Pi Pico Project Plays Pong Perfectly

Even as technology keeps progressing, we find ourselves coming back to the classics again and again. Pong is quite possibly the classic game, and the Raspberry Pi Pico is one of the latest microcontrollers. So [Nick Bild] combined them expertly in his Pico Pong project, which includes gesture controls and a custom VGA output.

Rolling your own VGA signal is no simple feat, and this project takes full advantage of the Pico’s features to pull it off. Display data is buffered in memory, while a Programmable I/O (PIO) program reads straight from the buffer via Direct Memory Access (DMA) and writes straight to the display. This allows for nanosecond-precision while leaving the CPU free to handle inputs and run the game. Even with the display work offloaded, the ARM processor had to be massively overclocked at 258 MHz, well over its 133 MHz specs, to make things run smoothly. And still [Nick] found himself limited to a 640×350 resolution and serendipitously-retro-accurate monochrome color scheme.

Gesture controls come from a pair of IR light beams hooked up to the GPIO. IR LEDs shine up toward reflectors, and the light bounces back down to detectors. Blocking one of the beams causes your paddle to move up or down, which looks pretty responsive in the video (embedded below).

We’ve seen [Nick] play Pong before, though at that time it was handheld and based on the venerable 6502. And just recently we wrote about the Raspberry Pi Pico powering another classic game: Snake.

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3D Printing Restores Bandsaw

A great addition to a home shop is a bandsaw, but when [Design Prototype Test] got a well-used one, he found it wasn’t in very good shape. The previous owner put in an underpowered motor and made some modifications to accommodate the odd-sized blade. Luckily, 3D printing allowed him to restore the old saw to good working order.

There were several 3D printed additions. A pulley, a strain relief, and even an emergency stop switch. Honestly, none of this stuff was something you couldn’t buy, but as he points out, it was cheaper and faster than shipping things in from China. He did wind up replacing the initial pulley with a commercial variant and he explains why.

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Something’s Up In Switzerland: Explaining The B Meson News From The Large Hadron Collider

Particle physics is a field of extremes. Scales always have 10really big number associated. Some results from the Large Hadron Collider Beauty (LHCb) experiment have recently been reported that are statistically significant, and they may have profound implications for the Standard Model, but it might also just be a numbers anomaly, and we won’t get to find out for a while. Let’s dive into the basics of quantum particles, in case your elementary school education is a little rusty.

It all starts when one particle loves another particle very much and they are attracted to each other, but then things move too fast, and all of a sudden they’re going in circles in opposite directions, and then they break up catastrophically…

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Less Stinky Resin Two Ways

After watching [Uncle Jessy’s] video about soy-based 3D printing resin from Elegoo and their miniature air purifiers, we couldn’t decide if the resin doesn’t smell as bad as some other resins or if the air purifier works wonders. Maybe it is a bit of both.

We’ve used Eryone super low odor resin and it has less smell than, say, paint. It sounds like the Elegoo is similar. However, we are always suspicious of claims that any resin is really made with natural ingredients. As [Brent], who apparently has a PhD in chemistry, pointed out, AnyCubic Eco resin makes similar claims but is likely only partially made from soy. Sure, a little less than half is soy-based, but then there’s the other half. Still, we suppose it is better than nothing. That video (also below) is worth watching if you ever wondered why resin solidifies under UV light or what a monomer is.

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Toyota’s Hydrogen-Burning Racecar Soon To Hit The Track

With the rise of usable electric cars in the marketplace, and markets around the world slowly phasing out the sale of fossil fuel cars, you could be forgiven for thinking that the age of the internal combustion engine is coming to an end. History is rarely so cut and dry, however, and new technologies aim to keep the combustion engine alive for some time yet.

Toyota’s upcoming Corolla Sport-based hydrogen-burning racer.

One of the most interesting technologies in this area are hydrogen-burning combustion engines. In contrast to fuel cell technologies, which combine hydrogen with oxygen through special membranes in order to create electricity, these engines do it the old fashioned way – in flames. Toyota has recently been exploring the technology, and has announced a racecar sporting a three-cylinder hydrogen-burning engine will compete in this year’s Fuji Super TEC 24 Hour race.

Hydrogen Engines?

The benefit of a hydrogen-burning engine is that unlike burning fossil fuels, the emissions from burning hydrogen are remarkably clean. Burning hydrogen in pure oxygen produces only water as a byproduct. When burned in atmospheric air, the result is much the same, albeit with small amounts of nitrogen oxides produced. Thus, there’s great incentive to explore the substitution of existing transportation fuels with hydrogen. It’s a potential way to reduce pollution output while avoiding the hassles of long recharge times with battery electric technologies. Continue reading “Toyota’s Hydrogen-Burning Racecar Soon To Hit The Track”

Realistic Mission Control Box Is A Blast For All Ages

A lot of electronic busy boxes that are built for children are simply that — a mess of meaningless knobs and switches that don’t do much beyond actuating back and forth (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty fun to do). But this Mission Control Center by [gcall1979] knocks them all out of orbit. The simulation runs through a complete mission, including a 10-minute countdown with pre-flight system checks, 8.5 minutes of powered flight to get out of the atmosphere that includes another four tasks, and 90 minutes to orbit the Earth while passing through nine tracking stations across the world map.

That’s a lot time to keep anyone’s attention, but fortunately [gcall1979] included a simulation speed knob that can make everything go up to 15 times faster than real-time. This knob can be twiddled at any time, in case you want to savor the countdown but get into space faster, or you don’t have 90 minutes to watch the world map light up.

The main brain of this well-built box is an Arduino Mega, which controls everything but the launch systems’ mainframe computer — this is represented by bank of active LEDs that blink along with the voice in the sound clips and runs on an Arduino Uno and a couple of shift registers. To keep things relatively simple, [gcall1979] used an Adafruit sound board for the clips.

We love everything about this build, especially the attention to detail — the more important pre-flight tasks are given covered toggle switches, and there’s a Shuttle diagram that lights up as each of these are completed. And what Shuttle launch simulator would be complete without mushroom buttons for launch and abort? Grab your victory cigar and check out the demo video after the break.

Is your child too young to be launching the Shuttle? Here’s an equally cool busy box with toddler brains in mind.

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Hybrid Rocket Engine Combines Ceramic Aerospike With 3D Printed Fuel

[Integza] has worked hard over the last year, crafting a variety of types of rocket and jet engine, primarily using 3D printed parts. Due to the weaknesses of plastic, all of which conflict with the general material requirements for an engine that gets hot, he has had less thrust and more meltdowns than he would have liked. Undeterred, he presses on, now with a hybrid rocket aerospike design. The goal? Actually generating some thrust for once!

The latest project makes the most of what [Integza] has learned. The aerospike nozzle is 3D printed, but out of a special thick ceramic-loaded resin, using a Bison 1000 DLP printer. This allowed [Integza] to print thicker ceramic parts which shrunk less when placed in a kiln, thus negating the cracking experienced with his earlier work. The new nozzle is paired with a steel rocket casing to help contain combustion gases, and the rocket fuel is 3D printed ASA plastic. 3D printing the fuel is particularly cool, as it allows for easy experimentation with grain shape to tune thrust profiles.

With the oxygen pumping, the new design produces some thrust, though [Integza] is yet to instrument the test platform to actually measure results. While the nozzles are still failing over a short period of time, the test burns were far less explosive – and far more propulsive – than his previous efforts. We look forward to further development, and hope [Integza’s] designs one day soar high into the sky. Video after the break.

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