The world of desktop computing has coalesced into what is essentially a duopoly, with Windows machines making up the bulk of the market share and Apple carving out a dedicated minority. This relatively stable state hasn’t always existed, though, as the computing scene even as late as the 90s was awash with all kinds of competing operating systems and various incompatible hardware. Amiga, Unix, OS/2, MacOS, NeXT, BeOS, as well as competing DOSes, were all on the table at various points.
If you’ve still got a box running one of these retro systems, SheepShaver might be able to help expand your software library. It’s not the sort of virtualization that we’re used to in the modern world, with an entire operating system running on a sanctioned-off part of your system. But SheepShaver does allow you to run software written for MacOS 7.5.2 thru 9.0.4 in a different environment. Unix and Linux are both supported, as well as Mac OS X, Windows NT, 2000, and XP, and the enigmatic BeOS. Certain configurations allow applications to run natively without any emulation at all, and there is plenty of hardware support built-in as well.
For anyone running retro hardware from the late 90s or early 00s, this could be just the ticket to get an application running that wasn’t ever supported on one of these machines. As for the name, it’s a play on another piece of software called ShapeShifter which brought a Mac-II emulator to the Amiga. SheepShaver has been around since the late 90s, too, so we’re surprised that we haven’t featured it before since it is such a powerful tool for cross-platform compatibility for computers of this era. Even if all you are hanging on to is an old BeBox.
While the Nintendo 3DS was capable of fairly impressive graphics (at least for a portable system) back in its heyday, there’s little challenge in emulating the now discontinued handheld on a modern computer or even smartphone. One thing that’s still difficult to replicate though is the stereoscopic 3D display the system was named for. But this didn’t stop [BigRig Creates] from creating this giant 3DS with almost all of the features of an original console present.
The main hurdle here is that the stereoscopic effect that Nintendo used to allow the 3DS to display 3D graphics without special glasses doesn’t work well at long distances, and doesn’t work at all if there is more than one player. To get around those limitations, this build uses a 3D TV with active glasses. This TV is mounted to a bar stool with the help of some counterweights, and a second touch-sensitive screen courtesy of McDonalds makes up the other display.
The computer driving this massive handheld console runs Citra, and also handles the scaled-up controls as well. To recreate the system’s analog touch pad, a custom joystick tipped with conductive filament is used to interact with a smartphone hidden inside the case. Opposing rubber bands are used to pull the stick back into the center when it’s not being pushed.
Plenty of 3DS games are faithfully replicated with this arcade-sized replica, and as Citra supports various 3D displays, upscaling of the graphics, and the touchscreen interface, almost everything from the original console is produced here. There are a few games that don’t work exactly right, but all in all it’s a remarkable build and, as far as we can tell, the largest 3DS in the world. Don’t forget that even though this console is out of production now, there’s still a healthy homebrew scene to take part in.
Continue reading “Building The World’s Largest Nintendo 3DS” →
The Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, now known simply as MAME, started off as a project to emulate various arcade games. The project is still adding new games to its library, but the framework around MAME makes it capable of emulating pretty much any older computer. The computer doesn’t even need to be a gaming-specific machine as the latest batch of retro hardware they’ve added support for is a number of calculators from the 90s and early 00s including a few classics from Texas Instruments.
Since no one is likely to build an arcade cabinet version of a TI-89, all of these retro calculators are instead emulated entirely within a browser. This includes working buttons and functions on an overlay of each of these calculators but also pixel-accurate screen outputs for each of these. The graphing calculators have more of what we would consider a standard computer screen, but even the unique LCDs of some of the more esoteric calculators are accurately replicated as well thanks to the MAME artwork system.
There are a number of calculators implemented under this project with a full list found at this page, and the MAME team has plans to implement more in the future. If you’re looking for something fun to do on a more modern calculator, though, take a look at this build which implements ray tracing on a TI-84 Plus CE.
Thanks to [J. Peterson] for the tip!
Retro games are a blast, and even more so when you can bring the fun on the go. [mac2612] has developed a custom retroarch-based firmware for the Leapster GS and LeapPad2. (via Bringus Studios on YouTube)
We covered Linux on the Leapster before, but Retroleap seems better documented (and still up on the internet). Installation is done over the command line with sshflash, also by [mac2612], after booting the Leapster or LeapPad2 into “Surgeon Mode.” Since the stock bootloader remains intact, you can always return the LeapFrog to its default state if anything gets wiggy by reflashing the device via the LeapFrog Connect App.
The default system includes emulators for NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis, Atari 800, and MAME. Performance varies, but some PS1 games have even run successfully on the device.
If you’d like to see some other LeapFrog hacks, checkout this LeapFrog TV Running DOOM or Composite Video Out on the DIDJ.
Continue reading “RetroArch On A LeapFrog Leapster GS” →
As disruptive and generally unpleasant as the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 were, they often ended up being a catalyst for significant personal growth. That was often literal growth, thanks to stress eating, but others, such as [Eric Badger], used the time to add skills to his repertoire and build a breadboard 6502 computer and so much more.
For those of you looking for a single endpoint to this story, we’re sorry to disappoint — this isn’t really one of those stories. Rather, it’s a tale of starting as a hardware newbie with a [Ben Eater] 6502 breadboard computer kit, and taking it much, much beyond. Once the breadboard computer kit was assembled, [Eric] was hooked, and found himself relentlessly expanding it. At some point, he decided to get the classic game Lode Runner going on his computer; this led to a couple of iterations of video cards, including a foray away from the breadboards and into PCB design. That led to a 6502 emulator build, and a side quest of a Raspberry Pi Pico Lode Runner appliance. This naturally led [Eric] to dip a toe into the world of 3D printing, because why not?
Honestly, we lost track of the number of new skills [Eric] managed to add to his toolkit in this video, and we’re sure this isn’t even a final accounting — there’s got to be something he missed. It’s great stuff, though, and quite inspirational — there’s no telling where you’ll end up when you start messing around with hardware hacking.
Continue reading “From A 6502 Breadboard Computer To Lode Runner And Beyond” →
A “Check Engine” light on your dashboard could mean anything from a loose gas cap to a wallet-destroying repair in the offing. For [Dean Segovis], his CEL was indicating a fairly serious condition: a missing transmission. So naturally, he built this electronic transmission emulator to solve the problem.
Some explanation may be necessary here. [Dean]’s missing transmission was the result of neither theft nor accident. Rather, he replaced the failed automatic transmission on his 2003 Volkswagen EuroVan with a manual transmission. Trouble is, that left the car’s computer convinced that the many solenoids and sensors on the original transmission weren’t working, leaving him with a perfectly serviceable vehicle but an inspection-failing light on the dash.
To convince the transmission control module that a working automatic was still installed and clear the fourteen-odd diagnostic codes, [Dean] put together a block of eight common automotive relays. The relay coils approximate the resistance of the original transmission’s actuators, which convinces the TCU that everything is hunky dory. There were also a couple of speed sensors in the transmission, which he spoofed with some resistors, as well as the multi-function switch, which detects the shift lever position. All told, the emulator convinces the TCU that there’s an automatic transmission installed, which is enough for it to give the all-clear and turn off the Check Engine light on the dash.
We love hacks like this, and hats off to [Dean] for sharing it with the VW community. Apparently the issue with the EuroVan automatic transmissions is common enough that a cottage industry has developed to replace them with manuals. It’s not the only questionable aspect of VW engineering, of course, but this could help quite a few people out of a sticky situation.
Continue reading “Replace Your Automatic Transmission With A Bunch Of Relays” →
Generally, when trying to implement some protocol, you are constrained by your hardware and time. But for someone like [EMMIR], that’s not enough. For example, NTSC-CRT is a video signal encoding/decoding simulator with no hardware acceleration, floating point math, or third-party libraries. Just basic C.
While NTSC has officially gone dark in America, people still make their own ATTiny-powered transmitters. NTSC is a bit of a strange standard and is sometimes referred to as never-twice-the-same color, but it does produce a distinct look.
That look is what [EMMIR] was going for. It encodes a message in a ppm format into NTSC and then back in ppm with some configurable noise. It can do this in real-time as an effect in [EMMIR’s] engine or on a rendered image via a CLI. It looks incredible, and there’s something very satisfying. There’s a video after the break showing off the effect. The code is pretty short and easy to read.
Continue reading “Encoding NTSC With Your Hands Tied” →