Thwomp Drops Brick on Retro Gaming

[Geeksmithing] wanted to respond to a challenge to build a USB hub using cement. Being a fan of Mario Brothers, a fitting homage is to build a retro-gaming console from cement to look just like your favorite Mario-crushing foe. With a Raspberry Pi Zero and a USB hub embedded in it, [Geeksmithing] brought the Mario universe character that’s a large cement block — the Thwomp — to life.

[Geeksmithing] went through five iterations before he arrived at one that worked properly. Initially, he tried using a 3D printed mold; the cement stuck to the plastic ruining the cement on the face. He then switched to using a mold in liquid rubber (after printing out a positive model of the Thwomp to use when creating the mold). But the foam board frame for the mold didn’t hold, so [Geeksmithing] added some wood to stabilize things. Unfortunately, the rubber stuck to both the foam board and the 3D model making it extremely difficult to get the model out.

Like [Han] in carbonite, that's a Rapsberry Pi Zero being encased in cement
Like [Han] in carbonite, that’s a Raspberry Pi Zero being encased in cement
Next up was regular silicone mold material. He didn’t have enough silicone rubber to cover the model, so he added some wood as filler to raise the level of the liquid. He also flipped the model over so that he’d at least get the face detail. He found some other silicone and used it to fill in the rest of the mold. Despite the different silicone, this mold worked. The duct tape he used to waterproof the Raspberry Pi, however, didn’t. He tried again, this time he used hot glue – a lot of hot glue! – to waterproof the Pi. This cast was better, and he was able to fire up the Pi, but after a couple of games his controller stopped working. He cracked open the cement to look at the Pi and realized that a small hole in the hot glue caused a leak that shorted out the USB port on the Pi. One last time, he thought, this time he used liquid electrical tape to waterproof the Pi.

The final casting worked and after painting, [Geeksmithing] had a finished cement Thwomp console that would play retro games. He missed the deadline for the USB Hub Challenge, but it’s still a great looking console, and his video has a lot of detail about what went wrong (and right) during his builds. There’s a great playlist on YouTube of the other entries in the challenge, check them out along with [Geeksmithing]’s video below!

19 thoughts on “Thwomp Drops Brick on Retro Gaming

  1. What if the SD card corrupts, USB port breaks, or something and you need to replace it…? It’s just the trouble breaking faulty one, making another cast, painting it good, etc. I would have dropped 3D printed case for electronics into concrete, because it would be sad to break that.

    1. Because that went against the spirit of the challenge. :) Also, there is some unspoken reverence regarding the pis since they are computers, while in the end, it is just $10 in electronics that could be lost. I liked how it flew in the face of upgradablity and practicality ..
      Thanks for watching!

    2. It’s a cool build for sure but I kinda agree. It would’ve been smarter to put the pi in some sort of enclosure that could be accessed from the back or something, in the event you need to replace an SD card, or want to upgrade from a pi zero to a faster board.

        1. Critics may argue that the choice of media is controversial, saying that granite would more firmly anchor the piece in the post-post-reality millenial artesian authenticist movement, but that presumes knowledge of what Thwomp was meant to be made of in the virtual context.

      1. Nope. It will get soft and loose the shape. But, as you can see in the video, he already broke the mold to get the cast out and destroyed the face. If the mold gets hot and soft, it can be easily removed without a hammer.A heat gun should work for partly heating.

  2. this is original, brilliant and a great use of a raspberry pi. I know there are millions of Retropie builds out there one could even say too many, but this really is a work of art. I also like how in the video he wasn’t shy about showing all the mistakes along the way. Some people get a bit too proud and omit these sorts of details but they serve as how not to do it’s which I like. Great build and video (I liked the 1ups, dead mario’s and Duck Hunt dog). Really cool.

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