laser Light Around With Homebrew Fiber Couplings”
Fair warning for readers with a weak stomach, the video below graphically depicts an innocent rubber band airplane being obliterated in mid-air by a smug high-tech RC helicopter. It’s a shocking display of airborne class warfare, but the story does have a happy ending, as [Concrete Dog] was able to repair his old school flyer with some very modern technology: a set of 3D printed propeller blades.
Now under normal circumstances, 3D printed propellers are a dicey prospect. To avoid being torn apart by the incredible rotational forces they will be subjected to, they generally need to be bulked up to the point that they become too heavy, and performance suffers. The stepped outer surface of the printed blade doesn’t help, either.
But in a lightweight aircraft powered by a rubber band, obviously things are a bit more relaxed. The thin blades [Concrete Dog] produced on his Prusa Mini appear to be just a layer or two thick, and were printed flat on the bed. He then attached them to the side of a jar using Kapton tape, and put them in the oven to anneal for about 10 minutes. This not only strengthened the printed blades, but put a permanent curve into them.
The results demonstrated at the end of the video are quite impressive. [Concrete Dog] says the new blades actually outperform the originals aluminum blades, so he’s has to trim the plane out again for the increased thrust. Hopefully the extra performance will help his spindly bird avoid future aerial altercations.
On the electrically powered side of things, folks have been trying to 3D print airplane and quadcopter propellers for almost as long as desktop 3D printers have been on the market. With modern materials and high-resolution printers the idea is more practical than ever, though it’s noted they don’t suffer crashes very well.
Continue reading “Printed Propeller Blades Repair Indoor Flyer”
Back in 2020, we reported on the effort to create a brand new open-source laptop platform using the PowerPC architecture. At the time they had big plans and a PCB design, and we’re very pleased to report that in the intervening two years they’ve progressed to the point of now having some real prototypes ready for testing.
Some might question why this should be necessary, after all there are plenty of laptops and more than one commonly available processor platform. But that’s to miss the point of open source hardware, that it’s as much about plurality as functionality. But if you’ve only encountered the PowerPC architecture in slightly older Macs and some game consoles, what’s the chip powering this device? The answer is, not one of those venerable chips, but the NXP T2080, a 1.8 GHz quad-core device that boasts a respectable power for a laptop.
There is of course many a hurdle still to be crossed between prototype and final device, but given the challenge of a functioning laptop it’s impressive for them to have reached this milestone at all. We look forward to seeing further iterations, and maybe, just maybe, a finished device one day. Our original coverage is here.
Car makers have been phasing out AM radios in their cars for quite some time. Let’s face it, there isn’t much on AM these days, and electric vehicles have been known to cause interference with AM radios. So why have them? For that matter, many aftermarket head units now don’t even have radios at all. They play digital media or stream Bluetooth from your phone. However, a U.S. Senator, Edward J. Markey, has started a letter-writing campaign to the major car makers urging them to retain the AM radio in their future vehicles.
So does that mean AM lives? Or will the car makers kill it off? The letter requests that the companies answer several questions, including if they plan to discontinue AM or FM radios in the near future and if they support digital broadcast radio.
Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: Will Your 2030 Car Have AM Radio?”
This week, Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams and Managing Editor Tom Nardi start the Hackaday Podcast by talking about another podcast that’s talking about…Hackaday. Or more accurately, the recent Hackaday Supercon. After confirming the public’s adoration, conversation moves on to designing flexible PCBs with code, adding a rotary dial to your mechanical keyboard, and a simulator that lets you visualize an extinction-level event. We’ll wrap things up by playing the world’s smallest violin for mildly inconvenienced closed source software developers, and wonder how the world might have been different if the lady of the house had learned to read binary back in 1969.
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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Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 196: Flexing Hard PCBs, Dangers Of White Filament, And The Jetsons’ Kitchen Computer”