Home Automation Terminal Has Great Post-Apocalyptic Look

If you use home automation these days, you’re probably used to using smart speakers, your smartphone, or those tabletop touchscreen devices. If you wanted something cooler and more personal, you could try building something like [Rick] did.

A Raspberry Pi 400 is the basis for the machine, and it still uses the original keyboard. It’s paired with a 3D-printed shell with a 7″ Waveshare HDMI touch display in it. The LCD is placed behind a Fresnel lens which provides some magnification. It displays a glowing blue command line which accepts text commands. It’s hooked up to the OpenAI API, so it’s a little smarter than just any old regular terminal. It’s hooked up to [Rick’s] home automation system, so he can use natural language queries to control lighting, music, and all the rest. Think Alexa or Siri, but in text form.

The design of the case, with its rounded edges, vents, and thick bezels gives it a strong retro-futuristic look, reminiscent of something out of Fallout. [Rick’s] neat application of weathering techniques helped a lot, too.

It reminds us of some of the cooler Pip Boy builds we’ve seen. Meanwhile, if you’ve got your own creative terminal build in the works, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Hack In Style With This Fallout Cyberdeck

There’s always an appeal to a cool-looking computer case or cyberdeck – and with authentic-looking Vault-Tec style, [Eric B] and [kc9psw]’s fallout-themed cyberdeck is no exception.

The case looks like it came straight out of one of the Fallout games and acts the part: while (obviously) not capable of withstanding a direct nuclear bomb impact, it can protect the sensitive electronics inside from the electromagnetic pulse and shockwave that follows – if you keep it closed.

And it’s not just the case that’s cool: This cyberdeck is packed full of goodies like long-range radios, SDRs, ADSB receivers, a Teensy 4.1, and dual Raspberry Pis. But that’s just the hardware! It also comes with gigabytes upon gigabytes of Wikipedia, Wikihow, TED talks, and other information/entertainment, for the less eventful days in the wastelands.

If you, too, would like to have one, fret not! The parts list and design files are public, even though some assembly is required.

Retrotechtacular: The Other Kind Of Fallout Show

Thanks to the newly released Amazon Prime series, not to mention nearly 30 years as a wildly successful gaming franchise, Fallout is very much in the zeitgeist these days. But before all that, small-F fallout was on the minds of people living in countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain who would have to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear exchange.

Uwaga! Pył promieniotwórczy  (“Beware! Radioactive Dust”) is a 1965 Polish civil defense film from film studio Wytwórnia Filmów Oświatowych. While the Cold War turning hot was not likely to leave any corner of the planet unscathed, Poland was certainly destined to bear the early brunt of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers, and it was clear that the powers that be wanted to equip any surviving Polish people with the tools needed to deal with their sudden change in circumstances.

The film, narrated in Polish but with subtitles in English, seems mainly aimed at rural populations and is mercifully free of the details of both fallout formation and the potential effects of contact with radioactive dust, save for a couple of shots of what looks like a pretty mild case of cutaneous radiation syndrome.

Defense against fallout seems focused on not inhaling radioactive dust with either respirators or expedient facemasks, and keeping particles outside the house by wearing raincoats and boots, which can be easily cleaned with water. The fact that nowhere in the film is it mentioned that getting fallout on your clothes or in your lungs could be largely avoided by not going outside is telling; farmers really can’t keep things running from the basement.

A lot of time in this brief film is dedicated to preventing food and water from becoming contaminated, and cleaning it off if it does happen to get exposed. We thought the little tin enclosures over the wells were quite clever, as were the ways to transfer water from the well to the house without picking up any contamination. The pros and cons of different foods are covered too — basically, canned foods dobry, boxed foods zły. So, thumbs up for Cram, but you might want to skip the YumYum deviled eggs.

Dealing with the potential for a nuclear apocalypse is necessarily an unpleasant subject, and it’s easy to dismiss the advice of the filmmakers as quaint and outdated, or just an attempt to give the Polish people a sense of false hope. And that may well be, but then again, giving people solid, practical steps they can take will at least give them some agency, and that’s rarely a bad thing.

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Breathtaking Alarm Clock Looks Like It Came From A 1960 Fallout Shelter

All the hardcore geeks have alarm clocks where the bell striker is a hard disk read head… or at least they’ll be building them after seeing this. [Senile Data Systems] created an industrial voltage alarm clock out of decade counters that looks like it was unearthed from a fallout shelter (machine translation).

At first glace you might mistake this for a binary clock since it uses a column of LEDs to indicate each digit of 24-hour time. It’s not, as each row corresponds to a pin on the CD4017 decade counters that make up the timekeeping circuit inside.

Thumbscrew wheel switches at the top of the bulky handheld unit are how the alarm time is set, triggering a bell along the top edge. The clock is driven by the 50 Hz line voltage and [SDS] tried using that AC to drive a solenoid as the striker on the prototype unit but it performed poorly. The use of a hard disk read head turns out to be the perfect striker, as heard in the video after the break. As for triggering from the decade counters, here’s what [SDS] told us about the design:

The switches’ outputs gets ANDed with a 10 Hz signal (on a 60 Hz grid it will become 12 Hz). This drives a slightly beefy transistor which in turn drives an electromagnet to hammer a bell which broke off my bicycle. Yes. This is a digital analog alarm clock. The clock portion is digital but the bell is analog and sounds like Grampa’s old wind up alarm clock.

The build came about when a cache of over 600 industrial LEDs (24 V – 48 V) fell into his lap. This makes the insides of the clock something to behold as point-to-point soldering connects the panel mount lights and all nine logic chips. Add in that transformer for getting the line voltage and we imagine this thing has quite a bit of heft to it.

If you’ve ever had an alarm with a wind-up bell you know there’s no better way to jolt yourself out of a peaceful slumber and into the chaos of the real world. If the gentle tinkle of the hard drive head isn’t enough for you, this fire bell alarm clock will certainly do the trick.

 

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Fallout-Inspired Clock Radio Helps You Party Like It’s 2077

Since its first release seven years ago, Raspberry Pi single-board computers have become notoriously ubiquitous in compact and portable builds. They’re used in many different applications, but one of the most interesting has got to be how it can turn just about any old thing into a Linux computer. [xito666] writes in with his own build, a portable retro computer inspired by the retro-futuristic stylings of the Fallout games.

For true aesthetic accuracy, [xito666] used an old discarded Crown 5TV-65R portable TV and radio combo. The unit hails from the 1970s, so a bit newer than Vault technology, but it still gives off a great retro charm with its CRT screen and knobs. Sadly, the original components couldn’t be reused, and the shell was stripped empty so that the new hardware could take its place. This includes an off-the-shelf HDMI LCD screen with resistive touchscreen and new potentiometers and knobs that still fit in with the overall look of the machine.

What makes this build unique, however, is that it also includes custom software to turn it into a clock and music player, with the deliciously Pip Boy-like UI being controlled entirely with the front buttons and knobs. The whole project is well written up in the Reddit post, in it [xito666] explains some of their choices and planned improvements. One that we would suggest ourselves is replacing the menu scrolling selector dial with a rotary encoder rather than a potentiometer, for that added knob feel. We also think that with the addition of a keyboard, it would easily pass for one of those luggables from the 1980s, a style of project we’ve featured once or twice here before.

Roll The Bones Chernobyl Style

We’re suckers for the Fallout aesthetic, so anything with a post-apocalyptic vibe is sure to get our attention. With a mid-century look, Nixie tubes, a brushed metal faceplate, and just a touch of radioactivity, this quantum random number generator pushes a lot of design buttons, and it pushes them hard.

Charmingly named “Chernobyl Dice”, this little gadget comes to us from [Nathan Griffith], and appears to be one of those “Why not?” builds we love so much. The heart of any random number generator is a source of entropy, for which [Nathan] chose to use six slightly radioactive uranium glass marbles. Those feature prominently in the front panel of the device, occasionally made to fluoresce with a few UV LEDs just because it looks cool. A Geiger tube inside the case is used to look for decay events from the marbles every millisecond. After some adjustment for the bias toward zeroes due to the relative rarity of decay events, the accumulated bits are displayed on eight Nixies. The box can be set to generate a stream of random numbers up to 31 bits long and send it over a USB port, or make random throws of a die with a settable number of sides. And when it’s not doing random stuff, it can just be a cool Nixie clock.

There are lots of ways to generate the entropy needed for truly random number generation, from a wall of lava lamps to bubbles in a fish tank. They’ve all got style, but something about this one just works.

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Foam Board, Old Electronics, And Imagination Make Movie Magic

When it comes to building sets and props for movies and TV, it’s so easy to get science fiction wrong – particularly with low-budget productions. It must be tempting for the set department to fall back on the “get a bunch of stuff and paint it silver” model, which can make for a tedious experience for the technically savvy in the audience.

But low-budget does not necessarily mean low production values if the right people are involved. Take [Joel Hartlaub]’s recent work building sets for a crowdfunded sci-fi film called Infinitus. It’s a post-apocalyptic story that needed an underground bunker with a Fallout vibe to it, and [Joel] jumped at the chance to hack the sets together. Using mainly vintage electronic gear and foam insulation boards CNC-routed into convincing panels, he built nicely detailed control consoles for the bunker. A voice communicator was built from an old tube-type table radio case with some seven-segment displays, and the chassis of an old LCD projector made a convincing portable computer terminal. The nicest hack was for the control panel of the airlock door. That used an old TDD, or telecommunications device for the deaf. With a keyboard and a VFD display, it fit right into the feel of the set. But [Joel] went the extra mile to make it a practical piece, by recording the modulated tones from the acoustic coupler and playing them back, to make it look as if a message was coming in. The airlock door looks great too.

Like many hacks, it’s pretty impressive what you can accomplish with a deep junk pile and a little imagination. But if you’ve got a bigger budget and you need some computer displays created, we know just the person for the job.

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