A USB interface connected to a Psion Organiser II

Arduino Nano Adds USB Interface To The Psion Organiser II

Introduced in 1984, the Psion Organiser series defined the first generation of electronic organizers or PDAs (personal digital assistants). Even though these devices are now over 30 years old, the Psion Organiser scene is alive and well: with new hardware and software is still being developed by enthusiasts the world over.

A USB interface connected to a Psion Organiser II
The Organiser II, with its brand-new USB interface

One of those enthusiasts is [James Stanley], who designed and built a USB interface for the Psion Organiser II. Although a “CommsLink” module providing an RS-232 port was available back in the day, it’s become hard to find, inspiring [James] to design a completely new module based on an Arduino Nano. Hooking it up to the Psion’s data bus was a simple matter of wiring up the eight data lines to the Nano’s GPIO ports. A set of series resistors served to prevent bus contention without having to add glue logic.

Getting the software working was a bit more difficult: the Organiser’s native OPL programming language doesn’t allow the user to directly access the expansion port’s memory address, so [James] had to write a routine in HD6303 machine code to perform the read, then call that routine from OPL to display the result on the screen. Currently, the routine only supports reading data from the Arduino, but extending it to a bidirectional interface should be possible too.

Finally, [James] designed and 3D printed a neat enclosure for the Arduino-USB interface, which makes it look almost as sleek as the original CommsLink module. Perhaps with a bit of further development, this could turn into another way to connect old Psions to the internet. We’ve also featured a new type of Datapak to enhance the Organiser’s memory. Continue reading “Arduino Nano Adds USB Interface To The Psion Organiser II”

Miniature Space Invaders game

Arduino And An OLED Make This Space Invaders Cabinet Tiny

For as simple as it appears now, Space Invaders was one machine from the Golden Age of video games that always seemed to have a long line waiting for a chance to lose a couple of quarters. And by way of celebrating the seminal game’s influence, [Nick Cranch] has executed what might just be the world’s smallest Space Invaders replica.

It appears that this started mainly as an exercise in what’s possible with what’s on hand, which included a couple of quite small OLED displays. For the build photos it looks like there’s an Arduino Nano running the show; [Nick] relates that the chosen hardware proved challenging, and that he had to hack the driver library to make it work. Once he got a working game, [Nick] didn’t rest on his laurels. Rather, he went the extra mile and built a miniature cabinet to house everything in.

The video quality below may be poor, but it’s more than enough to see how much work he put into detailing the cabinet. The graphics of the original US release of the game cabinet are accurately represented, right down to the art on the front glass. The cabinet itself is made from 1.5 mm plywood which he cut by hand. It even looks like he recreated the original scheme of cellophane overlays on the monochrome screen to add a little color to the game. Nice touch!

We really appreciate the attention to detail here, with our only quibble being no schematics or code being posted. Hopefully, we’ll see those later, but for now, this looks like a fun project and a nice trip down memory lane. But if you think it’s too small, no worries — we’ve got a much, much bigger version of the game too.

Continue reading “Arduino And An OLED Make This Space Invaders Cabinet Tiny”

Turing Ring Is Compact

One of the problems with a classic Turing machine is the tape must be infinitely long. [Mark’s] Turing Ring still doesn’t have an infinite tape, but it does make it circular to save space. That along with a very clever and capable UI makes this one of the most usable Turing machines we’ve seen. You can see a demo in the video below.

The device uses an Arduino Nano, a Neopixel ring, an encoder, and a laser-cut enclosure that looks great. The minimal UI has several modes and the video below takes you through all of them.

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A portable Bluetooth turntable.

Bluetooth Record Player Puts A New Spin On Vinyl

You know, we were just discussing weird and/or obsolete audio formats in the writers’ dungeon the other day. (By the way, have you ever bought anything on DAT or MiniDisc?) While vinyl is hardly weird or (nowadays) obsolete, the fact that this Bluetooth record player by [JGJMatt] is so modern makes it all the more fantastic.

Not since the Audio-Technica Sound Burger, or Crosley’s semi-recent imitation, have we seen such a portable unit. But that’s not even the most notable part — this thing runs inversely to normal record players. Translation: the record stands still while the the player spins, and it sends the audio over Bluetooth to headphones or a speaker.

Inside this portable player is an Arduino Nano driving a 5 VDC motor with a worm gear box. There really isn’t too much more to this build — mostly power, a needle cartridge, and a Bluetooth audio transmitter. There’s a TTP223 touch module on the lid that allows [JGJMatt] to turn it off with the wave of a hand.

[JGJMatt] says this is a prototype/work-in-progress, and welcomes input from the community. Right now the drive system is good and the Bluetooth is stable and able, but the tone arm has some room for improvement — in tests, it only played a small section of the record and skidded and skittered across the innermost and outermost parts. Now, [JGJMatt] is trying two-part arm approach where the first bit extends and locks into position, and then a second arm extending from there and moves around freely.

Commercial record players can do more than just play records. If you’ve got an old one that isn’t even good enough for a thrift store copy of a Starship record, you could turn it into a pottery wheel or a guitar tremolo.

Fake motivational plant squirts you in the wherever.

Focus Flower Motivates By Squirting Water In Your Face

When you need to get some tasks done and are short on attention, it’s hard to beat a timer. But whenever you do, it feels pretty darn good. The problem is that when you don’t finish in time, what’s the punishment? There are no consequences baked into the Pomodoro Technique other than good ol’ guilt. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a bit of negative reinforcement involved?

[Hardware Unknown]’s Focus Flower never needs watering, at least not in the normal horticultural way. You will have to fill a reservoir, because this flower provides liquid motivation. No, it’s not a spirit spritzer, though we suppose you could turn it into an avant-garde vodka fountain when the novelty of water wears off, making this Pomodoro with a twist into more of a Bloody Mary. It’s a natural next step, especially if you were already into the hot sauce idea.

Operation Focus Flower is simple: just push the easy button to start the task timer, and the Arduino Nano attached will begin a countdown. Push the button again when you’re done, but if you don’t do it before the countdown is over, the plant squirts you with a steady, skin-blasting stream of water from a solenoid-driven flosser tip. An air compressor nearby is required, which blows the minimalist vibe a bit, but you could always stow that part underneath your desk.

The Focus Flower sure looks to be effective at the whole negative reinforcement thing. And it doesn’t leave you totally clueless — there’s a ring of LEDs around the base that show how much time is left. Whenever you do successfully hit the button in time, it will say ‘that was easy’ in one of 12 languages, hence all the flags. Do not miss the totally free infomercial below.

Maybe you want a more friendly way to manage your time — we understand. Meet the Pomodachi productivity pet.

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Pomodoro timer helps you focus on tasks without burning out.

World’s Cutest Pomodoro Timer Is Also A Clock

Student and hacker [prusteen] recently fell in love with the Pomodoro method of time management. That’s where you concentrate on your task for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break, and repeat this four times with a longer break at the end. Initially, [prusteen] was keeping track on their phone, but hated having to change the timer value between Pomodoros and break times. In order to keep the flow mode engaged, [prusteen] came up with this darling little study buddy that does it all with the push of a button.

By default, this tomato shows the current time, which we think is a handy and often-overlooked feature of Pomodoro timer builds. Press that momentary switch on the front, and it starts counting upward to 25 minutes. Then it beeps in stereo through a pair of buzzers when the time is up, and automatically starts a five-minute break timer. Press it again and the display goes back to clock mode, although judging by the code, doing this will cancel the timer.

Inside the juicy enclosure is an Arduino Nano, an RTC, and a 7-segment display. We love the attention to detail here, from the little green leaves on top to the anatomically-correct dimple on the underside. And we always like to see lids that snap on with magnets. So satisfying. Check out the brief demo after the break, which unfortunately does not include any lid-snapping action.

Do you need more interaction with your Pomodoro timer? Build yourself a pomo-dachi instead.

Continue reading “World’s Cutest Pomodoro Timer Is Also A Clock”

Arduino Nano Floppy Emulator For When Your Disk Is Not Accessible

Among the plethora of obsolete removable media there are some which are lamented, but it can be difficult to find those who regret the passing of the floppy disk. These flexible magnetic disks in hard plastic covers were a staple of computing until some time in the early 2000s, and their drives could be found by the crateload in any spares box. But what about today, when there’s a need for a real floppy drive and none is to be found? Enter [Acemi Elektronikci], with an Arduino Nano based floppy emulator, that plugs into the floppy port of a PC old enough to have one, and allows the easy use of virtual floppy disks.

Aside from the Nano it has an SD card and associated level shifter, and an SSD1306 i2c screen. Most of the Arduino’s lines drive the floppy interface, so the five-button control comes to a single ADC pin via a resistor ladder. He freely admits that it’s not a perfect cycle-exact emulator of original hardware and there may be machines or even operating systems that complain when faced with it, but for all that it is a useful tool. One of the machines that may have issues is the Amiga, but fortunately there’s a fix for that with a Raspberry Pi.