Your IPhone Can’t Do What This WinCE Device Can!

Most of us probably now have a smartphone, an extremely capable pocket computer — even if sometimes its abilities are disguised a little by its manufacturer. There are many contenders to the crown of first smartphone, but in that discussion it’s often forgotten that the first generally available such devices weren’t phones at all, but PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistants. The fancier ones blurred the line between PDA and laptop and were the forerunner devices to netbooks, and it’s one of these that [Remy] is putting through its paces. He makes the bold claim that it can do things the iPhone can’t, and while the two devices are in no way comparable he’s right on one point. His HP Journada 720 can host a development environment, while the iPhone can’t.

The HP was something of a turn-of-the-millennium object of desire, being a palmtop computer with a half-decent keyboard a 640×240 pixel TFT display, and 32 MB of RAM alongside its 206 MHz Intel StrongARM CPU. Its Windows CE OS wasn’t quite the desktop Windows of the day, but it was close enough to be appealing for the ’90s exec who had everything. Astoundingly it has more than one Linux distro that can run on it with some level of modernity, which is where he’s able to make the claim about the iPhone being inferior.

We remember the Journada clamshell series from back in the day, though by our recollection the battery life would plummet if any attempt was made to use the PCMCIA slot. It was only one of several similar platforms offering a mini-laptop experience, and we feel it’s sad that there are so few similar machines today. Perhaps we’ll keep an eye out for one and relive the ’90s ourselves.

Reliable 3D Printing With Ceramic Slurry

3D printing is at its most accessible (and most affordable) when printing in various plastics or resin. Printers of this sort are available for less than the cost of plenty of common power tools. Printing in materials other than plastic, though, can be a bit more involved. There are printers now for various metals and even concrete, but these can be orders of magnitude more expensive than their plastic cousins. And then there are materials which haven’t really materialized into a viable 3D printing system. Ceramic is one of those, and while there are some printers that can print in ceramic, this latest printer makes some excellent strides in the technology.

Existing technology for printing in ceramic uses a type of ceramic slurry as the print medium, and then curing it with ultraviolet light to solidify the material. The problem with ultraviolet light is that it doesn’t penetrate particularly far into the slurry, only meaningfully curing the outside portions. This can lead to problems, especially around support structures, with the viability of the prints. The key improvement that the team at Jiangnan University made was using near-infrared light to cure the prints instead, allowing the energy to penetrate much further into the material for better curing. This also greatly reduces or eliminates the need for supports in the print.

The paper about the method is available in full at Nature, documenting all of the details surrounding this new system. It may be a while until this method is available to a wider audience, though. If you can get by with a print material that’s a little less exotic, it’s not too hard to get a metal 3D printer, as long as you are familiar with a bit of electrochemistry.

Thermal Camera Reviewed

We keep thinking about buying a better thermal camera, as there are plenty of advantages. While [VoltLog’s] review of the Topdon TC002 was interesting though, it has a connector for an iPhone. Even if you aren’t on Android, there is a rumor that Apple may (or may be forced to) change connectors which will make it more difficult to connect. Of course, there will be adapters, and you can get a USB C version of the same camera.

Technically, the camera is pretty typical of other recent cameras in this price range, and they probably all use the same image sensor. The camera provides 256×192 images.

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Long-Distance Wi-Fi With Steam Deck Server

It’s no secret that the Steam Deck is a powerful computer, especially for its price point. It has to be capable enough to run modern PC games while being comfortable as a handheld, all while having a useful amount of battery life. Thankfully Valve didn’t lock down the device like most smartphone manufacturers, allowing the computer to run whatever operating system and software the true owner of the device wants to run. That means that a whole world of options is open for this novel computer, like using it to set up an 802.11ah Wi-Fi network over some pretty impressive distances.

Of course the Steam Deck is more of a means to an end for this project; the real star of the show is DragonOS, a Debian-based Linux distribution put together by [Aaron] to enable easy access to the tools needed for plenty of software-defined radio projects like this one. Here, he’s using it to set up a long-distance Wi-Fi network on one side of a lake, then testing it by motoring over to the other side of the lake to access the data from the KrakenSDR setup running on the Deck, as well as performing real-time capture of IQ data that was being automatically demodulated and feed internally to whispercpp.

While no one will be streaming 4K video over 802.11ah, it’s more than capable of supporting small amounts of data over relatively large distances, and [Aaron] was easily able to SSH to his access point from over a kilometer away with it. If the lake scenery in the project seems familiar at all, it’s because this project is an extension of another one of his DragonOS projects using a slightly lower frequency to do some impressive direction-finding, also using the Steam Deck as a base of operations.

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Hinged Parts For The 8th Grade Set

I recently agreed to run a 3D printing camp for 8th graders. If you’ve never shared your knowledge with kids, you should. It is a great experience. However, it isn’t without its challenges. One thing I’ve learned: don’t show the kids things that you don’t want them to try to print.

I learned this, of course, the hard way. I have several “flexy”3D prints. You know the kind. Flexy dinosaurs, cats, hedgehogs, and the like. They all have several segments and a little hinge so the segments wobble. The problem is the kids wanted to print their own creations with flexy hinges.

I’ve built a few print-in-place hinges, but not using Tinkercad, the software of choice for the camp. While I was sure it was possible, it seemed daunting to get the class to learn how to do it. Luckily, there’s an easy way to add hinges like this to a Tinkercad design. There was only one problem.

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Hackaday Podcast 223: Smoking Smart Meter, 489 Megapixels, And Unshredding Documents

Elliot’s back from vacation, and Dan stepped into the virtual podcast studio with him to uncover all the hacks he missed while hiking in Italy. There was a lot to miss, what with a smart meter getting snuffed by a Flipper Zero — or was it? How about a half-gigapixel camera built out of an old scanner, or a sonar-aimed turret gun? We also looked at a couple of projects that did things the hard way, like a TV test pattern generator that was clearly a labor of love, and an all-transistor HP frequency counter. More plastic welding? Hey, a fix is a fix! Plus, we’ll dive into why all those Alexas are just gathering dust, and look at the really, REALLY hard problems involved in restoring shredded documents.

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!

Download a long series of ones and zeroes that, when appropriately interpreted, sound like two people talking about nerdy stuff!

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IKEA LACK Table Becomes Extremely Affordable DIY Copy Stand

A copy stand is a tool used to capture images of photos, artwork, books, and things of a similar nature. It holds a camera perpendicular to a large and flat surface, upon which the subject rests.

A threaded rod provides effective vertical adjustment.

They are handy, but there’s no need to spend a lot when [BlandPasta]’s DIY copy stand based on a cheap IKEA LACK table can be turned into an economical afternoon project with the help of simple hardware and a few 3D printed parts.

The main structure comes from a mixture of parts from two LACK tables: one small and one normal-sized. A tabletop is used as the bed, and the square legs make up the structural parts with the help of some printed pieces. A threaded rod combined with some captive hardware provides a way to adjust the camera up and down with a crank, while one can manually slide the horizontal camera mount as needed to frame the subject appropriately.

This is a clever remix of IKEA parts, and the somewhat matte white finish of the LACK complements photography well. Adding some DIY LED lighting is about all it takes to get a perfectly serviceable copy stand that won’t break the bank.