Jukebox Electromechanical Automation Explained

If you ever been curious how old-school jukeboxes work, it’s all electromechanical and no computers. In a pair of videos, [Technology Connections] takes us through a detailed dive into the operation of a 1970 Wurlitzer Statesman model 3400 that he bought with his allowance when he was in middle school. This box can play records at either 33-1/3 or 45 RPM from a carousel of 100 discs, therefore having a selection of 200 songs. This would have been one of the later models, as Wurlitzer’s jukebox business was in decline and they sold the business in 1973.

This may be the ugliest jukebox ever produced.

This jukebox is actually what turned me into the weirdo that I am today.

External appearances aside, it’s the innards of this mechanical wonder that steal the show. The mechanism is known as the Wurlamatic, invented by Frank B. Lumney and Ronald P. Eberhardt in 1967. Check out the patent US3690680A document for some wonderful diagrams and schematics that are artwork unto themselves. Continue reading “Jukebox Electromechanical Automation Explained”

the SoM module used to power a Dell Mini 1210, in an extended SODIMM form-factor

When Dell Built A Netbook With An X86 System-on-Module

Just like with pre-touchscreen cellphones having fancy innovative features that everyone’s forgotten about, there’s areas that laptop manufacturers used to venture in but no longer dare touch. On Twitter, [Kiwa] talks a fascinating attempt by Dell to make laptops with user-replaceable CPU+RAM modules. In 2008, Dell released the Inspiron Mini 1210, with its CPU, chipset and RAM soldered to a separate board in an “extended SODIMM” form-factor – not unlike the Raspberry Pi Compute Modules pre-CM4! Apparently, different versions of such “processor cards” existed for their Inspiron Mini lineup, with varying amounts of RAM and CPU horsepower. With replacement CPU+RAM modules still being sold online, that makes these Dell netbooks to be, to our knowledge, the only x86 netbooks with upgradable CPUs.

You could try and get yourself one of these laptops or replacement CPU modules nowadays, if you like tinkering with old tech – and don’t mind having a subpar experience on even Linux, thanks to the Poulsbo chipset’s notorious lack of openness. Sadly, Dell has thoroughly abandoned the concept of x86 system-on-module cards, and laptops have been getting less modular as we go – we haven’t been getting socketed CPUs since the third generation of mobile Intel boards, and even RAM is soldered to the motherboard more and more often. In theory, the “CPU daughterboard” approach could improve manufacturing yields and costs, making it possible to use a simpler large board for the motherboard and only have the CPU board be high-layer-count. However, we can only guess that this wasn’t profitable enough overall, even with all the theoretical upsides. Or, perhaps, Google-style, someone axed this project internally because of certain metrics unmet.

If you think about it, a laptop motherboard is a single-board computer; however, that’s clearly not enough for our goals of upgradability and repairability. If you’re looking to have your own way and upgrade your laptop regardless of manufacturer’s intentions, here’s an old yet impressive story about replacing the soldered-in CPU on the original Asus EEE, and a more recent story about upgrading soldered-in RAM in a Dell XPS ultrabook. And if you’re looking for retrocomputing goodness, following [Kiwa] on Twitter is a must – last seen liveblogging restoration and renovation of a Kaypro someone threw out on the curb.

Marvelous MIDI Button Box

Most DJ tools are just ripe for DIY rework. Everything at least speaks MIDI, and the firmware side of the equation that makes a physical interface for your laptop can be downloaded and flashed with minimal effort. And this means that there’s no time better than the present to wire up a ton of buttons to a Teensy and call it a controller.

[UmamiFish]’s build goes the extra mile, though, with a nice laser-cut box and holes for display LEDs as well as the 22 arcade buttons that are packed tightly into the enclosure. A 74HC595 shift-register IC handles the LEDs, but there’s no getting around a bunch of wiring in a build like this. It pays to be neat, and using ribbon cable helps keep some of the chaos under control.

Browsing around Instructables will turn up myriad similar controllers, should the exact configuration of this one not suit your needs. And if you want something with a little more of the real-disk feel, have a look at this controller that uses hard disk platters, or this log of a timecode-vinyl-to-MIDI build.

Hacking A Mac Magsafe Jack Into A PC Ultrabook

zenbookAir

Something’s fishy about the above-pictured ultrabook: it’s an Asus Zenbook that [WarriorRocker] hacked to use a MagSafe power connector typically found on Macbooks. Most of us probably consider it standard procedure to poke around inside our desktop’s tower, but it takes some guts to radically alter such a shiny new ultrabook. It seems, however, that the Zenbook’s tiny power plug causes serious frustrations, and [WarriorRocker] was tired of dealing with them.

Using information he found from an article we featured earlier this summer on a MagSafe teardown, [WarriorRocker] hit up the parts drawer for some connectors and got to work. He had to modify the MagSafe’s housing to fit his Zenbook while still holding on to the magnets, but he managed to avoid modifying the ultrabook’s case—the connector is approximately the same size as a USB port. Deciding he could live with just one USB connection, [WarriorRocker] took to the board with a pair of side cutters and neatly carved out space for the MagSafe next to the audio jack. He then soldered it in place and ran wires from the VCC and Ground pins along a the channel where the WiFi antenna is routed, connecting them to the original power jack’s input pins.

[WarriorRocker] regrets that he fell short of his original goal of getting the MagSafe’s protocol working: he instead had to hack on his own adapter. We’re still rather impressed with how well his hack turned out, and it did manage to solve the charging problems. Hit us up in the comments if you can provide some insight into the MagSafe’s otherwise obscure innerworkings.

Cheap ARM Netbooks Have Linux Forced Upon Them

[Doragasu] got his hands on one of these WM8650 Netbooks for around 50 euros (~$63.50) delivered. They come with a version of Android preinstalled, but he wanted to use them more like a computer and less like an Android device. So he set out to load Arch Linux on the ARM-based Netbook.

This is possible because the hardware inside is actually pretty good. The 800 MHz SoC is accompanied by 256 megs of RAM. There’s 2 gigs of internal storage, a 7″ display, USB, Ethernet, WiFi, and an audio system. This is comparable to what you’d get with a Raspberry Pi (without video acceleration) but also includes all of those peripherals, a case, a touchpad and keyboard… you get the point. There are several patches that need to be applied to the kernel to get it working with the hardware. [Doragasu] covers each of them in the post linked above. You can also hear his presentation in the video after the break.

Continue reading “Cheap ARM Netbooks Have Linux Forced Upon Them”

Mini Arcade Cabinet Looks As Good As The Real Thing

mame_cab

[Ed] had a netbook he no longer needed and decided to make it into a mini MAME cabinet for some of his family members. MAME cabinets are pretty plentiful, but this one was so nicely done, we wanted to share it.

He removed the monitor from an EeePC 901 in order to get some precise measurements, then went about crafting a mini cabinet from MDF. The whole thing was wrapped in sticky label paper adorned with old-school Galaga graphics, then covered in plexiglass for a nice sleek look that also protects the artwork.

He used an iPac 2 controller board to wire up all of the buttons and joystick to the netbook, opting to solder the controller’s wires directly to the USB header on the eeePC’s motherboard. A power switch was added up on top for easy operation, and the cabinet was sealed shut, though the back does open easily in the event that maintenance is required. The system is managed using the Maximus Arcade front end for MAME, which [Ed] claims is incredibly easy.

If you are interested in making your own MAME cabinet, check out some of the other MAME-based projects we have featured in the past, and don’t miss the video below of [Ed’s] cabinet in action.

Continue reading “Mini Arcade Cabinet Looks As Good As The Real Thing”

No PCIE Slot? Just Add One

[Leslie] likes his little Samsung N150 Plus netbook. While it packs enough punch for almost everything, it lacks in High Definition video power. That is where a Broadcom Crystal HD mini PCI express card comes in, as these little video decoders are made just for netbooks needing some HD love, but the problem is, his netbook only has one PCI express slot in it, and its occupied by the 802.11N card.

Not being bummed out by this, and not wanting to use a USB dongle device he just ripped open his netbook and added a second pci express connector to the pads on the motherboard. Sourcing the header from mouser, the install seems quick n easy, especially since Samsung was nice enough to have the pad’s tinned already, so just a little flux and a steady hand you’re good to go.

Unfortunately, there are some hidden gotcha’s as the newly installed slot is not “full featured” that both the Broadcom card and the stock wireless N card require, but he had a wireless G card that ran just fine in the newly added slot, so now its time to rock some full screen HD Hulu.