[Ben Heck] found an old card-swipe point-of-sale box at the Goodwill store, took it home, and tore it down to see what was inside. He found a completely serviceable single board computer based on the Z80. In fact, there’s a whole family of four Z80 chips: the CPU itself, the DART chip (dual UART), the PIO chip (parallel input/output interface), and the CTC chip (counter/timer circuit). That’s not all — there’s a landline telephone modem, a real time clock, 32K of RAM and UV-EPROM. The second PCB of this assembly holds a hefty sixteen-key keypad and a sixteen-character vacuum fluorescent alphanumeric display. All this for the bargain price of $2.99.
Surely [Ben] will dig into the Z80 system in the future, but in this video he tries to make the display work. An OKI Semiconductor controller drives the VFD. After tracking down the data sheet, [Ben] wires it up to an Arduino and writes a quick program. Only a few YouTube minutes later, he conquers the display, drawing sample text anywhere he wants on the screen with any brightness he desires.
You never know what you may find lurking inside old equipment like this. You might find a proprietary ASIC with no documentation, or like [Ben] did here, you could find a fully functioning embedded computer. If [Ben] can whip up a RAM-based emulator to replace the 32K UV-EPROM, he’ll have a perfect evaluation board for Z80 projects.
Let us know in the comments if you have found any treasures like this. Also, how would you use this board if you had found it? Thanks to reader [Nikša Barlović] for sending in the tip.
Continue reading “Z80 Family Reunion Discovered In Old PoS Card Swiper”
This miniature “spy satellite” may not gain the ire of the Chinese People’s Army, but it will certainly look rad on your desk. Besides looking cool, this “satellite” is able to transmit video up to 300 feet away and has sun tracking solar panels for battery recharging. Additionally, it has a LED “thruster” and speakers.
One cool thing about this build is that the body was made out of a lamp from Goodwill. Recycled/thrift store enclosures always make a good addition to your project as they won’t break the bank. Additionally, they may yield some other bonus parts when taken apart. In this case, the lamp fit into the project scope perfectly, but anyone trying to duplicate it might not be so lucky.
Creative use of other household materials rounds out this build, with solar panels taken off home garden lights, and part of a nose hair trimmer used as the “thruster” body. This well-build project is a great example of how to convert household items into something totally different and unique.
A few weeks ago we saw [Jaroslaw’s] universal credit card spoofer. Now he’s sent in a project that incorporates an amplifier into a center speaker for use with an iPod or any device with an audio jack.
The build has two main components; an LM4950 audio amplifier and a center channel speaker he picked up for $3 at Goodwill. The circuit used is straight from the datasheet and he’s provided the four necessary resistor values for you in his writeup. An old set of headphones was butchered for the audio connector and DC power can be provided by any 6-12V source.
The final circuit was built on some protoboard. The speaker housing has plenty of room to fit everything in for a nice finished look. Pretty simple, and except for the IC, this should be an easy salvage project for most folks.