A Handheld Hackintosh, But So Much More

As handheld computing has solidified alongside everything else into the mobile phone, it’s sad that the once promising idea of a general purpose machine in the palm of the hand has taken a turn into the dumbed-down walled-garden offered by smartphone vendors. There was a time when it seemed that a real computer might be a common miniaturized accessory, but while it’s not really come to pass, at least [iketsj] has taken a stab at it. His handheld Hackintosh runs MacOS on a miniature scale, and looks rather nice.

At its heart is the LattePanda Alpha x86 single board computer, with a small custom expansion board  for a couple of buttons, a USB hub, a small keyboard, and a display. These parts are all mounted to a baseboard with metal stand-offs, and the power is sourced from a single USB-C socket at the bottom edge. What makes it more extraordinary is that it’s not the first handheld Hackintosh from this maker, the previous one being significantly bigger.

On one hand then, this is home-built PC like any other, assembled from off-the-shelf-parts. But on the other it’s far from normal, for despite its simplicity it forms a very usable small form factor device. The Akruvia Una keyboard uses tactile switches so maybe it’s not the machine to type your thesis on, but other than that it makes a great little machine for MacOS, Linux, or Windows. We like it, and we think you will too when you see the video below the break.

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Making Music By Probing Magnetite Crystals

Well, noises anyway. [Dmitry Morozov] and [Alexandra Gavrilova] present an interesting electronics-based art installation, which probes a large chunk of crystalline magnetite, using a pair of servo-mounted probes, ‘measuring’ the surface conductivity and generating some sound and visuals.

It appears to have only one degree of freedom per probe, so we’re not so sure all that much of the surface gets probed per run, but however it works it produces some interesting, almost random results. The premise is that the point-to-point surface resistivity is unpredictable due to the chaotically formed crystals all jumbled up, but somehow uses these measured data to generate some waveshapes vaguely reminiscent of the resistivity profile of the sample, the output of which is then fed into a sound synthesis application and pumped out of a speaker. It certainly looks fun.

From a constructional perspective, hardware is based around a LattePanda fed samples by an ADS1115 ADC, which presumably is also responsible for driving the LCD monitor and the sound system. An Arduino is also wedged in there perhaps for servo-driving duty, maybe also as part of the signal chain from the probes, but that is just a guess on our part. The software uses the VVVV (Visual Live-programming suite) and the Pure Data environment.

We haven’t seen magnetite used for this type of application before, we tend to see it as a source of Iron for DIY knifemaking, as a medium to help separate DNA or just to make nanoparticles, for erm, reasons.

Floppy-8 Is A Tiny PC In A Floppy Drive

At first sight, Floppy-8 is simply a LattePanda based PC built into the shell of a external vintage floppy drive. Indeed, it’s a very nicely executed LattePanda PC in a floppy, and we’re impressed by it. What turns it from a nifty case mod into something a bit special though, is the way creator [Abraham Haskins] has used floppy-like cartridges in the original floppy slot, as a means of loading software.

The cartridges started out as PCBs in the shape of a floppy with an SD socket on their bottom, and progressed to USB drives on 3D printed cartridges and finally and simplest of all, the same 3D printed cartridges with micro SD cards embedded in their leading edges. All this was necessary to get them thin enough to fit into the existing disk slot — if dimensions weren’t a concern, you could enclose various USB devices into printed cartridges. A script on the computer looks for new card insertion, and runs the appropriate autostart.sh script on the SD card if it finds one. If you don’t need the “disks” to fit into an existing slot, you could print them larger and embed

Beyond the cartridges, the PC itself is assembled on a 3D printed frame inside the case. It’s controlled via Bluetooth, with a pair of knock-off NES controllers for games and an Amazon Fire remote for media. We particularly like the idea of weighting the controllers with ball bearings to give them a little heft.

The LattePanda gives the Raspberry Pi a run for its money in these applications. We particularly liked this portable Macintosh.

Toteable PC Is Inspired By Macs Of Days Gone By

Back in the 1980s, the personal computer was a hip new thing, and the form this new technology would take was still up for debate. Back then, all kinds of weird clamshells, breadbins, and all-in-one designs hit the market, with the Apple Macintosh proving to be a successful example of the latter. Inspired by the Macintosh 128K that served as their first computer, [Arnov Sharma] decided to whip up a modern all-in-one of their very own.

It’s nicknamed the LATTEintosh, as it’s built around the Latte Panda 3 Delta. This is a single-board computer with an Intel Celeron N5105 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage on board. It’s capable of running full-fat x86 operating systems, and here, it’s running Windows 10.

The enclosure is a custom 3D-printed design of [Arnov]’s own creation. It sports a 7-inch HD monitor, fans for cooling, and speakers integrated into the case. Naturally, it’s got a handle on top to make it easy to carry, just like the Macintosh all-in-ones all those years ago.

There’s something to be said for a computer you can just pick up and carry away, and we love the boxy form factor. Sometimes a laptop simply won’t do, and we can imagine many engineers and technicians out there appreciating a build like this. We’ve seen some great all-in-ones before, too. Video after the break.

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A robot that uses CV to detect villagers in Stardew Valley and display their gift preferences on a screen.

Stardew Valley Preferences Bot Is A Gift To The Player

It seems like most narrative games have some kind of drudgery built in. You know, some tedious and repetitious task that you absolutely must do if you want to succeed. In Stardew Valley, that thing is gift giving, which earns you friendship points just like in real life. More important than the giving itself is that each villager has preferences — things they love, like, and hate to receive as gifts. It’s a lot to remember, and most people don’t bother trying and just look it up in the wiki. Well, except for Abigail, who seems to like certain gemstones so much that she must be eating them. She’s hard to forget.

[kutluhan_aktar]’s villager gift preferences bot is a fun and fantastic use of OpenCV. This bot uses a LattePanda Alpha 864s, which is a single-board computer with an Arduino Leonardo built in. It works using template matching, which is basically a game of Where’s Waldo? for computers.

Given a screenshot of each villager in various positions, the LattePanda recognizes them among a given game scene, then does a lookup of their birthday and preferences which the Leonardo prints on a 3.5″ LCD screen. At the same time, it alerts the player with a buzz and big green LED. Be sure to check it out in action after the break.

In Animal Crossing, the drudgery amounts to pressing the A button while catching shooting stars. That’s not a huge problem for a Teensy.

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Slim Sypherdeck Skips The Keyboard, Packs X86 CPU

There are few hard and fast rules in the world of custom cyberdecks, but many of these bespoke machines do share a certain level of commonality. They generally use a low-power ARM board such as the Raspberry Pi that doesn’t consume much power or require any exotic thermal management, and a large mechanical keyboard is almost a given. But at a glance, it’s clear that [Daan Gerits] wasn’t concerned with the status quo when designing the Sypherdeck.

Now to be fair, dropping the ARM single-board computer for x86 isn’t completely unheard of. But those builds tend to be considerably bulkier than the Sypherdeck. The secret here seems to be that the 3D printed enclosure doesn’t hold much else than the LattePanda and a seven inch LCD touch screen. The hatch on the side covers the rear of the power, USB, and HDMI bulkhead connectors, but it looks like there’s enough room in there to squeeze in a bit of custom electronics should you wish. There’s no obvious place to install any batteries, so if you wanted to take the show on the road, you’ll need to use an external pack.

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Odyssey Is A X86 Computer Packing An Arduino Along For The Trip

We love the simplicity of Arduino for focused tasks, we love how Raspberry Pi GPIO pins open a doorway to a wide world of peripherals, and we love the software ecosystem of Intel’s x86 instruction set. It’s great that some products manage to combine all of them together into a single compact package, and we welcome the recent addition of Seeed Studio’s Odyssey X86J4105.

[Ars Technica] recently looked one over and found it impressive from the perspective of a small networked computer, but they didn’t dig too deeply into the maker-friendly side of the product. We can look at the product documentation to see some interesting details. This board is larger than a Raspberry Pi, but its GPIO pins were laid out in exactly the same order as that on a Pi. Some HATs could plug right in, eliminating all the electrical integration leaving just the software issue of ARM vs x86. Tasks that are not suitable for CPU-controlled GPIO (such as generating reliable PWM) can be offloaded to an on-board Arduino-compatible microcontroller. It is built around the SAMD21 chip, similar to the Arduino MKR and Arduino Zero but the pinout does not appear to match any of the popular Arduino form factors.

The Odyssey is not the first x86 single board computer (SBC) to have GPIO pins and an onboard Arduino assistant. LattePanda for example has been executing that game plan (minus the Raspberry Pi pin layout) for the past few years. We’ve followed them since their Kickstarter origins and we’ve featured creative uses here and there. LattePanda’s current offerings are built around Intel CPUs ranging from Atom to Core m3. The Odyssey’s Celeron is roughly in the middle of that range, and the SAMD21 is more capable than the ATmega32U4 (Arduino Leonardo) on board a LattePanda. We always love seeing more options in a market for us to find the right tradeoff to match a given project, and we look forward to the epic journeys yet to come.