Let Your Finger Do The Soldering With Solder Sustainer V2

Soldering is easy, as long as you have one hand to hold the iron, one to hold the solder, and another to hold the workpiece. For those of us not so equipped, there’s the new and improved Solder Sustainer v2, which aims to free up one of however many hands you happen to have.

Eagle-eyed readers will probably recall an earlier version of Solder Sustainer, which made an appearance in last year’s Hackaday Prize in the “Gearing Up” round. At the time we wrote that it looked a bit like “the love child of a MIG welder and a tattoo machine.” This time around, [RoboticWorx] has rethought that concept and mounted the solder feeder on the back of a fingerless glove. The solder guide is a tube that clips to the user’s forefinger, which makes much finer control of where the solder meets the iron possible than with the previous version. The soldering iron itself is also no longer built into the tool, giving better control of the tip and letting you use your favorite iron, which itself is no small benefit.

Hats off to [RoboticWorx] for going back to the drawing board on this one. It isn’t easy to throw out most of your design and start over, but sometimes it just makes sense.

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Commodore 64 Reports The News

In the late 80s and into the 90s, [Cameron Kaiser] aka [ClassicHasClass] was an aspiring journalist, first becoming interested in the career in elementary school and then working on various publications into university. At some point, he started using a piece of software for laying out newspapers called The Newsroom which, he admits, was lacking a lot of tools that would have been modern even for the time, but had an otherwise agreeable price tag thanks to its focus more on home desktop publishing and newsletter production than on full-scale newspaper operations. It did have one interesting feature that he never could figure out, though, at least until he went back and pieced this mystery together.

The software itself ran on the Apple II and was eventually ported to other systems of the era, including the Commodore 64. The mystery feature was known as “Wire Service” and appeared to be a way that users of the software who had a modem could connect with one another and share news releases, layouts, graphics, and other content created in Newsroom, but in the days where it would have been modern never was able to connect to anything. In fact, it was eventually abandoned by the developers themselves in later releases of the software. But [ClassicHasClass] was determined to get it working. Continue reading “Commodore 64 Reports The News”

Relive The Glory Days Of Cable TV With This Retro Weather Feed

This may surprise younger readers, but there was once a time when the reality programming on The Weather Channel was simply, you know, weather. It used to be no more than a ten-minute wait to “Local on the Eights”, with simple text crawls of local conditions and forecasts that looked like they were taken straight from the National Weather Service feed.┬áThose were the days, and sadly they seem to be gone forever.

Or perhaps not, if this retro weather channel feed has anything to say about it. It’s the product of [probnot] and consists of a simple Python program that runs on a Raspberry Pi. Being from Winnipeg, [probnot] is tapping into Environment Canada for local weather data, but it should be easy enough to modify to use your local weather provider’s API. The screen is full of retro goodness, from the simple color scheme to the blocky white text; the digital clock and local news crawl at the bottom complete the old school experience. It doesn’t appear that the code supports the period-correct smooth jazz saxophone, but that too should be a simple modification.

All jibing aside, this would be a welcome addition to the morning routine. And for the full retro ride, why not consider putting it in an old TV case?

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Feeding Chickens, With Style

Ah, the joys of domestic animals. Often adorable, occasionally useful, they’re universally unable to care for themselves in the slightest. That’s part of the bargain though; we take over responsibility for their upkeep and they repay us with whatever it is they do best. Unless the animal in question is a cat, of course – they have their own terms and conditions.

Chickens, though, are very useful indeed. Give them food and water and they give you delicious, nutritious, high-quality protein. Feeding them every day can be a chore, though, unless you automate the task. This Twitch-enabled robotic chicken feeder may be overkill for that simple use case, but as [Sean Hodgins] tell it, there’s a method to all the hardware he threw at this build. That would include a custom-welded steel frame holding a solar panel and batteries, a huge LED matrix display, a Raspberry Pi and camera, and of course, food dispensers. Those are of the kind once used to dispense candy or gum for a coin or two in the grocery; retooled with 3D-printed parts, the dispensers now eject a small scoop of feed whenever someone watching a Twitch stream decides to donate to the farm that’s hosting the system. You can see the build below in detail, or just pop over to Sweet Farm to check out the live feed and gawk at some chickens.

It’s an impressive bit of work on [Sean]’s part for sure, and we did notice how he used his HCC rapid prototyping module to speed up development. Still, we’re not convinced there will be many donations at $10 a pop. Then again, dropping donations to the micropayment level may lead to overfed chickens, and that’s not a good thing.

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