Displayport adapter dongles are ubiquitous, now that DisplayPort is becoming more and more prevalent in desktop video cards. I probably have at least a half-dozen of them, connected to machines or stuck in junk drawers. You plug them in, and they work. Simple.
Last week at work, we had a discussion about implementing DisplayPort to DVI conversion in one of our products. I suggested that the conversion might be quite simple – I mean, there exist “passive” DisplayPort to DVI dongles and “active” DisplayPort to DVI dongles. Surely the “active” ones do something to the signal, but “passive” means no active components, right? …right?
Well, it turns out I couldn’t be more wrong. After a reality check by a fellow engineer and a little bit of destructive evaluation, I have now been reeducated in the inner workings of DisplayPort to X conversion.
The plan was confirmed by Keurig’s CEO who stated on a recent earnings call that the new maker indeed won’t work with “unlicensed” pods as part of an effort to deliver “game-changing performance.” “Keurig 2.0″ is expected to launch this fall.
Jokes that Apple’s new Mac Pro looked a bit like a trash can began almost as soon as the computer was announced, but one person has taken the comparison to its logical extreme: he has built a “Hackintosh” out of standard PC components and stuffed all of them in a bathroom trashcan with more than a passing resemblance to the actual Mac Pro.
The images from the German DIY-er responsible for the project were posted to the TonyMacx86 forums earlier this month and dug up by 9to5Mac earlier today—TonyMacx86 is a popular resource for users who like to get OS X running on standard PC hardware. The build begins with a Gigabyte z78n Wi-Fi mini-ITX motherboard mounted to a couple of stands and a ribbon cable that allows the AMD Radeon HD 7750 graphics card to be mounted parallel to the main board. Additional stands hold the device’s two 2.5-inch drives (one SSD and one HDD, possibly in a Fusion Drive configuration). Fans mounted inside the case at the top and the bottom help with airflow. The whole computer is about 26cm high and 18cm in diameter, not far from the 25.1 cm height and 16.7 cm diameter of the actual Mac Pro.
It goes without saying that this machine’s performance will come nowhere near that of a fully decked-out Mac Pro. It uses a dual-core Haswell Core i3 chip instead of a four-, six-, eight-, or 12-core Ivy Bridge Xeon; it uses one standard gaming GPU instead of two FirePro workstation GPUs; it lacks the Mac Pro’s dual Ethernet ports and six Thunderbolt 2.0 ports; and it uses standard SATA storage and consumer DDR3 rather than the PCI express storage or 1866MHz ECC DDR3 of the Mac Pro. The DIY version has also got at least four fans spinning inside, rather than the single fan used in the real thing….
PRI has an inspirational story out of Nigeria about a doctor who took whatever materials he had available to him and made a hospital for his town. His work has been lauded all over the world and his hospital is known for reliable competent care.
In the small farming town of Eruwa, Nigeria, goats graze outside the entrance of a low concrete building. Inside, mothers recline with their babies on worn, well-used beds.
This is Eruwa’s main hospital. It isn’t fancy, and it isn’t meant to be.
“For me, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as it’s functional,” says Dr. Oluyombo Awojobi. He founded the hospital 27 years ago on that philosophy.
What keeps his hospital running — and growing — are cheap, simple devices that he designs and makes himself.
“I’m using materials readily available in my backyard,” he says.
His blood centrifuge, which separates plasma from red blood cells, is made from used bike parts. You pedal with your hands and it spins the blood sample as fast as the propeller on a small airplane.
The suction pump that the clinic uses to remove blood and fluids during surgery is made from the valve on a bicycle inner tube and is also powered by pedaling.
The hospital’s boiler is made from an old propane tank. For fuel, it uses corn cobs collected from nearby farms. The boiler produces steam for the autoclave, which sterilizes the surgical equipment.
Because most of Awojobi’s devices don’t need electricity, the hospital doesn’t have to rely on the town’s unpredictable electrical grid or spend a lot of money running diesel generators when power is down.
That keeps care at the hospital affordable to the farmers who make up its clientele. Delivering a baby costs $30.
And Dr. Awojobi says there is another advantage to designing his own equipment. “Because I make it, I will know how to mend it,” he explains. “I don’t have to depend upon anybody else.”
As for his inventions, Awojobi wants to make them as widely available as possible. He does not seek patents. Instead, he publishes his designs in international medical journals.
The Wii U GamePad is a deceptively feature packed bit of gaming hardware. In addition to the usual wireless console controller elements + resistive touchscreen LCD, it houses an IR transmitter/receiver, speakers, mic, camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and yes, even an NFC antenna. This is of course a big tasty invitation to get the GamePad working with something other than the Wii U console itself … like say, a personal computer?
Console hackers booto, delroth, & shuffle2 endeavored to do just that and after an extensive amount of reverse engineering, they now have an alpha demo working on Linux. The OS receives control input from the GamePad and streams low-latency video back out to the GamePad display.
The alpha version demoed below (@ 47m35s) still has issues, but shows much potential for awesome …
This is a great project that reuses an LED display found on buses in the 1990s. Translated from the original:
I recently recovered a display bus brand DATA Display (1992, at the sight of datecode components). The display consists of two parts:
Part of a top, consisting of two green segments 12 of dies (7 × 5 each), or a large array of (2 * (12 * 5)) * 7 pixels.
The bottom part, a bit the same, but with red pixels
The bottom part is interesting because it seems to contain a RAM, with external connection (and a NiMH battery to retain RAM) can be upload messages to display. By cons, manufacturers do not have the transmission protocol. It will be a bit boring to reverse-engeenirer.
The top part, it is almost identical. Except that it contains a ROM containing the characters ASCII (at least, their representation in matrix 5 × 7) to display the text. It also has a special connection (RS232, but not too much). It’s going to be boring to do. But I decided to disassemble the upper display and watch how it worked.
Probes have a significant effect on the signals you see on your scope at high speed, and you need to be particularly careful with the GND connector to avoid large ground loops which will distort you signals. Have a look at this informative video on the topic from mikeselectricstuff, showing how to capture some high speed output from an iPod nano.
For the Church of Robotron’s installation at Toorcamp 2012, we needed to be able to trigger physical events when game events happened in Robotron 2084. A quick summary for context:
We had an Altar that contained a Linux box that ran MAME and Robotron 2084
We had joysticks that acted as HID devices
Player would kneal down and play the game. As events happened in the game (player death, human death, lasers firing), we would trigger physical events.
We choose to use MAME’s debugger to detect game events and notify other pieces of software when they happened. This is a quick tutorial for others (and a reminder to ourselves) if you’re interested in doing similar things. We’re going to find out how to detect player death!
Working on a driver today, I had an excuse to dust off some long forgotten .Net tools. In case other people aren’t aware of how easy it is to decompile apps written in .Net (and why this is useful even for HW people), have a look at our new learning guide: Decompiling .Net Apps
Last weekend, I went to the Guangzhou markets with my buddy Matt. There was lots of good stuff there, but one of the things that caught my eye were these PID temperature controller modules. Its the sort of industrial process control gear that is normally inaccessible to mortals. Fortunately for me, this was China, so I plunked down 80yuan and took one home with me.
Fascinating talk about hardware hacking Tamagotchis. Thanks for the tip from Malcolm Tredinnick, who noted: “A nice combination of low-and high-level hardware and software reverse-engineering. Many techniques and tools that will be familiar to regular Adafruit readers in isolation and here they’re all pulled together into a fun story.” I totally agree.
Many Tamagotchis Were Harmed in the Making of this Presentation
You might remember Tamagotchi virtual pets from the 1990′s. These toys are still around and just as demanding as ever! This talk covers my attempts to hack the latest Tamagotchis. Starting with the IR interface, and moving down into the hardware, this presentation will discuss techniques for reverse engineering a device with limited inputs, computing power and debugging capabilities.
Recent Tamagotchis are more than just pets. They can talk to their friends over IR, support games on external ROMs and store generations worth of information about their ancestors. This talk goes through the different ways Tamagotchis can be tampered with through these channels, including making Tamagotchis rich and happy over IR, altering their states in persistent memory and writing custom games. It also goes through attempts to dump the Tamagotchi’s code from ROM.
Speaker: Natalie Silvanovich
Event: 29th Chaos Communication Congress [29c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany