In childhood, many of us wondered — wouldn’t it be cool if our miniature toys had “real” functions? Say, that our toy cars actually were able to drive, or at least, that the headlights could light up. [James Brown] captures some of this childhood expectation of magic, recreating the 2×2 45°-sloped Lego bricks with computer screens and panels drawn on them by building a LEGO brick (thread, nitter) with an actual display inside of it.
This is possible thanks to an exceptionally small OLED display and a microcontroller board that’s not much larger. It’s designed to plug onto a LEGO platform that has an internal 9V battery, with power exposed on the brick’s studs. [James] has taken care building this — the brick was built with help of a tiny 3D-printed form, and then, further given shape by casting in what appears to be silicone or resin.
We’ve yet to hear more details like the microcontroller used — at least, the displays look similar to the ones used in a different project of [James]’, a keyboard where every keycap has a display in it (thread, nitter). Nevertheless, it is lovely to witness this feat of micro-engineering and fabrication. It reminds us of an another impressive build we covered recently — a 1/87 scale miniature Smart Car that’s as functional as you can get!
We know that some in the audience will take issue with calling a Raspberry Pi in a 3D-printed case the “World’s Smallest iMac”, but you’ve got to admit, [Michael Pick] has certainly done a good job recreating the sleek look of the real hardware. While there might not be any Cupertino wizardry under all that PLA, it does have a properly themed user interface and the general aversion to external ports and wires that you’d expect to see on an Apple desktop machine.
The clean lines of this build are made possible in large part by the LCD itself. Designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi, it offers mounting stand-offs on the rear, integrated speakers, a dedicated 5 V power connection, and a FFC in place of the traditional HDMI cable. All that allows the Pi to sit neatly on the back of the panel without the normal assortment of awkward cables and adapters going in every direction. Even if you’re not in the market for a miniature Macintosh, you may want to keep this display in mind for your future Pi hacking needs.
Despite this clean installation, the diminutive Raspberry Pi was still a bit too thick to fit inside the 3D-printed shell [Michael] designed. So he slimmed it down in a somewhat unconventional, but admittedly expedient, way. With a rotary tool and a steady hand, he simply cut the double stacked USB ports in half. With no need for Ethernet in this build, he bisected the RJ-45 connector as well. We expect some groans in the comments about this one, but it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a hack in both the literal and figurative sense.
We really appreciate the small details on this build, from the relocated USB connectors to the vent holes that double as access to the LCDs controls. [Michael] went all out, even going so far as to print a little insert for the iconic Macintosh logo on the front of the machine. Though given the impressive work he put into his miniature “gaming PC” a couple months back, it should come as no surprise; clearly this is a man who takes his tiny computers very seriously.
If you were a computer enthusiast in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one of your objects of desire may well have been a Sharp MZ-80K. This was an all-in-one machine from the Japanese electronics giant, and like Commodore’s PET line it included a CRT monitor, full alphanumeric keyboard and cassette tape drive in a smart console.
[Yasushi Enari] is a modeller of miniatures, and while at high school back in 1981 he made a perfect 1/5 scale model of an MZ-80K as an art project. Fast-forward to 2017, and with the help of a Raspberry Pi Zero, a miniature LCD composite video screen, and a Li-Po battery, he’s turned his 1981 model into a functioning computer.
Sadly he was not able to make his tiny 1981 plastic keyboard work, so an external Bluetooth unit is required to perform that function. And he makes no mention of running an MZ-80K emulator on the little machine, either. But the result is a work of art, and an odd collaboration between his adult and teenage self, something we are guessing most readers would be proud to own.
How can we be expected to teach children use a computer if they can’t even see it? I don’t wanna hear your excuses! The computer has to be at least… three times bigger than this!
Developed by the University of Michigan, the Michigan Micro Mote (M3) is quite possibly the world’s tiniest computer. It’s about the size of a grain of rice.
The multi-layered PCB (shown after the break) features 7 layers of components, surrounded in epoxy for protection. Drawing only 2 nano Amps during standby, the computer can be powered by a 1 millimeter squared solar cell. It’s designed to be glued to a window for use. It’s capable of input data via sensors, the ability to process and store the data, and then output the data wirelessly. Its range is only 2 meters at the moment, but they hope to extend it to about 20 meters.