Fix Every Broken Via To Return This Game To Life

We all know the havoc that water in the wrong place can do to a piece of electronics, and thus we’ve probably all had devices damaged beyond repair. Should [Solderking] have thrown away the water-damaged PCB from a Nintendo Pokemon Ruby cartridge? Of course he should, but when faced with a board on which all vias had succumbed to corrosion he took the less obvious path and repaired them.

Aside from some very fine soldering in the video below the break there’s little unexpected. He removes the parts and tries a spot of reworking, but the reassembled board doesn’t boot. So he removes them again and this time sands it back to copper. There follows a repair of every single vial on the board, sticking fine wires through the holes into a sponge and soldering the top, before turning it over and fixing the forest of wires on the other side. Fixing the ROM results in a rather challenging fitment involving the chip being mounted at an angle and extra wires going to its pads, which demonstrates the value in this story. It’s not one of monetary value but of persevering with some epic rework to achieve a PCB which eventually boots. Of course a replacement board would make more sense. But that’s not the point, is it?

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Solving Grounding Issues On Switch Audio

Grounding of electrical systems is an often forgotten yet important design consideration. Issues with proper grounding can be complicated, confusing, and downright frustrating to solve. So much so that engineers can spend their entire careers specializing in grounding and bonding. [Bsilvereagle] was running into just this sort of frustrating problem while attempting to send audio from a Nintendo Switch into a PC, and documented some of the ways he attempted to fix a common problem known as a ground loop.

Ground loops occur when there are multiple paths to ground, especially in wires carrying signals. The low impedance path creates oscillations and ringing which is especially problematic for audio. When sending the Switch audio into a computer a loop like this formed. [Bsilvereagle] set about solving the issue using an isolating transformer. It took a few revisions, but eventually they settled on a circuit which improved sound quality tremendously. With that out of the way, the task of mixing the Switch audio with sources from other devices could finally proceed unimpeded.

As an investigation into a nuisance problem, this project goes into quite a bit of depth about ground loops and carrying signals over various transforming devices. It’s a great read if you’ve ever been stumped by a mysterious noise in a project. If you’ve never heard of a ground loop before, take a look at this guide to we featured a few years ago.

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Hackaday Links: January 9, 2022

It looks like we have a new space observatory! According to NASA, all the major deployments on the James Webb Space Telescope have been completed successfully. This includes the tricky sunshield deployment and tensioning, which went off this week without much in the way of trouble. The final major deployment, the unfolding of the starboard wing of the primary mirror of the telescope, was completed on Saturday while the spacecraft was still almost 400,000 km from its forever home orbiting Lagrange point L2. Mission controllers had allotted two weeks for the 300-odd deployments needed to turn the packaged machine into a working observatory. The remaining two weeks or so of flight include less dramatic tasks, such as trimming the shape of the primary mirror with servos that subtly alter the position and curvature of each of the 18 segments, plus a bunch of calibration tasks. But it looks like most of the really scary stuff is behind us now.

From the “Interesting Innards” department, if you’re a fan of either gaming or industrial CT scans, check out Scan of the Month’s look inside Nintendo handheld game consoles. They’ve put a bunch of games through computed tomography scans, and the results are really interesting, false-colored though they may be. Seeing the progression of technology from the original 1989 Game Boy to the Switch is fascinating. The side notes on the history and tech inside each one are pretty cool too.

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned Andrew Sink’s online low-poly generator, which takes any 3D model and allows you to control the number of polygons used to render it. He dropped us a line to let us know the tool proved popular enough that he had to move it off GitHub and onto a dedicated site. Check it out at its new home.

When something like this pops up in your feed, it seems like the best approach is to share it. It’s called DentalSlim, and claims to be the first intra-oral device designed for weight loss. It’s a hardware lock for your teeth, and it looks perfectly horrifying. The device is designed to be applied by a sadist dentist and effectively locks the lower jaw to the upper with magnets, allowing the wearer to open his or her mouth only enough to take a liquid diet. There’s also a provision for the wearer to unlock the device in an emergency, which is wise — can you imagine catching a stomach bug with your jaw locked shut? — but that seems to defeat the “hardware-enforced willpower” that the device is based on.

Have you got a bunch of filament spools lying around from all that 3D printing? Rather than put them to use rolling up strings of lights from the Christmas tree, here’s another idea: turn them into nice covered bird feeders. All you need to do is apply a rim around one side to hold the seed before hanging them out for the birds. We suppose walling off the space between the sides completely and drilling some holes could also turn them into birdhouses, too.

And finally, if your filament spool bird feeder isn’t attracting the attention of the neighborhood cats, perhaps it’s because they’ve found a nice, cozy spot to soak up some heat. At least that’s what some Starlink users are seeing as their feline friends cuddle up on Dishy McFlatface for a long winter’s nap. You see, the phased array antenna inside the enclosure gets pretty toasty, and cats are pretty much any-port-in-a-storm critters, so it’s only natural. We can’t imagine their choice of basking locale does much for data throughput, and it’s probably quite a laugh when the dish pivots to track a satellite. But it’s hard to feel sorry for something that sleeps 23-½ hours a day.

The Legend Of Zelda: Decompiled

Keeping source code to programs closed is something that is generally frowned upon here for plenty of reasons. Closed source code is less secure and less customizable, but unfortunately we won’t be able to convince everyone of the merits of open source code any time soon. On the other hand, it is possible to decompile some of those programs whose source remains behind locked doors in an attempt to better understand that code, and one of the more impressive examples of that of late is this project which has fully decompiled The Ocarina of Time.

To get started with the code for this project, one simply needs to clone the Git repository and then use a certain set of software tools (depending on the user’s operating system) to compile the ROM from the source code. From there, though, the world is your rupee-filled jar. Like we’ve seen from other decompiled games, any number of enhancements to the original game can be made including increasing the frame rate, improving the graphics, or otherwise adding flourishes that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

The creators of this project do point out that this is still a work-in-progress as only one of the 18 versions have been completed, but the fact that the source code they have been able to decompile builds a fully-working game when recompiled speaks to how far along it’s come. We’ve seen similar processes used for other games before that also help to illustrate how much improvement is possible when re-writing old games from their source code.

Thanks to [Lazarus] for the tip!

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Wii Meets Its End In Breadcrumb Jail

One of often encountered traits of a hacker is an ability to build devices into places where they don’t belong. Perhaps, [sonictimm]’s self-descriptive WiiinToaster was somewhat of an inevitability. Inspired by the legendary Nintoaster project which used a NES, this is a modern take on the concept, putting a Wii inside what used to be an ordinary bread-making kitchen appliance. [Sonictimm] has taken care to make it as functional while reusing the user interface options commonly found in a toaster, with some of the Wii’s connections routed to the original buttons and the lever. It’s compatible with everything that the Wii supports in its standard, non-toaster form – the only function that had to be sacrificed was the “making toast” part of it, but some would argue it’d be a bit counterproductive to leave in.

[Sonictimm] says it took five years from building the WiiinToaster to documenting it, which sounds about right for an average project. If you, like many, have a Wii laying around that you haven’t been using for years, building it into a toaster (or any other place a Wii shouldn’t be) is a decent weekend project. Perhaps, a spacier chassis will also help with the overheating problems plaguing some earlier Wii models. One thing we would not recommend, however, is building a toaster into a Wii case – unless you like to see your creations self-immolate, in which case, make sure to film it and grace our Tips line with a YouTube link. There’s also a challenge for the achievement-minded hackers out there – making a rebuild so daring, it gets a DMCA notice from Nintendo.

It wouldn’t be the first time we feature a Nintendo console reborn in a toaster’s shell, with NES and SNES projects coming to mind. If you’re interested in other directions of Wii rebuilds, perhaps you could make an Altoids-sized FrankenWii, or an unholy hybrid of three consoles. And if you do build a Switchster, or a ToaDSter (perhaps, best suited for a waffle iron), we’d love to take a look!

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Play Runescape IRL

Runescape is pushing nearly 21 years old, and while that’s quite a long time for a game to stay active with an engaged userbase, it’s also a long time for people to modify the game in all kinds of colorful ways. For some older games like Team Fortress 2 this means spinning up a bot to ruin servers, but for Runescape the hacks are a little more lighthearted and fun. Like this axe which allows [BigFancyBen] to play Runescape in real life.

This is more of an augmented reality hack which upgrades his normal human interface device from a simple keyboard and mouse to also include this axe. When the axe is manipulated in real life, the in-game axe can be used at the same time. There are a lot of layers to this one but essentially a Switch joycon is connected to the axe to sense motion, which relays the information on axe swings to an API via a Python script. A bot in the game then chops the virtual tree, which is reported back to the API which then reports it back to [BigFancyBen]’s viewscreen which is additionally streamed on Twitch.

While this started off as frustration with the game’s insistence on grinding in order to reach certain objectives, it seems that there are some fun ways of manipulating that game mechanic for the greater good. [BigFancyBen] originally said he would rather go to the gym than “click anymore rooftops”  this is quite the start on the full IRLScape world. Don’t forget that it’s equally possible to take this type of build in the opposite direction and control real-world things from inside a video game.

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GBA Remote Play Upgrade Lets You Play PlayStation On The Bus

The Nintendo Game Boy Advance was basically the handheld gaming situation of its era, by virtue of the fact that it had no serious competitors in the market. The system was largely known for 2D games due to hardware limitations.

However, [Rodrigo Alfonso] has recently upgraded his GBA Remote Play system that lets him play PlayStation games and others on his classic Game Boy Advance. We first featured this project back in July, which uses a Raspberry Pi 3 to emulate games and pipe video data to the handheld for display, receiving button presses in return.

Since then, [Rodrigo] has given the project some upgrades, in the form of a 3D-printed case that mounts a battery-powered Pi directly to the back of the console for portable play. Additionally, overclocking the GBA allows for faster transfer rates over the handheld’s Link Port, which means more pixels of video data can be clocked in. This allows for more playable frame rates when running at 240×160, the maximum resolution of the GBA screen.

The result is a Game Boy Advance which you can use to play Crash Bandicoot on the bus just to confuse the normies. Of course, one could simply build a Raspberry Pi handheld from scratch to play emulated games. However, this route takes advantage of the GBA form factor and is pretty amusing to boot. Video after the break.

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