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Super Jamie

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  1. I recently read about MicroBee Z80-based microcomputers being remade with modern features like SD Card, ethernet and dual processors.

    For the home hobbyist, it appears microcomputing has never died. I had a friend who used to make all sorts of things with PICAXE controllers and of course these days there's Arduino which has a large following.

    For those who want something less "embedded system" and more "conventional computer", the home-made Maximite seems to have become the de-facto standard with several SoC clones available. This little thing runs a BASIC interpreter on a 32-bit 80MHz CPU and also has USB, host serial, PS2 keyboard, VGA out and SD Card storage.

    All these little things amaze me. They sound so cool and seem to have a world of nostalgia in store. I've always wanted to get one except I had nothing to actually *do* with it.

    Lately, a workmate came across someone who had the ThinkGeek Binary Clock on their desk. I love the idea of binary clocks but the "Binary Coded Decimal" of the ThinkGeek clock is stupid. I prefer "True Binary" like this guy's clock which he hacked into the middle of an old hard drive.

    So, sometime in the next year or two I hope to make a binary clock which is powered by either USB or PoE, and uses its host power to communicate to an NTP server. Libraries and interfaces exist for the Arduino to do all this, the rest is just me learning to code and putting it all together.

    Do any of you guys play around with old micro/embedded computers like these?

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. printz


      Super Jamie said:

      You could always make little budget robots out of floppy drive motors and generally cheap old throwaway stuff? What would you build robots to do?

      Initially I considered a snake-bot, but looking for mechanical parts (such as gears) sucks because they aren't sold to the public as freely as electronic components. I know I'm probably better off looking for them in used damaged appliances, but in this case I actually need kN identical parts for N snake segments, which is unlikely to find in just a few objects. I may still try it one day, considering it's interesting from an AI perspective (make lots of interconnected similar objects work together), and that once I complete a part, I know how to build the others in roughly the same way. But there are simpler concepts to try anyway...

    3. Super Jamie

      Super Jamie

      That is so cool. If you got lucky you could end up making some "snake spy bot" for the US Army like that team who made the walking pack animal thing.

    4. printz


      Thanks... but it all depends on actually buying and having time to plan/work on it... :P