It’s high time for a new project here at BMOW. These days I spend so much time on Floppy Emu, it’s hard to squeeze in anything else! A new project would help stir things up, and get the creative juices flowing. Here are some ideas I’ve been kicking around:
Electric Scribbling Machine – I described this one in yesterday’s post. It’s a tripod with colored pens for legs, and a motor that makes it move, drawing tracks on the paper beneath it as it goes. Yesterday’s post described a “vibrabot” design using an offset weight on the motor shaft, which randomly jiggles the machine and creates interesting erratic drawings. I’ve since been working on an alternate design in which the motor is used directly as one of the legs, which spins the whole machine in rapid circles, and creates elegant looping drawings somewhat reminiscent of a Spirograph.
USB Keyboard/Mouse Adapter for Vintage Macintosh – Classic Macintosh computers like the Mac SE and Mac II series used input devices based on ADB – the Apple Desktop Bus. The Mac Plus and Mac 128K/512K were more primitive, and used custom protocols for keyboard and mouse rather than any bus-based system. Both systems are fairly well documented, and I have some experience with them already. Using a modern microcontroller, it shouldn’t be too difficult to build an adapter that functions as a USB host for a modern keyboard and mouse, and translates the input data to ADB or the Mac Plus protocol.
Weather Logging Station – A few years ago I designed the Backwoods Logger, an ultra-tiny portable weather station. I envisioned it mainly as a graphing altimeter for people going on mountain hikes. After many discussions with interested people, it became clear that most people didn’t care about portability, or about having graphing functions or even a screen. What they wanted was a stationary module that could take regular temperature, pressure, and maybe humidity readings, and save a history of weeks or months of data. There are already a few designs like this, but maybe they’re too intimidating or their feature set isn’t quite right, because I still get occasional emails from people asking for something like this.
Nibbler Kit – Nibbler is a 4-bit CPU that I designed entirely using basic 7400-series logic elements. It was a one-off project for my own entertainment. William Buchholz later designed a nice Nibbler PCB for his hacker group, which got me thinking that something more polished would be nice. My web stats say the Nibbler pages are some of the most popular content on this site, so maybe there would be enough interest to justify a Nibbler kit? My only fear in offering a kit for something this complex is the potential support headaches. It might make more sense to offer finished Nibblers instead of kits, though that would take some of the fun out of it.
Electric Bow Tie 2.0 – As with the Backwoods Logger, I think I misjudged popular interest when I designed the Electric Bow Tie Kit. It’s fun to have neckwear that blinks and beeps, but mostly people don’t seem interested in assembling a kit – they just want something kitschy they can wear to a special event and get some laughs. I can say from personal experience that the blinking effect is fun, but the beeping effect starts to grate on your sanity after about 60 seconds. Electric Bow Tie 2.0 would probably drop the sound effects, but add many more LEDs controlled by a microcontroller, enabling all kinds of entertaining and annoying patterns like chase lights and starbursts. I’d also try to replace the 9V battery with one or two smaller CR2032 batteries to reduce weight.Read 17 comments and join the conversation