Saturday, November 8, 2008

Theramax Theremin

This is a working Theremax Theremin. Here's a pic with the top off.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Electric Motorbike Update

Here's an update on the electric motorbike project:

(Yes, it's crap quality, a better one will be uploaded soon.)

The back wheel hits 100mph with no load on the bike.

The battery rack:
Next we will be adding the batteries onto the frame and implementing a pwm throttle.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tube Tester

This is a tube tester. More specifically, it's an EICO model 625. It hasn't been tested as of yet, but it looks to be in good working condition. This will definatly help to test the bucket of tubes lying around.

Senocore ss137

This is a picture of the Senocore ss137. It is essentially a TV tester. With the throwaway culture of modern life, we've got more TV's than time to spend time fixing them, but I'm sure that a use will be found for this piece of equipment or its components.

Electrosurgical Generator: Cameron Miller 255

Here's a weird one:

This is a picture of a Cameron-Miller 255, an electrosurgical generator. It is used for different kinds of surgery, including cutting and cauterization. It accomplishes this by heating up the tissue between the electrodes with current, in the range of 0-100 watts. It's pretty easy to tell that this was made a while back because it is constructed from more modern ones, but the label was removed and a quick search reveals no results.

There might be some useful parts inside which could be reused, but I think it is best left off until someone figures out a use for it. Any ideas?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Terminator Revealed?

Although it looks like the terminator's faceplate, it is actually a bent Faraday cage / rf shield from an emac. (below is the unbent one straight from the emac)
These were included in the design to limit human exposure to potentially harmful rf, and to prevent Van Eck phreaking. But they look so much cooler as terminator-style masks.

Webster Chicago Wire Recorder

This is a Webster Chicago wire recorder. It was manufactured sometime between 1945 and 1955.
Wire recorders store audio by magnetizing a fine wire and storing it on a reel for playback. The wire moves by the heads at about 24 inches per second.
This wire recorder was manufactured under license from the Armour Research Foundation.
We haven't got around to turning it on yet, and we are considering encoding data into audio and eventually using a wire recorder to store pictures and other data.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I wasn't able to post for about three weeks, as the ACCRC was preparing for and attending the Linuxworld expo at the moscone center. We did the installfest, which took a lot out of me and everyone else. Anyways, the posting will continue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Timex Sinclair 1000 and Atari 1200xl

I would have turned these two on and tested them, but there's a problem with the video setup. Anyways, here are the two of them:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hazeltine 1510

Bumped into this recently, thought it might be interesting to post about all the terminals we have. It's a Hazeltine 1510 terminal, one of the many old terminals which reside here.
I think an old terminal such as this would make a great frontend to a project like a robot or a cluster.

Cop Equipment

About a week back we got a shipping pallet of cop equipment. There are hardened computers and laptops, flat panel screens, and data modems.

Panasonic CF-25: Soon to run Damn Small Linux

Pallet with mini-computers and boxes:

Rugged flatpanel:

Data Modem:
There was a box with about 30 of so of these nifty little boxes. They are Sierra Wireless 775 modems, capable of transmitting/receiving data over a cellular data network (I forget which one at the moment), and can pick up gps. They do require a sim card to send data, but at the very least, they will still function nicely as gps receivers.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

TRS-80 Model III

This is a functioning TRS-80 Model III. It has 48k ram, a 2.03MHZ processor, and built in support for basic. In this picture, it is running a basic program. The only (but not so minor) problem with this unit is the fact that there is graffiti written in sharpie on the monitor.


This is an IBM PCjr. It has three ROM cartridges, one of them being BASIC. It also has the DOS boot disk. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an appropriate power cord to plug it in with, so I was unable to test the unit.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Electric Motorbike Conversion

Old Bike Frame

Forklift Motor


Vroom! will probably be more of an electric-sounding whine. Anyways, the motorbike was stripped of its engine, gas tank, transmission, and the rest of its innards. The forklift motor was pulled out of a dead forklift. A basic prototype using a different bike frame and motor was demonstrated at the last Maker Faire. When this thing is finished, it will make for one hell of a stealth bike, and will eventually make use of those heatsinked mosfets in the UPS's as explained a couple posts back. Here is a pic of the older version, which is using a different frame and motor:

Water Electrolysis Machine

This interesting box, manufactured by Stan Rubinstein Associates, is a gas generator designed for welding. It takes in standard wall current, water, boric acid, and spits out two pipes of hydrogen and oxygen gas to weld with. Many possible applications. With a compressor, for example, the hydrogen gas could be stored in a high-pressure tank for use in a hydrogen car.

Clustering Projects

Over the years, there has always been some sort of cluster development or another going on. At the moment, we are experimenting with Instant-Grid.Above: a stack of relativly fast pentium 4 nodes.
Above: the master node under the table and its monitor.
Below: a close-up of the master running Instant-Grid.
Before experimenting with Instant-Grid, we used a custom build of Parallelknoppix. When using it, at least three big/notable povray rendering clusters were made (probably more which I can't remember.) But Instant-Grid has a lot more features, and although its documentation is half in German, it is remerkably easy to use.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Computer Case Mod

There was an old dead TV lying around, and it was decided to turn it into a computer. Here are the preliminary results:
[front view] - The screen reflection is of my eeepc which I used to take this pic. The pictures are too dark because of the poor lighting conditions in the warehouse, and I was using the eeepc's built in camera instead of the regular camera.

[back view]

Note I described it with the adjective "preliminary." The power supply has not yet been mounted, and several other parts have yet to be mounted properly. Also, there's a static electricity buildup problem resulting from the lack of a proper ground in the case, which stops the screen from operationg properly.

UPS's, MOSFETS, PWM and more!

This post will discuss an idea related to the circuitry inside UPS's and a possible application. Now I don't take credit for this idea, I am posting it here to get input on whether you/readers think it is feasible, or have any suggestions on its implementation.This is a picture of the circuit board of a UPS. There are many dead UPS's lying around the ACCRC.
This is a closeup of a bunch of the heatsink, which cools off a group of mosfets wired in parallel, the main current shifter. Each one of these mosfets, an irf3710, is capable of dissipating 50 watts. (according to the irf3710 datasheet) So together, they can supply 1000 watts, easily enough for a powerful motor.

The idea is to take these mosfets, and use them as the basis for a scalable high-wattage motor controller. When I was building a robot (more on that in a later post), the hardest part of the initial hardware design was getting a motor controller circuit which could put out suitable current to drive the motors. Motor controllers are expensive, and the lack of them is the main restricting factor of a lot of the electric vehicle/robot work that goes on here. Anyways, the mosfets would be wired in parallel, allowing for scalability. They would take input from a computer or a microcontroller which puts out PWM, like the arduino board, or the circuit based off a parallel port, as described at

Combined with easy pwm circuitry, these mosfet arrays will make it a heck of a lot easier and cheaper to conduct robotic and electric vehicle research. Any questions/suggestions?

Big Servers

Among all the computers and electronics here at the ACCRC, there are servers with a nice chunk of processing power available, sitting around and gathering dust. Some of the less heavy (weight and power) ones are being turned into Ubuntu install servers. These ones are just sitting around being useless at the minute. There are two I have documented, a Sun Enterprise 450 and an IBM 9406-5xx. Both appear to turn on and run, and I am focusing on the Enterprise for diagnosis because it has a VGA-compatible card and a serial port for input. (grrr... proprietary sun mouse/keyboard connector)

IBM 9406-5xx:

Sun Enterprise 450:

Are there any ideas on what these could be repurposed to do? Anyone going to slip us a fat wad of cash in exchange for either of them? Or does anyone know about getting by the system key protection on the 9406, or if it's even possible?

Apple ][ e

This is an Apple IIe, with a disk drive attachment and monitor. In this particular unit, the back panel's connector for the disk drive has broken off, rendering the disk drive useless. Also, there is a key missing on the keyboard. Although there are a couple problems with this particular unit, there are a couple more lying around. (This one was the only one already connected to a monitor, making it convienient to test)
A simple basic program running on it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Old Calculators

These are two old (older than the Wang, see earlier post) calculators, pre-pre-cursors to computers. Neither of them are fully transistorized, they incorporate mechanical parts to assist in performing calculations.
The top one was made by Burroughs, and the bottom one made by Friden.

8-Track Stereo

An 8-Track player stereo system. It can also play AM and FM radio. It hasn't been tested, but appears to be in fine condition. As seen below, it can fold out, and is very portable.

Cluster nodes

There are many, many, computers lying around the ACCRC. These are pictures of but a few of them. In the past, clusters have been made, usually running povray on parallelknoppix. They rendered pictures which were converted into animations.

With all this computing power available, what other kinds of distributed clustering jobs are possible? Any ideas?

Wang 600

This is a Wang 600 programmable calculator. A sticker on the back reveals that it was made in 1974, and serviced on 1978. It seems to function properly, despite the bits of what appears to be wood and other crap which has fallen under the keys. In addition, the cassette drive has some shavings in it, and has been drawn on with pastel. There are more of them in a pile somewhere, and this particular one was the most accessible one to blog about.

What makes this really interesting (aside from collectibility) is the fact that there are two i/o ports on the back, and that there is a Fortran compiler online for it, creating many opportunities for hacking and the like. Also, the name of the system leads to many rather amusing/crude jokes ("We at the ACCRC would like to show you our wangs").

Digital Trainer

This is a rather unusual item. It is a logic trainer k-80, a piece of hardware designed to train people in digital electronics. It has a breadboard, various buttons to control the clock, and places to plug in wires to connect the various components and circuits within. Seems like a good way to learn basic digital electronics.