Building the most offensive video game ever

[Autuin] created the most offensive video game ever. Inside a small cocktail arcade cabinet, he installed his own video game that recreates the experiences of the Space Shuttle Challenger and her crew on their last flight.

The build started off by picking up an old cocktail version of Space Zap from The Hackery, a neat little recycling place that turns old computers, monitors, and even old arcade machines into something useful again. After [Autuin] lugged his arcade machine back to his home base at Free Geek Vancouver.

After drooling over the 30-year-old circuitry, [Autuin] disassembled the old machine and installed a mint condition 19″ VGA monitor where an ancient black and white CRT once resided. The control panels replete with their comically large buttons were refurbished and connected to an Arduino and the whole shebang hooked up to a slightly outdated computer.

The real magic happened when [Autuin] coded his game. He created a few sprites from NASA archival footage and made a game where a shuttle takes off and is controllable by each player. As the most offensive video game ever, the space shuttle blows up shortly after launch, declaring ‘game over’ for both players.

[Autuin] will be showing off his new arcade game with a new bezel and cabinet graphics during Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl this November. The game will probably be updated by then; we suggested editing the ‘time to explosion’ to T+73 seconds, but [Autuin] said he’s thinking of ways to make it even more awful.

Checking network status with a traffic light

If you’ve ever dealt with a buggy Internet connection, you know how frustrating it can be. This project takes the guesswork out of mashing F5 over and over, or simply walking over to your router and ‘turning it on and off again.’

Necessity is the mother of invention, and when the folks at the Bitlair hackerspace in Amersfoort, Netherlands got tired of opening up a terminal to see if their network connection was down at this weekend’s Haxogreen camp they did what any self-respecting hackerspace would do: make a traffic light monitor the Internet.

The traffic light is controlled by a Raspberry Pi the Bitlair folks had lying around attached to a spare traffic light they somehow obtained with a relay. Green means the Raspi can reach 8.8.8.8, red means there is no connection, and flashing lights means there is packet loss.

Not bad for a project put together in a few hours. Now if we only knew how they obtained a traffic light, ‘just lying around.’

Video after the break.

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Geigers on a plane

[Thomas] took a Geiger counter he built on a plane. Why? Because he can, much to the chagrin of airport security.

[Thomas]‘ Geiger counter is built around an old Russian SBT-10A detector containing ten separate Geiger tubes. This tube was connected to a circuit containing a LiPo battery, a few high-voltage components, and an audio jack connected to the tubes themselves. When alpha, beta, or gamma radiation hits one of the Geiger tubes, an enormous click is sent to the audio jack and into the microphone jack of a small netbook.

Right after boarding a plane in Dublin, [Thomas] booted up his computer, started recording in Audacity, plugged in his Geiger counter, and stored his experiment safely in the overhead compartment. After landing in Prague a few hours later, [Thomas] saved the 247 MB .WAV file and began working on a way to convert clicks in an audio track into usable data.

The audio output on the Geiger counter overloaded the mic input on his netbook, making ‘event detection’ very easy with a small C app. After plotting all the data (seen above), [Thomas] had a complete record of the radiation on his 2-hour flight.

Because there was far less atmosphere to absorb cosmic radiation, [Thomas]‘ radiation dose was 9.1 microsieverts. Much more than at sea level, but nothing even air crews need to worry about.

Book Review: The Dangers of Computer Hacking

Years and years ago, someone gave me this book as a gift. [John Knittel], a co-author thought I might find it amusing. The book, titled The Dangers of Computer Hacking, is a grade school level breakdown of, well, computer hacking and the dangers thereof. At the time, I thought it was rather fun and amusing. Since then, it has sat on my shelf without much action.

Last weekend, however, my 8 year old son was building perfectly spaced shapes for his slinky (new plastic slinkies suck) and found this book. I snatched it up and read through it real quick. The realization came to me that though this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek(check the topics on the back cover), this book is actually a fantastic reference for the un-initiated.

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Two hard disks and one DJ get down with no delay

Mixmaster [robelix] built a MIDI controller for DJs that uses two hard drives for scratching and cutting some wicked beats.

[robelix]‘s project is called Hard DJ and was inspired by this earlier build capable of producing a droning appreciated chiptune music using the motor inside a hard drive. Instead of reading the out of phase sine waves produced when a hard drive platter is manually rotated, [robelix] used custom laser cut encoder wheels and an IR detector from old computer mice. This gives [robelix] far more resolution than would be possible by reading the drives stepper motors and allows him to scratch and cut to whatever his MC desires.

The electronics portion of the build are a little rough at this stage – just an Arduino Mega, a few buttons, and a trio of faders. [robelix] will be building a proper enclosure for his controller soon, something we can’t wait to see.

If you’d like to clone this DJ controller, all the files are up on the Git. Check out the video after the break.

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