Giving The Original Xbox 256 MB Of Memory

The original Xbox forever changed the console world, because it was basically just PC components laced together in a slightly different architecture. It featured a Pentium 733 MHz CPU with just 64MB of RAM. [Prehistoricman] has been hard at work, figuring out how to up that to 256MB instead.

This isn’t [Prehistoricman’s] first rodeo. Previously, he managed to up the Xbox’s RAM to 128 MB. To figure out how to go further, he had to figure out the addressing scheme. A datasheet for the Xbox’s original memory chip was a help in this regard, as was the envytools project and an Xbox source code leak.

A BIOS hack was needed to move the auto-precharge pin to free up more address pins for the higher memory space. Furthermore, the only available memory chips that were suitable used BGA packages, so a small PCB with castellated edges was needed to adapt the chip to the Xbox’s motherboard, which expects a TQFP package.

Ultimately, getting this hack to work involved a lot of bare-metal hacking. It also won’t help the performance of commercial games at all, as they were all designed within the limitations of the original console. Still, it’s impressive to see this now-ancient platform hacked to do more. It’s also hilarious to compare it with a contemporary PC, which could simply accept 256 MB of RAM by using additional memory slots. Video after the break.

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Hacking Airline WiFi The Hard Way

We’ve all been there. You are on a flight, there’s WiFi, but you hate to pay the few bucks just to watch dog videos. What to do? Well, we would never suggest you engage in theft of service, but as an intellectual exercise, [Robert Heaton] had an interesting idea. Could the limited free use of the network be coopted to access the general internet? Turns out, the answer is yes.

Admittedly, it is a terrible connection. Here’s how it works. The airline lets you get to your frequent flier account. When there, you can change information such as your name. A machine on the ground can also see that change and make changes, too. That’s all it takes.

It works like a drop box. You take TCP traffic, encode it as fake information for the account and enter it. You then watch for the response via the same channel and reconstitute the TCP traffic from the remote side. Now the network is at your fingertips.

There’s more to it, but you can read about it in the post. It is slow, unreliable, and you definitely shouldn’t be doing it. But from the point of view of a clever hack, we loved it. In fact, [Robert] didn’t do it either. He proved it would work but did all the development using GitHub gist as the drop box. While we appreciate the hack, we also appreciate the ethical behavior!

Some airlines allow free messaging, which is another way to tunnel traffic. If you can connect to something, you can probably find a way to use it as a tunnel.

A green hat with a grey zipper is partially opened revealing the grey mesh inside. It is held by two hands manipulating the zipper. The picture is inside a red circle overlaid on top of a tinted image of a workshop. A red line points to an image of a woman looking to the right wearing the green baseball cap.

Bring Your Reusable Grocery Bag On Your Head

After decades of taking plastic bags for granted, some places now charge for them to help offset some of the environmental damage they cause. If you have a tendency to forget your reusable bags at home but love to wear hats, [Simone Giertz] has the bag hat for you.

Having conquered everything from making the first Tesla pickup to a tambour puzzle table, a hat that can turn into a grocery bag seems like a relatively easy challenge. It was not. One thing that [Giertz] observes early in the process is that fabric is a much less “honest” material since it can move in ways that many of the other materials she works with cannot, like glass or wood.

As with any good project, there are numerous iterations of the bag hat, mostly due to trying to balance the two distinct functions of bag and hat without overly-compromising either. In the end, the hat features a zipper down the center from ear to ear that opens up into a mesh grocery bag. The adjustable loop of the hat does double duty as the bag handle.

If you’d like to build your own sewing machine for projects like this, maybe you should find out how they work. If you’d rather just get on with the sewing bit, we can help you with that too.

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If You Want An Expensive Chair Just Print Your Own

The Magis Spun chair is a weird piece. It’s basically a kind of seat with a round conical base that stops it from sitting still in one place. Instead, it rolls and pivots around when you sit on it, which is apparently quite fun. They’re expensive though, which gave [Morley Kert] a neat idea. Why not 3D print one instead?

Obviously 3D printing a sofa wouldn’t be straightforward, but the Magis Spun is pretty much just a hunk of plastic anyway. The real thing is made with rotational molding. [Morley] suspected he could make one for less than the retail price with 3D printing.

With no leads on a big printer, he decided to go with a segmented design. He whipped up his basic 3D model through screenshots from the manufacturer’s website and measurements of a display model in a store. After print farming the production, the assembly task was the next big challenge. If you’re interested in doing big prints with small printers, this video is a great way to explore the perils of this idea.

Ultimately, if you want to print one of these yourself, it’s a big undertaking. It took 30-50 print days, or around 5 days spread across 15 printers at Slant 3D’s print farm. It used around $300-400 of material at retail prices, plus some extra for the epoxy and foam used to assemble it.

The finished product was killer, though, even if it looks a little rough around the edges. It rolls and pivots just like the real thing.

We don’t feature a lot of chair hacks on Hackaday, but we do feature some! Video after the break.

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FLOSS Weekly Episode 791: It’s All About Me!

This week David Ruggles chats with Jonathan Bennett about his origin story! What early core memory does Jonathan pin his lifelong computer hobby on? And how was a tense meeting instrumental to Jonathan’s life outlook? And how did Jonathan manage to score a squashable brain toy from an equipment manufacturer? Watch the whole show to find out!

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Supercon 2023: Why More Hackers Should Earn Their Wings

Hacking has taken on many different meanings over the years, but if you’re here reading these words, we’ll assume your definition is pretty close to ours. To hack is to explore and learn, to find new and (hopefully) better ways of doing things. Or at least, that’s part of it. The other part is to then take what you learned and share it with others. Do that enough, and soon you’ll find yourself part of a community of like-minded individuals — which is where things really start getting interesting.

Here at Hackaday the objects of our attention are, with the occasional exception, electronic devices of some sort or another. Perhaps an old piece of gear that needs a modern brain transplant, or a misbehaving consumer gadget that could benefit from the addition of an open source firmware. But just as there are different ways to interpret the act of hacking, there’s plenty of wiggle room when it comes to what you can hack on.

In his talk during the 2023 Hackaday Supercon, Tom Mloduchowski makes the case that more hackers should be getting involved with aviation. No, we’re not talking about flying drones, though he does cover that during the presentation. This is the real deal. Whether you want to take a quick joyride in a small plane, become a professional pilot, or even build and operate your own experimental aircraft, this talk covers it all.

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Bringing The 555 Mini-Notebook To Video

Like many of us [AnotherMaker] is a fan of the classic Forrest Mims electronics books, specifically, the Engineer’s Mini-Notebook series. They were great sources of inspiration, but at the time, he couldn’t afford to actually build most of the circuits described. Now as an adult, he decided to go through the 555 Timer IC Circuits Mini-Notebook, full of example circuits and explanations, all in Mims’ trademark handwritten style, and build all the circuits for real. And so, a series of YouTube videos are currently being released going over every circuit, how it works, and looking at waveforms on an oscilloscope!

So, PCBs were designed, each containing four of the circuits from the book. With the Mims circuit diagram on one side of the screen and the PCB on the other, [AnotherMaker] goes into a good amount of detail explaining how each circuit works, referring to the schematic and oscilloscope as needed. Each part in the series focuses on the next circuits in order, and eventually the whole series will cover every single circuit in the book.

It’s a great series of videos for anyone learning electronics, especially those who would like to learn about one of the most produced integrated circuits of all time! It’s also an excellent way to bring a fresh perspective to this classic book, while simultaneously bringing the content to a wider audience via online video.

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