If you haven’t read the story of the original mechanical Turk, you really should. This was a 1770s machine that appeared to use complicated mechanisms to play competent chess against even very good human players, and it has fired the imaginations of everyone from computing pioneer Charles Babbage to today’s steampunk nerds. Here’s a great summary from Atlas Obscura.
The Turk has lent its name to many things over the years, including Amazon’s Mechanical Turk micro-job service, but the latest is the Pi-powered Raspberry Turk, which works like this:
The heart of the machine is a Raspberry Pi 3 running an open-source chess engine called Stockfish. A Pi camera module and a lot of custom Python code let the system translate the physical pieces into a chess position that the Stockfish engine can digest, and little tiny magnets embedded in the tops of the pieces let the robotic arm actually move things around.
Creator Joey Meyer says on the project’s page that he’d like to design his own chess engine for the Raspberry Turk, in case you were worried about him not having enough to do.
Pi in storage
If you thought the Raspberry Pi was strictly a hobbyist/education gizmo, you are – well, mostly correct. However, the people behind the rival NanoPi clearly have professional things on their minds, because they’ve gone and created a case designed to turn their Pi-alike into a network-attached storage device.
Lilliputing highlights that the price of $13 for the case is a little deceptive – you need a power adapter that will cost you another $10, plus $7 for the initial NanoPi unit. Plus, obviously, you’ll need to buy an actual disk of some sort to use with the system.
Still, you can pick up a decent 1TB HDD for around $50, and have a system that can function as a personal cloud or centralized media server. Not too shabby.
As the most design-centered technology company out there, Apple has a penchant for making its products thinner and smaller. Remember the hoopla when the MacBook Air came out? Minimalism is the name of Apple’s game.
Programmer and maker Jannis Hermanns upped the ante a little, though – feast your eyes on the Lego Macintosh:
Hermanns used an e-ink display, Legos for the body, and a Raspberry Pi Zero to power the whole thing, although he said he’d have gone with the Pi Zero W if he could do it again.
So what does the Lego Macintosh actually do? Well, it uses Docker as a configuration manager, which lets Hermanns push updates to the device. Right now he’s got it running an open source drawing app called Etcher.
He’s got a tremendously good writeup of the whole process on his blog. (This also appears to be the only entry apart from a “hello, world” post. Boy, do we know how that goes, Jannis.)
(H/T: The Verge)