A few months ago, a scandal erupted in the chess world which led to some pretty wild speculation around a specific chess player. We won’t go into any of the details except to say that there is virtually no physical evidence of any method this player allegedly used to cheat in a specific in-person chess match. But [Teddy Warner] and partner [Jack Hollingsworth] were interested in at least providing a proof-of-concept for how this cheating could have been done, though, and came up with this device which signals a chess player through a shoe.
The compact device is small enough to fit in the sole of one of the player’s shoes, and is powered by an ATtiny412 microcontroller paired with a HC-06 Bluetooth module. The electronics are fitted into a 3D printed case along with a small battery which can then be placed into the sole of a shoe, allowing the wearer to feel the vibrations from a small offset-weight motor. With a second person behind a laptop and armed with a chess engine, the opponent’s moves can be fed into the computer and the appropriate response telegraphed through the shoe to the player.
While [Teddy] and [Jack] considers the prototype a success in demonstrating the ease at which a device like this could be used, and have made everything related to this build open source, this iteration did have a number of issues including that the motor buzzing was noticeable during play, and that his chess engine made some bizarre choices in the end game. It also requires the complicity of a second person, which is something this other chess cheating machine does away with. They also note that it’s unlikely that any chess players at the highest levels use devices like these, and that other chess experts have found no evidence of any wrongdoing in this specific scandal.
Continue reading “Electronic Shoe Explores Alleged Chess Misbehavior” →
As a programming language, Lisp has been around longer than any other active language except for Fortran. To anyone who regularly uses it, it’s easy to see why: the language allows for new syntax and macros to be created fluidly, which makes it easy to adapt it to new situations, like running it on a modern Atmel microcontroller to control the LEDs on this star pendant.
The pendant has simple enough hardware — six LEDs arranged around the points of the star, all being driven by a small ATtiny3227 operating from a coin cell battery. This isn’t especially spectacular on it’s own, but this particular microcontroller is running an integer version of a custom-built Lisp interpreter called uLisp. The project’s creator did this simply because of the whimsy involved in running a high-level programming language on one of the smallest microcontrollers around that would actually support the limited functionality of this version of Lisp. This implementation does stretch the memory and processing capabilities of the microcontroller quite a bit, but with some concessions, it’s able to run everything without issue.
As far as this project goes, it’s impressive if for nothing other than the ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there’ attitude. We appreciate all kinds of projects in that same vein, like this Arduino competitor which supports a programming language with only eight commands, or this drone which can carry a human.
As the chip shortage hit, a lot of the familiar ATtiny chips have become unavailable and overpriced, and it mostly stayed the same since then. If you ever searched for “ATtiny” on your favourite electronics component retailer website, however, you’d notice that there’s quite a few ATtiny chips in stock most of the time – just that they’re from a much newer generation than we commonly see, with incompatible pinouts, slightly different architecture and longer model numbers like 412 and 3227. [David Johnson-Davies] from [technoblogy] is here to clarify things, and provide a summary of what the new ATtiny generations have to offer.
In 2019, he posted about 0- and 1-series ATtiny chips, comparing them to the ATtiny series we knew, decyphering the part numbering scheme for us, and providing a comparison table. Now, he’s returned to tell us about the 2- series ATtiny chips, merging the comparison tables together so that you can quickly evaluate available parts by their ROM/RAM size and the SMD package used. He also describes which peripherals are available on which series, as well as nuances in peripheral operation between the three generations. In the end, he reminds us of a simple way to program all these new parts – as it stands, you only need a USB-UART adapter and a 4.7K resistor.
Over the last decades, we’ve seen plenty of inspiring ATtiny projects – squeezing out everything we could out of 5 GPIOs, or slightly more for larger-package ATtiny chips. [David] has been setting an example for us, bringing projects like this function generator, this continuity tester, or an IR receiver with an OLED screen for diagnostics – all with an ATtiny85. It’s not the just pin count that’s a constraint, but the RAM and flash amounts as well – nevertheless, people have fit machine learning and an entire graphics stack into these chips before. If you’re stuck at home unable to do anything, like many of us were during lockdowns, you can always breadboard an ATtiny and see just how much you can get done with it.
Most RC cars replicate real-world race cars or fantastical off-road buggies for outdoor escapades. [diorama111] is an expert at building tiny desk-roaming models, though, and built this exquisite micro semi-truck and trailer.
Based on a 1/150 scale truck and trailer model, the build starts with the tractor unit. It’s disassembled, and its plastic wheels are machined on a tiny lathe so they can be fitted with grippy rubber tires carved out of O-ring material. The front wheels are given hubs and mounted to a motor-driven screw-type steering assembly. A photodetector is used to aid in self-centering. The rear axle is fitted with a geared drivetrain, running off a small DC motor. Multiple gear stages are used to give the build plenty of torque for pulling the trailer. Remote control of the model is achieved over Bluetooth, with an ATtiny3217 tucked inside with motor drivers to run the show.
The microcontroller also runs a full set of driving, tail, and indicator lights. The trailer is fitted with an infrared receiver and a battery of its own. It receives signals from an infrared LED on the tractor unit, which tell the trailer when to turn on the taillights and indicators.
There aren’t too many modelers working in the RC space at the 1:150 scale. [diorama111] has form here, though, and we’ve featured a previous Toyota Crown build before.
Continue reading “Tiny RC Truck And Trailer Motors Around Tabletop” →
You don’t need much to do a persistence of vision display. A few LEDs and a processor is all it really takes. [B45i] made a simple PC board with five LEDs and an ATtiny CPU. There’s a battery and it connects to a fan to spin around.
While the project is pretty simple, we liked two aspects of it. First, he provides very detailed explanations about how to use an Arduino to program the Tiny using the Arduino IDE.
Continue reading “$1 POV Display Goes Round And Round” →
We all know the temptation of adding one more feature to your latest project. [Arnov Sharma] didn’t resist the urge. Building on his 3D-printed fume extractor, he developed a new version made of PCB material.
The device has a 18650 battery and corrects several flaws in the original design we covered earlier. In particular, the new version uses a quiet fan and consumes less power. There is also a 3D-printed filter housing that uses cotton as a filter media. Continue reading “Overengineered Fume Extractor, Version 2” →
Back in the “beige box” days of computing, it was pretty easy to tell what your machine was doing just by listening to it, because the hard drive was constantly thrashing the heads back and forth. It was sometimes annoying, but never as annoying as hearing the stream of Geiger counter-like clicks stop when you knew it wasn’t done loading a program yet.
That “happy sound” is getting harder to come by, even on retro machines, which increasingly have had their original thrash-o-matic drives replaced with compact flash and other solid-state drives. This HDD sound simulator aims to fill that diagnostic and nostalgic gap on any machine that isn’t quite clicky enough for you. Sadly, [Matthias Werner] provides no build details for his creation, but between the longish demo video below (by a satisfied customer) and the details of the first version, it’s easy enough to figure out what’s going on here. An ATtiny and a few support components ride on a small PCB along with a piezoelectric speaker. The dongle connects to the hard drive activity light, which triggers a series of clicks from the speaker that sound remarkably like a hard drive heading seeking tracks. A demo starts at 7:09 in the video below; the very brave — or very nostalgic — might want to check out the full defragmentation that starts at 13:11.
Sure, this one is perhaps a bit over-the-top, but in the retrocomputing world, no price is too high to pay in the name of nostalgia. And it’s still far from the most ridiculous hard drive activity indicator we’ve seen.
Continue reading “Tiny Dongle Brings The Hard Drive’s Song Back To Updated Retrocomputers” →