Despite a somewhat shaky start, it seems like everyone is finally embracing USB-C. Most gadgets have made the switch these days, and even Apple has (with some external persuasion) gotten on board. That’s great for new hardware, but it can lead to a frustrating experience when you reach for an older device and find a infuriatingly non-oval connector on the bottom.
If one of those devices happens to be Sony’s DualShock 4 controller, [DoganM95] has the fix for you. Sony wisely put the controller’s original micro USB connector on a separate PCB so it could be cheaply replaced without having to toss the main PCB — that same modularity also means it was relatively easy to develop a USB-C upgrade board.
That said, there was a bit of a catch. The USB board on the DualShock 4 also carries a LED module that illuminates the “Light Bar” on the rear of the controller. In this design, [DoganM95] has replaced the original component with a pair of side-firing LEDs. Combined with the extra pins in the flexible printed circuit (FPC) connector necessary to control them, and the pair of 0603 resistors required for USB-C to actually provide power, putting this board together might take a bit more fine-pitch soldering than you’d expect.
A little over a year ago, and about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) from where you’re currently reading this, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe quietly made history by safely flying through one of the most powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs) ever recorded. Now that researchers have had time to review the data, amateur space nerds like ourselves are finally getting details about the probe’s fiery flight.
Launched in August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe was built to get up close and personal with our local star. Just two months after liftoff, it had already beaten the record for closest approach to the Sun by a spacecraft. The probe, with its distinctive solar shield, has come within 8.5 million kilometers (5.3 million miles) of its surface, a record that it’s set to break as its highly elliptical orbit tightens.
As clearly visible in the video below, the Parker probe flew directly into the erupting CME on September the 5th of 2022, and didn’t get fully clear of the plasma for a few days. During that time, researchers say it observed something that had previously only been theorized — the interaction between a CME and the swirling dust and debris that fills our solar system.
According to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the blast that Parker flew through managed to displace this slurry of cosmic bric a brac out to approximately 9.6 million km (6 million miles), though the void it created was nearly instantly refilled. The researchers say that better understanding how a CME propagates through the interplanetary medium could help us better predict and track potentially dangerous space weather.
It’s been a busy year for the Parker Solar Probe. Back in June it announced that data from the craft was improving our understanding of high-speed solar winds. With the spacecraft set to move closer and closer to the Sun over the next two years, we’re willing to bet this isn’t the last discovery to come from this fascinating mission.
You’ve probably seen USB hubs with physical switches for each port, they provide a handy way to cut the power to individual devices, but only if you’re close enough to flip them. They won’t do you much good if you want to pull the plug on a USB gadget remotely.
That’s why [Jim Heaney] created the I2C-USB-Hub. The device takes your standard USB 2.0 hub circuit, and adds in a MT9700 P-MOSFET load switch for each port. The enable pin on each of these switches is in turn connected to one of the output pins of a PCA9557PW I2C I/O chip. That means controlling each port is as easy as sending the proper sequence of bits over the wire, though [Jim] says he does plan on writing up an Arduino library to make flipping the digital switches a little more user friendly.
Since the 8-bit chip had a few extra pins left over, [Jim] wired one up to serve as a master control for the LED indicator lights on the PCB. Another is used to adjust the current limit on the MT9700 between 500 mA and 1 A.
Readers of a certain age no doubt remember the Atari 2600 — released in 1977, the 8-bit system helped establish the ground rules for gaming consoles as we know them today, all while sporting a swanky faux wood front panel designed to make the system look at home in contemporary living rooms.
Now, nearly 50 years later, the Atari 2600 is back. The new system, imaginatively named the 2600+, looks exactly like the original system, albeit at around 80% scale. It will also work the same way, as the system will actually be able to play original Atari 2600 and 7800 cartridges. This is something of a surprise when compared to the previously released retro consoles from the likes of Sony and Nintendo, as they were all limited to whatever games the company decided to pack into them. Of course, this probably has something to do with the fact that Atari has been selling newly manufactured 2600 games for some time now.
Although it will play original cartridges, it’s still an emulated console at heart. There aren’t a lot of technical details on the product page, but it does say the 2600+ is powered by a Rockchip 3128 SoC with 256 MB of DDR3 RAM and 256 MB eMMC flash. Some quick searching shows this to be a pretty common board for set-top gadgets, and wildly overpowered considering the meager requirements for emulating a game console from 1977. We wouldn’t be surprised to find it’s running some kind of minimal Linux install and using one of the existing open source emulators.
While the 2600+ sports the same 9-pin D-sub controller connectors as the original console, it thankfully embraces modern display technology and outputs over HDMI. Each console will come with a “10-in-1” cartridge that contains some of the console’s most popular titles, as well as a modernized version of the original single-button joystick. (Unlike the original, the 2600+ comes with only a single joystick — the other is sold separately.)
Atari won’t start shipping the 2600+ until this fall, but they’re currently taking preorders for the $130 system. We’re eager to see somebody pull it apart, as the earlier “mini” consoles ended up being ripe for hacking.
It was an easy decision to run a Cyberdeck Challenge in 2023 — after all, it was far and away one of our most popular contests from last year. But what was much harder was sorting out the incredible array of bespoke computers that readers have been sending in for the last few months.
Our judges have painstakingly whittled down the list of entries to get our top three winners, each of which will be awarded $150 in credit from the good folks over at DigiKey. But there were simply too many fantastic custom computers in the running to let everyone else go home empty-handed, so we’ve decided to also break out some $50 Tindie gift cards for the decks that best exemplified this year’s special categories.
Without further ado, let’s take a tour through the judge’s top picks for this year’s Cyberdeck Challenge!
It might sound like a joke, but this week, Elliot Williams and Tom Nardi start things off by asking how you keep a Polish train from running. Like always, the answer appears to be a properly modulated radio signal. After a fiery tale about Elliot’s burned beans, the discussion moves over to the adventure that is home CNC ownership, the final chapter in the saga of the Arecibo Telescope, and the unexpected longevity of Microsoft’s Kinect. Then it’s on to the proper way to cook a PCB, FFmpeg in the browser, and a wooden cyberdeck that’s worth carrying around. Finally, they’ll go over the next generation of diode laser engravers, and take a look back at the origins of the lowly breadboard.
Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Rarely a week goes by that some company doesn’t offer to send us their latest and greatest laser. You know the type — couple of aluminum extrusions, Class 4 diode flopping around in the breeze, and no enclosure to speak of unless you count the cardboard box they shipped it in. In other words, an accident waiting to happen. Such gracious invitations get sent to the trash without a second thought.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that the average Hackaday reader would be able to render such a contraption (relatively) safe for use around the shop. Build a box around it, bolt on a powerful enough fan to suck the smoke out through the window, and you’ve turned a liability into a legitimate tool. But the fact remains that we simply can’t put our stamp on something that is designed with such a blatant disregard for basic safety principles.
That being the case, a recent email from WAINLUX nearly met the same fate as all those other invitations. But even at a glance it was clear that this new machine they wanted to send out, the K8, was very different from others we’d seen. Different even from what the company themselves have put out to this point. This model was fully enclosed, had a built-in ventilation fan, an optional air filter “sidecar”, and yes, it would even turn off the laser if you opened the door while it was in operation. After reading through the promotional material they sent over, I had to admit, I was intrigued.
It seemed like I wasn’t the only one either; it was only a matter of days before the Kickstarter for the WAINLUX K8 rocketed to six figures. At the time of this writing, the total raised stands at just under $230,000 USD. There’s clearly a demand for this sort of desktop laser, the simplicity of using a diode over a laser tube is already appealing, but one that you could actually use in a home with kids or pets would be a game changer for many people.
But would the reality live up to the hype? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks putting a pre-production WAINLUX K8 through its paces, so let’s take a look and see if WAINLUX has a winner on their hands.