Friday, 21 October 2016

Send a Raspberry Pi Back in Time to 1980

One of our favorite hacker-scavengers on YouTube, [The Post-Apocalyptic Inventor], has been connecting his Raspberry Pi up to nearly every display that he’s got in his well-stocked junk pile. (Video embedded below.)

Modern monitors with an HDMI input connect right up to the Pi. Before HDMI came VGA, but the Pi doesn’t do that natively. One solution is to use a composite-to-VGA converter and pull the composite signal out of the audio jack. Lacking the right 4-pole audio cable, [TPAI] soldered some RCA plugs directly onto the Pi, and plugged that into the converter. On a yet-older monitor, he faced a SCART adapter. If you’re European, you’ll know these — it’s just composite video with a different connector. Good thing he had a composite video signal already on hand.

online-with-my-1980-tv-set-huc2ls56hwimkv-shot0004The pi├Ęce de resistance, though, was attaching the Pi to his 1980 Vega TV set. It only had an antenna-in connector, so he needed an RF modulator. With a (presumably) infinite supply of junk VCRs on hand, he pulled an upconverter out of the pile, and got the Pi working with the snazzy retro TV.

If you’re interested in running an old TV as a display, just because it looks cool, this video is a must-watch. As usual, [The Post-Apocalyptic Inventor] turns his pile of junk into something useful in the end, and you’ll probably learn something along the way. And that’s why he’s one of our favorite frackers.

Filed under: video hacks

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A Slice of Ubuntu

The de facto standard for Raspberry Pi operating systems is Raspbian–a Debian based distribution specifically for the diminutive computer. Of course, you have multiple choices and there might not be one best choice for every situation. It did catch our eye, however, that the RaspEX project released a workable Ubunutu 16.10 release for the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3.

RaspEX is a full Linux Desktop system with LXDE (a lightweight desktop environment) and many other useful programs. Firefox, Samba, and VNC4Server are present. You can use the Ubuntu repositories to install anything else you want. The system uses kernel 4.4.21. You can see a review of a much older version of RaspEX  in the video below.

If you are used to using Ubuntu, this could be a great convenience. The project claims the system is much faster than the stock OS, although it doesn’t offer any explanation for why that should be so.

Then again, some Raspberry Pi boards don’t need an operating system at all. Or, you could always try Google’s entry.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

RPi Show and Tell Saturday and NYC Meetup on Monday

Join Hackaday for the vanguard of cool emerging technologies next week at our meetup in New York.

Like all our meetups, we’ve gathered some of the neatest technologists to spill the beans on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Madison Maxey, founder of Loomia and designer of soft, blinky circuits will be there. Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, co-founder and executive director of Genspace, the citizen science biotech ‘hackerspace’ in the heart of New York will be there too. Kari Love & Matthew Borgatti of Super-Releaser, most famous for their super cute pneumatic soft robots will also be there. It’s still up in the air if we’ll be racing these robots. Of course there will also be opportunities for you to present a lightning talk at the meetup.

enlightenpiThe meetup will be at Pivotal Labs, 625 Ave of the Americas, on Monday, October 24 starting at 6:30 PM. An RSVP is required, so if you’re coming head on over to the Meetup page.

Live Video Show and Tell on Saturday

This Saturday join us online for a special show and tell all about Raspberry Pi projects from 7-8p EDT (UTC-4). Hosted by Limor Fried of Adafruit and Sophi Kravitz from Hackaday. This live show is hosted on our YouTube channel and will feature projects from our giant collection of Raspberry Pi projects on and entries in the Enlightened Raspberry Pi contest.

A lot of people have already signed up for the Show and Tell but we do still have some time left for your project. Email to get on the list.

Filed under: cons

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Dumb Terminals And Raspberry Pis

Back in the old days, the cool kids didn’t have an Apple II or a Trash-80. The cool kids had jobs, and those jobs had Vaxxen all over the place. The usual way of working with a Vax would have been a terminal, a VT220 at least, or in the case of [Sudos]’ experiments with a Raspberry Pi, A DEC VT510, a single session, text only serial terminal.

Usually, when we see a ‘new hardware stuffed into old tech’ project like this, the idea is simply to find a use for the old hardware. That makes sense; a dumb terminal from the late 90s should be a bit rarer than a Raspberry Pi Zero. This is not the case for [Sudos]’s build. He recently came across a few Raspberry Pi Zeros at Microcenter, and looking for a use for them, he decided to turn a serial terminal into a Real Unix System™.

As you would expect from a serial terminal, connecting a Raspberry Pi and putting some awesome character graphics on the screen is as simple as a Max3232 board picked up from eBay, a WiFi dongle, and an Ethernet adapter. Connect the Pi to the terminal with a serial adapter cable, and you’re off to the races.

While the VT510 serial terminal is just about the end of the line as far as dedicated terminals go, there are classier options. The VT100 terminal, older than most of the Hackaday readership, features a port on its gigantic board, meant to connect to whatever weirdness was coming out of Maynard in the late 70s. You can attach a BeagleBone to this connector, making for a very slick stealth mod.

Filed under: classic hacks, Raspberry Pi

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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A Win For The Raspberry Pi Compute Module

News comes from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, of something of a coup for their Compute Module product. Support for it is to be integrated into NEC’s line of commercial displays, and the electronics giant has lined up a list of software partners to provide integrated signage solutions for the platform.

It is interesting to note how NEC have done this, while it’s being spun by the Foundation as a coup for them the compute module sits on a daughter board in a slot on the back of the display rather than on the display PCB itself. They are likely hedging their bets with this move, future daughter boards could be created to provide support for other platforms should the Compute Module board fail to gain traction.

Given that this relates to a high-end commercial product from just one manufacturer, what’s in it for us in the hardware community? After all, it’s not as if you’ll be seeing Compute Module slots in the back of domestic TVs or monitors from NEC or any other manufacturer in the near future. The answer is that such a high-profile customer lends the module platform a commercial credibility that it may not yet have achieved.  Until now, it has found a home mainly in more niche or boutique products, this appearance in something from a global manufacturer takes it to a new level. And as the module finds its way into more devices the chances of them coming within the reach of our community and providing us with opportunities for adapting them for our purposes through the Pi platform become ever greater.

The use of the Compute Module in displays made for public signage is oddly a continuation of an unseen tradition for ARM-based machines from Cambridge. Aside from British schools a significant market for the Acorn Archimedes platform that spawned ARM was the embedded signage market, and even today there are still plenty of signs concealing RiscOS machines out there in the wild.

We covered the launch of the Compute Module in 2014, but it’s fair to say it’s not appeared much since in the world of Raspberry Pi projects from hardware hackers. This is not because it’s not a good platform; more likely that the Raspberry Pi models A, B, and particularly the Zero are so much cheaper when you consider the significant cost of the Compute Module development board. At the Raspberry Pi 4th birthday party earlier this year, while covering the event as your Hackaday scribe but also wearing my metaphorical Pi kit supplier and Pi Jam organizer hats I stood up in the Q&A session and asked the Foundation CEO Phil Colligan to consider a hardware developer program for the platform. Perhaps a cut-down Compute Module developer board would be an asset to such a program, as well as driving more adoption of that particular board.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

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Monday, 17 October 2016

Hackaday Links: October 16, 2016

You need only look at the weekly user account leak from a popular web service or platform to know there’s a problem with security. Reusing passwords is the dumbest thing you can do right now, and the Mooltipass Mini is the answer to that problem. The Mooltipass originally began as a Developed on Hackaday series, and we log frequent sightings of the Multipass (maxi?) at security cons. The Mini is smaller, has exactly the same capability, and is completely unrepairable. It’s very cool, and if your email password is the same as your banking account passwords, you kind of need this yesterday.

Last weekend was the Open Hardware Summit in Portland. All the talks were worth watching, but editing the talks down into something sensible takes time. In lieu of this, OSHPark has gone through the livestream and timestamped everything

⡱⢎.io. Just look at that. Isn’t it awesome? It’s the latest iteration of Hackaday’s weird domains, and it looks just like the new-ish, not-frequently-used Hackaday logo that fits into the family of other SupplyFrame (our overlords) logos.

Would you like to learn about phased array antennas and radar? IEEE has just the thing for you. It’s a workshop and symposium free for all students that demonstrates how phased array antennas are built at Lincoln Laboratory, how to make your own phased array sensors, and talks by the people who really know what they’re doing with RF. If you’re around Boston next week, sign up by October 14, 2016. It’s free!

SOLAR FREAKIN’ ROADWAYS!!! How are those things going? Is that $2M Kickstarter making anything that produces power? Any successful installations? Oh. That’s not good.

Bad news in Baltimore. Someone stole the couch, but at least Mr. Trash Wheel has a girlfriend now. Also, Baynesville Electronics has shut down. This was one of the East coast’s secret electronic nirvanas. but they were online only, and Digikey and Mouser exist.

We missed a big one, guys. The Minnesota Vikings recently purchased some property from Delta Air Lines. Of course, there was a lot of junk sitting around in this property that quickly headed to the auction block. The lots included a half dozen full-motion DC-9 sims, a 747-200 and 747-400, and a 757. All of them were full motion flight sims. How much did they go for? A DC-9 sim went for $6k. Anyone up for renting a truck, going out to the desert, and picking up a 727 cockpit?

The Uzebox is a tiny, palm-sized video game console with similar specs to the NES / early Genesis / Mega Drive generation of gaming. Now there’s a Kickstarter for a Direct-to-TV version of the Uzebox. This device has been around for the better part of a decade, and it is a very important milestone in the recent history of DIY electronics. Now, everything can fit inside a SNES controller. Pretty neat.

Here’s a shop that’s cashing in on the ESP-32 craze, but this one is different. They have bare ESP-32 chips. The going price seems to be $3.60/piece in quantity one.

The Hackaday Prize has entered the final stretch: we have our top 100 finalists now. All those projects are now off to our fabulous celebrity judges to decide who will take home the crown this year. One of these projects didn’t make it. Sadly, it was one of the best. The Raspberry Pi Project, a project concerning Raspberry Pis and Raspberry Pi accessories, was not selected as a finalist in the Hackaday Prize. I have many regrets in my life, but this is the biggest: the Raspberry Pi Project should have won the Hackaday Prize. [Editor’s Note: Benchoff!!!]

Oh, cool, something we can actually argue about. Dylan got a Nobel for Literature, and the Pitchfork average for his albums hovers at around an 8. We’re not going to argue about the critical merits of Pitchfork – that’s already a foregone conclusion – your literary assessment of Bob’s work is welcome in the comment section.

Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Weather Ticker Shows How Easy It Can Be

[Petru] seems to have designed his weather ticker project with beginners in mind. Leveraging the inexorable forces of both the Raspberry Pi and cheap online auction house modules, it’s nearly the Hackaday equivalent of painting by numbers. But not everyone is a Picasso, and encouraging beginners to get their feet wet by painting happy little trees is a good cause.

Behind the simplicity is actually a clever architecture. An installation script makes installing the right Raspbian distro simple, and installs a few scripts that automatically update the user code from a GitHub repository. To change the code running on the machine, you can upload a new version to GitHub and press the reset button. (We would also want a way to push up code changes locally, for speed reasons.) Something like this is a great idea for a permanent Pi-based IoT device.

But as a first project, the hope is that something like this will encourage folks who find code too abstract, but who are nonetheless drawn by the allure of blinking lights, to play around with code. And unsurprisingly, this has already been entered in our Enlightened Raspberry Pi Contest which focuses on the simple-yet-impressive stuff you can do with a tiny computer and some electronics.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

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