BIOS POST Card Built Using Raspberry Pi Pico

A computer’s BIOS includes basic diagnostic tools for troubleshooting issues. Often, we rely on the familiar beeps from the POST system for this reason. However, error codes are also available via hardware “POST Cards” that were particularly popular in the 1990s. [Mr. Green] has now built a POST card using readily-available modern hardware.

[Mr. Green] built the device to help troubleshoot an x86 based firewall appliance that was having trouble. Like many x86 systems, it featured a Low Pin Count (LPC) bus which can be used to capture POST troubleshooting codes. By hooking up a Raspberry Pi Pico to the LPC bus on the firewall’s motherboard, it was possible to get it to display the POST error codes on some LEDs. This is of great use in the absence of a conventional PC speaker to sound the error out with beeps.

The build can be used for POST-based troubleshooting on any x86 system with an LPC bus. Files are on Github for those eager to replicate the build. We’ve seen similar work before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “BIOS POST Card Built Using Raspberry Pi Pico”

Take A Ride In The Bathysphere

[Tom Scott] has traveled the world to see interesting things.  So when he’s impressed by a DIY project, we sit up and listen. In this case, he’s visiting the Bathysphere, a project created by a couple of passionate hobbyists in Italy. The project is housed at Explorandia, which based on google translate, sounds like a pretty epic hackerspace.

The Bathysphere project itself is a simulation of a submarine. Sounds simple, but this project is anything but.  There are no VR goggles involved.  Budding captains who are up for the challenge find themselves inside the cockpit of a mini-submarine. The sub itself is on a DIY motion platform. Strong electric motors move the system causing riders to feel like they are truly underwater. Inside the cockpit, the detail is amazing. All sorts of switches, lights, and greebles make for a realistic experience.  An electronic voice provides the ship status, and let’s the crew know of any emergencies. (Spoiler alert — there will be emergencies!)

The real gem is how this simulation operates. A Logitec webcam is mounted on an XY gantry. This camera then is dipped underwater in a small pond. Video from the camera is sent to a large monitor which serves as the sub’s window. It’s all very 1960’s simulator tech, but the effect works. The subtle movements of the simulator platform really make the users feel like they are 20,000 leagues under the sea.

Check out the video after the break for more info!

Continue reading “Take A Ride In The Bathysphere”

Arduino-Powered Missile System Uses Ultrasound To Aim

In the real world, missile systems use advanced radars, infrared sensors, and other hardware to track and prosecute their targets. [Raspduino Uno] on YouTube has instead used ultrasound for targeting for an altogether simpler desktop fire control solution.

This fun build uses a common off-the-shelf USB “missile launcher” that fires foam darts. To supply targeting data for the launcher, an Arduino Uno uses an ultrasonic sensor pair mounted atop a servo. As the servo rotates, the returns from the ultrasonic sensor are plotted on a screen run by a Raspberry Pi. If an object is detected in the 180-degree field of view of the sweeping sensor, a missile is fired using the dart launcher.

It’s a relatively simple build, but nonetheless would serve as a useful classroom demonstration of radar-like targeting techniques to a young audience. Real military hardware remains altogether more sophisticated. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Arduino-Powered Missile System Uses Ultrasound To Aim”

A Super-Cheap Turntable Build For Photographic Purposes

When it comes to photographing products or small items, sometimes it’s useful to get vision from all angles. Shooting a video of an item on a turntable is an ideal way to do this. [ROBO HUB] built a super-cheap turntable for just this purpose.

The build relies upon a regular micro servo to handle rotating the turntable. However, it has been modified from stock to rotate 360 degrees instead of its usual 180 degree range of motion. This is a common hack that allows servos to be used for driving wheels or other rotating mechanisms. In this case, though, any positional feedback is ignored. Instead, the servo is just used as a conveniently-geared motor, with its speed controlled via a potentiometer. A CD covered in paper is used as a turntable, with the electronics and motor assembled in a cardboard base.

It’s a simple hack, and one you can probably put together with the contents of your junk drawer. Combined with a lightbox, it could up your photo and video game significantly. Those skills are super useful when it comes to documenting your projects, after all!

Cheap USB Sniffer Has Wireshark Interface

If you’ve done any development on USB hardware, you’ve probably wished you could peek at the bits and bytes as they pass through the data lines. Sometimes, it’s the only way to properly understand what’s going on. [ataradov]’s USB sniffer is built to do just that. 

To sniff high-speed USB communications, the device relies on a Lattice LCMXO2 FPGA and a Cypress CY7C68013A microcontroller, paired with a Microchip USB3343 USB PHY. This setup is capable of operating at data rates of up to 40-50 MB/s, more than enough to debug the vast majority of USB peripherals on the market.

The device is built specifically for use with Wireshark. Most commonly used for network packet sniffing, Wireshark can also be used with a wide variety of other capture hardware for other debugging tasks, as seen here. In addition to live sniffing, it also allows captured data to be saved for later analysis.

If you need this tool, spinning up your own is straightforward. Gerber files are available and the required components can be bought off the shelf. Once assembled, you can program the chips via USB, with no external hardware programmer required.

We’ve seen some other similar hardware before. Meanwhile, if you’re whipping up your own useful debug tools, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Closeup of an Apple ][ terminal program. The background is blue and the text white. The prompt says, "how are you today?" and the ChatGPT response says, "As an AI language model, I don't have feelings, but I am functioning optimally. Thank you for asking. How may I assist you?"

Apple II – Now With ChatGPT

Hackers are finding no shortage of new things to teach old retrocomputers, and [Evan Michael] has taught his Apple II how to communicate with ChatGPT.

Written in Python, iiAI lets an Apple II access everyone’s favorite large language model (LLM) through the terminal. The program lives on a more modern computer and is accessed over a serial connection. OpenAI API credentials are stored in a file invoked by iiAI when you launch it by typing python3 The program should work on any device that supports TTY serial, but so far testing has only happened on [Michael]’s Apple IIGS.

For a really clean setup, you might try running iiAI internally on an Apple II Pi. ChatGPT has also found its way onto Commodore 64 and MS-DOS, and look here if you’d like some more info on how these AI chat bots work anyway.

Continue reading “Apple II – Now With ChatGPT”

Supercon 2022: [Liz McFarland] Builds Golden Wings, Shows You How

Are you, by any chance, wondering about giving yourself wings? You should listen to [Liz McFarland] sharing her experience building a Wonder Woman suit, and not just any – the Golden Eagle suit from Wonder Woman 1984, adorned with a giant pair of wings. If a suit like that is in your plans, you’ll be warmly welcomed at a cosplay convention – and [Liz] had her sights on the San Diego Comic Con. With an ambitious goal of participating in the Comic Con’s cosplay contest, the suit had to be impressive – and impressive, it indeed was, not just for its looks, but for its mechanics too.

[Liz] tells us everything – from producing the wings and painting them, to keeping them attached to the body while distributing the weight, and of course, things like on-venue nuances and safety with regards to other participants. The dark side of cosplay building reality isn’t hidden either – talking, of course, about the art of staying within a reasonably tight budget. This build takes advantage of a hackerspace that [Liz] is an active member in – the [Crash Space] in LA. Everything is in – lasercutting, 3D printing, and even custom jigs for bending wing-structual PVC pipes play a role.

It would have been a travesty to not have the wings move at will, of course, and [Liz] had all the skills you could want for making the wings complete. She went for two linear actuators, walking us through the mechanical calculations and considerations required to have everything fit together. It’s not easy to build a set of wings on its own, let alone one that moves and doesn’t crumble as you use it – if you have already attempted bringing mechanical creations like this into life, you can see the value in what [Liz] shares with us, and if you haven’t yet delved into it, this video will help you avoid quite a few pitfalls while setting an example you can absolutely reach.

The suit was a resounding success at the con, and got [Liz] some well-earned awards – today, the suit’s story is here for the hackers’ world. Now, your cosplay aspirations have an inspiring real-life journey to borrow from, and we thank [Liz] for sharing it with us.

Continue reading “Supercon 2022: [Liz McFarland] Builds Golden Wings, Shows You How”