Back in the day a miniature television, probably on a wristwatch, was the stuff of science fiction. Now, it’s something which can be done with a commodity microcontroller, as [Atomic14] shows us with the ESP32-TV that plays both video and sound. Even with modern silicon it’s still somewhat pushing the envelope.
As he explains in the video below the break, not all formats are simple enough to be decoded on the fly by a microcontroller. But he finds an AVI file to be within its capabilities which can be created with a bit of ffmpeg wizardry. The board is a fairly standard ESP32 device with an I2C bus, and the video stream isn’t too fast for this meager interface. You’ll maybe recognize the Muppets clip, but it’s possible that the early-80s BBC comedy staple The Young Ones might have passed you by if you’re not British.
We think this code is likely to be of use in quite a few projects, and it would be great to see it further refined. Small video players for not a lot of money can never be a bad thing.
In a wonderful ode to tech nostalgia, The Taylor and Amy Show, comprised of YouTubers [Taylor] and [Amy], have released a new video “THE 6502 SONG”. This song had me singing along in roughly six clock cycles, possibly a little dancing around may have occurred as well. This isn’t just any chip they’re singing about; it’s the venerable 6502 microprocessor, the silicon heart behind iconic machines like the Apple II, Commodore 64/128, and the Atari 2600.
Their lyrics reminds me of when I lived for assembly language mnemonics and counting clock cycles, the “feeling” of a processor coming out of tristate to pronounce what it had learned in the last 500ns, and the undulations of the DRAMs like speed bumps. To top it off, portions of the song were actually recorded live at the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 2023, where fans and computing history aficionados alike were treated to an impressive display of vintage tech.
What sets “THE 6502 SONG” apart isn’t just its catchy, melodic tune; it’s the expert blend of historical detail and genuine enthusiasm that resonates with everyone from grizzled assembly-language programmers to youngsters newly fascinated by the allure of 8-bit computing. With guest appearances from other female tech YouTubers like [Veronica Explains] and [Evie’s Revue], [AJ], [Jeri and Amy- Tilt5] and [FuzzyBad].
I believe [Chuck Peddle] father of the 6502, would be proud to see his creation live on and be appreciated so.
Although new VGA-equipped monitors can still be bought, the old standard is definitely on its way out by now, being replaced by high-speed digital interfaces like HDMI and DisplayPort. It therefore makes sense to prepare for a VGA-less future, as [Yeo Kheng Meng] is doing. He designed an 8-bit ISA display card with an HDMI output that enables even the very first generation of PCs to talk to a modern monitor.
The design is based on the Graphics Gremlin by [Tube Time], which is an 8-bit ISA display card that aims to be software compatible with the obsolete MDA and CGA display formats while outputting a clean VGA signal. [Yeo Kheng Meng] modified the board by adding a TFP410 HDMI bus driver and replacing the rarely-used 9-pin RGBI connector with an HDMI version. He also updated the HDL code for the Lattice FPGA, which forms the heart of the graphics card, to account for the new digital output. While he was at it, he also added a few features he was missing in the original product, such as the option to select the color displayed in MDA mode and the ability to output both HDMI and composite video at the same time.
The video below shows the updated card in action in an IBM 5155 Portable PC. The HDMI port connects to a modern monitor, while the composite video output is routed to the 5155’s internal CRT as well as a small color monitor on top. The IBM thereby joins a small list of retro computers that have received an HDMI upgrade — the Amiga 500 and PlayStation 2 being other examples. HDMI might be a lot more complex to work with than VGA, but luckily there are open-source implementations that do much of the work for you.
In the home computer market of the 1980s, there were several winners that are still household names four decades later: the Commodore 64, the Apple II and the Sinclair Spectrum, to name a few. But where there are winners, there are bound to be losers as well – the Mattel Aquarius being a good example. A price war between the bigger players, combined with a rather poor hardware design, meant that the Aquarius was discontinued just a few months after its introduction in 1983. However, this makes it exactly the type of obscure machine that [Leaded Solder] likes to tinker with, so he was happy to finally get his hands on a neat specimen listed on eBay. He wrote an interesting blog post detailing his efforts to connect this old beast to a modern TV.
The main issue with the Aquarius is that it only has an RF video output, which results in a rather poor rendition of its already very limited graphics capabilities. Luckily, there is a fix available in the form of a composite A/V adapter that’s an almost plug-and-play upgrade. The only thing you need to do, as [Leaded Solder] illustrates in his blog post, is open up the computer, desolder the RF modulator and solder the A/V adapter in its place. Getting to that point was a bit tricky due to heavy EMI shields that were fixed in place with lots of solder, requiring liberal use of a desoldering iron. Continue reading “Adding Composite Video To The Mattel Aquarius”→
DIGITAL MAIN BOARD OF TV, Work ath [sic] HONGXUN products with the care and precision of a sculptor in each step, wonderful have no limits
Dubious marketing descriptions like “High Definition Digital Color TV Driver Board” aside, this turned out to be a fairly well-designed analog TV board. [Adrian] pulls a 20-year-old Magnavox ( Philips ) color television set from storage and begins the transplant operation. One interesting observation is the Magnavox board has almost the same layout as the new board, except for the orientation of the sections. The new CRT neck board had a different connector than the Magnavox set, but was designed to accept multiple sized sockets. [Adrian] just removed the new socket and replaced it with one from the old set. The mechanical issues were a bit more complicated, but nothing that a Dremel tool and a bit of hot glue can’t fix. The 220 VAC power supply was eventually modified to accept 110 VAC, which also enabled him to reconnect the degaussing coil.
[Adrian] has collected some relevant documentation in this GitHub repository, including schematics. Why bother with this at all? Well, until now, he didn’t have any way to test / view PAL RF signals in his lab. He was gambling on the new mainboard having a PAL tuner. It does, but as an unadvertised bonus, it supports NTSC and SECAM as well — but still not “HD digital color TV”, as far as we know. If you want a multi-standard TV in your lab, this solution may be worth considering. It appears there is still a market somewhere for new CRT televisions. If you have any background on this, please let us know down below in the comments.
Uploaded by [themonitorsolution], each fourteen-minute 1080p video depicts what a patient monitor would look like in various situations, ranging from an adult in stable condition to individuals suffering from ailments such as COPD and sepsis. There’s even one for a dead patient, which makes for rather morbid watching.
Now we assume these are intended for educational purposes — throw them up on a display and have trainees attempt to diagnose what’s wrong with the virtual patient. But we’re sure clever folks like yourselves could figure out alternate uses for these realistic graphics. They could make for an impressive Halloween prop, or maybe they are just what you need to get that low-budget medical drama off the ground, finally.
Honestly, it seemed too cool of a resource not to point out. Besides, it’s exceedingly rare that we get to post a YouTube video that we can be confident none of our readers have seen before…at the time of this writing, the channel only has a single subscriber. Though with our luck, that person will end up being one of you lot.
Everyone wants a wider field of view in their VR headsets, but that’s not an easy nut to crack. [Statonwest] shows there’s a way to get at least some of the immersion benefits with a bit of simple hardware thanks to the VR Ambilight.