Video And Audio Playback On Low-End MS-DOS Machines

For most people the phrases ‘MS-DOS’ and ‘video playback’ probably aren’t commonly associated, yet it was quite normal as those of us who were watching full-motion video with games like Command & Conquer can attest to. These audiovisual experiences did however require somewhat more capable hardware than something like an original, 4.77 MHz IBM PC. More recently, however, the removal of these limitations has been turned into a challenge that has been gleefully accepted by hackers, including [Scali] whose recent tinkering with getting not only real-time video but also audio working on these old beasts has been documented on their blog.

Unlike existing early video formats like FLIC from the 1990s, the XDC format developed over the past years enables real-time, 60 FPS video and audio playback on an 8088 IBM PC that has a SoundBlaster 2 and CGA card installed. As [Scali] notes, the SB2 card is convenient, because it enables DMA transports for the audio data, which saves a lot of precious CPU cycles. Unlike the original SB card, it also fixes some teething issues, but an SB2 is hardly ‘low-end’ for an early 1980s PC, so it has to go.

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3D Printed Cookies, Sort Of

Are there any cookies that taste better than the ones you make yourself? Well, maybe, but there’s a certain exquisite flavoring to effort. Just ask [jformulate], who created these custom chocolate-topped butter cookies using a mixture of 3D printing, silicone, and of course, baking and tempering.

[jformulate] did this project along with a makerspace group, and the first thing they did was decide on some images for the cookies. Once a hexagon-shaped mold was created in Fusion360, the images were added in. Some had to be height-adjusted in order for the detail to come out.

Once these positives were printed, it was time to make the food-safe silicone molds that would form the custom chocolate toppers. If you don’t have a vacuum de-gasser, [jformulate] recommends pouring a thin stream from a high place to avoid air bubbles. You can always tap the mold several times on a flat surface as well to bring trapped air to the top.

Finally, it’s time to make cookies. [jformulate] has good instructions for tempering chocolate, as well as a recipe for the butter cookies that support the designs. As a bonus, [jformulate] shows how to make a fish-shaped hot chocolate bomb, and made Jolly Rancher (sadly not Wrencher) medallions using the silicone molds and a microwave.

For the semi-disappointed, directly 3D printing cookies is definitely a thing.

Teardown Of Two Russian Missile Sensors

Recently [Michel] received two packages from Ukraine containing some salvaged Russian electronics that once belonged to (presumably) a 9K38 Igla, Vympel R-27 or similar infrared homing missile, as well as a Fiber Optic Gyroscope (FOG) from an unknown missile, though possibly from the Tornado family of MRLSes. The latter uses the Sagnac effect to detect the phase shift between two laser beams being injected into the same fiber when the fiber, and thus the device, are rotating. The advantage of such a gyroscope is that it is effectively solid-state, requiring only some optical components, amplifier stage and as shown here an Altera Cyclone II FPGA to integrate the results.

The 16-channel linear infrared array sensor is more basic, with a matching amplification channel for each optical receiver element, which are fed into a multiplexer IC in a rather remarkable looking ceramic-gold packaged DIP format, with what looks like a 2004 date code (‘0424’). Although both are rather damaged, [Michel] figures that he might be able to restore the FOG to working condition, assuming no crucial and irreplaceable parts are missing. As useful as FOGs are in missiles, they also have countless uses outside of military applications.

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Digital Master Tapes Seek Deck

As a nerdy kid in the 90s, I spent a fair bit of time watching the computer-themed cartoon Reboot. During the course of making a documentary about the show, [Jacob Weldon] and [Raquel Lin] have uncovered the original digital master tapes of the show.

This is certainly exciting news for fans of the show, but there’s a bit of a wrinkle. These digital masters are all on D-1 digital cassette tapes which the studio doesn’t have a player for anymore. The dynamic duo are on the hunt for a Bosch BTS-D1 to be able to recapture some of this video for their own film while also heavily hinting to the studio that a new box set from the masters would be well-received.

As the first CGI TV series, Reboot has a special place in the evolution of entertainment, and while it was a technical marvel for its time, it was solid enough to last for four seasons and win numerous awards before meeting a cliffhanger ending. If you’re an expert in D-1 or have a deck to lend or sell, be sure to email the creators.

Feeling nostalgic for the electromechanical era? Why not check out some hidden lyrics on Digital Compact Cassettes (DCC) or encoding video to Digital Audio Tapes (DAT)?

[via Notebookcheck]

The ScottoKatana Keyboard Is Cutting-Edge

The lovely thing about a hobby like keyboard building is that the melting pot of designs manages to never turn into a nasty porridge. Rather, it remains a tasty chili that keeps getting more flavorful with time. It’s a simple recipe, really; someone becomes dissatisfied enough with their peripherals to do something about it, often trying various designs until they either settle on one, or come up with yet another awesome variant that suits their needs — and possibly someone else’s down the line.

The inimitable [Joe Scotto] has happened upon the katana layout, which has an inverse left-hand row stagger that lends symmetry to the design, and Scotto-ized it into a 33-key build that he says is the best-sounding one yet with lubed Gateron Milky Yellows.

The case and the keycaps are both 3D-printed, and as with all Scotto builds, it is beautifully hand-wired. This one uses an RP2040 Pro Micro, but an ATMega Pro Micro will work, too.

Everything is available on GitHub, and [Joe] promises a typing test soon, as well as a gasket version that foregoes the integrated plate.

Do you need a fast keyboard? Like, ridiculously fast? Then you should use an FPGA.

Via KBD and Make:

Niklaus Wirth with Personal Computer Lilith that he developed in the 1970ies. (Photo: ETH Zurich)

Remembering Niklaus Wirth: Father Of Pascal And Inspiration To Many

Although perhaps not as much of a household name as other pioneers of last century’s rapid evolution of computer hardware and the software running on them, Niklaus Wirth’s contributions puts him right along with other giants. Being a very familiar face both in his native Switzerland at the ETH Zurich university – as well as at Stanford and other locations around the world where computer history was written – Niklaus not only gave us Pascal and Modula-2, but also inspired countless other languages as well as their developers.

Sadly, Niklaus Wirth passed away on January 1st, 2024, at the age of 89. Until his death, he continued to work on the Oberon programming language, as well as its associated operating system: Oberon System and the multi-process, SMP-capable A2 (Bluebottle) operating system that runs natively on x86, X86_64 and ARM hardware. Leaving behind a legacy that stretches from the 1960s to today, it’s hard to think of any aspect of modern computing that wasn’t in some way influenced or directly improved by Niklaus.

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Hackaday Podcast Episode 251: Pluto, Pinball, Speedy Surgery, And DIY GPS

Welcome to 2024! This time around, Elliot and Dan ring in a new year of awesome hacks with quite an eclectic mix. We kick things off with a Pluto pity party and find out why the tiny ex-planet deserved what it got. What do you do if you need to rename a bunch of image files? You rope a local large-language model in for the job, of course. We’ll take a look at how pinball machines did their thing before computers came along, take a fractal dive into video feedback, and localize fireworks with a fleet of Raspberry Pi listening stations. Ever wonder what makes a GPS receiver tick? The best way to find out might be to build one from scratch. Looking for some adventure? A ride on an electroluminescent surfboard might do, or perhaps a DIY “Vomit Comet” trip would be more your style. And make sure you stick around for our discussion on attempts to optimize surgery efficiency, and our look back at 2023’s top trends in the hardware world.


Grab a copy for yourself if you want to listen offline.

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