Have you ever wanted to be the best Super Mario Brothers speedrunner, but you just couldn’t do the frame-perfect inputs? Fear not, because [Gregory Strike] is here to save the day with his automatic NES controller!
In his previous video, [Greg] already made an automatic controller that plays a sequence of inputs at the perfect time, but it still failed some of the frame-perfect tricks. So what gives? Deviation in the timing of the NES itself gives, as he shows how the NES doesn’t sample inputs at exactly the same time every frame. To account for this, he used the latch signal, which starts the controller reading process as a time reference, and replaced his digital “mixtape” with a more time-flexible Arduino. After the modification, he shows it pulling off frame-perfect inputs every time he plays Super Mario Brothers.
But if you have a controller that can do frame-perfect inputs and it can be connected to a computer, you can connect the controller to the internet! That’s right, [Greg] created a Twitch bot that tells the Arduino exactly what inputs to send, which then relays it to the NES. It accepts simple sequences of inputs via chat, and you can try it out right now on [Greg]’s Twitch stream.
This project shows promising results, and we think it’s possible to do much more with its internet connection. We’re certainly looking forward to what [Greg] decides to make next.
[Matt Vella] has had a talking, non-posable skeleton knocking around for years. As cool as that sounds, [Matt] is really tired of its three stock phrases. Fast forward to this year — [Matt] got a posable skeleton and decided to go all out on this, the hackiest of all holidays. The result? Hack Skellington.
Between the eye socket-mounted camera, the speaker, and servos in the head, jaw, and one arm, Hack Skellington is decked out to scare trick-or-treaters (or anyone who gets close enough) in modern fashion. Thanks to ChatGPT and an AI-generated voice, Hack can recognize people and welcome them by name, look people in the eye, or simply move its arm when someone gets too close.
The brains of this operation is a Radxa Zero SBC programmed in Viam, though any SBC with Wi-Fi, GPIO, I²C, and USB should work just fine. [Matt] only spent about $150 total, half of which went to the skeleton itself. Be sure to check the spooky action out after the break.
“As California goes, so goes the nation.” That adage has been true on and off for the last 100 years or so, and it’s true again now that GM’s Cruise self-driving car unit has halted operations across the United States, just a couple of days after California’s DMV suspended its license to conduct driverless tests on state roadways. The nationwide shutdown of testing was undertaken voluntarily by the company and takes their sore beset self-driving taxi fleet off the road in Phoenix, Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Miami, in addition to the California ban, which seemed to be mainly happening in San Francisco. Cruise’s fleet has suffered all manner of indignities over the last few months, from vandalism to “coning” pranks to even being used as rolling hookup spots, and that’s not to mention all the trouble they caused by brigading to the same address or losing games of chicken with a semi and a firetruck. We’re not sure what to make of all this; despite our somewhat snarky commentary on the company’s woes, we take little pleasure in this development other than to the degree it probably increases roadway safety in the former test cities. We really do want to see self-driving cars succeed, at least for certain use cases, but it seems like this is a case of too much, too soon for the technology we currently have at our disposal.
We’ve previously reported from the UK about the Online Safety Bill, a piece of internet safety legislation that contains several concerning provisions relating to online privacy and encryption. UK laws enter the statutes by royal assent after being approved by Parliament, so with the signature of the King, it has now become the law of the land as the Online Safety Act 2023. Now that it’s beyond amendment, it’s time to take stock for a minute: what does it mean for internet users, both in the UK and beyond its shores? Continue reading “The UK Online Safety Bill Becomes Law, What Does It Mean?”→
DIY electric personal vehicles are a field where even hobbyists can meaningfully innovate, and that’s demonstrated by the Mega-Wheelie, a self-balancing one-wheeled skateboard constructed as an experiment in traversing off-road conditions.
[John Dingley] and [Nick Thatcher] have been building and testing self-balancing electric vehicles since 2008, with a beach being a common testing ground. They suspected that a larger wheel was the key to working better on rough ground and dry sand and tested this idea by creating a skateboard with a single wheel. A very big, very wide wheel, in fact.
The Mega-Wheelie houses a 24V LiFePO4 battery pack, 450 W gearmotor with chain and sprocket drive, SyRen motor controller from Dimension Engineering, Arduino microcontroller, and an inertial measurement unit to enable the self-balancing function. Steering is done by leaning, and the handheld controller is just a dead man’s switch that disables the vehicle if the person piloting it lets go.
Design-wise, a device like this has a few challenging constraints. A big wheel is essential for performance but takes up space that could otherwise be used for things like batteries. Also, the platform upon which the pilot stands needs to be as low to the ground as possible for maximum stability. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall sideways. On the other hand, one must balance this against the need for sufficient ground clearance.
In the end, how well did it work? Well enough to warrant a future version, says [John]. We can’t wait to see what that looks like, considering their past 3000 W unicycle’s only limitation was “personal courage” and featured a slick mechanism that shifted the pilot’s weight subtly to aid steering. A video of the Mega-Wheelie (and a more recent unicycle design) is embedded just below the page break.
The FCC is circulating a proposal for new rules pertaining to amateur radio in the United States. In particular, they want to remove certain baud rate restrictions that have been in place since 1980. It appears the relaxed rules would apply only to some bands, notably some VHF and UHF bands along with the 630 meter and 2200 meter bands, which — we think — are lightly used so far. We’ll save you from grabbing the calculator. That’s around 475 kHz and 136 kHz.
Ham radio operators have long used digital modes like radio teletype and with restrictions on antennas and increasing interference from wireless networking to solar panels and more, digital has become even more popular than in the past. Besides that, cheap computer soundcards make it easier than ever and sophisticated digital modulation techniques have long left the old, clunky TeleType in the dust.
However, the FCC currently limits the baud rate to 300 baud or less, ostensibly to restrict signal bandwidth. No one wants to have an entire band consumed by a 10 Gb RF network. However, modern techniques often squeeze more into less and the FCC will finally recognize that by converting the limit to signal bandwidth, not baud rate.
What’s the bandwidth? For the common bands, it sounds like 2.8 kHz is the answer. For the VLF bands, they are asking for suggestions. The 2200 meter band isn’t even 2.8 kHz wide to start with!
All this talk makes us want to build something for the 2200 meter band. We better start winding the coil now. Then again, maybe we should go piezo. You know, just in case Thomas Dolby tells us that one of our submarines is missing.
Hackaday Supercon 2023 is a week away, and if you’re still thinking about the equipment you need to take with you, here’s something you’ll want to print – a case for the Supercon 2023 badge that you will find inside of your goodie bag. This year’s Supercon badge is a gorgeous analog playground board we call Vectorscope, powered by an RP2040, MicroPython, and a ton of love for all of the creativity that we’ve seen you bunch express through the wonders of analog electronics. There’s a round LCD screen, SMD buttons galore, as well as some pokey through-hole headers, and if you’ve carried a badge around, you know that all of these can be a bit touchy! You’re in luck, though – just in time, [T.B. Trzepacz] brings us a 3D-printed shell.
Over on Hackaday Discord, we’ve been watching this shell go through multiple iterations throughout the past few days – the initial design pics appeared almost as soon as we published the PCB files for the badge! Yesterday, [T.B. Trzepacz] dropped by the Design Lab where we’ve been putting finishing touches on the badges, and armed with the real-world PCBs, made the final tweaks to the design – then gave us the go-ahead to spread the word.
This shell is practical but elegant and does a mighty fine job protecting both the badge and the wearer. Nothing is hidden away, from the buttons to the expansion headers, and the lanyard holes keep it wearable. At this time, grab the Basic 2 files – these should work for SLA and FDM printers alike, and they’re tolerant enough even for FDM printers below average. Pick your favourite color scheme, or go for one of the transparent SLA resins, and when you arrive at the Supercon, you’ll have a case you can rely on.