2023 Halloween Hackfest: Haunted Keyboard Is Free From Ghosting

This may look like another DIY mechanical keyboard, but it’s hiding a secret. [Mx. Jack Nelson] has combined Halloween and keyboards in glorious, haunted fashion. Type a line, any line into this bad boy and you get a spooky, sort of cryptic response generated by AI.

Essentially, a Raspberry Pi Pico W does all the work, it handles the keyboard matrix, connects to Wi-Fi, sends the input to ChatGPT, and spits the response out on the screen wherever the cursor happens to be. Incidentally, it turns out [Mx. Jack Nelson] used ChatGPT to generate much of the CircuitPython code.

The layout is a custom 40% that is heavily influenced by the Akko 40%, with the Ctrl, Alt, and Win keys replaced by Ctrl, Cmd, and Opt. This was [Mx. Jack Nelson]’s first PCB, and you never forget your first. You don’t want to miss the demo video after the break.

Are keyboards just not spooky enough for you? Here’s a creepy baby doll that does basically the same thing.

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Raspberry Pi Pico W Now Supports Bluetooth

What’s the best kind of upgrade a piece of consumer technology can get? A free one that doesn’t require you to do anything other than accept a new version of the software it’s running.

That’s precisely what every current (and future) owner of the Raspberry Pi Pico W just got with the addition of Bluetooth support to SDK 1.5.1. This is possible because the CYW43439 radio chipset used on the wireless version of the Pi Pico has always had Bluetooth capabilities, they just weren’t officially accessible from the C or MicroPython environments until now. In a corresponding blog post, [Eben Upton] explains that part of the delay was due to difficulties in getting both WiFi and Bluetooth connections to work simultaneously over the three-pin SPI bus that links the two chips on the board.

One thing that struck us as particularly interesting here is the use of BlueKitchen’s BTStack to provide support for both Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy profiles. This library is released under a modified version of the BSD 3-Clause license that otherwise specifically forbids commercial usage. That would be a problem for anyone who wanted to sell a gadget built around the Pico W, so Raspberry Pi Ltd negotiated — and presumably paid for — a special dispensation so commercial use is in the clear.

We should note that technically Bluetooth support was available in a beta state previously, albeit without this new license agreement made with BlueKitchen. Though anyone with a keen eye knew Bluetooth support was coming well before that, our own [Elliot Williams] called it when he first set eyes on the Pi Pico W back in 2022.

This WiFi Signal Strength Meter Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts

The original Ghostbusters movie is a classic that’s still delivering nearly 40 years after its release — just let that sink in for a minute. Almost every aspect of the film, from hand props to quotes, is instantly recognizable, even to people who haven’t based their lives on the teachings of [Venkman], [Stantz], and [Spengler]. To wit, we present this PKE meter-style WiFi scanner.

Of course, [Kevin McAleer]’s project is strictly in the “Just for Fun” category. But that doesn’t mean it’s not at least somewhat useful. The design is pretty close to the original PKE meter, with a little bit of creative license taken to make it easier to build. Guts include a Raspberry Pi Pico W and a generous 320×240 LCD display. The body of the meter is entirely 3D printed; design files are of course available. The meter’s arms are geared together to move with a single hobby servo.

On the software side, [Kevin]’s GUI lets users see a list of WiFi hotspots in the area and select one from the list. From there, the position of the arms is determined by the RSSI for the hotspot, similar to how the prop was supposed to indicate the proximity to a spook, specter, or ghost. There’s perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity by not adding LEDs to the arms, but we’ll let that slide.

The video below has full design and build details, but fair warning that it’s a bit on the long side. That’s probably just a reflection of how much work [Kevin] put into this, though. Of course, you may rather build a PKE meter that “actually” detects ghosts, in which case we’ve got you covered.

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