There are a surprising wealth of parts inside of old laptops that can be easily scavenged, but often these proprietary tidbits of electronics will need a substantial amount of work to make them useful again. Obviously things such as hard drives and memory can easily be used again, but it’s also possible to get things like screens or batteries to work with other devices with some effort. Now, there’s also a way to reuse the trackpad as well.
This build uses a PS/2 touchpad with a Synaptics chip in it, which integrates pretty smoothly with an Arduino after a few pins on the touchpad are soldered to. Most of the work is done on the touchpad’s built in chip, so once the Arduino receives the input from the touchpad it’s free to do virtually anything with it. In this case, [Kushagra] used it to operate a stepper motor in a few different implementations.
If you have this type of touchpad lying around, all of the code and schematics to make it useful again are available on the project page. An old laptop in the parts bin is sure to have a lot of uses even after you take the screen off, but don’t forget that your old beige PS/2 mouse from 1995 is sure to have some uses like this as well.
Here at Hackaday HQ we’re no strangers to vintage game emulation. New versions of old consoles and arcade cabinets frequently make excellent fodder for clever hacks to cram as much functionality as possible into tiny modern microcontrollers. We’ve covered [rossumur]’s hacks before, but the ESP_8-bit is a milestone in comprehensive capability. This time, he’s topped himself.
There isn’t much the ESP 8-bit won’t do. It can emulate three popular consoles, complete with ROM selection menus (with menu bloops). Don’t worry about building a controller, just connect any old (HID compliant) Bluetooth Classic keyboard or WiiMote you have at hand. Or if that doesn’t do it, a selection of IR devices ranging from joysticks from the Atari Flashback 4 to Apple TV remotes are compatible. Connect analog audio and composite video and the device is ready to go.
The system provides this impressive capability with an absolute minimum of components. Often a schematic is too complex to fit into a short post, but we’ll reproduce this one here to give you a sense for what we’re talking about. Come back when you’ve refreshed your Art of Electronics and have a complete understanding of the hardware at work. We never cease to be amazed at the amount of capability available in modern “hobbyist” components. With such a short BOM this thing can be put together by anyone with an ESP-32-anything.
There’s one more hack worth noting; the clever way [rossumur] gets full color NTSC composite video from a very busy microcontroller. They note that NTSC can be finicky and requires an extremely stable high speed reference clock as a foundation. [rossumur] discovered that the ESP-32 includes a PLL designed for audio work (the “APLL”) which conveniently supports fractional components, allowing it to be trimmed to within an inch of the desired frequency. The full description is included in the GitHub page for the project and includes detailed background of various efforts to get color NTSC video (including the names of a couple hackers you might recognize from these pages).
To build this “Gamecube Grip”, [Bill] literally cut an original controller and its PCB in half so they could be relocated on either end of the 3D printed central frame. Internally, the controller PCB is wired up to a GC+ board, which is an open hardware project that uses a PIC18F25K22 microcontroller to bring enhanced features to the classic peripheral such as adjustable stick dead zones and rumble intensity. From there, it’s connected to the switch with a GBros adapter from 8bitdo.
The grip also includes an Anker PowerCore 20,100 mAh battery that should keep the system going for hours, and some components liberated from a third party Switch dock. Everything has been finished off with the attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from [Bill] and his projects, including the seemingly flawless glossy paint job that’s something of hallmark for his custom gaming creations.
In fact, he’s put not one but four arcade games into the controller. The board that [Taylor] liberated from the miniature game system can actually be switched between the onboard games by shorting out different pads on the PCB. Normally this would be done during manufacture with a zero-ohm resistor, but in this case, he’s wired the pads out to a strip of membrane keypad liberated from an LED remote control. By holding a different button while powering on the system, the user can select which of the games they want to boot into.
The original buttons and directional pad have been preserved, and in the video after the break, [Taylor] shows how he wires them into the arcade PCB. The Start and Select buttons had to go since that’s where the tiny color LCD goes now, but they wouldn’t have been used in any of these games anyway. With the addition of a small battery pack and charge controller, this build is a clever way to take several classic arcade titles with you on the go.
While it’s nice to be able to fully restore something vintage to its original glory, this is not always possible. There might not be replacement parts available, the economics of restoring it may not make sense, or the damage to parts of it might be too severe. [onyxmember] aka [Minimember Customs] was in this position with an old ’54 Puch Allstate motorcycle frame that he found with no engine, rusty fuel tank, and some other problems, so he did the next best thing to a full restoration. He converted it to electric.
This build uses as much of the original motorcycle frame as possible and [onyxmember] made the choice not to weld anything extra to it. The fuel tank was cut open and as much rust was cleaned from it as possible to make room for the motor controller and other electronics. A hub motor was laced to the rear wheel, and a modern horn and headlight were retrofitted into the original headlight casing. Besides the switches, throttle, and voltmeter, everything else looks original except, of course, the enormous 72V battery hanging off the frame where the engine used to be.
At a power consumption of somewhere between three and five kilowatts, [onyxmember] reports that this bike likely gets somewhere in the range of 55 mph, although he can’t know for sure because it doesn’t have a speedometer. It’s the best use of an old motorcycle frame we can think of, and we also like the ratrod look, but you don’t necessarily need to modify a classic bike for this. A regular dirt bike frame will do just fine.
Resin 3D printers are finally cheap enough that peons like us can finally buy them without skipping too many meals, and what means we’re starting to see more and more of them in the hands of hackers. But to get good results you’ll also want a machine to cure the prints with UV light; an added expense compared to more traditional FDM printers. Of course you could always build one yourself to try and save some money.
To that end, [sjm4306] is working on a very impressive controller for all your homebrew UV curing needs. The device is designed to work with cheap UV strip lights that can easily be sourced online, and all you need to bring to the table is a suitable enclosure to install them in. Here he’s using a metal paint can with a lid to keep from burning his eyes out, but we imagine the good readers of Hackaday could come up with something slightly more substantial while still taking the necessary precautions to not cook the only set of eyes you’ll ever have.
Of course, the enclosure isn’t what this project is really about. The focus here is on a general purpose controller, and it looks like [sjm4306] has really gone the extra mile with this one. Using a common OLED display module, the controller provides a very concise and professional graphical user interface for setting parameters such as light intensity and cure time. While the part is cooking, there’s even a nice little progress bar which makes it easy to see how much time is left even if you’re across the room.
At this point we’ve seen a number of hacked together UV cure boxes, but many of them skip the controller and just run the lights full time. That’s fine for a quick and dirty build, but we think a controller like this one could help turn a simple hack into a proper tool.
For gamers, the early 2000s certainly stand out as a memorable era. The dawn of the 21st century ushered in the sixth generation of home video game consoles, with Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all releasing their systems within a few years of each other. Nintendo also released their Game Boy Advance at around the same time, representing a minor revolution for mobile gaming. On the PC front, a free-to-play MMORPG called RuneScape was redefining people’s expectations of browser-based software.
Now, thanks to modern technology and the expert guidance of [TiKevin83], these varied bits of video game history can be used in conjunction for maximum rose-tinting effect. Using homebrew software on the GameCube and a healthy collection of wires and adapters, the GBA can be used as a controller for your adventures through the realm of Gielinor. After nearly two decades, the dreams of gamers everywhere have come true.
Well, that might be a stretch. In fact, we’d wager that nobody in human history has ever looked at the GBA and thought it would be a particularly good controller for an MMORPG. Watching the video after the break, it’s not hard to see why. Using the handheld system’s digital pad to control the mouse in RuneScape looks to be precisely as clunky as you’d imagine. But of course, that’s hardly the point.
So how is it accomplished? A homebrew tool for the GameCube’s “Game Boy Player” accessory allows the GBA, when connected to the console via the appropriate adapter cable, to mimic a standard controller. Once the GBA is running in this mode, it can then be connected to the computer using a Wii U to USB adapter. Finally, the program JoyToKey is used to map the GBA’s buttons to mouse and keyboard input for “Old School” RuneScape.