Atari ST restoration

Atari-STHere at The Hackshed, we have several “retro” computers. A few of the machines we own are Atari STs. While looking at a couple of them the other day, I found one has a key missing (it was like that when we got it) and another had a faulty floppy drive. There was only one thing I could do…… perform a restoration.

Go and grab yourself a drink and get comfy….. this is a long one……

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Programming the Arduino – Memory Management / Part 2

Let’s get started with the second part of the Arduino programming series. This time we’ll be talking about memory management on the Arduino, how to use it and how best to manage it – showing you how to free up memory and guidelines for programming that will help you reduce your memory footprint on the Arduino.

This article requires some basic understanding of memory, datatypes and basic C/C++ programming skills.

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Programming the Arduino – Basics / Part 1

Since we post up lots of Arduino related content on the website, it only makes sense that we have some sort of tutorial series to follow. This will start from the basics to the more advanced subjects, hopefully expanding your knowledge of the Arduino.

The Requirements

  1. 1x Arduino Compatible Board (Uno, Duemilanove, Leonardo, Mega etc.)
  2. Windows Environment (We’ll be using Win 7 / 8)
  3. Knowledge of basic programming (e.g. knowing what a variable, function etc. is)

All of the program code will be compatible with all versions of the Arduino; all code will run within the Uno specification, as that is what we will be using. The tutorial series will include the use of some switches, LEDs, sensors etc. which will be mentioned in either the title of the tutorial or in the requirements section.

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Creating a Spotify remote with an Arduino and LCD Shield

spotifyremoteThis one is for the Spotify people. We’ve created a small project that makes use of the Arduino and LCD Keypad shield to create a Spotify remote control. This will show the current playing song as well as adding Play/Pause, Prev and Next functionality to it.

Check out the quick YouTube video at the bottom of this page.

The remote is made from a VB.NET application that listens on a select COM port for commands, it also broadcasts the current playing song via the COM port to the Arduino.

You could add a Bluetooth module to this (described in our previous article here) to make it completely wireless, which would be really cool.

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Why we do what we do

Strange title isn’t it. I’ll explain what I mean…


A few days ago, my significant other handed me a cheap, nasty computer mouse and a cheap, nasty USB sparkly, colour changing, desk ornament thing and asked me to fix them. Of course I said “yes”, I daren’t say otherwise. She wanted the desk ornament fixing because it’s “pretty” and the mouse because it’s pink and covered in little plastic gems… Oh, and it’s “pretty”

While I was working on these items, it occurred to me that even though they were very cheap and could be replaced for a few pounds, I was actually enjoying myself.

I happened to have a dead mouse in my junk box so I opened it up, un-soldered one of the buttons and swapped the dead button with it. Problem solved.

The USB ornament thing was next.

When you plug it in to a USB port, it’s supposed to light up and change colour. It didn’t.

ornamentWhen I opened it up, I found a small PCB with a chip under a blob of epoxy, 3 LEDs and some resistors. After checking that it had power, I decided that the chip was probably faulty and there was nothing I could do… oh, but there was.

I have a few colour changing LEDs in my stock drawer. They have two pins like a normal LED but they have a tiny little chip inside the case. All you need to do is add power and it cycles through different colours on it’s own.

For the sake of 2 minutes work, I soldered the LED to one of the existing resistors and it worked perfectly.

Within 10 minutes, I’d fixed two worthless items (monetary wise) but had made my significant other very happy. Can you put a value on that?

It got me thinking to all the times I’ve built something, fixed something or really done anything and someone says “But why?” “What’s the point?” etc

Well, because I enjoy it, that’s why. ¬†I love nothing more than coming into the hackshed and just tinkering for the sake of tinkering. Call me a sad geek, I really don’t care.

To sum it all up, the next time someone asks “Why?” Just reply with “Because I can”

There really doesn’t need to be a reason to do anything. Just have fun.

Building a 4bit / 8bit computer in CPLD

8_Bit_Computer_by_Ben_AndersonSomething we’ve been working towards is building a homebrew CPU from scratch in CPLD. If you’ve seen any of our “Getting Started with CPLDs” guide, you might have noticed that we’re working towards completing the ALU before we can start adding proper CPU features to it. This article is less about the CPLD side of things (we’ll continue with the guides) and more about the rest of what we’ve been doing.

Building things on breadboards is fine but I often find that I either need to pinch something from the design, I knock wires out of place or there’s some other reason that it gets destroyed. In order to get round this, I’ve started building a modular control panel for my ongoing project. I’ve named it…. The Carlputer… ahem.

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Product Review – Altera MAX V CPLD Development Board

max5-dev-kitThe guys over at Altera have been extremely generous and sent us a MAX V CPLD development kit as well as another item we’ll be writing about very soon. Let’s have a look at the board and some of it’s features.

As the name suggests, it’s based around the popular Altera MAX V CPLD chip, more specifically, it’s the 5M570ZF256C5N. The chip contains 570 logic elements, 440 macrocells and has 159 User IO pins. More information about the Max V family can he found here.

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How to use WiFi with the Intel Galileo

GalileoOne of the best features about the Intel Galileo is that it has an mPCIe expansion port for adding various cards to it. One of the cards you can add is for connecting to your wireless network.

The steps below should get you up and running with connecting your Intel Galileo up to your network in the Linux environment and through the Arduino code.

Lets get cracking…


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