We’ve been working on the MOnSter 6502 project for quite some time. We first introduced it last year, and since then we have brought it up to the stage of successfully running programs in assembly, BASIC, and Forth. We have taken this opportunity before Maker Faire to put together an introductory video for the project.
AYAB — All Yarns Are Beautiful — is an open source hardware and software project that provides an alternative way to control the widely-loved Brother KH-9xx range of knitting machines using a computer. There are other hacks (such as Img2Track, Knitic and electro-knit) which work with certain machines in certain conditions. The AYAB interface works with all Brother KH-9xx machines except the KH-970.
Historically, these machines were programmed with semi-transparent picture cards which were scanned by the machine line by line. For later machines, you could enter a pattern via lots of tedious button-pressing. Some models had an add-on gadget that connected to your vintage TV.
With the AYAB interface, you can provide an image of up to a 200 pixel (or needle) size from your computer. The control is done by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board, which replaces the vintage control board. We are excited to be helping to bring new capabilities to these beloved machines.
Hands-on exhibits are presented Saturday and Sunday. You’ll find demos of 1960s minicomputers, 1970s homebrew systems, 1980s eight-bitters, and a few oddities. Some exhibits contain pristine original machines, while others focus on unique modern hacks, and everything in between.
The MOnSter 6502 will be there, too!
Simply put, the original nixie tubes are beautiful and retro. They bring us the spirit of an era where technology often looked like magic.
Nixin is based on the original 9 numbers that are exactly the same as can be found inside the nixie tubes, and all the other characters are my interpretation to what they would look like, if they existed inside a tube.
Here’s one of our photos he used in the video to talk about the inspiration behind the font:
The campaign ends in a few days, so act quickly to support the project!
Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.
It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.
This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.
(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)
Dr. Nim was made by John Godfrey, the same person who designed the original Digi-Comp II. His grandson, Andrew Beck, has the Dr. Nim prototypes and recently shared pictures and video of them via twitter.
Here’s a video showing the first two Dr. Nim prototypes, made by hand in the 1960s
The second prototype still works, and he shows off how the mechanism works in the video, along with pointing out some of the differences between the two prototypes.
The earlier prototype has switches that look very similar to the ones in the Digi-Comp II.
The second prototype is very close to the production version, which we blogged about some time ago, and can be seen below.
Thank you, Andrew, for sharing this bit of history!
We found a remake from our project Make your own 1952 Fraction-of-an-inch Adding Machine on display at Xerocraft, a hackerspace in Tucson. They cut and engraved the calculator out of hardboard using their laser cutter. It’s sturdier than papercraft and it looks great!
Our two “dis-integrated circuit” kits are the Three Fives Discrete 555 Timer, and the XL741 Discrete Op-Amp. These two kits are functional, transistor-level replicas of the original NE555 and μA741 (respectively), which are two of the most popular integrated circuits of all time.
Last year, we wrote up a detailed educational supplement for the Three Fives kit, that works through its circuit diagram and discusses its principles of operation down to the transistor level. Today, we are doing the same for the XL741 kit, and releasing an educational supplement that explains how a ‘741 op-amp IC works internally, down to its bare transistors and resistors:
This ability to peek inside the circuit makes the XL741 a unique educational tool. In what follows, we’ll work through the circuit diagram, discuss the theory of operation of the ‘741 op-amp, and present some opportunities for experiments and further exploration.
You can download the supplement here: XL741 Principles of Operation (1.1 MB PDF)
- Get the XL741 kit at our store.
- Our original article here, announcing the XL741 kit
- Main XL741 documentation page at our documentation wiki
I’m excited to be included in an article on retro tech style in the New York Times today, titled Nintendo 64s and Vintage PlayStations as Home Décor.
Not surprisingly, these techie hobbyists share their passion in online communities. One of the more popular forums is a D.I.Y. tech blog run by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, a family company in Sunnyvale, Calif., that produces open-source hardware. The site features tutorials on making earrings out of linear regulator chips, wine charms from capacitors and a wooden footstool in the shape of a classic 555 integrated circuit chip from the ’70s.