Famicom-Inspired NES TV Looks Rad In Red

Take it from us, insomnia is no joke. But the wee hours can have a great effect on creativity, and if you’ve got a project in mind, doing that is way better than just sitting around, zoning out to infomercials and wishing for sleep. Over recent nights, [insomniacfactory] has been working on a Sharp C1 Famicon-inspired NES TV, and the result is simply fabulous.

The Sharp C1 Famicom was CRT television with a Famicom (precursor to the NES) built in. It allegedly had better picture quality than either a Famicom or NES with a separate television, and this was because it had direct internal display connection. The picture quality was so good that video game magazines at the time used it for screenshots.

Starting with a couple of TVs and a plan, [insomniacfactory] got to work, using the guts from a newer donor TV and a 1985 NES main board with the region-free mod and the RF module removed.

[insomniacfactory] also added also added a wiring harness and a side loader connector from a broken Game Genie to the NES main board. After some careful Dremeling out of the 1981 AKAI TV, they had room for the clone console’s cartridge slot and controller plugs.

This project took a lot of careful and fiddly work, especially since the boards are all bracketed in place and easy to remove. But it totally looks like it was worth it, and now [insomniacfactory] can retro game all night for a while before starting the next insomnia-driven project.

Are you in the mood for more iconic NES? Take a guided tour.

Fluid Simulation Does The Math

If you like math, you should enjoy [kynd’s] page about simulating fluid in p5.js. You might still enjoy the pretty colors and shapes if you aren’t into math. What’s scary is that the page promises to have as little math as possible, but there’s still quite a bit. Of course, we are sure you could go even deeper down the rabbit hole.

The algorithm’s core is a pair of 2D arrays representing cells that comprise the display area. One array holds the color of the cell, while another holds a velocity vector of the fluid in the cell. A vector, of course, has both a magnitude and a direction.

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Zilog’s Forgotten Operating System: Z80-RIO

When it comes to famous operating systems for the Z80 and similar Zilog processors, the first and maybe only one to come to mind is CP/M, which was even made its presence known on the dual-CPU (8502 and Z80) Commodore 128. Yet Zilog also developed its own operating system, in the form of the comprehensively titled Z80 Operating System with Relocatable Modules and I/O Management (Z80-RIO for short). With limited documentation having survived, [Ralf-Peter Nerlich] has set out to retain and recover what information he can on RIO and the associated Programming Language Zilog (PLZ) after working with these systems himself when they were new.

A Zilog MCZ 1/20 system from around 1979. (Credit: Herb Johnson)
A Zilog MCZ 1/20 system from around 1979. (Credit: Herb Johnson)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither Z80-RIO nor PLZ were targeting the regular consumer market when they were brought to market in the late 1970s, but were part of Zilog’s focus on industrial markets, as well as laboratories and elsewhere that could benefit from a versatile, programmable computer system for control and automation.

As part of an integrated hardware/software solution, Zilog released a series of computer systems, such as the MCZ 1/20 of which a number of examples survive today. Herb Johnson’s collection and restoration projects provide a good overview of not only the base systems, but also the expansion cards available for these systems. Right along with the Z80-RIO OS providing the ability to customize the system for the target usage, the underlying hardware could also be configured with just the expansion boards required, or conceivably even custom boards.

Of course, it doesn’t take many guesses to figure out what happened to Z80’s RIO OS and related, with the 1980s heralding massive shifts in the computer markets. Although now functionally obsolete for decades, it’s good to see such preservation efforts of 1970s computing systems and related software. These are after all the foundations on which modern day computing is built.

(Thanks to [Stephen Walters] for the tip)

Tetris On An Oscilloscope, The Software Way

When we talk about video games on an oscilloscope, you’d be pardoned for assuming the project involved an analog CRT scope in X-Y mode, with vector graphics for something like Asteroids or BattleZone. Alas, this oscilloscope Tetris (Russian language, English translation) isn’t that at all — but that doesn’t make it any less cool.

If you’re interested in recreating [iliasam]’s build, it’ll probably help to be a retro-oscilloscope collector. The target instrument here is a Tektronix TDS5400, a scope from that awkward time when everything was going digital, but CRTs were still cheaper and better than LCDs. It’s based on a Motorola 68EC040 processor, sports a boatload of discrete ICs on its main PCB, and runs VxWorks for its OS. Tek also provided a 3.5″ floppy drive on this model, to save traces and the like, as well as a debug port, which required [iliasam] to build a custom UART adapter.

All these tools ended up being the keys to the kingdom, but getting the scope to run arbitrary code was still a long and arduous process, with a lot of trial and error. It’s a good story, but the gist is that after dumping the firmware onto the floppy and disassembling it in Ghidra, [iliasam] was able to identify the functions used to draw graphics primitives on the CRT, as well as the functions to read inputs from the control panel. The result is the simple version of Tetris seen in the video below. If you’ve got a similar oscilloscope, the code is up on GitHub.

Care for a more hardware-based game-o-scope? How about a nice game of Pong? Or perhaps a polar breakout-style game is what you’re looking for. Continue reading Tetris On An Oscilloscope, The Software Way”

Hackaday Prize 2023: Hydrocleaner Nips Pollution In The Bud

It’s unfortunate, but a lot of trash ends up in our rivers and, eventually, our oceans. Cleaning efforts can be costly and require a lot of human power. One of the ways to keep trash out from reaching the ocean is to attack it at the river level. That’s the idea behind [Xieshi Zhang]’s Hydrocleaner, a semi-autonomous river cleaning robot.

One current method for removing trash is by remote-controlled boats with nets attached. These typically travel in one direction, sort of sweeping left and right and probably missing trash in the process.

Hydrocleaner is capable of turning back and forth, ensuring a much more complete clean-up. The camera spots trash, and the twin-pontoon design allows it to flow easily between them and into the net behind. Currently, the brain behind this boat is a Jetson Nano, although this is a work in progress. The eventual idea is that the boat would navigate itself using GNSS guidance and would navigate toward the trash.

Of course, you could always fight trash with trash.

ISS Mimic Brings Space Station Down To Earth

Built at a cost of more than $150 billion over the last twenty-five years, the International Space Station is arguably one of humanity’s greatest engineering triumphs. Unfortunately, unlike Earthly construction feats such as the Hoover Dam, Burj Khalifa, or the Millau Viaduct, you can’t visit it in person to really appreciate its scale and complexity. Well, not unless you’ve got the $50 million or so to spare to buy a seat on a Dragon capsule.

Which is why the team behind the ISS Mimic project are trying to make the ISS a bit more relatable. The open source project consists of a 3D printable 1:100 model of the Station, which is linked to the telemetry coming down from the real thing. A dozen motors in the model rotate the solar arrays and radiators to match the positions of their full-scale counterparts, while LEDs light up to indicate the status of various onboard systems.

To learn more about the ISS Mimic, team members Bryan Murphy, Sam Treadgold, and Tristan Moody stopped by this week’s Hack Chat to bring us up to speed on the past, present, and future of this fascinating project.

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Hackaday Podcast 239: Overclocking, Oscilloscopes, And Oh No! SMD Out Of Stock!

Elliot Williams and Al Williams got together again to discuss the best of Hackaday for a week, and you’re invited. This week, the guys were into the Raspberry Pi 5, CNC soldering, signal processing, and plasma cutting. There are dangerous power supplies and a custom 11-bit CPU.

Of course, there are a few Halloween projects that would fit in perfectly with the upcoming Halloween contest (the deadline is the end of this month; you still have time). OpenSCAD is about to get a lot faster, and a $20 oscilloscope might not be a toy after all. They wrap up by talking about Tom Nardi’s latest hardware conversion of DIP parts to SMD and how TVs were made behind the Iron Curtain.

Did you miss a story? Check out the links below. As always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Go ahead and download it!

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 239: Overclocking, Oscilloscopes, And Oh No! SMD Out Of Stock!”