Silly Questions

Silly Questions

Damn you, Intel Galileo! Why must you vex me with your question, so innocuously posed, in bright yellow letters?

NYC Resistor: 30th Anniversary Macintosh

NYC Resistor: 30th Anniversary Macintosh

I’ve been storing a Macintosh Classic (which sadly doesn’t function properly any longer) that I picked up as salvage a couple years ago. I definitely want to replace the guts with something more geekly than the 6800-based original Mac hardware. To that end, I wonder: do I tear out the old CRT and replace it with a more modern and recent LCD, or do I try to go the full geek route and go after recreating the display circuit from the original Mac hardware using something like a BeagleBone Black?

I’m confident the first way can be done; however, here’s evidence that leaving the original CRT in place is an option too. Color me intrigued.

10 Great Intel Galileo Features


I think perhaps that the coolest promise that Galileo represents is that all of the extra goodness you find on the board (built-in Ethernet, USB host, Micro SD, Mini-PCIe slot, etc.) are all made available in the Arduino IDE, but at no pin cost to the Arduino headers itself.

That is, if you tried to implement all of those built-in features using separate shields, you’d have almost nothing left to interface with. So, I’m getting at least one of these.

Originally posted on MAKE:

The Intel Galileo board. (Image by Matt Richardson)
The Intel Galileo board. (Image by Matt Richardson)

Intel and Arduino’s announcement about the new Galileo board is big news. It’s a Linux-based board that I’ve found to be remarkably compatible with the Arduino ecosystem based on my first few steps with a prerelease version of the board. Here are some of the best features of this groundbreaking collaboration between Intel and Arduino:

Shield Compatibility
The expansion header on the top of Galileo should look familiar since it’s compatible with 5V and 3.3V Arduino shields designed for the Uno R3 (also known as the Arduino 1.0 pinout). This means that it has 14 digital I/O pins, 6 analog inputs, a serial port, and an ICSP header.

Familiar IDE
The Intel-provided integrated development environment for the Galileo looks exactly like the Arduino IDE on the surface. Under the Boards menu, you’ll see addition of the Galileo under “Arduino X86 Boards.” The…

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Garage Clicker Dashboard Integration


This is totally on my to-do list, considering I have a gate control to get into my backyard, and hate having the remotes on my visor!

Originally posted on Hackaday:


Vehicles with the highest level of trim package sometimes come with the ability to learn garage door opener codes. Less costly offerings lack that feature as well as others bells and whistles, leaving blank plates where fancy buttons would have been. [JiggMcFigg] makes the best of this situation by gutting his garage remote and hiding it behind a button blank.

One thing that raised an eyebrow is the coin cell battery holder you can make out on the size-check image shown to the left. But really, these remotes must drain their batteries at a rate nearly the same as an unused battery so why complicate the hack? A holder was soldered onto the board, and jumper wires were soldered to the push button added to the blank plate. This type of utilitarian button is much more satisfying to use than those fancy-pants silk-screen molded-plastic types anyway!

Of course you…

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Randy Destroys Things: Squier Mini Player w/ Built-In Amp

It’s not often I get permission to take stuff apart. More precisely, I spend a lot of time doing creative stuff, so my purely destructive side rarely gets its time in the sun to frolic and cavort and otherwise express itself in all it’s entropic glory. Today, however, is different.

But first, a story

A tidy little instrument from the front.
A tidy little instrument from the front.

On a recent trip south to the desert to visit the family (something of a do-over for Christmas, since we were all sick as dogs over the holiday and didn’t see anyone other than ourselves), my brother-in-law gifted our family a used Squier Mini Player Strat with a built-in amplifier and speaker. This thing is a true piece of guitar oddity, and pretty freaking rare apparently. It’s a “mini,” which apparently means it has a 3/4 size neck, even though the body is the same size. Usually Stratocaster-style electrics have three pickups and a selector switch, along with a couple of tone knobs and a volume, but not this one. Because of the speaker, there’s really only room for a single humbucking pickup, one tone knob, and the volume. Of note is despite the somewhat toylike look of the body with the speaker grille, there’s really nothing toy about this; it’s a real instrument. Continue reading Randy Destroys Things: Squier Mini Player w/ Built-In Amp

Making a Goat Webcam: Taming The TP-LINK TL-WDN3200

I roll pretty hard when I put together a build. Mostly, it’s that I don’t screw around, I find a challenge, and then I beat it into submission. Unless, of course, I don’t, in which case I sulk off and go back to trolling Facebook or Reddit. But that hardly ever happens, yo.

Take for instance the Goat Webcam project. As soon as I knew I was going to do this, I checked out the Raspberry Pi wifi adapter listing and tried finding something that would be able to do dual-band networking on 802.11n. It’s not that I need (or that the RPi can support) 300Mbps throughput, because I seriously doubt this little board could sustain that kind of beating. Realistically, this is more about being able to play in the 5GHz radio spectrum, with the ability to stream something at about 4-5Mbps wirelessly without being completely hosed by everything else that crowds the 2.4GHz band (for instance, the neighbor’s 2.4GHz WiFi access point with the SSID “F*ck Off”, except without the *). Continue reading Making a Goat Webcam: Taming The TP-LINK TL-WDN3200

Making a Goat Webcam: Raspberry Piety

My wife raises dairy goats.

Yes, she kisses them.
Yes, she even kisses them.

If I sound matter-of-fact, it’s only that I’m continually reminded of this by the 365 days-a-year bleating of the teeming masses, especially cacophonic around mealtimes (and yes, cacophonic is a word). What makes it relevant here is that something the wife asks me for has been a “goat webcam” so that she can monitor the goat mommas when they are pregnant and about to give birth. She’s gone so far as to throw a good amount of money at “solutions” (I use the word so very mockingly) that didn’t work. In particular I refer to one “wireless” camera that only transmitted an analog picture, very bad sound, and had a range so short, you basically had to be in the room with the transmitter to get a decent picture.

And so I simmered the idea on the back burner for some time to create a goat webcam that streams wirelessly (perhaps even in HD, we shall see) to a live streaming site like USTREAM or Livestream or Justin.TV (like Justin.TV wants to have baby goats being born on their site — but we’ll just see about that, won’t we). Continue reading Making a Goat Webcam: Raspberry Piety

Randy Destroys Things: Sony InfoLithium M Teardown

The sometimes vexing and mostly curious InfoLithum M
The sometimes vexing and mostly curious InfoLithum M

As part of my business, I deal with a fair amount of batteries. I’ve dealt (and still deal) in all flavors of these: alkalines, nickel metal hydride (NiMH), sealed lead acid (SLA), the god-awful Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Lithium Polymer (LiPoly or LiPo) and the now rather venerable Lithium Ion (Li-Ion). Recently, I purchased a really amazing camera for the production company, and in so doing have come into possession of some Sony InfoLithium batteries (the “L” type, for professional camcorders). As it happens, I already had some of them because of a piece of audio equipment that runs on those type of Sony batteries, but that’s not the point, is it?

Years back, I purchased a Sony MiniDV camcorder, a really nice compact one. And as part of that, it came with a (now totally defunct and dead) InfoLithum M-type battery, model number NP-FM50. Now that those years have passed and this battery is no longer viable, I figure its best purpose is for science, wouldn’t you agree?

Continue reading Randy Destroys Things: Sony InfoLithium M Teardown

Coming Soon: YouTubin’

So, just when you thought things couldn’t get more interesting, I’m setting up to launch the next dimension of awesome here at Randy Builds Things: my own YouTube channel! Yes, that’s right, you’ll soon be able to play and replay videos of your favorite Randy tearing into boxes that get delivered from suppliers and other people, teardowns of things both exotic and ordinary, and even occasionally some research or other things I might do to make sure I’m not about to kill myself doing this silly hobby. Don’t miss it. It’s coming. Seriously. I promise.

Randy Does Layout: ArduinoISP, version 1.1

Not perfect, but it'll do in a pinch.
Not perfect, but it’ll do in a pinch.

So, this is something else I like to do: tinker with PCB layout and taking projects (some blatantly ripped off from elsewhere, some not) and creating a board that I might like to have manufactured.

Almost always I’m doing this as a mental exercise, but often the results are handy to have, and so I figure they’re worth putting up here. Continue reading Randy Does Layout: ArduinoISP, version 1.1


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