When the Raspberry Pi people release a fresh model in their line of fruity single board computers, it’s always an event of great interest. The Raspberry Pi 4 brought some significant changes to the formula: they moved to
mini micro HDMI and USB-C power sockets, for instance. The early adopters who scored one of those Pi 4s were in for a shock though, if they had all but the most basic USB C power cables the device wouldn’t power up. Now the Register has news that they have slipped out with little fanfare an updated version of the board containing a fix for this problem.
Our colleague Maya Posch delved deeply into the USB C specification and delivered a pithy analysis at the time which demonstrated that the fault lay with the configuration of the sense resistors used by intelligent USB C power sources to determine what power to supply. For the addition of a single surface mount resistor the problem need never have existed, and we’re guessing that’s how they fixed it.
There’s no need to despair should you have one of the older boards, though. They will still work as they always have done with the so-called “dumb” power supplies and cables, and meanwhile we’re sure that future Pi boards will have had a lot of attention paid to their USB power circuitry.
Well-seasoned readers will no doubt remember GRiD laptops, the once and always tacti-cool computers that dominated the military market for decades. GRiDs were the first laptops to go to space, and they were coveted for their sleek (for the time) good looks and reputation as indestructible machines.
The GRiDs went through many iterations, and even though their military roots make them nearly unobtanium, [Simon] scored a GRiD laptop and set about restoring it. His theme was the 1986 movie Aliens, which featured a few GRiD Compass computers as props. [Simon]’s 1550SX came a little later than the Compass 2, but documents with the machine reveal it was a Royal Air Force machine that had been deemed unserviceable for reasons unknown.
[Simon] carefully tore it down – pay close attention to the video below and you’ll hear the telltale plink of the magnesium case parts rather than the dull thud of plastic; they don’t make them like that anymore – and cleaned it up. He replaced the original display with a PiMoroni 10″ retro game display to keep the original 4:3 aspect ratio. A Raspberry Pi 4 went inside, along with a Teensy to take care of adapting the GRiD keyboard to USB and lighting up some front-panel LEDs. A second Teeny allows the original IsoPoint mouse to be used, which is a real gem. With the addition of appropriate graphics, the machine looks like it would be at home on a Colonial Marines dropship.
We love the retro feel of [Simon]’s build, and the movie nostalgia. We’re just glad he didn’t include a LiPo battery, which might not get along with the magnesium case. Game over, man!
Continue reading “Restoring The Coolest Laptop Ever”
This may surprise younger readers, but there was once a time when the reality programming on The Weather Channel was simply, you know, weather. It used to be no more than a ten-minute wait to “Local on the Eights”, with simple text crawls of local conditions and forecasts that looked like they were taken straight from the National Weather Service feed. Those were the days, and sadly they seem to be gone forever.
Or perhaps not, if this retro weather channel feed has anything to say about it. It’s the product of [probnot] and consists of a simple Python program that runs on a Raspberry Pi. Being from Winnipeg, [probnot] is tapping into Environment Canada for local weather data, but it should be easy enough to modify to use your local weather provider’s API. The screen is full of retro goodness, from the simple color scheme to the blocky white text; the digital clock and local news crawl at the bottom complete the old school experience. It doesn’t appear that the code supports the period-correct smooth jazz saxophone, but that too should be a simple modification.
All jibing aside, this would be a welcome addition to the morning routine. And for the full retro ride, why not consider putting it in an old TV case?
Continue reading “Relive The Glory Days Of Cable TV With This Retro Weather Feed”
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear there are tens of thousands of web-connected cameras all over the world that are set to take the default credentials. Actually, there are probably more than that out there, but we can assure you that at least 70,000 or so are only a click away. With this project, [carolinebuttet] proves that it’s quite possible to make art from our rickety, ridiculous surveillance state — and it begins with a peephole perspective.
The peephole in your own front door grants you the inalienable right to police your porch, stoop, or patch of carpet in the apartment building’s hallway while going mostly undetected. In Virtual Peephole, the peephole becomes a voyeuristic virtual view of various corners of the world.
Slide aside the cover, and an LDR connected to an Arduino Micro detects the change in light level. This change makes the Micro send a key press to a Raspberry Pi, which fetches a new camera at random and displays it on a screen inside the box. You can peep a brief demo after the break, followed by a couple of short build/walk-through videos.
If you’re a peephole people watcher, put a camera in there and watch from anywhere.
Continue reading “Insecure Surveillance Cameras Provide Dystopian Peep Show”
Flip clocks: they were cool long before Bill Murray was slapping one repeatedly in Groundhog Day, they were cool in 1993, and they’re still cool now. If you can’t find one on the secondhand market, you’re in luck, because [iz2k] has laid out an extensive blueprint for building a gorgeous retro-looking clock with some modern touches.
There’s a Raspberry Pi to fetch the time, the weather, and the Spotify. Old flip clocks invariably tuned in FM radio, so [iz2k] used an RTL-SDR dongle and a software decoder for the deed. This clock even has a big snooze bar, which functions like a night light when there is no alarm actively going off. The three groups of painstakingly-printed flaps are controlled with stepper motors and an IR transmitter/receiver pair to do the counting.
For the interface, [iz2k] kept things nice and simple. The big-knobbed rotary encoder handles volume up/down/mute, and the little one on the front switches between FM radio, Spotify, and silence. Moving either knob generates feedback by flashing LEDs that sit underneath the display. Take a few seconds to flip past the break and check out the short demo.
If you do find a nice flip clock out in the wild, maybe you can retrofit it.
Continue reading “3D Printed Flip Clock Is Worth A Second Look”
Holding on to a cache of old floppies because nostalgia? Us too, and this might be the coolest possible use for ’em. While it’s fun to imagine that he wrote a compression algorithm to fit a lossless copy of Coltrane’s Blue Train on a 1.44Mb coaster, or somehow rolled his own mini-disc, [Dino Fizzotti]’s Diskplayer uses floppies to serve up Spotify albums.
What’s actually on the floppy, then? The corresponding Spotify album URL. He just pops a disk in the drive, and the Pi does the rest — it detects the floppy event and executes a script that starts an open-source Spotify client. There’s no track skipping and no shuffle, just the entire album as intended, take it or eject it. If you think about it, he’s actually managed to improve on the vinyl experience, since all the songs are on one side. Demo is queued up after the break, and it includes [Dino]’s simple web interface for writing the Spoti-floppies.
When this project started seven months ago, [Dino] intended to bring his vinyl collection into the 21st century with RFID tags, but we’re glad that he decided to involve a fairly obsolete medium. Don’t have a drive or a heap of floppies gathering dust in a closet? Neither did [Dino]. But he found plenty of people selling pretty-colored floppies on ebay, and Amazon has tons of cheap external drives. We think the album art stickers are a nice touch, as is matching album cover color to floppy. He’s right to lock those bad boys up.
Got a bunch of floppy drives? Build a Floppotron and make your own music!
Continue reading “Music Player Erected From Floppy Disks”
Since its first release seven years ago, Raspberry Pi single-board computers have become notoriously ubiquitous in compact and portable builds. They’re used in many different applications, but one of the most interesting has got to be how it can turn just about any old thing into a Linux computer. [xito666] writes in with his own build, a portable retro computer inspired by the retro-futuristic stylings of the Fallout games.
For true aesthetic accuracy, [xito666] used an old discarded Crown 5TV-65R portable TV and radio combo. The unit hails from the 1970s, so a bit newer than Vault technology, but it still gives off a great retro charm with its CRT screen and knobs. Sadly, the original components couldn’t be reused, and the shell was stripped empty so that the new hardware could take its place. This includes an off-the-shelf HDMI LCD screen with resistive touchscreen and new potentiometers and knobs that still fit in with the overall look of the machine.
What makes this build unique, however, is that it also includes custom software to turn it into a clock and music player, with the deliciously Pip Boy-like UI being controlled entirely with the front buttons and knobs. The whole project is well written up in the Reddit post, in it [xito666] explains some of their choices and planned improvements. One that we would suggest ourselves is replacing the menu scrolling selector dial with a rotary encoder rather than a potentiometer, for that added knob feel. We also think that with the addition of a keyboard, it would easily pass for one of those luggables from the 1980s, a style of project we’ve featured once or twice here before.