Tag Archives: Vintage

Repairing an HP 3438A digital multimeter

via Dangerous Prototypes

Jeff (aka K6JCA) did a repair of an HP 3438A digital multimeter and documented the whole process on his blog:

This blog post is a record of my notes made while repairing an HP 3438A Digital Multimeter I had picked up last year at a local electronics swap meet. The 3438A is a 3.5 digit HP-IB controllable multimeter. It has five selectable functions: DC Volts, AC Volts, DC Amps, AC Amps, and Ohms. Of these five functions, three can be auto-ranged: DC Volts, AC Volts, and Ohms.

Tandy 1000 upgrades / PS2-Tandy keyboard adapter

via Dangerous Prototypes

Vintage computer Tandy 1000 upgrade @ smbaker.com:

A Tandy 1000 was the second computer that I owned, the first was a Tandy CoCo. Note that I keep a slightly different mental “computers that I owned” list and “computers that I used list”. There are a few computer I was able to gain access to and play with perhaps before the Tandy — computers like the Convergent NGEN, and the IBM 5150.
Owning computers is fun, but modifying computers is even funner, so I set about to modify the Tandy 1000. A few modifications were necessary — for example I didn’t yet own a Tandy keyboard, so I had to make myself an adapter to use a PS2 keyboard on the Tandy 1000.

More details on Dr. Scott M. Baker blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Go back in time with a Raspberry Pi-powered radio

via Raspberry Pi

Take a musical trip down memory lane all the way back to the 1920s.

Sick of listening to the same dozen albums on repeat, or feeling stifled by the funnel of near-identical YouTube playlist rabbit holes? If you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons and combine that quest with a vintage-themed Raspberry Pi–powered project, here’s a great idea…

Alex created a ‘Radio Time Machine’ that covers 10 decades of music, from the 1920s up to the 2020s. Each decade has its own Spotify playlist, with hundreds of songs from that decade played randomly. This project with the look of a vintage radio offers a great, immersive learning experience and should throw up tonnes of musical talent you’ve never heard of.

In the comments section of their reddit post, Alex explained that replacing the screen of the vintage shell they housed the tech in was the hardest part of the build. On the screen, each decade is represented with a unique icon, from a gramophone, through to a cassette tape and the cloud. Here’s a closer look at it:

Now let’s take a look at the hardware and software it took to pull the whole project together…

Hardware:

  • Vintage Bluetooth radio (Alex found this affordable one on Amazon)
  • Raspberry Pi 4
  • Arduino Nano
  • 2 RGB LEDs for the dial
  • 1 button (on the back) to power on/off (long press) or play the next track (short press)

The Raspberry Pi 4 audio output is connected to the auxiliary input on the radio (3.5mm jack).

Software:

    • Mopidy library (Spotify)
    • Custom NodeJS app with JohnnyFive library to read the button and potentiometer values, trigger the LEDs via the Arduino, and load the relevant playlists with Mopidy

Take a look at the video on reddit to hear the Radio Time Machine in action. The added detail of the white noise that sounds as the dial is turned to switch between decades is especially cool.

How do you find ten decades of music?

Alex even went to the trouble of sharing each decade’s playlist in the comments of their original reddit post.

Here you go:

1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s

Comment below to tell us which decade sounds the coolest to you. We’re nineties kids ourselves!

The post Go back in time with a Raspberry Pi-powered radio appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Retro Nixie tube lights get smart

via Raspberry Pi

Nixie tubes: these electronic devices, which can display numerals or other information using glow discharge, made their first appearance in 1955, and they remain popular today because of their cool, vintage aesthetic. Though lots of companies manufactured these items back in the day, the name ‘Nixie’ is said to derive from a Burroughs corporation’s device named NIX I, an abbreviation of ‘Numeric Indicator eXperimental No. 1’.

We liked this recent project shared on reddit, where user farrp2011 used Raspberry Pi  to make his Nixie tube display smart enough to tell the time.

A still from Farrp2011’s video shows he’s linked the bulb displays up to tell the time

Farrp2011’s set-up comprises six Nixie tubes controlled by Raspberry Pi 3, along with eight SN74HC shift registers to turn the 60 transistors on and off that ground the pin for the digits to be displayed on the Nixie tubes. Sounds complicated? Well, that’s why farrp2011 is our favourite kind of DIY builder — they’ve put all the code for the project on GitHub.

Tales of financial woe from users trying to source their own Nixie tubes litter the comments section on the reddit post, but farrp2011 says they were able to purchase the ones used in this project for about about $15 each on eBay. Here’s a closer look at the bulbs, courtesy of a previous post by farrp2011 sharing an earlier stage of project…

Farrp2011 got started with one, then two Nixie bulbs before building up to six for the final project

Digging through the comments, we learned that for the video, farrp2011 turned their house lights off to give the Nixie tubes a stronger glow. So the tubes are not as bright in real life as they appear. We also found out that the drop resistor is 22k, with 170V as the supply. Another comments section nugget we liked was the name of the voltage booster boards used for each bulb: “Pile o’Poo“.

Upcoming improvements farrp201 has planned include displaying the date, temperature, and Bitcoin exchange rate, but more suggestions are welcome. They’re also going to add some more capacitors to help with a noise problem and remove the need for the tubes to be turned off before changing the display.

And for extra nerd-points, we found this mesmerising video from Dalibor Farný showing the process of making Nixie tubes:

The post Retro Nixie tube lights get smart appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

PoE-Powered VFD tube clock

via Dangerous Prototypes

Glen Akins’ PoE-powered vintage VFD tube clock:

This is a vintage VFD tube clock that uses Ethernet for both power and data. The power is provided using 802.3at PoE+ and a Molex PD Jack that contains both integrated magnetics and a PoE Type 2 PD controller. The IP stack runs on a Microchip PIC18F67J60 microcontroller that has an integrated Ethernet MAC and PHY. The IP stack includes DHCP, DNS, NTP, and LLDP functionality.

Project info at bikerglen.com.

Check out the video after the break.

Converting a Seeburg 3WA wallbox into a remote for a modern music player

via Dangerous Prototypes

p-seeburg_complete-600

Dr. Scott M. Baker wrote an article detailing how he converted a Seeburg 3WA wallbox into a media player for his homebuilt audio player:

A bit of background. These Wallboxes were used as remotes in diners and other locations back in the 1950s. You put your nickel, dime, or quarter into the Wallbox, which racks up some credits. Then you select the song you want and the Wallbox sends a signal to the Jukebox, which adds your selection to the queue. Soon thereafter your music is playing through the diner. I’m too young to have experienced these in person when they were state of the art, but I do have an appreciation for antique and retro projects.
A new fad is to convert these wallboxes into remotes for your home audio system, be it Sonos or something else. I have my own homebuilt audio system, basically an augmented Pandora player, so my goal was to use the wallbox to control that.

See the full post on his blog here.

Check out the video after the break.