Hackaday Links: March 17, 2019

There’s now an official Raspberry Pi keyboard and mouse. The mouse is a mouse clad in pink and white plastic, but the Pi keyboard has some stuff going for it. It’s small, which is what you want for a Pi keyboard, and it has a built-in USB hub. Even Apple got that idea right with the first iMac keyboard. The keyboard and mouse combo are available for £22.00

A new Raspberry Pi keyboard and a commemorative 50p coin from the Royal Mint featuring the works of Stephen Hawking? Wow, Britain is tearing up the headlines recently.

Just because, here’s a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep with a 55 HP motor. Interesting things to note here is how simple this build actually is. If you look at some of the Power Wheels Racing cars, they have actual diffs on the rear axle. This build gets a ton of points for the suspension, though. Somewhere out there on the Internet, there is the concept of the perfect Power Wheels conversion. There might be a drive shaft instead of a drive chain, there might be an electrical system, and someone might have figured out how someone over the age of 12 can fit comfortably in a Power Wheels Jeep. No one has done it yet.

AI is taking away our free speech! Free speech, as you’re all aware, applies to all speech in all forms, in all venues. Except you specifically can’t yell fire in a movie theater, that’s the one exception. Now AI researchers are treading on your right to free speech, an affront to the Gadsden flag flying over our compound and the ‘no step on snek’ patch on our tactical balaclava, with a Chrome plugin. This plugin filter’s ‘toxic’ comments with AI, but there’s an unintended consequence: people want need to read what I have to say, and this will filter it out! The good news is that it doesn’t work on Hackaday because our commenting system is terrible.

This week was the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, first proposed on March 11, 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. The web, and to a greater extent, the Internet, is the single most impactful invention of the last five hundred years; your overly simplistic view of world history can trace modern western hegemony and the reconnaissance to Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, and so it will be true with the Internet. Tim’s NeXT cube, in a case behind glass at CERN, will be viewed with the same reverence as Gutenberg’s first printing press (if it had survived, but you get where I’m going with this). Five hundred years from now, the major historical artifact from the 20th century will be a NeXT cube, that was, coincidentally, made by Steve Jobs. If you want to get your hands on a NEXT cube, be prepared to pony up, but Adafruit has a great authorial for running Openstep on a virtual machine. If you want the real experience, you can pick up a NeXT keyboard and mouse relatively cheaply.

Sometimes you need an RCL box, so here’s one on Kickstarter. Yeah, it’s kind of expensive. Have you ever bought every value of inductor?

Hackaday Links: March 10, 2019

Do you like hamburgers? Everyone likes hamburgers. Inspired by a phone you could buy at Spencers in 1991, [Love Hulten] built a Game Burger Advance. The guts are a Raspberry Pi Zero, a standard LCD display and what appears to be a USB control pad. The fabrication is where this one really goes crazy. It’s a significant amount of laser-cut plywood or MDF stacked together into a laminate then sanded and painted to look like a hamburger. Actually, it’s a cheeseburger, but we don’t deal with the prescriptivist view of linguistics and Wendy’s doesn’t sell hamburgers, they sell cheeseburgers without cheese. Hamburgers are not cheeseburgers without cheese but I digress… Just be glad this links post isn’t me going off for two thousand words talking about language and cheeseburgers.

If you have a 2012 MacBook Pro, congratulations, you have one of the last good laptops Apple will ever build. [Docatl] over on Reddit has one of these fine machines, but found it was overheating. This Genius did what anyone would do — drilled some vents in the bottom of the laptop. The results are impressive, with stock temperatures climbing to 80º C when rendering video, and the post-drilled temps cooling down to a balmy 65º.

Here’s a Kickstarter for you. It’s an Arduino Zero in a narrow DIP-16 package, albeit with a USB connector hanging over the outline of a normal DIP-16 footprint. The specs are an ATSAMD21 Cortex-M0+ running at 48 MHz, 256kB of Flash, 32k of RAM, and an integrated bootloader.

Ha ha Tim Cook changed his name to Tim Square because Apple users are squares amirite?

We’re not going to get into a discussion about mental health or anything here, but TheFlightChannel just published a flight sim reenactment of the SeaTac Dash-8 Horizon Air incident from last summer. This video is absolutely fantastic.

The Sipeed K210 is a chip you should know about. It’s a RISC-V microcontroller that’s right up there with the fastest, most powerful STM32 chips, but it’s RISC-V and it costs eight dollars. Also, it has neural networks, because. We first heard about this chip as a preorder on Taobao (?!), but now it’s getting a slightly more official release. Seeed is working on a Raspberry Pi Hat for this chip, and they want your input. Right now we’re looking at two versions, one with WiFi and one without, and both can either work with a Raspberry Pi or as a standalone board. They have the basic layout, but they’d like to know what features the community would want.

Hackaday Links: March 3, 2019

In this week’s edition of, ‘why you should care that Behringer is cloning a bunch of vintage synths’, I present to you this amazing monstrosity. Yes, it’s a vertical video of a synthesizer without any sound. Never change, Reddit. A bit of explanation: this is four Behringer Model Ds (effectively clones of the Moog Minimoog, the Behringer version is called the ‘Boog’) stacked in a wooden case. They are connected to a MIDI keyboard ‘with Arduinos’ that split up the notes to each individual Boog. This is going to sound amazing and it’s one gigantic wall of twelve oscillators and it only cost $800 this is nuts.

Tuesday is Fastnacht day. Fill your face with fried dough.

The biggest news this week is the release of a ‘folding’ phone. This phone is expensive at about $3000 list, but keep in mind this is a flagship phone, one that defines fashion, and an obvious feature that will eventually be adopted by lower-cost models. Who knows what they’ll think of next.

It’s a new Project Binky! This time, we’re looking at cutting holes in the oil sump, patching those holes, cutting more holes in an oil sump, patching those holes, wiring up a dashcam, and putting in what is probably the third or fourth radiator so far.

Here’s a Kickstarter for new Nixie tubes. It’s a ZIN18, which I guess means an IN18, a tube with a 40mm tall set of numbers. This is the king of Nixie clocks, and one tube will run you about $100. Nah, you can also get new Nixies here.

The Sipeed K210 is a RISC-V chip with built-in neural networks. Why should you care? Because it’s RISC-V. It’s also pretty fast, reportedly 5 times as fast as the ESP32. This is a 3D rendering test of the K210, with all the relevant code on the Github.

I’m not sure if everyone is aware of this, but here’s the best way to desolder through-hole parts. Heat the solder joint up and whack it against a table. It never fails. Hitting things is the best way to make them do what you want.

Hackaday Links: February 24, 2019

Back To The Future Part II, released in 1989, told us the far-off future of 2015 would have flying cars, drones working for national newspapers, and self-lacing sneakers. Our best hope for flying cars is Uber, and that’s going to be hilarious when it fails. (Note to Uber: buy KSMO, Santa Monica airport, as an air taxi hub because that’s the most hilarious of all possible realities.) National newspapers — heck, even newspapers — don’t exist anymore. Self-lacing sneakers? Nike’s self-lacing sneakers brick themselves with a firmware update. Don’t worry, it’s only the left shoe.

HackSpace magazine Vol. 16 is out, and there’s a few pages dedicated to Tindie from the person who runs it, our fabulous [Jasmine]. There’s some good tips in here for Tindie sellers — especially shipping — and a good introduction to what Tindie actually is. The three-second elevator pitch of, ‘Etsy but for DIY electronics’ is not in the feature, though.

Is it duct tape or duck tape? That’s a silly question, because it’s ‘duck’ tape, but that’s not important. Gaffer tape is superior. [Ross Lowell], the inventor of gaffer tape, passed away last week at the age of 92.

[Peter Stripol] has a hobby of building ultralights in his basement. Actually, he has a hangar now, so everything’s good. His first two planes flew as Part 103 ultralights, however, there were design problems. [Peter] is using an electric powerplant, with motors and batteries, which is much lighter than a gas-chugging Rotax. However, he was still basing his designs on traditional ultralights. His now third build will be slightly more trimmed down, probably a little bit faster, and might just use 3D-printed control surfaces. Check out the intro to the mk3 airplane here.

[Matthias Wandel], the woodworking Canadian famous for designing the pantorouter, just built a three-legged stool. Sure, that doesn’t sound impressive, but check this out. All the weird mortises were done on the pantorouter, and there are some weird mortises here.

You’re only cool if you got chainz, so here’s some PCB chainz. This was done by [@jeffwurz] with OSHPark PCBs. The design, from as far as we can tell, is simple. It’s just a PCB without a soldermask, and a small cutout in one of the links. Assemble it into a chain, and if you’re clever, solder some resistor leads across the gap to make it a bit more solid.

ASMR, or officially, ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, is the tingling sensation moving down your back induced by specific auditory (or visual) stimuli. That’s the scientific definition. On the Internet, it’s people breathing into microphones and smacking their lips. Yes, there are videos of this. Thousands of them. There are 11-year-old girls raking in the YouTube money posting ASMR videos. It’s weird and gross, and don’t get me started on slime videos. You’ve also got unboxing videos. The Raspberry Pi foundation found a way to combine ASMR with unboxing videos. I gotta respect the hustle here; ASMR and unboxing videos are some of the most popular content available, and the Pi foundation is not only combining the two, but doing so ironically. It’s exactly the content everyone wants to see, and it’ll bring in people who hate ASMR and unboxing videos. Someone over at the Pi foundation really knows what they’re doing here.

Hackaday Links: February 17, 2019

There is a population of retrocomputing enthusiasts out there, whose basements, garages, and attics have been taken over by machines of years past. Most of the time, these people concentrate on one make; you’re an Apple guy, or you’re a Commodore guy, or you’re a Ford guy, or you’re a Chevy guy. The weirdos drive around with an MSX in the trunk of an RX7. This is the auction for nobody. NASA’s JPL Lab is getting rid of several tons of computer equipment, all from various manufacturers, and not very ‘vintage’ at all. Check out the list. There are CRT monitors from 2003, which means they’re great monitors that weigh as much as a person. There’s a lot of Sun equipment. If you’ve ever felt like cleaning up a whole bunch of trash for JPL, this is your chance. Grab me one of those sweet CRTs, though.

Last week, we published something on the ‘impossible’ tech behind SpaceX’s new engine. It was reasonably popular — actually significantly popular — and got picked up on Hacker News and one of the Elon-worshiping subreddits. Open that link in one tab. Now, open this link in another. Read along as a computer voice reads Hackaday words, all while soaking up YouTube ad revenue. What is our recourse? Does this constitute copyright infringement? I dunno; we don’t monetize videos on YouTube. Thanks to [MSeifert] for finding this.

Wanna see something funny? Check out the people in the comments below who are angry at a random YouTuber stealing Hackaday content, while they have an ad blocker on.

Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is back in production. What is it and why does it matter? The OP-1 is a new class of synthesizer and sampler that kinda, sorta looks like an 80s Casio keyboard, but packed to the gills with audio capability. At one point, you could pick one of these up for $800. Now, prices are at about $1300, simply because production stopped for a while (for retooling, we’re guessing) and the rumor mill started spinning. The OP-1 is now back in production with a price tag of $1300. Wait. What? Yes, it’s another case study in marketing: the best way to find where the supply and demand curves cross is to stop production for a while, wait for the used resellers to do their thing, and then start production again with a new price tag that people are willing to pay. This is Galaxy Brain-level business management, people.

What made nerds angry this week? Before we get to that, we’re gonna have to back track a bit. In 2016, Motherboard published a piece that said PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard, because you have to build a PC. Those of us in the know realize that building a PC is as simple as buying parts and snapping them together like an expensive Lego set. It’s no big deal. A tech blog, named Motherboard, said building a PC was too hard. It isn’t even a crack at the author of the piece at this point: this is editorial decay.

And here we are today. This week, the Internet reacted to a video from The Verge on how to build a PC. The original video has been taken down, but the reaction videos are still up: here’s a good one, and here’s another. Now, there’s a lot wrong with the Verge video. They suggest using a Swiss army knife for the assembly, hopefully one with a Philips head screwdriver. Philips head screwdrivers still exist, by the way. Dual channel RAM was completely ignored, and way too much thermal compound was applied to the CPU. The cable management was a complete joke. Basically, a dozen people at The Verge don’t know how to build a PC. Are the criticisms of incompetence fair? Is this like saying [Doug DeMuro]’s car reviews are invalid because he can’t build a transmission or engine, from scratch, starting from a block of steel? Ehhh… we’re pretty sure [Doug] can change his own oil, at least. And he knows to use a screwdriver, instead of a Swiss army knife with a Philips head. In any event, here’s how you build a PC.

Hackaday writers to be replaced with AI. Thank you [Tegwyn] for the headline. OpenAI, a Musk and Theil-backed startup, is pitching a machine learning application that is aimed at replacing journalists. There’s a lot to unpack here, but first off: this already exists. There are companies that sell articles to outlets, and these articles are produced by ‘AI’. These articles are mostly in the sports pages. Sports recaps are a great application for ML and natural language processing; the raw data (the sports scores) are already classified, and you’re not looking for Pulitzer material in the sports pages anyway. China has AI news anchors, but Japan has Miku and artificial pop stars. Is this the beginning of the end of journalism as a profession, with all the work being taken over by machine learning algorithms? By vocation, I’m obligated to say no, but I have a different take on it. Humans can write better than AI, and the good ones are nearly as fast. Whether or not the readers care if a story is accurate or well-written is another story entirely. It will be market forces that determine if AI journalists take over, and if you haven’t been paying attention, no one cares if a news story is accurate or well written, only if it caters to their preexisting biases and tickles their confirmation bias.

Of course, you, dear reader, are too smart to be duped by such a simplistic view of media engagement. You’re better than that. You’re better than most people, in fact. You’re smart enough to see that most media is just placating your own ego and capitalizing on confirmation bias. That’s why you, dear reader, are the best audience. Please like, share, and subscribe for more of the best journalism on the planet.

Hackaday Links: February 10, 2019

Last month was NAMM, the National Association of Musical Something that begins with ‘M’, which means we’re synthed and guitarded out for the year. The synth news? Behringer are making cheap reproductions and clones of vintage gear. There’s something you need to know about vintage gear: more than half of everything produced today has a Roland 808 or 909 drum machine (or sample), a 303 bass synth, or a 101 mono synth in it. Put an 808, 909, 303, and 101 on the same table, connected to a mixer, and you can make most of the electronic music from the ’80s and ’90s. And Behringer is cloning these synths. Neat times. But there’s a problem: Roland is trademarking these drum machines and synths, with trademark filings in the US and Germany. These are ‘trade dress’, or basically the beautiful red, orange, yellow, and white buttons of the 808 and the digital cyber silver plastic aesthetic of the 303, but there you go. It’s round one in the Roland v. Behringer match, may the first person to give me an 808, 909, 303, and 101 for a thousand dollars win.

Synths? Sure thing. Here’s a stash of New Old Stock 8580 SID chips, the ‘synth on a chip’ found in the Commodore 64. The price? $50. [ben] bought one of these, and the card that came with it said,  “We purchased these chips in 2006 and they’ve been stored in our climate-controlled storage area ever since. Even still, we found a handful of them that didn’t pass testing. Treat them with care!” Yes, a bunch of SID chips for sale is noteworthy, but at $50 a piece for 1980s technology, can someone explain why a chip fab isn’t cranking these things out? If there’s one ancient piece of silicon where the demand meets what it would cost to spin up the silicon line, the SID is it. Where are the modern reproductions?

Excited about making an electronic badge this year? Seeed is offering badge sponsorships for 2019, with an offer of a 5% discount on PCBA, and a 10% discount if you put the Seeed logo on the board. I might be a little biased, but Seeed is a place where you can just ask, “hey, you guys do clear soldermask?” and they find a way to do it.

The best way to tell if someone is rich isn’t by seeing if they have an i8 parked outside their mansion, or just a piece of junk with an M badge. It isn’t whether or not their filet mignon is wagyu or just Kobe, and it isn’t if they’re cruising the skies in a G650 or just puttering around in a Cessna Citation. No, the best way to tell if someone is rich is to notice their AirPods. Yes, Apple’s wireless headphones (which are actually pretty good!) are the best foundation of a class division these days. The best class signal since private railroad cars now has a problem: people are printing their own AirPods. [Brady32] over on Thingiverse has modeled AirPods, and now the design is being given away for free. The horror. Now anyone can print out their own little bits of white plastic, stick them in their ears, and tell the world, ‘I’m better than you. Don’t bother talking back, because I obviously can’t hear you.’

Raspberry Pi has a store! Yes, everyone’s favorite single board computer now has an ‘experimental space’ in Cambridge’s Grand Arcade. The Beeb is saying this store is ‘bucking the retail trend’, yes, but any retail trend doesn’t really apply here; brands have storefronts, and it’s not about revenue per square foot. Makerbot had a store, and it wasn’t about selling printers. Microsoft has stores. Sony built a mall to advertise the original PlayStation. While the Raspberry Pi brick and mortar store will probably never make any money, it is an indication the Raspberry Pi foundation has built a valuable brand worthy of celebration. Here’s some pics of the store itself.

Did you know Hackaday has a retro edition? It’s true! retro.hackaday.com is a lo-fi version of Hackaday without CSS or Javascript or any other cruft. It’s hand-written HTML (assembled by a script) of the first ten thousand or so Hackaday posts. The idea is that old computers could load the retro site, just to prove they could. [Matthias Koch] has an Atari PC3 — Atari’s PC compatible with an 8088 running at 8Mhz, 640k of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive — and got this thing to pull up the retro site. Good work!

What is the current state of 3D printing? What is the current state of 3D printing videos on YouTube? Oh boy we’re going to find out. [Potent Printables] did an ‘analysis’ of 3D printing videos published to YouTube, and found the category riddled with ‘clickbait’, without giving an operational definition of what ‘clickbait’ actually is, or how it’s different from any other content (because who would make a video that doesn’t have the purpose of attracting viewers) Anyway, there’s a problem with the YouTube algorithm, and 3D printing blogs are copying it, filling the entire hobby with disillusioned beginners, or something. After defining ‘The Most Viewed’ as not being a news or documentary footage (okay, that’s fair), having at least three printing videos, not clickbait, and gives the designer proper attribution, [Potent Printables] found a list filled with [Maker’s Muse], [3D Print Guy] and other channels who do 3D printing work, but don’t put 3D printing in the title. This is great; 3D printing isn’t a fascinating new technology that’s the first step towards Star Trek replicators; we’ve slid down the trough of disillusionment and now 3D printers are just tools. It’s great, and in 2018 things are as they should be.

Hackaday Links: February 3, 2019

Once technology that was only available to expensive design teams, and high-end engineering work, 3D printers are now readily available to anyone. Designing a physical prototype with a 3D printer is now something anyone can afford. Did I say anyone? Yes, anyone, even the people trying to build perpetual motion machines. Here’s one on Kickstarter powered by physics. It’s repelling magnets turning wheels.

The study and development of Artificial Intelligence began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There were conferences, there were talks, colloquium, journals, the works. It was the beginning of a golden age. That came to a screeching halt sometime around 1985. Now, we’re in a new golden age of AI. There’s even a conference. It’s being hosted by [Jeff Bezos], as the alternative, public version of the MARS (for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space) conference. Read that link. The phrase, ‘the Bilderberg conference of California’ is in there.

A new Project Binky? Can it be true? Yes, it’s episode 22. The center console is in, the dash is in, and the doors look somewhat finished. What’s the deal this time? A bumpin’ stereo. Wiring! Milliput! It’s English blokes in a shed doing fabrication, your favorite genre of video.

Aaaay, wait a minute. Have you heard about KiCon? Yes, there will be a KiCad user conference. It’s in Chicago, April 26th and 27th, and it’s all about KiCad scripts, settings, tools, techniques, and triumphs. There’s a call for talks, although you shouldn’t try to submit a workshop discussing the difference between ‘Kai-Cad’ and ‘Key-Cad’. That workshop has already been rejected.

Have a 25 meter satellite dish lying around in your backyard? Of course you do. Well, you can hunt for satellites with that thing and a USB TV tuner. The SatNOGS team has been working with a (radio) observatory in the Netherlands, and they’re getting radio signals from overhead satellites. Not bad, and there are, actually, a surprising number of unused large radio dishes out there. Luckily, they’re mostly historic sites.