The Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, now known simply as MAME, started off as a project to emulate various arcade games. The project is still adding new games to its library, but the framework around MAME makes it capable of emulating pretty much any older computer. The computer doesn’t even need to be a gaming-specific machine as the latest batch of retro hardware they’ve added support for is a number of calculators from the 90s and early 00s including a few classics from Texas Instruments.
Since no one is likely to build an arcade cabinet version of a TI-89, all of these retro calculators are instead emulated entirely within a browser. This includes working buttons and functions on an overlay of each of these calculators but also pixel-accurate screen outputs for each of these. The graphing calculators have more of what we would consider a standard computer screen, but even the unique LCDs of some of the more esoteric calculators are accurately replicated as well thanks to the MAME artwork system.
There are a number of calculators implemented under this project with a full list found at this page, and the MAME team has plans to implement more in the future. If you’re looking for something fun to do on a more modern calculator, though, take a look at this build which implements ray tracing on a TI-84 Plus CE.
Thanks to [J. Peterson] for the tip!
Spectrometry is a well-known technique or, more correctly, a set of techniques. We usually think of it as the analysis of light to determine what chemicals are producing it. For example, you can tell what elements are in a star or an incandescent based on the spectrum of light they emit. But you can also do spectroscopy with other ranges of electromagnetic radiation. [Applied Science] shows how to make an RF spectroscope. You can see the video below.
An oscilloscope-resident function generator creates a signal that he feeds to an amplifier because you need a fair amount of power going out. However, you also need to sense a very tiny amount of power coming back, and that requires a special circuit that will block high-power signals while passing low-level signals.
Continue reading “RF Spectrometer Sees Inside” →
The unique look of early desktop computer systems remains popular with a certain segment of geekdom, so it’s no great surprise when we occasionally see a modern hacker or maker unceremoniously chuck 40+ year old electronics from a vintage machine just to reuse its plastic carcass. We try not to pass judgement, but it does sting to see literal museum pieces turned into glorified Raspberry Pi enclosures.
But with a little luck, perhaps the Retro Wedge Computer case designed by [AndyMt] will be able to save a few of those veteran computers from an unnecessary lobotomy. As the name implies, this 3D printable model is designed to resemble “wedge” desktop computers such as the Atari ST, TI-994A, and Commodore 128. But don’t be put off by its considerable size — the model has been chopped up so no piece is larger than what can fit on a fairly standard 230 x 230 mm print bed. Continue reading “Retro Computer Enclosure Without The Sacrifice” →
While ultrasonic cleaning might sound a bit like the “sonic shower” from Star Trek, this is actually one case where the futuristic-sounding technology predates its use in Sci-Fi. Ultrasonic cleaners have been around since the 50s and are used to clean all sorts of oddly-shaped or specialty objects by creating cavitation within a liquid that allows the surface of the object to be scoured. With the right equipment, these cleaning devices are fairly straightforward to build as well.
This ultrasonic cleaner by [Branchus Creations] started off as a standard stainless steel laundry sink, but with the addition of a few transducers it really turns up the volume. They are attached to the underside of the sink with a combination of a bolt and hard epoxy so that the sound is efficiently transmitted to the sink, but they’re not much use without driver boards to power them. These drivers take AC power and convert it to the DC required to generate the ultrasonic frequencies, and this build uses a driver for each of the transducers all wired up to a common control board for ease-of-use.
The results speak for themselves; a test is performed on a sheet of aluminum foil which quickly turns takes on a Swiss cheese appearance after just a couple minutes in the cleaner. It’s also shown cleaning rusty nails and a few other things as well. For other nontraditional cleaning methods, be sure to check out this wet media blast cabinet built from a 55-gallon drum.
Continue reading “Converting A Sink To An Ultrasonic Cleaner” →
Aluminium cans are all around us, and are one of readily recyclable. While you can turn them into more cans, [Burls Art] had other ideas. Instead, he turned roughly 1000 cans into a custom aluminium guitar.
Both the body and neck of the electric guitar are made out of aluminium. It’s an impressive effort, as manufacturing a usable neck requires care to end up with something actually playable when you’re done with it.
Producing the guitar started with a big propane furnace to melt all the cans down so they could be cast into parts for the guitar. 38 lbs of cans went into the project, and were first dried out before being placed into the furnace for safety reasons. Aluminium cans aren’t made of the best alloy for casting, but you can use them in a pinch. The cans were first melted down and formed into ingots to be later used for producing the neck and body.
[Burls Art] then built sand casting molds for his parts with a material called Petrobond. Wood plugs were used to form the sand into the desired shape. The neck casting came out remarkably well, and was finished with a grinder, hacksaw, and sandpaper to get it to the right shape and install the frets. The body proved more difficult, with its multiple cavities, but it came together after a second attempt at casting.
Fully kitted out with pickups and hardware, the finished product looks great, and weighs 12.3 pounds. It sounds remarkably like a regular electric guitar, too. It does pick up fingerprints easily, and does have some voids in the casting, but overall, it’s a solid effort for an all-cast guitar.
We’ve seen some other great casting projects over the years before, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “1000 Aluminium Cans Cast Into A Guitar” →
There was a time when one of the perks of having a ham radio in your car (or on your belt) was you could make phone calls using a “phone patch.” In the 1970s, calling someone from inside your parked car turned heads. Now, of course, it is an everyday occurrence thanks to cell phones. But in 1977, cell phones were nowhere to be found. Joseph Sugarman, the well-known founder of JS&A, saw a need and wanted to fill it. So he offered the “PocketCom CB” which was billed as the “world’s smallest citizens band transceiver.” You can see the full-page ad from 1977 below.
Remember that this is from an era when ICs that could operate at 30 MHz were not the norm, so you have to temper your expectations. The little unit was 5.5 in by 1.5 in and less than an inch thick. That’s actually not bad, but you had — optimistically — 100 mW of output power. They claimed the N cell batteries would last two weeks with average use, but we imagine a lot less as soon as you start transmitting. The weight was 5 oz, but we suspect that is without the batteries.
Continue reading “Retro Gadgets: The CB Cell Phone” →
Retro games are a blast, and even more so when you can bring the fun on the go. [mac2612] has developed a custom retroarch-based firmware for the Leapster GS and LeapPad2. (via Bringus Studios on YouTube)
We covered Linux on the Leapster before, but Retroleap seems better documented (and still up on the internet). Installation is done over the command line with sshflash, also by [mac2612], after booting the Leapster or LeapPad2 into “Surgeon Mode.” Since the stock bootloader remains intact, you can always return the LeapFrog to its default state if anything gets wiggy by reflashing the device via the LeapFrog Connect App.
The default system includes emulators for NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis, Atari 800, and MAME. Performance varies, but some PS1 games have even run successfully on the device.
If you’d like to see some other LeapFrog hacks, checkout this LeapFrog TV Running DOOM or Composite Video Out on the DIDJ.
Continue reading “RetroArch On A LeapFrog Leapster GS” →