Internals of the Blu-ray player, showing both the blu-ray drive and the custom PCBs

An Ingenious Blu-Ray Mini-Disk Player

[befi] brings us a project as impressive as it is reminiscent of older times, a Blu-Ray mini disk player. Easily fitting inside a pocket like a 8 cm CD player would, this is a labour of love and, thanks to [befi]’s skills both in electronics and in using a dremel tool.

A BluRay drive was taken apart, for a start, and a lot of case parts were cut off; somehow, [befi] made it fit within an exceptionally tiny footprint, getting new structural parts printed instead, to a new size. The space savings let him put a fully custom F1C100S-powered board with a number of unique features, from a USB-SATA chip to talk to the BluRay drive, to USB pathway control for making sure the player can do USB gadget mode when desired.

There’s an OLED screen on the side, buttons for controlling the playback, power and battery management – this player is built to a high standard, ready for day-to-day use as your companion, in the world where leaving your smartphone as uninvolved in your life as possible is a surprisingly wise decision. As a fun aside, did you know that while 8 cm CDs and DVDs existed, 8 cm BluRay drives never made it to market? If you’re wondering how is it that [befi] has disks to play in this device, yes, he’s used a dremel here too.

Everything is open-sourced – 3D print files, the F1C100S board, and the Buildroot distribution complete with all the custom software used. If you want to build such a player, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you were, there’s more than enough resources for you to go off. And, if you’re thinking of building something else in a similar way, the Buildroot image will be hugely helpful.

Want some entertainment instead? Watch the video embedded below, the build journey is full of things you never knew you wanted to learn. This player is definitely a shining star on the dark path that is Blu-Ray, given that our most popular articles on Blu-Ray are about its problems.

Continue reading “An Ingenious Blu-Ray Mini-Disk Player”

On the left, the main board of the dual board computer, with the CPU and a bunch of connectors visible. On the right, the addon board is shown, with all the extra connectors as described in the article

A Nifty F1C100S Dual-Board Computer

The F1C100S (and the F1C200S) is a super simple CPU to use – it’s QFN, it has RAM built-in, and it can run Linux. It just makes sense that we bring it up to you once again, this time, on this dual-board computer by [minilogic]. The boards look super accessible to build for a Linux computer, and it’s alright if you assemble only one of them, too – the second board just makes this computer all that much nicer to use!

One the main board, you get the CPU itself, a couple USB ports, headphone and mic jacks, a microphone, a microSD socket, power management, SPI flash chip, plus some buttons, headers and USB-UART for debug. Add the second board, however, and you get a HDMI video output socket, a RGBTTL LCD header, LiIon battery support, RTC, and even FM radio with TV input.

One problem with this computer – it’s not open-source in the way that we expect and respect, as there’s no board files to be seen. However, at least the schematics are public, so it shouldn’t be hard, and the author provides quite a bit of example code for the F1C100S, which softens the blow. Until the design files are properly published, we can at least learn from the idea and the schematics. If you like what the F1C100S CPU offers, there are other projects you can take things from too, like this low-cost handheld we’re patiently waiting for, or this Linux-powered business card.

The Fifteen Dollar Linux Computer

Over the years we’ve seen many small computer boards of various abilities, among them many powerful enough to be almost-useful Linux general purpose computers. We’ve also seen more than a few computers that claimed the impossible, usually an amazing spec for a tiny price tag. Here for once is a small computer that’s neither of those two; a minimum viable Linux handheld terminal whose $15 USD price tag is openly discussed as a target price for a large production run rather than touted as its retail price.

It’s the work of legendary former Hackaday writer [Brian Benchoff], and instead of being merely a PCB it’s a fully usable computer with case, keyboard and display. It’s based upon an Allwinner F1C100s SoC, it’s powered by AAA cells, and it sports a split rubber keyboard that likely builds on his previous experience with the VT-69 portable RS-232 terminal. On the back is a USB port and an SD reader, and in the centre of the front panel lies a 320 x 240 pixel display. It’s important to note that this is not intended to run a GUI, while it’s DOOM-capable it remains very much a command-line Linux tool. Perhaps most interestingly it’s claimed that all the parts are available in quantity here in the chip shortage, so maybe there’s even a chance we might see it as more than a project. We can hope.

Thanks [Sathish Guru V] for the tip.