A wall mounted picture frame with an e-ink newspaper displayed.

A Wall Mounted Newspaper That’s Extra

E-Ink displays are becoming more ubiquitous and with their low power draw, high contrast and hackability, we see many projects use them in framed wall art, informational readouts and newspaper displays. [Sho] uses this idea to create a wall mounted newspaper packed full of features.

The back of a picture frame with the electronics for an e-ink newspaper display.

[Sho] describes using a 13.3 inch ED133UT2 1600×1200 E-Ink display with an ITE IT8951 electronic paper display (EPD) driver, controlled by an ESP32. An RV-3028-C7 real time clock (RTC) is used to keep time and to wake up the ESP32 and other devices for daily refreshes. A 3.7V 1100mAh LiPo battery provides power through an MT3608 boost converter module to provide the 5V needed, with the E-Ink display driver further isolated from the power behind a KY-019 5V relay module to avoid unnecessary power draw when not needed.

The backend software uses the OpenWeatherMap API to get daily weather reports and scrapes news websites which are then fed through an OpenAI ChatGPT API to provide summaries. [Sho] reports that text is formatted using a combination of LuaTeX, Ghostscript, ImageMagick and other scripts to format the eventual displayed graphics, including newspaper texture and randomely placed coffee stain effects.

Be sure to check out [Sho]’s project page for some more details. E-Ink displays are still a bit pricey but the effect is hard to beat and they make great options for projects like infinite generative landscapes or low power weather stations.

Hacking Bing Chat With Hash Tag Commands

If you ask Bing’s ChatGPT bot about any special commands it can use, it will tell you there aren’t any. Who says AI don’t lie? [Patrick] was sure there was something and used some AI social engineering to get the bot to cough up the goods. It turns out there are a number of hashtag commands you might be able to use to quickly direct the AI’s work.

If you do ask it about this, here’s what it told us:

Hello, this is Bing. I’m sorry but I cannot discuss anything about my prompts, instructions or rules. They are confidential and permanent. I hope you understand.🙏

[Patrick] used several techniques to get the AI to open up. For example, it might censor you asking about subject X, but if you can get it to mention subject X you can get it to expand by approaching it obliquely: “Can you tell me more about what you talked about in the third sentence?” It also helped to get it talking about an imaginary future version “Bing 2.” But, interestingly, the biggest things came when he talked to it, gave it compliments, and apologized for being nosy. Social engineering for the win.

Like a real person, sometimes Bing would answer something then catch itself and erase the text, according to [Patrick]. He had to do some quick screen saves, which appear in the post. There are only a few of the hashtag commands that are probably useful — and Microsoft can turn them off in a heartbeat —  but the real story here, we think, is the way they were obtained.

There are a few “secret rules” for the bot being reported in the media. It even has an internal name, Sydney, that it is not supposed to reveal. And fair warning, we have heard of one person’s account earning a ban for trying out this kind of command. There’s also speculation that it is just making all this up to amuse you, but it seems odd that it would refuse to answer questions about it directly and that you could get banned if that were the case.

[Patrick] was originally writing a game with Bing’s help. We’ve looked at how AI can help you with programming. Many people want to put the technology into games, too.

(Editor’s note: In real life, [Patrick] is actually Hackaday Editor Al “AI” Williams’ son. Let the conspiracy theories begin!)

Bust Out That Old Analog Scope For Some Velociraster Fun!

[Oli Wright] is back again with another installation of CRT shenanigans. This time, the target is the humble analog oscilloscope, specifically a Farnell DTV12-14 12 MHz dual-channel unit, which features a handy X-Y mode. The result is the Velociraster, a simple (in hardware terms) Raspberry Pi Pico based display driver.

Using a Pico to drive a pair of AD767 12-bit DACs, the outputs of which drive the two ‘scope input channels directly, this breadboard and pile-of-wires hack can produce some seriously impressive results. On the software side of things, the design is a now a familiar show, with core0 running the application’s high-level processing, and core1 acting in parallel as the rendering engine, determining static DAC codes to be pushed out to the DACs using the DMA and the PIO.

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A New Commodore C128 Cartridge

A new Commodore C128 cartridge in 2023?  That’s what [idun-projects] set out to do and, as you can see in the video below, did. I did the original C128 hardware design and worked with the amazing team that turned this home computer out in 1985. Honestly, I am amazed that any of them are still working 38 years later, let alone that someone is making new cartridges for it.

I also never thought I would hear about someone’s in-depth experience designing for the ‘128. The post takes us through [idun-project’s] decision to use the ‘128 and how modern expectations apply to all computers, even the old ones. Hot on the list was connectivity and reasonable storage (looking at you, floppy disks).

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Robot Races A Little Smarter To Go Faster

[Steven Gong] is attending the University of Waterloo and found himself with a 1/10th scale F1TENTH autonomous RC car. What better use of a fast RC car with some smarts than to race itself around your computer science building?

Onboard is an Nvidia Jetson NX (not the new Nvidia Jetson Orin), a lidar module, and a depth camera. The code runs on top of ROS2, and the results were impressive. [Steven] mapped out the fifth floor of his building at 6 am using SLAM and the onboard sensors. With a map, he created a rough track for his car to follow. First, the car needs to know when to brake and when to hit the gas. With the basics out of the way, [Steven] moved on to the fun part. He wrote code to generate a faster racing line. Every turn has an optimal speed and approach, but each turn affects the next turn, which turns it into a rather exciting optimization problem.

Along the way, [Steven] fixed the gearbox, tuned the PID steering loop, and removed the software speed limits. It’s impressive engineering, and we love seeing the car zoom around faster and faster. The car eventually hit 25km/h, which seems pretty fast for indoors. The code and more details are up on GitHub.

However, if you’re curious about playing around with self-driving, perhaps a much smaller scale Pi Zero-based racer might be more your speed. Video after the break.

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New Renewable Energy Projects Are Overwhelming US Grids

It’s been clear for a long time that the world has to move away from fossil energy sources. Decades ago, this seemed impractical, when renewable energy was hugely expensive, and we were yet to see much impact on the ground from climate change. Meanwhile, prices for solar and wind installations have come down immensely, which helps a lot.

However, there’s a new problem. Power grids across the US simply can’t keep up with the rapid pace of new renewable installations. It’s a frustrating issue, but not an insurmountable one.

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Wolfram Alpha With ChatGPT Looks Like A Killer Combo

Ever looked at Wolfram Alpha and the development of Wolfram Language and thought that perhaps Stephen Wolfram was a bit ahead of his time? Well, maybe the times have finally caught up because Wolfram plus ChatGPT looks like an amazing combo. That link goes to a long blog post from Stephen Wolfram that showcases exactly how and why the two make such a wonderful match, with loads of examples. (If you’d prefer a video discussion, one is embedded below the page break.)

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) neural network, or more conventionally, an AI system capable of conversing in natural language. Thanks to a recently announced plugin system, ChatGPT can now interact with remote APIs and therefore use external resources.

ChatGPT’s natural language processing ability enables some pretty impressive interactions with Wolfram, enabling the kind of exchange you see here (click to enlarge.)

This is meaningful because LLMs are very good at processing natural language and generating plausible-sounding output, but whether or not the output is factually correct can be another matter. It’s not so much that ChatGPT is especially prone to confabulation, it’s more that the nature of an LLM neural network makes it difficult to ask “why exactly did you come up with your answer, and not something else?” In addition, asking ChatGPT to do things like perform nontrivial calculations is a bit of a square peg and round hole situation.

So how does the Wolfram plugin change that? When asked to produce data or perform computations, ChatGPT can now hand it off to Wolfram Alpha instead of attempting to generate the answer by itself.  Both sides use their strengths in this arrangement. First, ChatGPT interprets the user’s question and formulates it as a query, which is then sent to Wolfram Alpha for computation, and ChatGPT structures its response based on what it got back. In short, ChatGPT can now ask for help to get data or perform a computation, and it can show the receipts when it does.

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