The Macintosh Portable was possibly one of the coolest computing devices to be seen with back at the end of the 1980s, providing as it did a Mac in a slightly nicer version of the hefty luggable portables of the day than the PC world could offer. Inside was a mere 68000, but it ran Mac OS system 6 and looked light years ahead of any comparable PC in doing so.
Back in 1989 it wasn’t even the norm for a computer to have built-in Ethernet, and WiFi was still a gleam in the eye of some Dutch engineers, so how has [Joshua Stein] managed to get his Mac Portable on a wireless network here in 2023? The answer contains a few surprises.
We have to admit to not knowing that there were SCSI Ethernet interfaces back in the day, and it’s one of these that he’s created. He’s building on a decade’s work in producing disk emulators for the SCSI bus, and he’s taken the code for a Raspberry Pi Pico version and adapted the SCSI driver part to interface with the onboard WiFi on a Pico W. Altogether it’s a beautiful piece of work, and you can color us impressed.
A question: does anyone who was around in the early days of the 8-bit computer revolution remember a dual-CPU 6502 portable machine like this one? Or just a dual-CPU machine? Or even just a reasonably portable computer? We don’t, but that begs a further question: if [Mitsuru Yamada] can build such a machine today with parts that were available in the era, why weren’t these a thing back then?
We’re not sure we have an answer to that question, but it just may be that nobody thought of it. Or, if they did, the idea of putting two expensive CPUs into a single machine was perhaps too exorbitant to take seriously. Regardless, the homemade mobile is another in a growing line of beautifully crafted machines in the PERSEUS line, all of which have a wonderfully similar look and feel.
For the PERSEUS-9, [Yamada-san] chose a weatherproof aluminum enclosure with just the right form-factor for a mobile computer, as well as a sturdy industrial look. Under the hood, there are two gorgeous wire-wrap boards, one of which is home to the 48-key keyboard and the 40×7 alphanumeric LED matrix display, while the other is a densely packed work of art holding the two 6502s and a host of other DIPs.
The machine is a combination of his PERSEUS-8 computer, his 6802 serial terminal, and the CI-2 floating point interpreter he built for the PERSEUS-8. A brief video of the assembly of this delightful machine is below. One of the many things about these builds that impress us is the precision with which the case is machined, apparently all by hand. How he managed to drill out all those holes for the keyboard without having one even slightly out of alignment without the aid of CNC is beyond us.
To say that the process of installing a magnetic resonance imager in a hospital is a complex task is a serious understatement. Once the approval of regulators is obtained, a process that could take years, architects and engineers have to figure out where the massive machine can be installed. An MRI suite requires a sizable electrical service to be installed, reinforced floors to handle the massive weight of the magnet, and special shielding in the walls and ceiling. And once the millions have been spent and the whole thing is up and running, there are ongoing safety concerns when working around a gigantic magnet that can suck ferromagnetic objects into it at any time.
MRI studies can reveal details of diseases and injuries that no other imaging modality can match, which justifies the massive capital investments hospitals make to obtain them. But what if MRI scanners could be miniaturized? Is there something inherent in the technology that makes them so massive and so expensive that many institutions are priced out of the market? Or has technology advanced far enough that a truly portable MRI?
It turns out that yes, an inexpensive MRI scanner is not only possible, but can be made portable enough to wheel into a patient care room. It’s not without compromise, but such a device could make a huge impact on diagnostic medicine and extend MRI technologies into places far beyond the traditional hospital setting.
Well, I must admit that Google Translate completely failed me here, and thus I have no real idea what the trick is to this beautiful, stunning transparent split keyboard by [illness072]. Allegedly, the older tweets (exes?) hold the key to this magic, but again, Google Translate.
Based on top picture, I assume that the answer lies in something like thin white PCB fingers bent to accommodate the row stagger and hiding cleverly behind the keys.
Anyone who can read what I assume is Japanese, please advise what is going on in the comments below.
[JR] over at [Tech Throwback] got ahold of an unusual piece of gear recently — a portable Point of Sale (POS) credit card machine from the late 1990s (video, embedded below the break ). Today these machines can be just a small accessory that works in conjunction with your smart phone, but only the most dedicated merchants would lug this behemoth around. The unit is basically a Motorola bag phone, a credit card scanner, a receipt printer, a lead-acid battery, and a couple of PCBs crammed into a custom carrying case
Despite having a lot of documentation, [JR] struggles to find any information on this U.S. Wireless POS-50. He finds that the credit card scanner is an Omron CAT-95 authorization terminal, and the Motorola SCN-2397B phone appears to come from the Soft-PAK series.
He is able to power it up, but can’t do much with is because he is missing the authorization password. But regardless, with the demise of the Advanced Mobile Phone System for over a decade, this 850 MHz band analog phone can’t connect to the network anymore.
If you happen to know anything about this old POS, or used a similar luggable system for accepting credit cards in the 1990s, let us know in the comments below.
Making pizza is fun, but eating pizza is even better. Ideally, you’ll get to spend much more time doing the latter than the former. If you had a pizza-making CNC machine, that would help you achieve this goal, and thankfully, [Twarner] is working on that very technology.
The Pizza-Pizza CNC Machine is based on Marlin firmware running on a Mini RAMbo 3D printer motherboard, and is a 3-axis CNC machine. At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s some kind of fancy futuristic vinyl player, but it’s actually intended to cook a tasty delicious pie. It’s a gantry-based machine that uses two tool ends, one charged with distributing sauce, and the other cheese. It’s programmed with G-code to designate areas to coat with sauce and areas to cover with cheese. It can’t create dough from scratch sadly, but instead operates using pre-manufactured pizza bases.
The current level of sophistication is low, and there are issues with cheese clogs and the general messiness of the operation. However, this doesn’t mean there’s no value in automated pizza manufacture. If anything, we want to see the more open-sauce development in this area until we end up with a pizza factory on every kitchen bench worldwide. We’ve already seen that hackers have mastered how to build a good pizza oven, so now we just need to solve this part of the equation. Video after the break.
When you think of a luggable computer, you might think of the old Compaq or — if you are old enough — a Kaypro. But you don’t see as many Commodore SX-64 computers. [The 8-Bit Guy] has wanted one for a while and finally got one, but it wasn’t working. No problem! Just fix it!
The device actually looks sleek compared to some other portables of the era and had a color screen, but — probably due to the price — they didn’t sell very well. The outside of the device looked pretty clean other than some loose screws and clips. The space key was quite yellow but at least there was a keyboard cable which is nearly impossible to find anymore.