Is That A Large Smartwatch? Or A Tiny Cray?

While we aren’t typically put off by a large wristwatch, we were taken a bit aback by [Chris Fenton]’s latest timepiece — if you can call it that. It’s actually a 1/25th-scale Cray C90 worn as a wristwatch. The whole thing started with [Chris] trying to build a Cray in Verilog. He started with a Cray-1 but then moved to a Cray X-MP, which is essentially a Cray-1 with two extra address bits. Then he expanded it to 32 bits, which makes it a Cray Y-MP/C90/J90 core. As he puts it, “If you wanted something practical, go read someone else’s blog.”

The watch emulates a Cray C916 and uses a round OLED display on the top. While the move from 22 to 32 address bits sounds outdated, keep in mind the Cray addresses 64-bit words exclusively, so we’re talking access to 32 gigabytes of memory. The hardware consists of an off-the-shelf FPGA board and a Teensy microcontroller to handle mundane tasks like driving the OLED display and booting the main CPU. Interestingly, the actual Cray 1A used Data General computers for a similar task.

Of course, any supercomputer needs a super program, so [Chris] uses the screen to display a full simulation of Jupiter and 63 of its moons. The Cray excels at programs like this because of its vector processing abilities. The whole program is 127 words long and sustains 40 MFLOPs. Of course, that means to read the current time, you need to know where Jupiter’s moons are at all times so you can match it with the display. He did warn us this would not be practical.

While the Cray wouldn’t qualify as a supercomputer today, we love learning about what was state-of-the-art not that long ago. Cray was named, of course, after [Seymour Cray] who had earlier designed the Univac 1103, several iconic CDC computers, and the Cray computers, of course.

A3 Audio: The Open Source 3D Audio Control System

Sometimes, startups fail due to technical problems or a lack of interest from potential investors and fail to gain development traction. This latter case appears to be the issue befalling A3 Audio. So, the developers have done the next best thing, made the project open source, and are actively looking for more people to pitch in. So what is it? The project is centered around the idea of spatial audio or 3D audio. The system allows ‘audio motion’ to be captured, mixed and replayed, all the while synchronized to the music. At least that’s as much as we can figure out from the documentation!

The system is made up of three main pieces of hardware. The first part is the core (or server), which is essentially a Linux PC running an OSC (Open Sound Control) server. The second part is a ‘motion sampler’, which inputs motion into the server. Lastly, there is a Mixer, which communicates using the OSC protocol (over Ethernet) to allow pre-mixing of spatial samples and deployment of samples onto the audio outputs. In addition to its core duties, the ‘core’ also manages effects and speaker handling.

The motion module is based around a Raspberry Pi 4 and a Teensy microcontroller, with a 7-inch touchscreen display for user input and oodles of NeoPixels for blinky feedback on the button matrix. The mixer module seems simpler, using just a Teensy for interfacing the UI components.

We don’t see many 3D audio projects, but this neat implementation of a beam-forming microphone phased array¬†sure looks interesting.

90s PowerBook Runs MacOS Monterey

Even though Apple isn’t known for making the most pro-consumer devices ever (at least not since the Apple II), the trope that Apples aren’t upgradable, customizable, or otherwise hackable doesn’t really hold much weight. It does take more work to modify them or change how Apple wants them to behave, but it’s not completely impossible. Take this example of a ’94 Apple PowerBook which runs macOS Moneterey thanks largely to new internals from a 2015 MacBook Pro.

[Billy] originally intended for a Raspberry Pi to go inside this old PowerBook, but at the time, prices for ARM single-board computer (SBC) were astronomical. For around the same price as the Pi was at the time, he was able to pick up a retina display from an iPad and the internals from a broken MacBook Pro to outfit this retro case. There’s also a Teensy installed to get the trackpad working and a driver board for the display from Adafruit, and a number of case mods were needed to get everything to fit including the screen which was slightly larger than the original 9.5″ display the laptop would have shipped with.

This project took both inspiration and some of the actual code needed to get everything working from another project we featured a while ago where a Mac Mini was installed inside of a PowerBook case from 1993. Unlike projects that use smaller SBCs for retrocomputing, these builds are notable because the hardware on the inside makes them usable as daily driver computers even today, and might even be an upgrade if you’re using the internals from a MacBook Pro that would have originally had a butterfly keyboard.

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Hack In Style With This Fallout Cyberdeck

There’s always an appeal to a cool-looking computer case or cyberdeck – and with authentic-looking Vault-Tec style, [Eric B] and [kc9psw]’s fallout-themed cyberdeck is no exception.

The case looks like it came straight out of one of the Fallout games and acts the part: while (obviously) not capable of withstanding a direct nuclear bomb impact, it can protect the sensitive electronics inside from the electromagnetic pulse and shockwave that follows – if you keep it closed.

And it’s not just the case that’s cool: This cyberdeck is packed full of goodies like long-range radios, SDRs, ADSB receivers, a Teensy 4.1, and dual Raspberry Pis. But that’s just the hardware! It also comes with gigabytes upon gigabytes of Wikipedia, Wikihow, TED talks, and other information/entertainment, for the less eventful days in the wastelands.

If you, too, would like to have one, fret not! The parts list and design files are public, even though some assembly is required.

Level Your Trailer Or RV With This Nifty Helper Device

Getting your RV or trailer parked nice and level is key to getting a good night’s sleep. Traditional methods involve bubble levels and trial and error, but [MJCulross] wanted something better. Enter the Teensy RV Leveling Helper.

The device uses an accelerometer to detect the pitch and roll angles of the RV. It then displays these on a small screen, and performs calculations on how much the RV must be raised at each corner to bring it level. The RV’s width and wheelbase can be entered via a simple touchscreen interface to ensure the calculations are correct. There’s also a trailer mode which calculates three-point leveling figures for the wheels and the hitch, as opposed to the four-wheeled RV mode.

The result is that the correct leveling blocks can be selected first time when parking up the RV or trailer. It’s a lot less tedious than the usual method of parking, leveling, checking, and then leveling again.

We don’t see a lot of camper hacks around here, but we’ve noticed a new trend towards lightweight cycle campers in recent years. If you’ve found your own nifty hacks for your home on the open road, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Taking Mechanical Keyboard Sounds To The Next Level

When it comes to mechanical keyboards, there’s no end to the amount of customization that can be done. The size and layout of the keyboard is the first thing to figure out, and then switches, keycaps, and then a bunch of other customizations inside the keyboard like the mounting plate and whether or not to add foam strips and other sound- and vibration-deadening features. Of course some prefer to go the other direction with it as well, omitting the foam and installing keys with a more noticeable click, and still others go even further than that by building a separate machine to make their keyboard activity as disruptive as it could possibly be.

This started as a joke among [ac2ev] and some coworkers, who were already teasing about the distinct sound of the mechanical keyboard. This machine, based on a Teensy microcontroller, sits between any USB keyboard and its host computer, intercepting keystrokes and using a small solenoid to tap on a block of wood every time a keystroke is detected. There’s also a bell inside that rings when the enter key is pressed, similar to the return carriage notification for typewriters, and as an additional touch an audio amplifier with attached speaker plays the Mario power-up sound whenever the caps lock key is pressed.

[ac2ev] notes that this could be pushed to the extreme by running a much larger solenoid powered by mains electricity, but since this was more of a proof-of-concept demonstration for some coworkers the smaller solenoid was used instead. The source code for the build can be found on the project’s GitHub page and there’s also a video of this machine in action here as well. Be careful with noisy mechanical keyboards, though, as the sounds the keys produce can sometimes be decoded to determine what the user is typing.

Forgettable Computer, Great Keyboard. Now Available In USB

The Coleco Adam is one of the great might-have-beens of the 8-bit home computer era, with an impressive bundle and on-paper spec let down by bugs, hardware issues, and poor availability. It’s something of a footnote today but it seems Coleco did get something right as it had a great keyboard. [Nick Bild] has one, and he’s brought it into the 21st century with a USB interface.

The interfacing is courtesy of a Teensy microcontroller board as in so many other keyboard projects, but what makes this extra-interesting is the way the Coleco keyboard speaks to the world. Instead of merely being a matrix peripheral as were so many of its contemporaries, Coleco created their own custom serial bus for Adam desktop peripherals called AdamNet, and thus the keyboard contains its own 6801 microcontroller to perform the interfacing. The Teensy then is a USB-to-AdamNet interface, and could we’re guessing be made to talk to other Coleco peripherals if they exist.

You can see the keyboard in action below the break, and as you can see it fits quite nicely into 2023.¬† We’ve not featured much about the Adam before here at Hackaday, but the ColecoVision console which sits at its heart has even seen a new version.

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