Toggle Switch Puzzle Boggles The Mind, Opens The Box

We all have too much stock of one component or another. Maybe you have more audio pots than you know what to do with, or maybe it’s zener diodes. For [technologyguy], that thing is a pile of toggle switches.  Fortunately he’s always wanted to build a locking box with a binary code that’s laid out in switches — as in, find the right code, and a solenoid unlatches the box. This lovely parts bin special only responds to two combinations out of a possible 4,000+, so anyone who tries to open it should probably block out the afternoon.

Inside you’ll find two 9 V batteries, a home-brew metal latch, a solenoid, and the undersides of four DPDT and eight SPDT toggle switches. If you just picked this thing up and had no idea what was going on, you’d be so screwed as to what to do first. The box needs power, so you’d have to figure out which switch is which. But it’s so much harder than that, because the bottom left switch selects between the two paths that result in an unlocked book-box.

The next two toggles in from the left are on/off selectors for code A and code B, so not only do you have to have the right path chosen, you have to power it, too. The only progress indicators are the LEDs — there’s one for main power, and the other lets you know that the box is unlatched. What a fun conversation piece for the coffee table Zoom-viewable area!

Want to do something far less useful with your throng of toggles? How about a complicated useless machine?

Homebrew Relay Computer Looks Like It Could Be A Commercial Product

You may not have noticed, but we here at Hackaday really love our clicky stuff. Clicky mechanical keyboards, unnecessarily noisy flip-dot displays, and pretty much anything made with a lot of relays — they all grab our attention, in more ways than one. So it’s with no small surprise that we appear to have entirely missed perhaps the clickiest build of all: a fully operational 8-bit computer using nothing but relays.

What’s even more amazing about our failure to find and feature [Paul Law]’s excellent work is that he has been at it for the better part of a decade now. The first post on his very detailed and very well-crafted blog describing the build dates from 2013, when he was just testing LEDs in the arithmetic-logic unit (ALU). Since then, [Paul] has made incredible progress, building module after module, each containing a small portion of the computer’s functionality. The modules plug into card cages with backplanes to connect them, and the whole thing lives in an enclosure made from aluminum extrusion and glossy black panels for a truly sleek look. The computer is incredibly compact for something that uses 400+ DPDT relays to do its thinking.

In addition to the blog, [Paul] has a criminally undersubscribed YouTube channel with a quite recent series going over the computer in depth. We included the overall tour below, but you should really check out the rest of the videos to appreciate how much work went into this build. We’ve seen relay computers ranging in size from single-board to just plain ludicrous, but this one really takes the prize for fit and finish as well as functionality.

Continue reading “Homebrew Relay Computer Looks Like It Could Be A Commercial Product”

DIY KVM Switch Lets You Use One Keyboard And Mouse With Multiple Computers

Here’s a quick DIY hack if you happen to have multiple computers at home or at the office and are tired of juggling mice and keyboards. [Kedar Nimbalkar] — striving for a solution — put together a keyboard, video and mouse switcher that allows one set to control two computers.

A DPDT switch is connected to a female USB port, and two male USB cables — with the ground and 5V wires twisted together and connected to the switch — each running to a PC. [Nimbalkar] suggests ensuring that the data lines are correctly wired, and testing that the 5V and ground are connected properly. He then covered the connections with some hot glue to make it a little more robust since it’s about to see a lot of use.

Now all that’s needed is a quick press of the button to change which PC you are working on, streamlining what can be a tedious changeover — especially useful if you have a custom keyboard you want to use all the time.

Continue reading “DIY KVM Switch Lets You Use One Keyboard And Mouse With Multiple Computers”