04 | December | 2022

04 |  December |  2022

The PalmPilot doesn’t seem to get a lot of retrocomputing love, but maybe it should. After all, it may not have been the very first handheld device, but it was probably the most successful, and it eventually ushered in the smartphone era. Whether you miss your old Palm applications, or never got to experience them the first time, fear not. You can now relive them in all their glory in your browser thanks to the Internet Archive project.

There are over 500 applications and games that all run in a browser-based emulator. Some of the programs don’t seem to work well, and some don’t make sense in the context of a virtual environment. But many work fine, and if you want the classic apps, just open anything and hit the home button. If you want a review of the Palm IIIe PDA from 1999, check it out [VWestlife’s] video, below.

The Grafitti handwriting recognition system was state-of-the-art for the day. The key was that the system could more easily recognize printing if it was mostly single strokes that always worked the same way. For example, “A” had no cross bar and “F” was missing the bottom horizontal line. As much as possible you make letters with a single stroke and there was only one way to form each letter. Good times!

What was high technology at the time, you can now build out of spare parts. If you happen to have a Palm, consider giving it some much-needed backlighting.

Continue reading “The PalmPilot returns, this time in your browser”

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Repair stand for bicycles with integrated weight

If you have ever done maintenance or repair work on your bike, you know that placing a bike in your workshop is not trivial. You can use the bike stand, or lean it against a wall, but then you can’t work on the wheels. You can place it upside down, but then the gears and brake levers are difficult to reach. You can hang it from the ceiling, but then you must first install hooks and cables in hard-to-reach places. Ideally, you’ll want one of the standing clamp systems that the pros use, but their price is usually out of a hobbyist’s budget.

Or at least, that’s how it used to be. As [Dane Kouttron] discovered, a simple wall-mounted bike clamp can be had for as little as $35 on eBay, and can easily be turned into a smart mobile repair stand. [Dane] made an adjustable stand from some steel tubing he had lying around, and 3D printed an adapter bracket to mount the bike clamp to it. This worked well, but why stop at a simple clamp when you can extend it with, say, an integrated scale to weigh your bikes while you work on them? Continue reading “DIY Repair Stand Holds Your Bike and Weighs It”

The fully assembled RocketSwitch, with a 3D-printed case on it and a USB-A connector sticking out, is held in someone's hand.

Quite a few manufacturers are trying to make devices that are useful to others – today’s hack, the Rocket Switch, is a lovely example of that. It is a design of [Neil Squire] of [Makers Making Change], with a PCB that connects to an Adafruit Rotary Trinkey, soldered onto its visible pads, and equips it with two headphone jacks connected to GPIOs. This is a simple design – just two headphone jacks and resistors, complete with a 3D printed case. The value is not so much in the construction, but more in what the Rocket Switch provides to the users.

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This is an accessibility enabling controller, a USB HID device that connects to a wide variety of switches that can connect to the headphone jack. This device allows someone who cannot use a computer mouse to use two tactile buttons to control their computer, either by imitating mouse clicks or by sending keystrokes into accessibility software equipped with a control flow for such two-switch arrangements.

Everything is open source, and there’s an impressive amount of documentation – for 3D printing, ordering, usage, explanations of design choices, and of course an image-packed 15-page tutorial PDF with detailed assembly instructions for anyone who might need a Rocket Swap. Plus, [Makers Making Change] created a page where both people in need and decision makers with some spare time can register to exchange these devices. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a design like this – perhaps the most famous example is Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, which we’ve seen a father use to build an entertainment platform for his daughter.

Continue reading “Rocket breaker – accessibility done with elegance”

Specially designed photoplethysmogram designed to fit in the ear like an earplug

With all the attention given to heart rate monitoring and step counting, respiratory rate monitoring is often overlooked. Smartwatches are starting to incorporate respiratory rate monitoring more and more these days. But current devices often simply look at breaths per minute without extracting more interesting features of the respiratory waveform that can give us more insight into our bodies than breaths per minute alone. [Davies] and his team decided they wanted to change that by creating an earplug that could measure respiration rate. Continue reading “Breathe through your ears?”

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Many of us have been asking for a while now “where are our robot servants?” We were promised this dream life of leisure and luxury, but we are still waiting. Modern life is very wasteful, with goods delivered to doors at the click of a mouse, but disposing of the packaging is still a manual affair. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to summon a robot to take the trash to the recycling, ideally have it fetch a beer at the same time? [James Bruton] shares this dream, and with its extensive robotics expertise came up with the perfect solution; see Binbot 9000. (Video, embedded below the break)

Continue reading “This is the future of waste management”

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