Your source for daily hacks

Published on: October 15, 2013 / Comments: None

The DECbox is a beautiful DEC VT100 terminal running from a beagle bone

When you think of emulators, you probably think of old video game emulators.  Well think further back to a text based gaming society like Zork.  Before GUI’s were established most computing was done via serial terminals.  And this project pays homage to that time.  The DECbox emulates a variety of vintage terminals, wrapped in a sexy vintage enclosure.

The brains of the DECbox runs off of a beagle bone with a special cape to break out all of the UARTs the processor has into serial ports.  On the software side its running multiple versions of SimH from the The Computer History Simulation Project.

If you are into retro computing, this is a really awesome project.  Collecting numerous vintage terminals can take up a lot of space, and a lot of that old hardware is broken now.  It’s great to see the project rebirth the feel of the vintage terminal for history preservation.

DECbox project link here, more info about the software install here.

Published on: September 17, 2013 / Comments: None

Build an Op-amp based RIAA phono preamp

Believe it or not some people are still in to vinyl, actually I think more people are getting into vinyl nowadays!  One thing you might not have on that fancy turbo pandora playing surround sound is a phono input for that crusty record player of yours.  Why not build a preamp so you can hook it up?

The build is based on an OPA2134 op-amp and uses a bipolar +12/-12 power supply.  Since this type of amplifier is high gain it is important to make good design decisions to reduce noise.   First off you should have an earth ground, and a fully shielded metal enclosure or else you might be picking up a lot of unwanted noise.  Second the power components should have ample space away from the audio components.  The rest can be handled with some resistors and caps.

Nice build.  Schematic included, check out the project on diyaudioprojects.

Published on: September 16, 2013 / Comments: None

NaCade – the Naked Raspberry Pi Arcade runs PiMAME

Everyone loves retro gaming, it makes you wonder why they keep making new video games instead of old ones!  Usually when people do retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi they go the retropie route, so it’s refreshing to see a project supporting PiMAME.  The NaCade is a mini arcade cabinet running on a Raspberry Pi.

The case is made of clear 3mm acrylic which is both cut and bent using heat and practice  For a display it uses a 7″ LCD used for a car backup camera.  Inside is a Raspberry Pi running PiMAME and a 9AH battery charged by a solar controller and 20w solar panel.  Yeah, solar-powered!  The sound comes from an amplified USB speaker.  The joystick and buttons are standard arcade parts, except the buttons are all back-lit.

You know you want to build one (I know I do).  Check out the rest of the details.

 

Published on: September 10, 2013 / Comments: 1

Amazing Nintendo Nixie clock sporting retropie

Bradley does some amazing work. Usually it’s in the form of replica light sabers and what not. This time he was commissioned to a NES inspired nixie clock for a wedding gift, but decided why stop there ? Let’s make it an actual playable NES.

Inside on the clock side is an Arduino Uno with a ArduiNIX Nixie Tube Driver shield + Nixie tubes. On the gaming side is your usually Raspberry Pi running Retropie distro. Controllers are NES style usb controllers, and a RGB led provides mood setting. This is all wrapped in a lovely custom wood enclosure painted to look like a real NES. He’s even put real NES start / reset buttons in there.

Man that’s a site to make anyone envious! More pictures and info can be found on Bradley’s site.

Published on: September 6, 2013 / Comments: 1

A few questions with the TubeCore Duo creators

We had a chance to catch up with Jason from TubeCore, so we decided to ask him a few questions.  TubeCore currently has a Kickstarter running to launch their product the TubeCore Duo.  The TubeCore Duo is a hackable, retro inspired modern boombox that sports all the goodies.  Streaming via WIFI and Bluetooth, to a hybrid vacuum tube amplifier powerhouse inside.  There’s even a Raspberry Pi running XBMC.

[su_dropcap style="1" size="2"]Q[/su_dropcap]So tell us your inspiration for creating the Duo.

[su_dropcap style="2" size="2"]A[/su_dropcap]I grew up in recording studios and on stages. I cut my teeth on HiFi and couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I wanted to combine solid HiFi principles to small form consumer audio; a sort of HiFi for everyone. I wanted to build something that didn’t exists and love music. So the choice was natural.

[su_dropcap style="1" size="2"]Q[/su_dropcap]You’ve obviously already passed your funding goal, do you have any concerns at this point ?

[su_dropcap style="2" size="2"]A[/su_dropcap]Logistics. When I started this, my biggest concern was getting the 56 I would have need to fund out the door and use the profits to reduce my need for off the shelf solutions and have my hardware custom designed. Because of the huge support of our fans, we have been able to develop some key relationships with our suppliers and have drawn the interest of some national and international distributors. While this relationship building is critical, with an on off system we are burdened with the task of developing 10 times the relationships we would have needed before. More input channels are being created and the time dedicated to maintaining each has drastically increased. All said, I have compensated by sleeping less. You get used to it actually.

(more…)

Published on: September 3, 2013 / Comments: 1

SNESoIP puts your controller on the net

The project it currently in its early stage, but fully functional and could be used to play multiplayer games over the Internet.
The sheer fact that people seem to spend a great deal of time modernizing vintage consoles tells you one thing, that retro gaming is awesome.  The SNESoIP project is not a full solution for playing SNES games (on a real console I might add, not an emulator) over the internet, but it is a start.

The concept here is to basically move the controllers to a packet format that can be manipulated over networking.  On the hardware side, it’s basically a box with an ethernet cable and a SNES controller jack.  It looks like the processor is an ATmega8 with an enc28j60 for ethernet (which was mentioned earlier as a cheap Arduino solution).

The project is open source, has source code, schematic, and pcb files here on github.

Published on: August 20, 2013 / Comments: None

Nintendo audio played in real time by robotic musicians

I just want to start out by saying I love this hack.  With that out of the way…  What we have here is some Raspberry Pi’s and someone’s amazing vision.  First off introducing the band.  The player piano has been converted to run off of MIDI.  The two percussion instruments are solenoids controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

Next we have (I believe) a Raspberry Pi feeding off of the audio coming out of an original NES, and translating the notes into MIDI notes and percussion instructions.  There is a slight delay (due to the translation I suppose) and you can see it but it’s not that bad all the time.  This all comes together having a nice robotic symphony playing your music while you game on.

I would love to re-create this hack, the percussion stuff seems pretty straight forward, but where am I going to find a player piano at a decent price ?