A Modern Tribute To The Classic HP-16C Calculator

The HP-16C Computer Scientist is much beloved as the only dedicated programmer’s calculator that Hewlett-Packard ever made. Most surviving examples in the world are well-used, and you haven’t been able to order one from HP since 1989. Thus, [K Johansen] set about building a tribute to the HP-16C using modern hardware.

The build relies on a Raspberry Pi Pico as the brains of the operation. As with so many classic HP calculators, it operates in Reverse Polish Notation, and includes the customary stack operations. To serve a programmer well, it’s set up to accept entry in hexadecimal, octal, decimal, and binary formats, and can readily convert between them. Beyond that, it’s equipped with the usual arithmetic operators, as well as bitwise operations like NOT, AND, and so on.

Perhaps what we love most, though, is the keypad. It was all put together with a combination of cheap AliExpress keypads, a label maker, and a laser printer. It’s a wholly DIY job, and a little rough around the edges, but it makes the calculator far easier to use.

It’s not an exact replica of the HP-16C, but the differences in operation are minor.Those wishing to build their own can grab the required files from the project’s Github page. We’ve seen replicas of other classic HP calculators before, too. If you’ve got your own mathematical projects brewing up in the lab, don’t hesitate to send them in to the tipsline!


Chumby Gets New Kernel… Soon

If you missed the Chumby, we’re sorry.  They were relatively inexpensive Linux appliances that acted as a clock, Internet radio, and feed reader. The company went belly up, although there was some functionality remaining thanks to one of the founders and now, for a subscription fee, you can still keep your Chumby operating. However, [Doug Brown] bought one with the goal of using it for his own applications. But the 2.6.28 kernel is showing its age. So he decided to push a new kernel on the device.

If you are a Chumby enthusiast, don’t get too excited. The goal isn’t to provide the existing Chumby apps with a new kernel, [Doug] says that’s probably impossible. Instead, he wants a modern booting infrastructure and kernel on the device for his own software.

Continue reading “Chumby Gets New Kernel… Soon”

Sliding Wrench Leaves A Little To Be Desired

[Ben Conrad] received an interesting tool as a gift that purported to be a better mousetrap. It was a crescent wrench (made by the Crescent company, even) that didn’t have a tiny adjusting wheel like a traditional wrench. Instead, it had a slide running down the length of the handle. The idea is that you would push the slide to snug the wrench jaws against the bolt or nut, and that would be fast and easy compared to a conventional wrench. As [Ben] notes, though, it doesn’t work very well. Most of us would have just dumped it in the back of the tool chest or regifted it. [Ben] tore his apart to find out what was wrong with it.

A typical adjustable wrench has four parts. This one has 19 parts and looks like a conventional wrench with an extra slide and screw running down the length of the handle. [Ben] found the parts were poorly made, but that wasn’t the main problem.

Continue reading “Sliding Wrench Leaves A Little To Be Desired”

LED Christmas Lights Optimized For Max Twinkleage

Old-school filament-based Christmas lights used to be available in twinkling form. LEDs, with their hard-on and hard-off nature, aren’t naturally predisposed to such behavior. To rectify this, some time ago, [Mark Kriegsman] built an Arduino program that makes LEDs twinkle beautifully.

The program is known as TwinkleFOX, and relies on the popular FastLED library for addressable LEDs. [Mark’s] demo setup is built around using WS2811 LEDs, put together in a string with plastic diffusers on each bulb. The Arduino is programmed to vary the brightness of each LED according to a triangle wave function. To create the twinkling effect, each LED has its own unique clock signal, so they vary in brightness at different times and at different rates.

Using an Arduino Uno or Leonardo, [Mark] reports its possible to twinkle 300 individual LEDs at a rate of over 50 updates a second. Using a faster microcontroller should net reliable performance with longer strings. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering how the older-style lights used to twinkle, we’ve covered that before too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “LED Christmas Lights Optimized For Max Twinkleage”

2022 FPV Contest: The LOTP Robot Dog

When you think of first person view (FPV) vehicles, aircraft might be what first comes to mind. However, [Limenitis Reducta] has brought a robot dog into the world, and plans to equip it for some FPV adventures.

LOTP pictured with various equippable modules.

The robot dog itself goes by the name of LOTP, for unspecified reasons, and was designed from the ground up in Fusion 360. A Teensy 3.5 is charged with running the show, managing control inputs and outputting the requisite instructions to the motor controllers to manage the walk cycle. Movement are issued via a custom RC controller. Thanks to an onboard IMU, the robotic platform is able to walk effectively and maintain its balance even on a sloping or moving platform.

[Limenitis] has built the robot with a modular platform to support different duties. Equitable modules include a sensor for detecting dangerous gases, a drone launching platform, and a lidar module. There’s also a provision for a camera which sends live video to the remote controller. [Limenitis] has that implemented with what appears to be a regular drone FPV camera, a straightforward way to get the job done.

It’s a fun build that looks ready to scamper around on adventures outside. Doing so with an FPV camera certainly looks fun, and we’ve seen similar gear equipped on other robot dogs, too.

Continue reading “2022 FPV Contest: The LOTP Robot Dog”

Blood Pressure Monitoring, Courtesy Of Cameras And AI

At the basic level, methods of blood pressure monitoring have slowly changed in the last few decades. While most types of sphygmomanometer still rely on a Velcro cuff placed around the arm, the methodology used in measurement varies. Analog mercury and aneroid types still abound, while digital blood pressure monitors using electrical sensors have become mainstream these days.

Researchers have now developed a new non-invasive method of measurement that does away with the arm cuff entirely. The method relies entirely on video capture with a camera and processing via AI.

Continue reading “Blood Pressure Monitoring, Courtesy Of Cameras And AI”

Squeezing GIFs Into Even Tighter Spaces

Showing images on a TFT or OLED display with a small AVR microcontroller can be a challenge as it requires significant storage space. One solution is to compress the images, but then you need more RAM to decompress it, and that’s a whole other problem. [David Johnson-Davies] of Technoblogy couldn’t find a GIF decoder that fit his needs, so he started writing his own.

We had previously seen a minimal GIF decoder aimed at a Cortex-M0+ that required 24 K of RAM, but this technique is running on an AVR with just 12 K of RAM. Along the way, [David] uses little tricks to shave down the requirements. Since the TFT he targets is a 5-6-5 color space, those 3-byte colors become 2 bytes. The LZW lookup table is encoded as 12-bit pointers to earlier entries plus an additional pixel. However, these savings come at a cost. Animated, local color tables, transparency, interlacing, or GIF87a formatted images aren’t supported. But he ports it over to the PyBadge, which is ATSAMD51 based.

[David] provides some sample code to display a GIF from program memory and an SD card. All the code is on GitHub under a CC By 4.0 license.