What the Hack Is This Thing?

Let’s play a guessing game. Shown here is a sneak peek at the rear view of a hardware demo being built specifically for the Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena this November 2-4. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser when finished, but if you’re anything like us, studying what’s behind the finished face of a project like this is even more satisfying than seeing the final product.

If you think you know what it is, you can score yourself a free hardware badge from the conference! Leave a comment below with your best guess about what this is — we’ll pick whoever is closest to win the badge.

Want a closer look? Click here to embiggen.

Update: We have a winner!

It didn’t take long at all for Zardam to realize this a replicate of the console for the Hal 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Congrats!

Some comments on the build from Voja Antonic:

The red round board at the bottom is the PIR motion sensor, the part of another project which is not related neither to HAL nor to the badge. There is a clearly visible 915 MHz module, which is disconnected and has no function in this project.

It is connected to the lower left Raspberry just because it has to be supplied with about 3V and it uses Raspberry’s LDO. It also generates Reset signal for all four Raspis, as it turned out that the 5V supply (bottom right) delivers the slow-rise voltage when turned on, so Raspis won’t boot at all without the external Reset.

When someone walks in front of HAL, motion sensor randomly triggers one of 30 HAL’s sentences from the movie. That’s why the lower left Raspberry is connected to the amplifier and has an extra wire from the motion sensor board to GPIO 24.

And the demo video:

The Prize for Guessing Correctly:

Voja Antonics builds beautiful hardware. The Hackaday Superconference badge is a piece of art, as is the Hal 9000 console. Voja will be at Supercon along with hundreds of other awesome hackers. Come join us for a weekend you’ll never forget!

The Supercon Badge is a Freakin’ Computer

It hangs around your neck, comes with the cost of admission, and would blow away a desktop computer from the 1980’s. This is the Hackaday Superconference badge and you can get your hands on one for the price of admission to the ultimate hardware conference.

Everyone through the door gets one of these badges featuring a 320 x 240 color display, a full qwerty keyboard, and limitless hacking potential! The stock firmware runs a BASIC interpreter, the CP/M operating system, and includes games and Easter Eggs. It’s a giant playground, and we want to see what you can do with this custom hardware during the three days of Supercon. Get your ticket now, then join me after the break for a demo video and plenty more info.

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Retrotechtacular: Robots and Bowling Pins

On a recent bowling excursion it occurred to us that this is one of the most advanced robotics systems most Americans will directly interact with. That’s a bold claim today, but certainly one that was correct decades ago. Let’s take a stroll back to 1963 for a look at the state of the art in bowling at the time, the AMF automatic pinspotter.

With their basis in industrial automation, bowling was a perfect problem for the American Machine and Foundry company (AMF) to take on. Their business began at the turn of the 20th century with automated cigarette manufacturing before turning their sights on bowling pins after the second world war. The challenge involves more than you might think as pinspotters are confined to a narrow area and need to work with oddly-shaped pins, the bowling ball itself, and deal with setting up fresh frames but also clearing out the field after the first roll.

Separating the ball from the pins is handled by gravity and an oscillating plunger that pushes errant pins back onto a conveyor. That conveyor stretches the width of the lane and moves pins back to a pin elevator — a wheel moving perpendicular to the ground with orients and raises them to a swiveling conveyor belt that can drop them into the setting jig waiting for the next full frame setup.

Everything in this promo video has jargon which is just delightful. We especially enjoyed the non-mechanical mention of how the machine “clears dead wood from the pin deck”. We could watch this kind of automation all day, and in fact found some other gems while searching about. Here’s a more recent look a the AMF 82-70 (the same model as in the promo video). We also wondered about manual pinspotting and found this manual-with-mechanical-assist setup to be interesting despite the audio.

Much to our surprise we’ve featured AMF in a Retrotectacular article before. Once their bowling automation started to take off, they set their sights on restaurant automation. Looks like Brian Benchoff’s visit to the robo-hamburger joint was actually a retro experience!

Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Robots and Bowling Pins”

Ken Shirriff Chats About a Whole World of Chip Decapping

Reverse engineering silicon is a dark art, and when you’re just starting off it’s best to stick to the lesser incantations, curses, and hexes. Hackaday caught up with Ken Shirriff at last year’s Supercon for a chat about the chip decapping and reverse engineering scene. His suggestion is to start with an old friend: the 555 timer.

Ken is well-known for his work photographing the silicon die at the heart of an Integrated Circuit (IC) and mapping out the structures to create a schematic of the circuit. We’re looking forward to Ken’s talk in just a few weeks at the Hackaday Superconference. Get a taste of it in the interview video below.

Continue reading “Ken Shirriff Chats About a Whole World of Chip Decapping”

Supercon Talks That Inspire You to Take On Something New

There’s wealth of activities at the Hackaday Superconference but we’ve saved a few for today’s announcement that will inspire you to take on something new and different. Check out the eight talks below that will push you to try the unexpected, to look at old things in a new way, and to propel your hardware adventures for another year.

This is the Ultimate Hardware Conference and you need to be there! We’ll continue to announce speakers and workshops as final confirmations come in. Supercon will sell out so grab your ticket now before it’s too late.

Samy Kamkar
Ultra Low Cost, Low Power, Low Weight, Light-up Mesh Networkings

How to “float” a mesh network with light-up balloons in the air without re-powering.

Carl Bugeja
Building Motors from PCBs

Ongoing design and prototyping experiments that use Printed Circuit Boards (either rigid or flexible) as a coil in conjunction with rare earth magnets to create interesting motors and actuators.

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron
Hacker Calculus

Travel back to Isaac Newton’s work to rethink calculus and make it intuitive using 3D printed open-source designs.

Rob Ryan-Silva
Making it Matter for Developing Countries

Building hardware in support of foreign aid projects. Learn what considerations really matter when designing for developing country contexts.

Dominic Spill
Ridiculous Radios

RF engineers put great effort into crafting high quality radio systems. I am not one of those engineers. Experimenting with radio protocols using SDR.

Michael Rigsby
Connect the Dots; Choices Make a Life

How does life unfold if you create things? Nothing created is wasted — following your dreams will lead you somewhere (maybe not where you planned), but to a good place. How I quit my engineering job and built interesting things as a career.

Hunter Scott
Why Phased Arrays Are Cool and How to Build One

At the intersection of the two black arts of RF engineering and antenna design is the phased array. But don’t worry, they’re not as hard to understand as you might think.

 

Charles Alexanian
Small Scale Vacuum Tube Construction

Showing the process for the construction of vacuum tubes. Tubes will be built and tested on site using glass working torches and other specialized tools

We Want You at Supercon!

The Hackaday Superconference is a can’t-miss event for hardware hackers everywhere. Join in on three amazing days of talks and workshops focusing on hardware creation. This is your community of hardware hackers who congregate to hack on the official hardware badge and on a slew of other projects that show up for the fun. Get your ticket right away!

Supercon: How Many Hardware Talks Can Be Packed Into One Conference?

How can we fit so many impressive talks onto two stages at the Hackaday Superconference? We’ll be bursting at the seams in November as the hardware world gathers in Pasadena for this annual pilgrimage. This year’s Supercon will have more talks and workshops than ever before!

This is the Ultimate Hardware Conference and you need to be there! We’ll continue to announce speakers and workshops as final confirmations come in. Supercon will sell out so grab your ticket now before it’s too late.

Ken Shirriff
Studying Silicon: Reverse Engineering Integrated Circuits

From the outside, integrated circuits are mysterious black boxes. Here’s how to open up some famous analog and digital chips including 8008 microprocessor, 555 timer, the first FPGA chip, Intel’s first RAM, the 76477 sound effects chip, and a counterfeit RAM chip.

Jennifer Wang
Building IMU-based Gesture Recognition

If you combine IMUs with machine learning (ML), you can detect gestures! Experimenting with these devices that sense both motion and orientation is a great way to get ML into your hacker toolkit.

Michael Schuldt
Adventures in Manufacturing Automation

A software engineer explores manufacturing automation, featuring complex software solutions and redemption in the form of reusable hardware components.

Adam McCombs
A Hacker’s Guide to Electron Microscopy

Working on electron microscopes means learning about everything from analog and digital circuit repairs, to how to rig and transport scopes, servicing 120KV+ high voltage tanks, and working on complex high vacuum systems.

Justin McAllister
Simple Antennas to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

From $10 USB software defined radios to cheap imported transceivers, it’s easier than ever to have a multi-purpose radio in your lab. Low cost antennas can be built by beginners easily to send and receive radio signals from frequencies covering worldwide HF to local VHF, UHF, and microwave.

Alex Glow
What Went Wrong with Archimedes (the Robot Owl)?

Building a wearable, AI-powered robotic owl, is both easier and harder than it looks. Explore the challenges of 3D printing, coding, and how to confront them with creativity.

Kerry Scharfglass
The Economics of Conference Badges at Medium Scale

Discover manufacturing processes and make decisions with an eye towards economics. Buying 30,000 RGB LEDs, using big red arrows to communicate through a translator, and more!

 

Jeremy Hong
Electronic Warfare: A Brief Overview of Weaponized RF Designs

Whether you are trying to avoid having a multi-million dollar fighter jet from being shot down or avoid a speeding ticket from law enforcement , the same radar and electronic warfare equations and concepts apply.

We Want You at Supercon!

The Hackaday Superconference is a can’t-miss event for hardware hackers everywhere. Join in on three amazing days of talks and workshops focusing on hardware creation. This is your community of hardware hackers who congregate to hack on the official hardware badge and on a slew of other projects that show up for the fun. Get your ticket right away!