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Building a Plasma Piano Ain’t Easy

Electronic arcs can be made to “sing” if you simply modulate them on and off at audible frequencies. We’ve seen it done with single Tesla coils, and even small Tesla choirs, but [Mattias Krantz] took this to extremes by building an entire “plasma piano” using this very technique. The build relies on ten transformers more typically used in cathode ray...

Modulex is LEGO’s Long Lost Cousin

We love LEGO here at Hackaday, but did you know that LEGO spun off a parallel product line made for architectural models called Modulex? [Peter Dibble] takes us on a deep dive through the history of Modulex, starting with Godtfred Kirk Christiansen needing a better way to model actual buildings after trying to design a house in LEGO. The LEGO brick’s...

Linux Fu: The Shell Forth Programmers will Love

One of the most powerful features of Unix and Linux is that using traditional command line tools, everything is a stream of bytes. Granted, modern software has blurred this a bit, but at the command line, everything is text with certain loose conventions about what separates fields and records. This lets you do things like take a directory listing,...

With ChatGPT, Game NPCs Get a Lot More Interesting

Not only is AI-driven natural language processing a thing now, but you can even select from a number of different offerings, each optimized for different tasks. It took very little time for [Bloc] to mod a computer game to allow the player to converse naturally with non-player characters (NPCs) by hooking it into ChatGPT, a large language model AI optimized...

Keebin’ with Kristina: the One with the Breadboard Macropad

For their first custom, hand-wired keyboard, [terryorchard] aka [70rch] didn’t want to mess with making a total split, and we don’t really blame them. However, as you can see, they ended up with a monoblock split, which aside from being our own personal preference, looks fantastic, and also happened to be what fit on the print bed. What you’re looking...

Developing Warp Drive Might Take Antifreeze

In Star Trek, dilithium crystals — whatever those are — are critical to the operation of a starship’s warp drives. But a Texas professor thinks he can make a baby step towards a warp drive using ethylene glycol, which is commonly found in antifreeze. While superluminal travel has been regarded as impossible for many years, recent work has suggested...

Model Train Delivers Fresh Coffee

Model trains are good fun, though few of them serve any purpose beyond amusement or authentic railway simulation. [ProjectAir] decided to put his model train to practical use by having it deliver fresh espresso, and faced plenty of difficult challenges along the way. It sounds simple, but the practicalities of the task proved difficult. After all,...

Connecting a Keyboard to a Vintage PC-XT, the Hard Way

We’re not sure if there’s any single characteristic that qualifies someone as a hacker. After all, we’re a pretty eclectic bunch, with skills that range all over the map, and what one person feels is trivial, others would look upon as black magic. But there’s one thing we’re sure of: if you find yourself reading the original POST code for the PC-XT...

LED Displays May Get Vertical Integration

If you zoom into the screen you are reading this on, you’d see an extremely fine pattern of red, green, and blue emitters, probably LEDs of some kind. This somewhat limits the resolution you can obtain since you have to cram three LEDs into each screen pixel. Engineers at MIT, however, want to do it differently. By growing thin LED films and sandwiching...

Old 3D CAD Mouse Gets New Lease Of Life

[Jacek Fedorynski] had an old Magellan/SpaceMouse 3D mouse with a serial interface which made it impossible for him to use with modern hardware and software. The problem he faced was two pronged – the absence of serial interfaces in the hardware and the lack of appropriate drivers for the operating system. So he built a low cost, simple adapter to use...

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