C64 Gets ChatGPT Access Via BBS

ChatGPT, powered by GPT 3.5 and GPT 4, has become one of the most popular Large Language Models (LLM), due to its ability to hold passable conversations and generate large tracts of text. Now, that very tool is available on the Commodore 64 via the Internet.

Obviously, a 6502 CPU with just 64 kilobytes of RAM can barely remember a dictionary, let alone the work with something as complicated as a modern large language model. Nor is the world’s best-selling computer well-equipped to connect to modern online APIs. Instead, the C64 can access ChatGPT through the Retrocampus BBS, as demonstrated by [Retro Tech or Die].

Due to security reasons, the ChatGPT area of the BBS is only available to the board’s Patreon members. Once in, though, you’re granted a prompt with ChatGPT displayed in glorious PETSCII on the Commodore 64. It’s all handled via a computer running as a go-between for the BBS clients and OpenAI’s ChatGPT service, set up by board manager [Francesco Sblendorio].┬áIt’s particularly great to see ChatGPT spitting out C64-compatible BASIC.

While this is a fun use of ChatGPT, be wary of using it for certain tasks in wider society. Video after the break.

Continue reading “C64 Gets ChatGPT Access Via BBS”

Overall design of retina-inspired NB perovskite PD for panchromatic imaging. (Credit: Yuchen Hou et al., 2023)

Perovskite Sensor Array Emulates Human Retina For Panchromatic Imaging

The mammalian retina is a complex system consisting out of cones (for color) and rods (for peripheral monochrome) that provide the raw image data which is then processed into successive layers of neurons before this preprocessed data is sent via the optical nerve to the brain’s visual cortex. In order to emulate this system as closely as possible, researchers at Penn State University have created a system that uses perovskite (methylammonium lead bromide, MAPbX3) RGB photodetectors and a neuromorphic processing algorithm that performs similar processing as the biological retina.

Panchromatic imaging is defined as being ‘sensitive to light of all colors in the visible spectrum’, which in imaging means enhancing the monochromatic (e.g. RGB) channels using panchromatic (intensity, not frequency) data. For the retina this means that the incoming light is not merely used to determine the separate colors, but also the intensity, which is what underlies the wide dynamic range of the Mark I eyeball. In this experiment, layers of these MAPbX3 (X being Cl, Br, I or combination thereof) perovskites formed stacked RGB sensors.

The output of these sensor layers was then processed in a pretrained convolutional neural network, to generate the final, panchromatic image which could then be used for a wide range of purposes. Some applications noted by the researchers include new types of digital cameras, as well as artificial retinas, limited mostly by how well the perovskite layers scale in resolution, and their longevity, which is a long-standing issue with perovskites. Another possibility raised is that of powering at least part of the system using the energy collected by the perovskite layers, akin to proposed perovskite-based solar panels.

(Heading: Overall design of retina-inspired NB perovskite PD for panchromatic imaging. (Credit: Yuchen Hou et al., 2023) )

SMA Connector Footprint Design For Open Source RF Projects

When you first start out in the PCB layout game and know just enough to be dangerous, you simply plop down a connector, run a trace or two, and call it a hack. As you learn more about the finer points of inconveniencing electrons, dipping toes into the waters of higher performance, little details like via size, count, ground plane cutouts, and all that jazz start to matter, and it’s very easy to get yourself in quite a pickle trying to decide what is needed to just exceed the specifications (or worse, how to make it ‘the best.’) Connector terminations are one of those things that get overlooked until the MHz become GHz. Luckily for us, [Rob Ruark] is on hand to give us a leg-up on how to get decent performance from edge-launch SMA connections for RF applications. These principles should also hold up for high-speed digital connections, so it’s not just an analog game.

Continue reading “SMA Connector Footprint Design For Open Source RF Projects”

What Makes Wedge Coils Better Than Round For PCB Motors?

PCB motors are useful things. With coils printed right on the board, you don’t need to worry about fussy winding jobs, and it’s possible to make very compact, self contained motors. [atomic14] has been doing some work in this area, and decided to explore why wedge coils perform better than round coils in PCB motor designs.

[atomic14]’s designs use four-layer PCBs which allow for more magnetic strength out of the coils made with traces. While they’ve tried a variety of designs, like most in this area, they used wedge-shaped coils to get the most torque out of their motors. As the video explains, the wedge layout allows a much greater packing efficiency, allowing the construction of coils with more turns in the same space. However, diving deeper, [atomic14] also uses Python code to simulate the field generated by the different-shaped coils. Most notably, it shows that the wedge design provides a significant increase in field strength in the relevant direction to make torque, which scales positively on motors with higher numbers of coils.

This kind of simulation and optimization is typical in industry. It’s great to see an explainer on real engineering methods on YouTube for everyone to enjoy. Video after the break.

Continue reading “What Makes Wedge Coils Better Than Round For PCB Motors?”

Hackaday Prize 2023: LASK4 Watches Those Finger Wiggles

What do you get when you combine an ESP32-S2, a machine-learning model, some Hall effect sensors, and a grip exercise toy? [Turfptax] did just that and created LASK4. The four springs push down pistons with tiny magnets on them. Hall effect sensors determine the piston’s position, and since the springs are linear, the ESP32 can also estimate the force being applied on a given finger. This data is then streamed to a nearby computer over TCP. A small OLED screen shows the status, and a tidy 3D printed case creates a comfortable package.

So other than an excellent musical instrument, what is this good for? First, it creates well-labeled training data when combined with what is collected by the muscle sensor band we discussed previously. The muscle band measures various pressure sensors radially around the forearm. With just a few minutes of training data, the system can accurately predict finger movement using the random forest regression model.

What would you use it for? It’s considered a somatosensory device, so it can be used for physical therapy when undergoing hand rehabilitation, as it provides feedback during sessions. Or it could be used to train a controller efficiently.

It’s an exciting project on GitHub under an OpenCERN hardware license. The code is in MicroPython, and the PCB and STL files are included. We’re looking forward to seeing what else comes from the project. After the break, there’s a progress update video.

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2023: LASK4 Watches Those Finger Wiggles”

Chatting About The State Of Hacker-Friendly AR Gear

There are many in the hacker community who would love to experiment with augmented reality (AR), but the hardware landscape isn’t exactly overflowing with options that align with our goals and priorities. Commercial offerings, from Google’s Glass to the Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 are largely targeting medical and aerospace customers, and have price tags to match. On the hobbyist side of the budgetary spectrum we’re left with various headsets that let you slot in a standard smartphone, but like their virtual reality (VR) counterparts, they can hardly compare with purpose-built gear.

But there’s hope — Brilliant Labs are working on AR devices that tick all of our boxes: affordable, easy to interface with, and best of all, developed to be as open as possible from the start. Admittedly their first product, Monocle, it somewhat simplistic compared to what the Big Players are offering. But for our money, we’d much rather have something that’s built to be hacked and experimented with. What good is all the latest features and capabilities when you can’t even get your hands on the official SDK?

This week we invited Brilliant Lab’s Head of Engineering Raj Nakaraja to the Hack Chat to talk about AR, Monocle, and the future of open source in this space that’s dominated by proprietary hardware and software.

Continue reading “Chatting About The State Of Hacker-Friendly AR Gear”

Hackaday Podcast 221: The Future Of The Raspberry Pi, Sniffing A Toothbrush, Your Tactical Tool Threshold

Editors Elliot Williams and Tom Nardi are back in the (virtual) podcast studio to talk the latest phase of the 2023 Hackaday Prize, the past, present, and future of single-board computers, and a modern reincarnation of the Blackberry designed by hardware hackers. They’ll also cover the current state of toothbrush NFC hacking, the possibilities of electric farm equipment, and a privately funded satellite designed to sniff out methane. Stick around till the end to find out if there really is such a thing as having too many tools.

Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Or download all the things!

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 221: The Future Of The Raspberry Pi, Sniffing A Toothbrush, Your Tactical Tool Threshold”