The C64 may be the best-selling computer of all time, but Commodore made several machines before that, too. [Mjnurney] always loved the Commodore PET, and set about building some new machines in the PET’s unique all-in-one form factor.
The case design started with measurements taken from an original Commodore PET, of which [Mjnurney] has three. Then, it was modified and extended to make room for a proper keyboard. The case also mounts a 14″ IPS display, two 15W speakers, and a gas strut enabling the case to be propped open for easy maintenance. It’s actually made out of real sheet metal, too!
The primary version mounts an Amiga 500 inside, including its classic keyboard. However, [Mjnurney] has developed a PC version, too. Both look great, and it’s wild to see Netflix displayed on a machine that looks more at home in 1977. Perhaps most of all, though, we love the dual floppy drives just below the screen.
Throwback cases pay tribute to some of our favorite machines. The tiny ones are perhaps the cutest of all.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2022: A Functional Commodore PET Tribute”
Before smartphones exploded on the scene in the late 00s, there was still a reasonable demand for pocket-sized computers that could do relatively simple computing tasks. Palm Pilots and other PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) were all the rage in the ’90s and early ’00s, although for cutting-edge tech from that era plenty of these devices had astronomical price tags. This Arduino-based PDA hearkens back to that era, albeit with a much more accessible parts list.
The build is based around an Arudino Nano with an OLED screen and has the five necessary functions for a PDA: calculator, stopwatch, games, phonebook, and a calendar. With all of these components on such a small microcontroller, memory quickly became an issue when using the default libraries. [Danko] uses his own custom libraries in order to make the best use of memory which are all available on the project’s GitHub page. The build also includes a custom PCB to keep the entire pocket computer pocket-sized.
There are some other features packed into this tiny build as well, like the breakout game that can be played with a potentiometer. It’s an impressive build that makes as much use of the microcontroller’s capabilities as is possible, and if you enjoy projects where a microcontroller is used as if it is a PC take a look at this Arduino build with its own command-line interface.
Continue reading “Pocket Computer Reminds Us Of PDAs”
Having grown up with 386-level systems during the early 90s like so many of us, [Alexandru Groza] experienced an intense longing to experience the nostalgia of these computer systems from an interesting angle: by building his own 80386DX-based single board computer. Courtesy of the 16-bit ISA form factor, the entire system fits into a 16-bit ISA backplane which then provides power and expansion slots for further functionality beyond what is integrated on the SBMC card.
Having started the project in 2019, it is now in the home stretch towards completion. Featuring an 80386DX and 80387DX FPU alongside 128 kB of cache and a grand total of 32 MB of RAM, an OPTi chipset was used to connect with the rest of the system alongside the standard 8042-class PS/2 keyboard and mouse controller. A large part of the fun of assembling such a system is that while the parts themselves are easy enough to obtain, finding datasheets is hard to impossible for some components.
Undeterred, some reverse-engineering of signaling on functional mainboards was sufficient to fill in the missing details. Helpfully, [Alexandru] provides the full schematics and BOM of the resulting board and takes us along with bootstrapping the system after obtaining the PCBs and components. After an initial facepalm moment due to an incorrectly inserted (and subsequently very dead) CPU and boot issues, ultimately [Alexandru] gave up on the v1.6 revision of the board
Fortunately the v1.8 revision with a logic analyzer led to a number of discoveries that has led to the system mostly working, minus what appears to be DMA-related issues. Even so, it is a remarkable achievement that demonstrates the complexity of these old systems.
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.
When building a desktop computer, usually the budget is the limiting factor. Making sacrifices on one part in order to improve another without breaking the bank is part of the delicate balance of putting together a capable PC. If you’re lucky enough to have the sponsors that [Shank] has though, caution can be thrown to the wind with regards to price for some blisteringly fast parts. Putting them in a ’90s Hot Wheels case to build the ultimate sleeper PC, though, is just icing on the top.
This isn’t quite as simple as replacing a motherboard in a modern PC case, though. The Hot Wheels PC used a mini-ITX standard and is quite a bit smaller than most modern computers outside of something like a Mac Mini. To get the RTX 3060 GPU into the computer the shrouds needed to be removed to save space, plus an unusual 92mm form factor liquid CPU cooler needed to be installed. An equally obscure power supply was included to round out the Ryzen 9 build and after a lot of tinkering eventually all the parts were fitted into this retro case including the original, working floppy disk drive. After that some additional case modding was installed such as RGB lighting, wheels with spinning rims, a spoiler, and an exhaust pipe.
The main issue with this build was temperatures, and both the CPU and GPU were topping out at dangerously high temperatures until [Shank] installed a terrifying 11,000 RPM case fan. With a series of original CRT monitors to go along with this sleeper PC he can have up to 9 displays with surprisingly high video quality thanks to the fundamental properties of CRTs. The video is definitely worth a watch and falls right in line with some of [Shank]’s other console mods that he is famous for such as this handheld Virtual Boy.
Thanks to [Fast Rock Productions] for the tip!
Continue reading “90s PC With Modern Parts Throws Many Off Track”
One of the biggest reasons for playing older video games on original hardware is that emulators and modern controllers can’t replicate the exact feel of how those games would have been originally experienced. This is true of old PC games as well, so if you want to use your original Sidewinder steering wheel or antique Logitech joystick, you’ll need something like [Necroware]’s GamePort adapter to get them to communicate with modern hardware.
In a time before USB was the standard, the way to connect controllers to PCs was through the GamePort, typically found on the sound card. This has long since disappeared from modern controllers, so the USB interface [Necroware] built relies on an Arduino to do the translating. Specifically, the adapter is designed as a generic adapter for several different analog joysticks, and a series of DIP switches on the adapter select the appropriate mode. Check it out in the video after the break. The adapter is also capable of automatically calibrating the joysticks, which is necessary as the passive components in the controllers often don’t behave the same way now as they did when they were new.
Plenty of us have joysticks and steering wheels from this era stored away somewhere, so if you want to experience Flight Simulator 5.0 like it would have been experienced in 1993, all it takes is an Arduino. And, if you want to run these programs on bare metal rather than in an emulator, it is actually possible to build a new Intel 486 gaming PC, which operates almost exactly like a PC from the 90s would have.
Continue reading “Retro Gaming With Retro Joysticks”
We’re the first to admit that we don’t see much woodworking here at Hackaday. But this desk with a PC inside from [John Heisz] is just too gorgeous not to share.
The build is mostly cherry veneered half-inch plywood and real cherry. There are dozens of angles and complex pieces that all fit together in a valuable and powerful desk. The centerpiece of the desk is the air intake grill with a 2019 Apple Mac Pro-like finish. [John] mentions that he previously did it by hand with just a parked drill bit and some patience, but he vastly prefers the automated way. Two cubbies flank the center vent, made from plywood with cherry veneers glued on. A USB hub is hidden at the back in one of the cubbies, exposing all the I/O for the AMD-powered desktop PC hidden inside. The top of the desk is hinged to allow easy access to the PC. [John] asserts that he made the coolest desk in the known universe. We don’t know if we can say it’s the coolest, but we certainly appreciate the process and expertise that made it.
After you’ve finished your new desk build inspired by [John]’s project, perhaps you might be interested in a levitating turbine desk toy to seal the deal. Video after the break.
Continue reading “A Gorgeous Desk With AMD Inside”