Remixed Pi Recovery Kit V2 Offers Another Path

Just a few months after releasing the long-awaited second version of his Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit, [Jay Doscher] is back with an alternate take on his latest Pi-in-a-Pelican design. This slightly abridged take on the earlier design should prove to be easier and cheaper to assemble for those playing along at home while keeping the compromises to a minimum.

Probably the biggest change is that the Raspberry Pi 5 has been swapped out for its less expensive and more abundant predecessor. The Pi 4 still packs plenty of punch, but since it requires less power and doesn’t get as hot, it’s less temperamental in a build like this. Gone is the active cooling required by the more powerful single-board computer, and the wiring to distribute power to the Kit’s internal components has been simplified. The high-end military style connectors have been deleted as well. They looked cool, but they certainly weren’t cheap.

One of the most striking features of the original Recovery Kit was the front-mounted switches — both the networking type that’s intended to help facilitate connecting the Raspberry Pi to whatever hardware is left after the end of the world, and the toggles used to selectively control power to to accessory devices. Both have returned for the Recovery Kit 2B, but they’re also optional, with blank plates available to fill in their vacant spots.

Ultimately, both builds are fairly similar, but there’s enough changes between the two that it will have a notable impact on how much time (and money…) it would take you create one of your own. [Jay] has attempted to offer less intimidating versions of his designs in the past; while other creators take a “one and done” approach to their projects, he seems eager to go back and rethink problems that most others would have considered solved.

OpenSCAD Cranks Out Parametric CNC Clamps

If you’ve ever used a CNC router or mill, you’ll know how many little things need to go right before you get anything resembling acceptable results. We could (and probably should?) run a whole series of posts on selecting the correct bit for the job at hand and figuring out the appropriate feeds and speeds. But before you even get to that point, there’s something even more critical you need to do: hold the workpiece down so it doesn’t blast off into orbit when the tool touches it.

Now that might sound like an easy enough job, and for basic flat stock, it often is. But if you’ve got an oddly shaped piece of material, you’ll quickly realize how inadequate those trusty c-clamps really are. When you get to that point, it might time to check out these OpenSCAD hold down clamps from [ostat]. Thanks to its parametric nature, you can plug whatever dimensions you need into the script, and in a few seconds it will spit out an STL file for a bespoke clamp that you can print out and put to work.

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ESP32 Powered Crunch-E Makes Beats On The Go

There’s no shortage of devices out there for creating electronic music, but if you’re just looking to get started, the prices on things like synthesizers and drum machines could be enough to give you second thoughts on the whole idea. But if you’ve got a well stocked parts bin, there’s a good chance you’ve already got most of what you need to build your own Crunch-E.

A Crunch-E built from stacked modules

Described by creator [Roman Revzin] as a “keychain form factor music-making platform”, the Crunch-E combines an ESP32, an MAX98357 I2S audio amplifier, an array of tactile buttons, and a sprinkling of LEDs and passives. It can be built on a perfboard using off-the-shelf modules, or you can spin up a PCB if you want something a bit more professional. It sounds like there’s eventually going to be an option to purchase a pre-built Crunch-E at some point as well.

But ultimately, the hardware seems to be somewhat freeform — the implementation isn’t so important as long as you’ve got the major components and can get the provided software running on it.

The software, which [Roman] is calling CrunchOS, currently provides four tracks, ten synth instruments, and two drum machine banks. Everything can be accessed from a 4 x 4 button array, and there’s a “cheat sheet” in the documentation that shows what each key does in the default configuration. Judging by the demo video below, it’s already an impressively capable platform. But this is just the beginning. If everything goes according to plan and more folks start jamming on their own Crunch-E hardware, it’s not hard to imagine how the software side can be expanded and adapted over time.

Over the years we’ve seen plenty of homebrew projects for producing electronic music, but the low-cost, simple construction, and instant gratification nature of the Crunch-E strikes us as a particularly compelling combination. We’re eager to see where things develop from here.

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Donkey Kong Bongos Ditch The GameCube, Go Mobile

Historically speaking, optional peripherals for game consoles tend not to be terribly successful. You’ll usually get a handful of games that support the thing, one of which will likely come bundled with it, and then the whole thing fades into obscurity to make way for the next new gimmick.

For example, did you know Nintendo offered a pair of bongos for the GameCube in 2003? They were used almost exclusively by the trio of Donkey Konga rhythm games, although only two of them were ever released outside of Japan. While the games might not have been huge hits, they were successful enough to stick in the memory of [bl3i], who wanted a way to keep the DK bongo experience alive.

The end result is, arguably, more elegant than the hokey musical controller deserves. While most people would have just gutted the plastic bongos and crammed in some new hardware, [bl3i] went through considerable effort so the original hardware would remain intact. His creation simply snaps onto the bongos and connects to them via the original cable.

Internally, the device uses an Arduino to read the output of the bongos (which appeared to the GameCube essentially as a standard controller) and play the appropriate WAV files from an SD card as hits are detected. Add in an audio amplifier module and a battery, and Nintendo’s bongos can finally go forth into the world and spread their beats.

As far as we’re able to tell, this is the first time the Donkey Kong bongos have ever graced the pages of Hackaday in any form, so congratulations to [bl3i] for getting there first. But it’s certainly not the first time we’ve covered ill-conceived game gadgets — long time readers will perhaps be familiar with Nintendo’s attempt to introduce the Robotic Operating Buddy (ROB) to households back in 1985.

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Hands On: Inkplate 6 MOTION

Over the last several years, DIY projects utilizing e-paper displays have become more common. While saying the technology is now cheap might be overstating the situation a bit, the prices on at least small e-paper panels have certainly become far more reasonable for the hobbyist. Pair one of them with a modern microcontroller such as the RP2040 or ESP32, sprinkle in a few open source libraries, and you’re well on the way to creating an energy-efficient smart display for your home or office.

But therein lies the problem. There’s still a decent amount of leg work involved in getting the hardware wired up and talking to each other. Putting the e-paper display and MCU together is often only half the battle — depending on your plans, you’ll probably want to add a few sensors to the mix, or perhaps some RGB status LEDs. An onboard battery charger and real-time clock would be nice as well. Pretty soon, your homebrew e-paper gadget is starting to look remarkably like the bottom of your junk bin.

For those after a more integrated solution, the folks at Soldered Electronics have offered up a line of premium open source hardware development boards that combine various styles of e-paper panels (touch, color, lighted, etc) with a microcontroller, an array of sensors, and pretty much every other feature they could think of. To top it off, they put in the effort to produce fantastic documentation, easy to use libraries, and free support software such as an online GUI builder and image converter.

We’ve reviewed a number of previous Inkplate boards, and always came away very impressed by the attention to detail from Soldered Electronics. When they asked if we’d be interested in taking a look at a prototype for their new 6 MOTION board, we were eager to see what this new variant brings to the table. Since both the software and hardware are still pre-production, we won’t call this a review, but it should give you a good idea of what to expect when the final units start shipping out in October.

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VFD Tube Calculator Shows Off Wide Array Of Skills

With all the tools and services available to us these days, it’s hard to narrow down a set of skills that the modern hacker or maker should have. Sure, soldering is a pretty safe bet, and most projects now require at least a little bit of code. But the ability to design 3D printable parts has also become increasingly important, and you could argue that knowledge of PCB design and production is getting up there as well. With home laser cutters on the rise, a little 2D CAD wouldn’t hurt either. So on, and so on.

If you ever wanted an example of the multitude of skills that can go into a modern hardware project, take a look at this gorgeous Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) tube calculator built by [oskar2517]. As fantastic as the final product is, we were particularly impressed with everything it took to get this one over the finish line.

A .7 mm walnut veneer covers the pieced together plywood frame.

It’s got it all: 3D printed parts, a laser cut wooden frame, a custom PCB, and even a bit of old school woodworking. To top it all off, the whole thing has been meticulously documented.

But what’s perhaps most impressive here is that [oskar2517] was approaching most of these techniques for the first time. They had never before worked with IV-12 tubes, designed an enclosure in 3D, had parts laser cut, applied wood veneer, or designed a custom PCB. They did have solid experience writing code in C at least, which did make developing the Arduino firmware a bit easier.

Although they might look outwardly similar, VFD tubes like the IV-12 are easier to work with than Nixie tubes thanks to their lower operating voltage. That said, a look through our archives shows that projects using Nixies outnumber VFD tubes by nearly four to one, so there’s no shortage of folks willing to take on the extra effort for that sweet warm glow.

GlowBlaster Uses 405 Nm Laser To Make Its Mark

Ever wish you could do a little target shooting in a galaxy far, far away? Well then you’re in luck, as the Star Wars inspired GlowBlaster designed by [Louis Abbott] can help you realize those dreams with a real-life laser pistol — albeit a much weaker one than you’d want to carry into a Mos Eisley cantina.

Inside the 3D printed frame of the GlowBlaster is a 5 mW 405 nm module, an Arduino Nano, a speaker, a vibration motor, and a 9 V battery. When you pull the trigger, it pushes down on a 12 mm tactile button which causes the Arduino to fire the laser and sprinkle in a bit of theatrics by way of the speaker and vibration motor. There’s also a second button on the side of the blaster that lets you pick between firing modes.

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