We’d Like, Totally Carry This Retro Boombox Cyberdeck On Our Shoulder

Cyberdeck. For those of a certain age, the ‘deck’ part conjures visions of tape decks, be they cassette, 8-track, or quarter-inch, and we seriously have to wonder why haven’t seen this type of build before. But here we are, thanks to [bongoplayingmonkey]’s Sanyo Cyberdeck, a truly retro machine built into a cool old boombox.

According to [bongoplayingmonkey], this was a unicorn of a build wherein everything more or less came together, soup to nuts. Right now, [bongoplayingmonkey] is cracking the nuts of a few remaining issues, like calibrating the analog VU meter that inspired the build in the first place. The plan is to use that to indicate various analog things such as battery power and the WiFi signal.

Luckily, everything survived the teardown, parts-wise. That huge knob has a new life has a rotary encoder for scrolling and middle click. And the VU meter made it too, thank Zod. This baby has full mouse controls thanks to a PS/2 joystick and a pair of vintage momentary buttons are likely chrome and bakelite to round out the look.

So apparently [bongoplayingmonkey]’s personal jury is still out on whether this is a blasphemous build or a divine ‘deck, but we say one thing is for sure: this is definitely art.

Unfortunately, the cassette deck didn’t survive. Otherwise, we might have to question its categorization — is it still a boombox if the tape deck works? This, however, is definitely a laptop that grew up to be a cyberdeck.

Thanks for the tip, [Blasto]!

RoboTray Is A Secret Tea Butler

How far would you go for your cup of tea? [samsungite]’s missus doesn’t like clutter on her countertops, so away the one-cup kettle would go back into the cupboard for next time while the tea steeped. As long as there’s room for it in there, why not install it there permanently? That’s the idea behind RoboTray, which would only be cooler if it could be plumbed somehow.

RoboTray went through a few iterations, most importantly the switch from 6mm MDF to 4 mm aluminum plate. A transformer acts as a current sensor, and when the kettle is powered on, the tray first advances forward 7 cm using a 12 VDC motor and an Arduino. Then it pivots 90° on a lazy Susan driven by another 12 VDC motor. The kettle is smart enough to turn itself off when finished, and the Arduino senses this and reverses all the steps after a ten-second warning period. Check it out in action after the break.

If [samsungite] has any more Arduinos lying around, he might appreciate this tea inventory tracker.

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Netscape Navigator 1.0

So, Why Are Hyperlinks Blue, Anyway?

You’ve no doubt noticed by now that while some links are gold and/or bold, most links out there are blue, especially on web pages of yore. But why? the TL;DR answer is that the Mosaic browser, released in early 1993 used blue links, and since the browser was widely distributed, blue just became the norm. Okay, fine. But why did they choose blue? That’s a question that requires a deep dive into technology through the ages as the Web and personal computing developed in tandem.

It’s important to remember that the idea of hyperlinks predates the invention of color monitors, which thickens the plot a bit. But the pivotal point seems to be Windows 3.1, released April 6th, 1992, when hyperlink blue becomes a navigational and interactive color. A year later, the April 12, 1993 release notes for Mosaic include a bullet that becomes the point of origin for blue hyperlinks:

Changed default anchor representations: blue and single solid underline for unvisited, dark purple and single dashed underline for visited.Mosaic release notes

Around the same time, the Cello browser was developed at Cornell Law, which also used blue hyperlinks. So the blue hyperlink concept was arguably browser-agnostic even before Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer came along.

The writer speculates that blue was chosen to stand out against black and white once color monitors took over, and that seems legit to us. Can you imagine blue hyperlinks on Hackaday, though? Ouch.

Speaking of important questions in computing history — who invented the mouse?

An optical keyboard that works using IR LEDs and phototransistors.

Take A Look At This Optical Keyboard

Making keyboards is easy, right? Just wire up a bunch of switches matrix-style to a microcontroller, slap some QMK and a set of keycaps on there and you’re good to go. Well, yeah, that might work for cushier environments like home offices and Hackaday dungeons, but what if you need to give input under water, in a volatile area, or anywhere else you’d have to forego the clacking for something hermetically sealed? Mechanical switches can only take you so far — at some point, you have to go optical.

the layers of an optical keyboardThis gorgeous keyboard works with reflected IR beams to determine when a finger is occupying a given key site (because what else are you going to call them?). Each key site has an IR LED and a phototransistor and it works via break-beam.

[BenKoning] wanted a solution that would be easy for others to build, with a low-cost BOM and minimal software processing cost. It just so happens to be extremely good-looking, as well.

The reason you can’t see the guts is that black layer — it passes infrared light, but is black to the eye. The frosted layer diffuses the beams until a finger is close enough to register. Check it out in action after the break, and then feed your optical key switch cravings with our own [Bob Baddeley]’s in-depth exploration of them.

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A bee pollinates a flower.

Even Bees Are Abuzz About Caffeine

Many of us can’t get through the day without at minimum one cup of coffee, or at least, we’d rather not think about trying. No matter how you choose to ingest caffeine, it is an awesome source of energy and focus for legions of hackers and humans. And evidently, the same goes for pollinator bees.

You’ve probably heard that there aren’t enough bees around anymore to pollinate all the crops that need pollinating. That’s old news. One solution was to raise them commercially and then truck them to farmers’ fields where they’re needed. The new problem is that the bees wander off and pollinate wildflowers instead of the fields they’re supposed to be pollinating. But there’s hope for these distracted bees: Scientists at the University of Greenwich have discovered that bees under the influence of caffeine are more likely to stay on track when given a whiff of the flower they’re supposed to be pollinating.

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CAD design for a vinyl record cutter.

VinyGo Stereo Vinyl Recorder Will Put You In The Groove

A long time ago, there were these vinyl recording booths. You could go in there and cut a 45PM record as easily as getting a strip of four pictures of yourself in the next booth along the boardwalk. With their 2021 Hackaday Prize entry called VinyGo, [mras2an] seeks to reinvigorate this concept for private use by musicians, artists, or anyone else who has always wanted to cut their own vinyl.

VinyGo is for people looking to make a few dozen copies or fewer. Apparently there’s a polymer shortage right now on top of everything else, and smaller clients are getting the shaft from record-pressing companies. This way, people can cut their own records for about $4 a unit on top of the cost of building VinyGo, which is meant to be both affordable and accessible.

You probably know how a record player works, but how about a record cutter? As [mras2an] explains over on IO, music coming through a pair of speakers vibrates a diamond cutting head, which cuts a groove in the vinyl that’s an exact representation of the music. Once it’s been cut, a regular stylus picks up the groove and plays back the vibrations. Check it out after the break.

[mras2an] plans to enter VinyGo into the Hackaday Prize during the Wildcard round, where anything goes. Does your project defy categorization? Or are you just running a little behind? The Wildcard round runs from Monday, September 27th to Wednesday, October 27th and is your last chance to enter this year’s Prize.

Not your kind of vinyl cutter? We’ve got those, too.

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Drill press modded with a treadmill motor, speed controller, lights, and a tachometer.

Drill Press Runs Faster On A Treadmill Motor

Are you tired of the same old video style from your favorite content creators? We can’t say that we were, exactly. But nevertheless, we appreciate this creative departure from [Eric Strebel]’s regular fare as he soups up his drill press with an old treadmill motor and a few extra features.

First off, that commentator in the video is right — 2.6 horsepower is a crazy amount for a drill press. Fortunately, [Eric] also added a variable speed controller and a digital tachometer to keep things in check. As an added bonus, he no longer has to get under the hood and mess with the belts.

We like what [Eric] brings to the drill press motor mod, which is already well-documented on YouTube. We love the re-use of an office chair bracket as a new motor mount. It’s probably our favorite bit aside from the 2-color forward/reverse switch plate idea: print it in whatever letter color you want with proud lettering, paint the whole thing black, and sand off the letters so the color shows. Check it out after the break.

There are many ways to make your own drill press, and one of the easiest is to mount a hand drill.

Did you miss the Industrial Design Hack Chat with [Eric]? It’s okay, you can read the transcript over on IO.

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