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Some Creative Commons pictures I took

A hen and chicks plant that is growing in a pot at my house.
A minor hobby of mine is photography. I don't know a whole lot about it, nor do I have any fancy equipment (unfortunately), but I can get my smartphone (A florescent yellow-green Sony Xperia Z1 Compact) to take decent photos. I usually take pictures of flowers, and occasionally I get a decent photo of something else.

  Anyways, I want to share some of my favorites here, under a Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution license. What does that mean? Here's a quick overview from the Creative Commons website.

You are free to: 
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially Under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.  No…
Recent posts

Restoring the first ever Educational Electronic Toy

A picture of my "Little Professor", after undergoing restoration.
 The "Little Professor", an educational electronic toy released in 1976, was the first of its kind. Encased in happy yellow plastic, with a smiling mustached face, it certainly looks unique. It kind of looks like a cheesy calculator, designed to interest kindergartners in math, but it's actually a little different. It's a "Reverse Calculator"; instead of giving you answers, it asks you the questions!

 I first saw mine in the calculator bin at a local thrift store. It has an LED bubble display, and I'd seen one somewhere before, so I snatched it up. Upon bringing it home, it worked fine, but it was dirty and didn't look so great. So I decided to give it a "restoration" (a good cleaning).

 After completely disassembling everything, I scrubbed the plastic pieces with a water/baking soda paste. It seems to work well to remove scuffs and marks that accumulate with use.…

I got a car!

This is a Dooling "F" tether car. They were produced by the Dooling Bros company, in around 1946. What are tether cars? Good question! They're model race cars with tiny real engines, that are raced around a circular track, reaching speeds of up to 200mph. It was most popular back in the 1920's to 1950's, and there are still enthusiasts out there today.

The pressed-aluminum front grill. I think this actually serves a purpose, as the engine has to be cooled somehow...
  Last Saturday, my dad and I went up to Astoria to look at a Volkswagen Rabbit that was for sale there. (We did end up buying it.) On the way back, my dad decided to go look at a sailboat he'd seen on Craigslist. It was part of an estate, and since the guy who was there had been working in a barn full of stuff, I asked if I could poke around. I spied this in a box and was intrigued.


 Upon digging it out, I found that it was powered by a tiny little single cylinder engine. Anyways, the guy who …

Restoring a Commodore Minuteman 3 Calculator

It's a good thing it only supports 8 digits... That's all the Pi I know!
  A while back, I was browsing a goodwill and saw something in one bin of electronics that caught my eye. It was a vintage Commodore Minuteman 3 calculator. It had a great looking color scheme, a retro LED Bubble display, and, it was made by Commodore! So of course I bought it, even though it didn't turn on. (It was only about $3)


42 year old NI-CAD batteries are rarely found in working condition...
Upon bringing it home and taking it apart, I discovered what I had suspected was wrong with it. The 42 year old rechargeable NI-CAD batteries had leaked everywhere and were no good. So, I decided to restore the thing.

  After determining if the calculator still functioned when given power (It did!), I did some research until I found out what kind of battery it uses. It's a weird 2/3 AA battery, but it's plenty common on eBay, so I bought four, enough to replace the battery pack in the calculator. Wh…

Huzzah! "Happy Birthday" is finally in the public domain!

The original version of the song, which actually had different words.  In a different publication of the song, the lyrics to "Happy Birthday" were included as optional.
  One thing that's always irked me about having a birthday and being at a restaurant is how they never sing you the real version of happy birthday! It's always some cheesy sounding jazzy song, and while they're singing it, you and everyone else sits there, wishing they were singing the real version so you could sing along.

  It seemed pointless, but I never knew the real reason behind it until about a year ago. It's simple- the lyrics to Happy Birthday, until June 28th, 2016, were under copyright.

  Most people didn't even know this, that the song everyone sings at birthdays, a nationwide symbol of cakes, candles, and making wishes, was copyrighted. But it was. And so, restaurants couldn't sing it, because, while it was acceptable for small groups of family and friends to do so, anythin…

The SP0264, a newer variant of the 80's speech synthesis chip

Two of my SP0264-021s next to my SP0256A-AL2
A year or so back, I was wanting to see how I could add voices to my Arduino projects. After some research, I came across the SP0256 series of speech synthesis chips. I decided I needed to get my hands on the SP0256A-AL2 variant, which could produce any word via a set of allophones.

  The SP0264 is a chip in the same series, apparently slightly newer. It's pin for pin compatible with the SP0256, so when I saw some with the number "SP0264-021" on eBay, I thought "The number on it is slightly different, but the datasheet says "Natural Speech", so it must be the same, right?". Wrong. After buying one, then two more after I thought I'd blown the first one, I hadn't been able to get any more than noise, static that at times almost sounded like something but definitely wasn't what it was supposed to be. Frustrated and disappointed, I gave up and stuck them in a drawer somewhere. Later, I got an actual…

Reviving "dead" moss

So a week or so ago, I was watching a video and the person mentioned how dried out moss will "ressurect" when it gets water again, even after a long time being dead.

  A few days ago, I found some bits of bone dry moss that had been stored in the hot, dry trunk of our old school bus for at least a few years. So, I decided to see if it was true!


  Much to my own surprise, they revived within a minute of being dunked in a bowl of water, and are still sitting happily where I left them on the board I did the experiment on. Maybe sometime if I find a small glass globe, I'll put them in there and start some sort of self-sustaining ecosystem...
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