E.T. Video Game Gets Re-Imagined In 10 Lines Of BASIC

Most people would recognize E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 by its reputation as one of the worst video games of all time. We’ll have more to say about that in a moment, but E.T. was nevertheless chosen as the inspiration behind [Martin Fitzpatrick]’s re-imagining of the game in ten lines of BASIC code for a contest that encourages and celebrates games written in ten lines of BASIC, or less.

Ten lines of BASIC is a big limitation, even when getting clever by stacking multiple statements into a single line, so [Martin]’s game has a much narrower scope than the original Atari 2600 version. Still, the core elements are present: E.T. must find and gather all the parts of the phone in order to contact his ship, after which he must meet the ship in time to escape. All the while, FBI agents attempt to interfere. The game was written in SAM BASIC, used by the SAM Coupé, a British Z80-based home computer from the late 80s with an emulator available for download.

Now, for lovers of “um, actually” topics, do we have a treat for you! Let’s take this opportunity to review a few things about E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. That it was a commercial flop is no doubt, but the game itself is often badly misunderstood. Way back in 2013 we covered an extraordinary effort to patch improvements into the binary for the 2600 game, and in the process there’s a compelling case made that the game was in many ways far ahead of its time, and actually quite significant in terms of game design. You can jump right in on an analysis of the hate the game receives, and while reading that it’s helpful to keep in mind that In 1982, many of its peers were games like Space Invaders, with self-evident gameplay that simply looped endlessly.

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Hackaday Links: March 7, 2021

It’s March, which means Keysight is back in the business of giving away a ton of test gear. Keysight University Live starts on March 15, with daily events the first week followed by a string of weekly live events through April. We always enjoy these Keysight events; sure, they’re clearly intended to sell more gear, but the demos and tutorials are great, and we always learn a lot. There’s also a feeling of community that feels similar to the Hackaday community; just a bunch of electronics nerds getting together to learn and share. If you’re interested in that community, or even if you’re just looking for a chance to win something from the $300,000 pile of goodies, you’ll need to register.

There’s another event coming up that you’ll want to know about: the 2021 Open Hardware Summit. Because 2021 is the new 2020, the summit is being held virtually again, this year on April 9. Tickets are on sale now, and we’re told there are still plenty of Ada Lovelace Fellowships available to those who consider themselves to be a minority in tech. The Fellowship covers the full cost of a ticket; it usually covers travels costs too, but sadly we’re still not there yet.

Once we do start traveling again, you might need to plan more carefully if cities start following the lead of Petaluma, California and start banning the construction of gas stations. The city, about 40 miles (64 km) north of San Francisco, is believed to be the first city in the United States to ban new gas station construction. The city council’s decision also prevents gas station owners from expanding, reconstructing, or relocating existing gas stations. The idea is to create incentives to move toward non-fossil fuel stations, like electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling. Time will tell how well that works out.

Go home Roomba — you’re drunk. That could be what Roomba owners are saying after an update semi-bricked certain models of the robotic vacuum cleaners. Owners noted a variety of behaviors, like wandering around in circles, bumping into furniture, and inability to make its way back to base for charging. There’s even a timelapse on reddit of a Roomba flailing about pathetically in a suspiciously large and empty room. The drunken analogy only goes so far, though, since we haven’t seen any reports of a Roomba barfing up the contents of its dust bin. But we’re still holding out hope.

And finally, if you’re not exactly astronaut material but still covet a trip to space, you might luck out courtesy of Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. He’s offering to pay the way for eight people from around the world on a planned flight to the Moon and back in 2023. Apparently, Maezawa bought up all the seats for the flight back in 2018 with the intention of flying a group of artists to space. His thinking has changed, though, and now he’s opening up the chance to serve as ballast join the crew to pretty much any rando on the planet. Giving away rides on Starship might be a harder sell after this week’s test, but we’re sure he’ll find plenty of takers. And to be honest, we wish the effort well — the age of routine civilian space travel can’t come soon enough for us.

New Contest: Data Loggin’

What are we gonna’ do with all this data? Let’s make it something fun! That’s the point of the just-launched Data Loggin’ contest. Do something clever to automatically log a data set and display it in an interesting way. Three winners will each receive a $100 Tindie gift certificate for showing off an awesome project.

One year of baby sleep patterns encoded by @Lagomorpho in a knitted blanket.

Data logging is often an afterthought when working on a project, but the way you collect and store data can have a big effect on the end project. Just ask Tesla who are looking at a multi-thousand-dollar repair process for failing eMMC from too much logging. Oops. Should you log to an SD card? Internet? Stone tablets? (Yes please, we actually really want to see that for this contest.) Make sure to share those details so your project can be a template for others to learn from in the future.

Next, consider Schrodinger’s dataset: if the data is never used does it actually exist? Grab some attention with how you use this data. That automatic donut slicer you built can be used to slice up a tasty pie-chart of the minutes you spent on the elliptical this week. Your energy consumption can be plotted if you connect that OpenCV meter reader up to your favorite cloud service to visualize the data or a NodeRED dashboard if you’d rather keep things local. You could also make some of that data permanent, like this blanket that encoded baby’s sleep patterns in the colors.

You probably already have something harvesting data. Here’s the excuse you need to do something silly (or serious) with that data. Tells us about it by publishing a project page on Hackaday.io and don’t forget to use that “Submit Project To” menu to add it to the Data Loggin’ contest.

Basic In 10 Lines Or Less

For the last 11 years [Gunnar Kanold] has run the annual BASIC 10 Liner contest, and the rules for the 2021 edition are now available. There are four categories and each category has specific definitions of what constitutes a line. All entries must run on an 8-bit computer system that can be emulated.

The first three categories are for games but differ in the line length allowed. You can elect to compete with 80 character lines, 120 character lines, or 256 character lines. There’s also a category for demos, tools, and other applications that must constrain lines to 256 characters.

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Hackaday Links: August 23, 2020

Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company — give or take a trillion — has built a bit of libertarian cachet by famously refusing to build backdoors into their phones, despite the entreaties of the federal government. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we read that the company may have worked with federal agents to build an “enhanced” iPod. David Shayer says that he was one of three people in Apple who knew about the 2005 program, which was at the behest of the US Department of Energy. Shayer says that engineers from defense contractor Bechtel, seemed to want to add sensors to the first-generation iPod; he was never clued in fully but suspects they were adding radiation sensors. It would make sense, given the climate in the early 2000s, walking down the street with a traditional Geiger counter would have been a bit obvious. And mind you, we’re not knocking Apple for allegedly working with the government on this — building a few modified iPods is a whole lot different than turning masses of phones into data gathering terminals. Umm, wait…

A couple of weeks back, we included a story about a gearhead who mounted a GoPro camera inside of a car tire. The result was some interesting footage as he drove around; it’s not a common sight to watch a tire deform and move around from the inside like that. As an encore, the gearhead in question, Warped Perception, did the same trick bit with a more destructive bent: he captured a full burnout from the inside. The footage is pretty sick, with the telltale bubbles appearing on the inside before the inevitable blowout and seeing daylight through the shredded remains of the tire. But for our money, the best part is the slo-mo footage from the outside, with the billowing smoke and shredded steel belts a-flinging. We appreciate the effort, but we’re sure glad this guy isn’t our neighbor.

Speaking of graphic footage, things are not going well for some remote radio sites in California. Some towers that host the repeaters used by public service agencies and ham radio operators alike have managed to record their last few minutes of life as wildfires sweep across the mountains they’re perched upon. The scenes are horrific, like something from Dante’s Inferno, and the burnover shown in the video below is terrifying; watch it and you’ll see a full-grown tree consumed in less than 30 seconds. As bad as the loss of equipment is, it pales in comparison to what the firefighters face as they battle these blazes, but keep in mind that losing these repeaters can place them in terrible jeopardy too.

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New Contest: Circuit Sculpture Challenge

We’re bringing back one of our most popular contests, the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture Challenge! Make your functional circuits go beyond utility by turning them into art!

Solar-powered circuit sculpture by [Mohit Bhoite] which was featured last year.
Wire and circuit boards are a fantastic media for creating beautiful projects, and for this one we want both the copper and the boards (or lack of) to be part of the beauty. Your sculpture could be crisp and angular bends in brass rod, a rat’s nest of enamel wire, PCBs with organic shapes, or something completely wild. Your only constraint is that there needs to be some type of working circuit involved.

Three entries will be chosen as top winners in the Most Functional, Most Beautiful, and Best Video categories and be awarded $200 in components from Digi-Key who are sponsoring this contest and also putting together a calendar with images of the top twelve sculptures.

The Wonderlandscape by [Michael Aichlmayr] takes the “sculpture” part of Circuit Sculpture to new levels.
Tell us the story of your creation, including a deep dive into how you built the sculpture and what trial and error you went through to pull it off. Many circuit sculptures in the past have included jig-building to get the wire bends just right, so we have a fourth prize of $100 in Tindie credit for the Best Jig build.

Get your project started now on Hackaday.io and use that “Submit Project To:” button in the left sidebar of your project page to enter it in the Circuit Sculpture Challenge. You have until November 10th to submit your entry.

Breadboard Breaks The Speed Barrier

It is common wisdom that solderless breadboards are only good for low frequencies. But how fast can they really go? There’s been a contest going on to see who can make the fastest breadboard-mounted oscillator and [Joe Smith] has been trying to keep his leading position. He’s already managed 6 GHz and now he’s shooting for 20 GHz, as you can see in the video below.

One of the biggest challenges at these frequencies is just measuring your output. You may have a scope, but how does it do at 20 GHz? So half of the story is how [Joe] managed to monitor his output.

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