Laser cut bug body with pincers and electronics to control the pincers

A Buggy Entry In The Useless Robot Category

No one loves a useless robot more than we do here at Hackaday. But if anyone does it might be [ARC385] with her Bug Bite Bot.

A true engineering marvel, [ARC385]’s bug bot extinguishes the candle on its own little birthday cupcake. Yup. That’s it! Even more peculiar, (and to be fair, somewhat fittingly) before her bug releases its less-than-crushing bite, it plays itself a little Happy Birthday jingle. Seems legit.

If you choose to build this little bug yourself, you’ll be happy to know that the electronics on this build are pretty straightforward. Servo motors control the pincers and a photoresistor detects the flame. [ARC385] tried using a flame sensor instead of the photoresistor, but mentioned she couldn’t get consistent performance at her required sensing distance. She also mentions that you’ll probably need to calibrate the photoresistor to ambient light if for whatever reason you choose to embark on this build yourself.

[ARC385] did a pretty good job with the laser-cut plywood to construct the bug, but using plywood adds a few more question marks to this already puzzling build. She even mentioned having to modify the pincers so they wouldn’t catch fire trying to extinguish the candle.

Would be cool if the candle could rekindle itself, but we can’t possibly support making this hack even more of a fire hazard than it already is.

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Voice Control For A Vintage Heathkit Radio

Most modern ham rigs have a voice activated transmission (VOX) mode, although we don’t know many people who use it often. When a transmitter is in VOX mode, it starts transmitting when you talk, and then, when you pause for a second or two, the transmitter turns off. Many old ham transmitters, though, didn’t support VOX, so Heathkit sold the VX-1 “electronic voice control” to add VOX to older transmitters. [Jeff Tranter] shows us inside a clean-looking unit.

These devices were sold from 1958 to 1960 and used tubes and a selenium rectifier. The device is connected between the microphone and the transmitter. It also sat between the receiver and the speaker to mute audio while transmitting. The original unit had a screw terminal to connect to the outside world, and some of the screws had live line voltage on them. The unit [Jeff] examines is modified to have phono jacks along with a few other repairs.

The wiring looks like a tube radio. Tubes are above the chassis, and point-to-point wiring is underneath. There is also an unusual sealed selenium rectifier. [Jeff] shows how the device works using just a receiver. A few minor repairs were needed.

If you are interested in getting your ham license, most modern radios support VOX out of the box — no rhyme intended. We do, however, love that old Heathkit gear.

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Hackaday Links: April 14, 2024

The Great American Eclipse v2.0 has come and gone, sadly without our traveling to the path of totality as planned; family stuff. We did get a report from friends in Texas that it was just as spectacular there as expected, with the bonus of seeing a solar flare off the southwest limb of the disk at totality. Many people reported seeing the same thing, which makes us a bit jealous — OK, a lot jealous. Of course, this presented an opportunity to the “Well, ackchyually” crowd to point out that there were no solar flares or coronal mass ejections at the time, so what people saw wasn’t an exquisitely timed and well-positioned solar flare but rather a well-timed and exquisitely positioned solar prominence. Glad we cleared that up. Either way, people in the path of totality saw the Sun belching out gigatons of plasma while we had to settle for 27% totality.

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Porting Modern Windows Applications To Windows 95

Windows 95 was an amazing operating system that would forever transform the world of home computing, setting the standard for user interaction on a desktop and quite possibly was the OS which had the longest queue of people lining up on launch day to snag a boxed copy. This raises the question of why we still don’t write software for this amazing OS, because ignoring the minor quibbles of ‘security patches’ and ‘modern hardware compatibility’, it’s still has pretty much the same Win32 API as supported in Windows 11, plus it doesn’t even spy on you, or show you ads. This line of reasoning led [MattKC] recently to look at easy ways to port modern applications to Windows 95.

In the video, the available options are ticked off, starting with straight Win32 API. Of course, nobody writes for the Win32 API for fun or to improve their mental well-being, and frameworks like WxWidgets and QuteQt have dropped support for Windows 9x and generally anything pre-Win2k for years now. The easiest option therefore might be Microsoft’s .NET framework, which in its (still supported) 2.0 iteration actually supports Windows 98 SE, or basically within spitting distance of running it on the original Win95.

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Danish Vintage LRC Meter Reveals Inside

Modern test equipment is great, but there’s something about a big meter with a swinging needle and a mirror for parallax correction that makes a device look like real gear. [Thomas] shows us a Danish LCR meter (or, as it says on the front, an RLC meter). The device passes AC through the component and uses that to determine the value based on the setting of a range switch. It looks to be in great shape and passed some quick tests. Have a look at it in the video below.

An outward inspection shows few surprises, although there is an odd set of terminals on the back labeled DC bias. This allows you to provide a DC voltage in case you have a capacitor that behaves differently when the capacitor has a DC voltage across it. Continue reading “Danish Vintage LRC Meter Reveals Inside”

The BBC Micro, Lovingly Simulated In VR

The BBC Micro was many peoples’ first exposure to home computing, and thanks to [Dominic Pajak], you can fire up this beloved hardware in WebXR. Is it an emulator? Yes, but it’s also much more than that.

The machine, the CRT, the keycaps, and even the sounds of the original keypresses are all brought to life as accurately as possible. The result is not just an emulator. It’s a lovingly-made BBC Micro simulator you can use with a VR headset. Or just use your browser and type on your real keyboard if you like.

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Dump A Code Repository As A Text File, For Easier Sharing With Chatbots

Some LLMs (Large Language Models) can act as useful programming assistants when provided with a project’s source code, but experimenting with this can get a little tricky if the chatbot has no way to download from the internet. In such cases, the code must be provided by either pasting it into the prompt or uploading a file manually. That’s acceptable for simple things, but for more complex projects, it gets awkward quickly.

To make this easier, [Eric Hartford] created github2file, a Python script that outputs a single text file containing the combined source code of a specified repository. This text file can be uploaded (or its contents pasted into the prompt) making it much easier to share code with chatbots.

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