Easily Add Link Cable Support To Your Homebrew GBA Game

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) link cable is the third generation of this feature which originated with the Gameboy. It not only allows for peripherals to be connected, but also for multiplayer between GBAs – even with just one game copy – and item sharing and unlocking of features in specific games. This makes it an interesting feature to support in today’s homebrew GBA games and applications, made easy by libraries such as [Rodrigo Alfonso]’s gba-link-connection.

This C++  library can be used in a number of ways: either limited to just the physical link cable, just the wireless link option or both (universal link). These support either 4 (cable) or 5 (wireless) players to be connected simultaneously. As additional options there are the LinkGPIO.hpp and LinkSPI.hpp headers which allow the link port to be used either as a generic GPIO, or as an SPI link (up to 2 Mb/s). The multiboot feature where a single ROM image is shared among connected GBAs is supported with both wired and wireless links.

It’s heartening to see that a device which this year celebrates its 23rd birthday is still supported so well.

Thanks to [gudenau] for the tip.

A map of the world with continents in light grey and countries outlined in dark grey. A nuber of yellow and grey circles with cartoon factories on them are connected with curved lines reminiscent of airplane flight paths. The lines have seemingly-arbitrary binary ones and zeros next to them. All of the grey factories are in the Americas, likely since IoP is currently focused on Africa and Europe.

Internet Of Production Alliance Wants You To Think Globally, Make Locally

With the proliferation of digital fabrication tools, many feel the future of manufacturing is distributed. It would certainly be welcome after the pandemic-induced supply chain kerfuffles from toilet paper to Raspberry Pis. The Internet of Production Alliance (IoP) is designing standards to smooth this transition. [via Solarpunk Presents]

IoP was founded in 2016 to build the infrastructure necessary to move toward a global supply chain based on local production of goods from a global database of designs instead of the current centralized model of production with closed designs. Some might identify this decentralization as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They currently have developed two standards, Open Know-Where [PDF] and Open Know-How.

Open Know-Where is designed to help locate makerspaces, FabLabs, and other spaces with the tools and materials necessary to build a thing. The sort of data collected here is broken down in to five categories: manufacturing facility, people, location, equipment, and materials. Continue reading “Internet Of Production Alliance Wants You To Think Globally, Make Locally”

JBC soldering station sitting atop a custom switch box next to a selection of hot ends.

A 3-tool Selector Box For A JBC Soldering Station

Soldering is one of those jobs that are conceptually simple enough, but there’s quite a bit of devil in the detail and having precisely the right tool for the job in hand is essential for speed and quality of results. The higher-quality soldering stations have many options for the hot end, but switching from a simple pencil to hot tweezers often means unplugging one and reattaching the other, and hoping the station recognises the change and does the right thing. [Lajt] had three soldering options and a single output station. Their solution was a custom-built three-way frontend box that provides a push-button selection of the tool to be connected to the station sitting atop.

[Lajt] shows in the blog post how each of their target hot ends is wired and the connectivity the control station expects to determine what is plugged in. Failing to recognise a connected 50 W heating element as if the smaller 25 W unit was still connected would suck, with a huge amount of lag as the temperature of the hot end would fail to keep up with the thermal load during use. When connections are made, it is important to ensure the unit has sufficient time to detect the change in output and configure itself appropriately. An Arduino Pro mini handles the selection between outputs by driving a selection of relays with appropriate timing. An interesting detail here is what [Lajt] calls a ‘sacrificial relay’ in the common ground path, which has a greater contact rating than the others and acts as a secondary switch to save wear on the other relay contacts that would otherwise be hot-switched. All in all, a nicely executed project, which should offer years of service.

We like DIY tools and tool-related hacks. Here’s a DIY Hakko station, a Weller clone unit, and a peek inside TS1C portable unit.

Continue reading “A 3-tool Selector Box For A JBC Soldering Station”

For Today Only, Pi=3

In 1897 the state assembly of the American state of Indiana famously tried and failed to pass a bill which would have had the effect of denying the value of the mathematical constant Pi. It was an attempt to define a method to “square the circle”, or draw a square of the same area as a given circle through a series of compass and straight edge steps. It’s become something of a running joke and internet meme, and of course defining Pi exactly remains as elusive as ever.

Today and today alone though, you can in one sense claim that Pi is 3, because it’s twelve years since the launch of the original Raspberry Pi. The 29th of February 2012 was a leap day, and today being the third leap day since, could be claimed by a date pedant to be the third birthday of the little board from Cambridge. It’s all a bit of fun, but the Pi folks have marked the occasion by featuring an LED birthday cake.

Three leap days ago, your scribe was up at the crack of dawn to be one of the first to snag a board, only to witness the websites of the two distributors at the time, RS and Farnell, immediately go down under the denial of service formed by many thousands of other would-be Pi owners with the same idea. It would be lunchtime before the sites recovered enough to slowly buy a Pi, and it would be May before the computer arrived.

The Pi definitely arrived with a bang, but at tweleve years old is it still smoking? We think so, while it’s normalized the idea of an affordable little board to run Linux to the extent that it’s one of a crowd, the Pi folks have managed to stay relevant and remain the trend setter for their sector rather than Arduino-style becoming an unwilling collective term.

We’ve said this before here at Hackaday, that while the Pi boards are good, it’s not them alone which sets them apart from the clones but their support and software. Perhaps their greatest achievement is that a version of the latest Raspberry Pi OS can still run on that board ordered in February 2012, something unheard of elsewhere in single board computers. If you still have an original Pi don’t forget this, while it’s not the quickest any more there are still plenty of tasks at which they can excel. Meanwhile with their move into branded silicon and their PCIe architecture move we think things are looking exciting, and we look forward to another 12 years and three birthdays for them. Happy 3rd birthday, Raspberry Pi!

Washing Machine Motors Unlocked

There’s great potential in salvaging a motor from a broken appliance, but so often the part in question is very specific to its application, presenting a puzzle of wires to the experimenter. This was very much the case with older washing machines and other white goods, and while their modern equivalents may have switched to more understandable motors, there are still plenty of the older ones to be had. [Matthias random stuff] sheds a bit of light on how these motors worked, by means of a 1980s Maytag washing machine motor.

Many of us will be used to old-style induction motors, in which two windings were fed out of phase via a large capacitor. This one doesn’t have a capacitor, instead it has a primary winding and a secondary one with a higher resistance. We’re not quite sure the explanation of the resistance contributing to a phase shift holds water, however this winding is connected in for a short time at start-up by a centrifugal switch. Even better, reversing its polarity reverses the direction of the motor.

The result is a mess of wires demystified, and a mains powered motor with a bit of strength for your projects. We’ve let a few of these motors slip through our fingers in the past, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so hasty.

This is a subject that we’ve looked at in the past.

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The White House Memory Safety Appeal Is A Security Red Herring

In the Holy Programming Language Wars, the lingua franca of system programming – also known as C – is often lambasted for being unsecure, error-prone, and plagued with more types of behavior that are undefined than ones that are defined by the C standards. Many programming languages were said to be ‘C killers’, yet C is still alive today. That didn’t stop the US White House’s Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) from putting out a report in which both C and C++ got lambasted for being ‘unsafe’ when it came to memory management.

The full report (PDF) is pretty light on technical details, while citing only blog posts by Microsoft and Google as its ‘expert sources’. The claim that memory safety issues are the primary cause of CVEs is not substantiated, or at least ignores the severity of CVEs when looking at the CISA statistics for active exploits. Beyond this call for ‘memory safety’, the report then goes on to effectively call for more testing and validation, while kicking in doors that were opened back in the 1970s already with the Steelman requirements and the High Order Language Working Group (HOLWG) of 1975.

What truly is the impact and factual basis of the ONCD report?

Continue reading “The White House Memory Safety Appeal Is A Security Red Herring”

A cat sits on a dark green mid-century modern bench next to a cat-sized black piano. A black bowl sits beneath the piano to catch food. An abstract green, blue, and tan picture in a black frame is on the wall above the cat and a black bar stool can be seen around the corner. It looks like the sort of photo you'd see on Instagram or in an interior design magazine.

Piano Feeder Gets Pets Playing For Their Supper

If you ever watched a video of Piano Cat and wondered if your cat could learn to play, then [Sebastian Sokołowski] has a possible solution with this combination piano tutor and cat feeder.

Starting with a CNC cut MDF enclosure, [Sokołowski] developed a cat feeder that would fit in the rear of the piano. It had to be reliable, consistent, and easy to disassemble. He walks us through his testing for each of these features and says the feeder was the most difficult part of the project to develop due to the propensity of pet feeder mechanisms to jam.

A custom PCB takes the key presses from the piano (with functional black keys) and outputs the sound from a speaker in the back. Lessons progress through increasing difficulty automatically, encouraging your cat to learn what the different keys can do. Food is dispensed after a performance or on a schedule set through the accompanying smartphone app. All the files are available if you want to build your own, but there is a wait list available if you want a completed version to give to less technically-inclined cat staff.

We’re certainly no stranger to the creatures that rule the internet here at Hackaday, having featured other cat feeders, new research into spaying cats, or even open source robo-cats.

Continue reading “Piano Feeder Gets Pets Playing For Their Supper”