Reverse engineering Emco CNC video controller

During renovation of Emco Compact 5 cnc-lathe, I got my hands on scrapped electronics of original control cabinet. I saved some of the more interesting boards, like one that acts as rudimentary GPU. Whole video board was separate add-on, that contained video processor, video RAM, character-ROM and RS232 transceiver, and connected to main CPU board with large 32pin bus connector.
I took my multimeter, scope and logic analyzer, and stared to reverse engineer the mystics of this video controller.

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Swapping RJ12 to SMA

I have old but trusty Thinkpad X200s laptop that is now retired but still occasionally used. Due being s model, it does not have build in 3G/WWAN antennas in display because there is no space for them. Independent internet connectivity is often useful, especially in places where there is no WiFi or good cell coverage.
Like many business notebooks, my Thinkpad still had 56k modem and land line RJ12 connector, which isn’t that useful in most western countries where POTS and analog modem services have long being discontinued.

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Designing and building ceiling light

I forgot to take pictures during real cutting so this is just mock up pictureTampere Hacklab has ongoing design contest for lamps. I participated in with this Asian lantern styled lampshade.
My design points for lamp were to be able easily lasercut and construct it from plywood, and to incorporate some sci-fi themed elements. Steps for this project include CAD drawing, laser cutting and physical assembly. This design came out as easy to reproduce, inexpensive, and aesthetically pleasing. Read More …

Sunrise lamp add-on for nixie alarm clock.

IMG_0848Finnish winter days are dark and cold. The sun rises only for short moment, and even then it is often cloudy, or the sun is so low that it can rarely be seen. A circadian clock is synchronized with daylight changes, and so without external stimulus from sunlight, my daily rhythm started to lag and spin around. Waking at morning was difficult task.

There is a ready-made solution for this, e.g. Philips does sell alarm clocks with build in wake-up lamps, that turn on at morning to artificially sync humans internal clock. Me being hacker, I had to make my own solution, as usual. Read More …

Radioactive trip

IMG_6983I went for a radioactive hunt with my friend. Some time ago we heard a rumor, that in Paukkajanvaara there was small uranium mine and enrichment facility between 1958 and 1961. Amount of mined uranium was small, and after 60s reduced need for uranium, mine was closed and never re-opened. During closing no cleanup was made, and due 60s lower standards and general neglect whole mining site was contaminated with radioactive uranium products.

We packed our cameras and a geiger counter and started car at this cloudy sunday afternoon. Read More …