An Old Netbook Spills Its Secrets

For a brief moment in the late ’00s, netbooks dominated the low-cost mobile computing market. These were small, low-cost, low-power laptops, some tiny enough to only have a seven-inch display, and usually with extremely limiting hardware even for the time. There aren’t very many reasons to own a machine of this era today, since even the cheapest of tablets or Chromebooks are typically far more capable than the Atom-based devices from over a decade ago. There is one set of these netbooks from that time with a secret up its sleeve, though: Phoenix Hyperspace.

Hyperspace was envisioned as a way for these slow, low-power computers to instantly boot or switch between operating systems. [cathoderaydude] wanted to figure out what made this piece of software tick, so he grabbed one of the only netbooks that it was ever installed on, a Samsung N210. The machine has both Windows 7 and a custom Linux distribution installed on it, and with Hyperspace it’s possible to switch almost seamlessly between them in about six seconds; effectively instantly for the time. Continue reading “An Old Netbook Spills Its Secrets”

Long-Distance Gaming Over Packet Radio

The amateur radio community often gets stereotyped as a hobby with a minimum age requirement around 70, gatekeeping airwaves from those with less experience or simply ignoring unfamiliar beginners. While there is a small amount of truth to this on some local repeaters or specific frequencies, the spectrum is big enough to easily ignore those types and explore the hobby without worry (provided you are properly licensed). One of the best examples of this we’ve seen recently of esoteric radio use is this method of using packet radio to play a game of Colossal Cave Adventure.

Packet radio is a method by which digital information can be sent out over the air to nodes, which are programmed to receive these transmissions and act on them. Typically this involves something like email or SMS messaging, so playing a text-based game over the air is not too much different than its intended use. For this build, [GlassTTY] aka [G6AML] is using a Kenwood TH-D72 which receives the packets from a Mac computer. It broadcasts these packets to his node, which receives these packets and sends them to a PDP-11 running the game. Information is then sent back to the Kenwood and attached Mac in much the same way as a standard Internet connection.

The unique features of packet radio make it both an interesting and useful niche within the ham radio community, allowing for all kinds of uses where data transmission might otherwise be infeasible or impossible. A common use case is APRS, which is often used on VHF bands to send weather and position information out, but there are plenty of other uses for it as well.

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Hackaday Berlin Was Bonkers

In celebration of the tenth running of the Hackaday Prize, we had a fantastic weekend event in Berlin. This was a great opportunity for all of the European Hackaday community to get together for a few days of great talks, fun show-and-tells, and above all good old fashioned sitting together and brainstorming. Of course there was the badge, and the location – a gigantic hackerspace in Berlin called MotionLab – even had a monstrous laser-eye octopus suspended from a gantry overhead. Everyone who came brought something to share or to show. You couldn’t ask for more.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to record the talks, so we’ll run down the highlights for you here. [Jenny List] is writing up a bunch of the badge hacks as we speak, so we’ll skip that for now. For the full experience, you just had to be there, but we’ll share with you what pictures we got. Enjoy!

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A Survey Of Long-Term Waterproofing Options

When it comes to placing a project underwater, the easy way out is to just stick it in some sort of waterproof container, cover it with hot glue, and call it a day. But when you need to keep water out for several years, things get significantly harder. Luckily, [Patricia Beddows] and [Edward Mallon] from the Cave Pearl Project have written up their years of experience waterproofing data loggers for long-term deployment, making the process easier for the rest of us.

Cleaning cheap eBay boards in alcohol.

It starts with the actual board itself. Many SMD boards have at least some flux left over from the assembly process, which the duo notes has a tendency to pull water in under components. So the first step is to clean them thoroughly with an ultrasonic cleaner or toothbrush, though some parts such as RTCs, MEMs, or pressure sensors need to be handled with significant care.

Actual waterproofing starts with a coating like 422-B or nail polish which each have pros and cons. [Patricia] and [Edward] often apply coatings to PCBs even if they plan to otherwise seal it as it offers a final line of defense. The cut edges of PCBs need to be protected so that water can’t seep between layers, though care needs to be made for connectors like SD cards.

Encapsulation with a variety of materials such as hot glue, heat shrink tubing, superglue and baking soda, silicone rubber, liquid epoxy, paste epoxy (like J-B Weld), or even wax are all commented on. The biggest problem is that a material can be waterproof but not water vapor proof. This means that condensation can build up inside a housing. Temperature swings also can play havoc with sealings, causing gaps to appear as it expands or contracts.

Overall, it’s an incredible guide with helpful tips and tricks for anyone logging data underwater for science or even just trying to waterproof their favorite watch.

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a microwave-oven with animated wave diagram

Dive Into The Microwaves, The Water’s Dipolar

When the microwave oven started to gain popularity in the 60s and 70s, supporters and critics alike predicted that it would usher in the end of cooking as we knew it. Obviously that never quite happened, but not because the technology didn’t work as intended. Even today, this versatile kitchen appliance seems to employ some magic to caffeinate or feed a growing hacker in no time flat. So, how exactly does this modern marvel work?

interior of a microwave-oven with a wave length overlay

That’s exactly what [Electronoob] set out to explain in his latest video. After previously taking apart a microwave and showing off the magnetron within he’s back with a clear explanation of how these devices work.

Maybe you have no idea, or have heard something vague about the water in the food wiggling in response to the microwaves. Do you know why microwaves and not some other part of the electromagnetic spectrum? Why the food spins on a platter? How the size of the oven relative to the wavelength affects the efficiency of its cooking? We didn’t, and think the video is a great primer on all of this and more.

Here at Hackaday, we sure love using and abusing microwave ovens. From upgrading them with voice control back in 2013, to turning them into UV curing chambers and mini foundries, to the limitless possibilities for the transformers and magnetrons that await us inside, we just can’t get enough. (this is our 82nd article tagged with microwave!)

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A Comprehensive Look At FDM Supports

When we first started 3D printing, we used ABS and early slicers. Using supports was undesirable because the support structures were not good, and ABS sticks to itself like crazy. Thankfully today’s slicers are much better, and often we can use supports that easily detach. [Teaching Tech] shows how modern slicers create supports and how to make it even better than using the default settings.

The video covers many popular slicers and their derivatives. If you’ve done a lot with supports, you might not find too much of this information surprising, but if you haven’t printed with supports lately or tried things like tree supports, you might find a few things that will up your 3D printing game.

One thing we really like is that the video does show different slicers, so regardless of what slicer you like to use, you’ll probably find exactly what different settings are called. Of course, because slicers let you examine what they produce layer-by-layer, you can do like the video and examine the results without printing. [Michael] does do some prints with various parameters, though, and you can see how hard or easy the support removal is depending on some settings. The other option is to add support to your designs, as needed manually, or — even better — don’t design things that need support.

This video reminded us of a recent technique we covered that added a custom support tack to help the slicer’s automatic support work better. If you want a longer read on supports that also covers dissolvable support, we’ve seen that, too.

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Europe’s Proposed Right-To-Repair Law: A Game Changer, Or Business As Usual?

Recently, the European Commission (EC) adopted a new proposal intended to enable and promote the repair of a range of consumer goods, including household devices like vacuum cleaners and washing machines, as well as electronic devices such as smartphones and televisions. Depending on how the European Parliament and Council vote in the next steps, this proposal may shape many details of how devices we regularly interact with work, and how they can be repaired when they no longer do.

As we have seen recently with the Digital Fair Repair Act in New York, which was signed into law last year, the devil is as always in the details. In the case of the New York bill, the original intent of enabling low-level repairs on defective devices got hamstrung by added exceptions and loopholes that essentially meant that entire industries and types of repairs were excluded. Another example of ‘right to repair’ being essentially gamed involves Apple’s much-maligned ‘self repair’ program, that is both limited and expensive.

So what are the chances that the EU will succeed where the US has not?

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