Replace An AA Battery With Paper

Paper is an ubiquitous part of society; so much so that the incredible engineering behind it often goes unnoticed. That isn’t the case for [Robert], though, who has a deep appreciation for the material and all its many uses far beyond recording information. In this particular video, he recreates a method found by researchers to turn a piece of paper into a battery with equivalent performance to a AA-sized alkaline battery. (Video, embedded below the break.)

The process involves the creation of a few different types of ink, each of which can be made with relatively common materials such as shellac, ethanol, polyethylene glycol, and graphite. Each of these materials are mixed in different proportions to create the inks. Once the cathode ink and anode ink are made, a third ink is needed called a current collector ink which functions essentially as a wire. The paper is dipped into a salt solution and then allowed to dry, given a partial waterproof coating, and when it is needed it can be activated by wetting it which allows the ion flow of the battery to happen.

The chemistry of this battery makes a lot of sense once you see it in action, and the battery production method also has a perk of having a long shelf life as long as the batteries stay dry. They also don’t damage the environment as much as non-rechargable alkaline cells do, at least unless you want to go to some extreme measures to reuse them.

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Scavenging CDs For Flexible Parts

CDs are becoming largely obsolete now, thanks to the speed of the internet and the reliability and low costs of other storage media. To help keep all of this plastic out of the landfills, many have been attempting to find uses for these old discs. One of the more intriguing methods of reprurposing CDs was recently published in Nature, which details a process to harvest and produce flexible biosensors from them.

The process involves exposing the CD to acetone for 90 seconds to loosen the material, then transferring the reflective layer to a plastic tape. From there, various cutting tools can be used to create the correct pattern for the substrate of the biosensor. This has been shown to be a much more cost-effective method to produce this type of material when compared to modern production methods, and can also be performed with readily available parts and supplies as well.

The only downside to this method is that it was only tested out on CDs which used gold as the conducting layer. The much more common aluminum discs were not tested, but it could be possible with some additional research. So, if you have a bunch of CD-Rs laying around, you’re going to need to find something else to do with those instead.

Thanks to [shinwachi] for the tip!

Hackaday Prize 2022: An Eastern Bloc NES Clone

If Nintendo is known for anything outside of their characters and admittedly top-notch video games, it’s being merciless to fans when it comes to using their intellectual property. They take legal action against people just for showing non-Nintendo hardware emulating games of theirs, and have even attempted to shut down the competitive scene for games like Super Smash Bros. To get away from the prying eyes of the Nintendo legal team extreme measures need to be taken — like building your Nintendo console clone behind the Iron Curtain.

[Marek Więcek] grew up in just such a place, so the only way to play Famicom (a.k.a NES) games was to use a clone system like this one circulating in the Eastern Bloc at the time called the Pegasus which could get the job done with some tinkering. [Marek] recently came across CPU and GPU chips from this clone console and got to work building his own. Using perf board and wire he was able to test the chips and confirm they functioned properly, but had a problem with the video memory that took him a while to track down and fix.

After that, he has essentially a fully-functional Famicom that can play any cartridge around. While we hope that living in Eastern Europe still puts him far enough away to avoid getting hassled by Nintendo, we can never be too sure. Unless, of course, you use this device which lets you emulate SNES games legally.

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Hackaday Prize 2022: Soviet Geiger Counter Gets WiFi

[Marek] has an impressive collection of old Soviet-style Geiger counters. These are handy tools to have in some specific situations, but for most of us they would be curiosities. Even so, they need some help from the modern world to work well, and [Marek] has come up with some pretty creative ways of bringing them into the 21st century. This version, for example, adds WiFi capabilities.

This build is based on the STS-5 Geiger tube but the real heavy lifting is handled by an ESP8266 which also provides a wireless network connection. There are some limitations to using an ESP8266 to control a time-sensitive device like a Geiger tube, especially the lack of local storage, but [Marek] solves this problem by including a real-time clock and locally caching data until a network connection is re-established. Future plans for the device include adding temperature and atmospheric temperature sensors.

Eventually this Geiger counter will be installed in a watertight enclosure outside so [Marek] can keep an eye on the background radiation of his neighborhood. Previously he was doing this with another build, but that one only had access to the network over an Ethernet cable, so this one is quite an upgrade.

New OS For Commodore 64 Adds Modern Features

The Commodore 64 was a revolutionary computer for its day and age. After four decades, though, it gets harder and harder to use these computers for anything more than educational or hobby electronics projects. [Gregory Nacu] is fiercly determined to challenge this idea, though, and has gone to great extremes to make this hardware still relevant in the modern age by writing a completely new operating system for the Commodore machines.

Known as C64OS, it squeezes everything it can out of the 8 bit processor and 64 kB of memory. The new OS includes switchable desktop workspaces, a windowing system, draggable icons, a Mac-style menu bar at the top, and drop-down menus for the icons (known as aliases in the demonstrations). The filesystem is largely revamped as well and enables a more modern directory system to be used. There are still some limitations like a screen resolution of 320×200 pixels and a fixed color palette which only allows for a handful of colors, but this OS might give Windows 3.1 a run for its money.

The project is still being actively developed but it has come a long way into a fairly usable state. It can be run on original hardware as well as long as you have a method of getting the image to the antique machine somehow. If not, the OS can likely run on any number of C64 emulators we’ve featured in the past.

Thanks to [Stephen] for the tip!

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Tiny Arcade Uses Tiny CRT

Restoring vintage electronics is a difficult hobby to tackle. Even the most practical builds often have to use some form of modern technology to work properly, or many different versions of the machine need to be disassembled to get a single working version. Either way, in the end someone will be deeply hurt by the destruction of anything antique, except perhaps with [Marco]’s recent tiny arcade with a unique CRT display.

The CRT is a now-obsolete technology, but Arcade and MAME purists often seek them out because of the rounded screen and vintage feel these devices have when compared to modern LCD or LED displays. For a build this small, though, [Marco] couldn’t just use parts from an old TV set as there wouldn’t be clearance in the back of the cabinet. An outdated video conferencing system turned out to have just the part he needed, though. It has a CRT mounted perpendicularly to a curved screen in order to reduce the depth needed dramatically.

The final build uses a tiny Namco system meant to plug into the RCA jack on a standard TV, but put in a custom case that makes it look like an antique video game cabinet. It’s an interesting build that doesn’t destroy any valuable antique electronics, while still maintaining a classic arcade feel. If you’re building a larger arcade cabinet which will still satisfy the purists out there, make sure you’re using a CRT with the right kind of control system.

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