Floppy-8 Is A Tiny PC In A Floppy Drive

At first sight, Floppy-8 is simply a LattePanda based PC built into the shell of a external vintage floppy drive. Indeed, it’s a very nicely executed LattePanda PC in a floppy, and we’re impressed by it. What turns it from a nifty case mod into something a bit special though, is the way creator [Abraham Haskins] has used floppy-like cartridges in the original floppy slot, as a means of loading software.

The cartridges started out as PCBs in the shape of a floppy with an SD socket on their bottom, and progressed to USB drives on 3D printed cartridges and finally and simplest of all, the same 3D printed cartridges with micro SD cards embedded in their leading edges. All this was necessary to get them thin enough to fit into the existing disk slot — if dimensions weren’t a concern, you could enclose various USB devices into printed cartridges. A script on the computer looks for new card insertion, and runs the appropriate autostart.sh script on the SD card if it finds one. If you don’t need the “disks” to fit into an existing slot, you could print them larger and embed

Beyond the cartridges, the PC itself is assembled on a 3D printed frame inside the case. It’s controlled via Bluetooth, with a pair of knock-off NES controllers for games and an Amazon Fire remote for media. We particularly like the idea of weighting the controllers with ball bearings to give them a little heft.

The LattePanda gives the Raspberry Pi a run for its money in these applications. We particularly liked this portable Macintosh.

Laptop Motherboard? No, X86 Single-Board Computer!

Sometimes a Raspberry Pi will not cut it – especially nowadays, when the prices are high and the in-stock amounts are low. But if you look in your closet, you might find a decently-specced laptop with a broken screen or faulty hinges. Or perhaps someone you know is looking to get rid of a decent laptop with a shattered case. Electronics recycling or eBay, chances are you can score a laptop with at least some life left in it.

Let’s hack! I’d like to show you how a used laptop motherboard could be the heart of your project, and walk you through some specifics you will want to know.

And what a great deal it could be for your next project! Laptop motherboards can help bring a wide variety of your Linux- and Windows-powered projects to life, in a way that even NUCs and specialized SBCs often can’t do. They’re way cheaper, way more diverse, and basically omnipresent. The CPU can pack a punch, and as a rule PCIe, USB3, and SATA ports are easily accessible with no nonsense like USB-throttled Ethernet ports.

Continue reading “Laptop Motherboard? No, X86 Single-Board Computer!”

Compact Ultrasonic Holographs For Single Step Assembly Of Matter In 3D

Creating three-dimensional shapes from basic elements or even cells is an important research topic, with potentially many applications in the fields of medicine and general research. Although physical molds and scaffolding can be used, the use of ultrasonic holographs is in many ways preferable. Using ultrasonic sound waves into a liquid from two or more transducers shaped to interact in a predetermined manner, any particulates suspended in this liquid will be pushed into and remain in a specific location. Recent research by [Kai Melde] and colleagues has produced some fascinating results here, achieving recognizable 3D shapes in a liquid medium.

These are some of the most concrete results produced, following years of research. What distinguishes ultrasonic holography from light-based xolography is that the latter uses photon interference between two light sources in order to rapidly 3D print an object within the print medium, whereas ultrasonic holography acts more as a ultrasonic pressure-based mold. Here xolography is also more limited in its applications, whereas ultrasonic holography can be used with for example biological tissue engineering, due to the gentle pressure exerted on the suspended matter.

For ongoing medical research such as the growing of organs (e.g. for transplantation purposes), scaffolding is required, which could be assembled using such a technique, as well as the manipulation and assembly of biological tissues directly.

The sensor hub in all its glory, sensor itself on top, standing on 3D-printed feet, and the PCB on the bottom

Hacker-Friendly And Elegant Air Quality Sensor Hub

Ever wanted an indoor environment sensor that’s dead simple yet a complete package? That’s the anotter-sensor-hub project from [Jana Marie], designed for the Sensirion SEN05x series sensors, with a SEN055 sensor shown in the picture above. Given such a sensor, you can measure VOCs and NOCs (Volatile and Non-Volatile Organic Compounds), as well as PM1, PM2.5, PM4 and PM10 particulate matter indices, with temperature and humidity sensing thrown in for good measure. Fully open and coupled with 3D printable stand files, this alone makes for an air quality hub fit for a hacker’s desk. That’s not all, however — this board’s elegant extensibility is a good match for the sensor’s impressive capabilities!

The PCB itself might look simple, it’s simply an ESP32 and some supporting circuitry required. But you’ll notice there’s also a trove of connector footprints for different interfaces; whatever else you might want to add to your sensor hub, whether it connects through I2C, SPI or PWM, you can! As usual, the sensor itself is the most expensive part of such a project — the boards themselves are around $5 USD apiece fully assembled, but one sensor-included hub will set you back roughly $42 USD. That said, it’s a great value for the price, and the trove of sensing data you can get might just more than pay for itself in quality-of-life improvements you make. Of course, everything is open-source and comes as a complete packages for you to start using. The firmware, KiCad files, 3D holder and even Grafana dashboard files can be found on GitHub.

Such air quality sensor platforms have been getting more and more popular, and hackers have been paying attention. Having a full open-source package like this at our disposal is amazing. If you’re looking for a cheaper “baby’s first air quality sensor”, drop by your local IKEA — there’s a way less featureful but quite cheap sensor that you can equip with an ESP8266, perhaps, even on a custom PCB.