The BitBox Console Gets Upgraded

BitBox Rev2

The Bitbox, an open source game console, has received a number of updates in the past couple of months. Last time we covered this DIY console, [Makapuf] had just managed to get the first revision to run a simple game. The second revision will increase the colors to 32k, add another channel of sound for stereo, switch controllers from PS2 to USB, and add support for Olimex’s UEXT expansion devices.

While the hardware upgrades are impressive, there’s been a lot of work on the Bitbox software as well. A new game demo called Fire was created as a set of tutorials to help people start developing for the console. There’s also a BitBoy, a GameBoy emulator for the Bitbox. BitBoy is a ported version of gnuboy for the ARM Cortex-M4 processor that powers the Bitbox. It successfully emulates a number of commercial GameBoy ROMs.

We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Bitbox. After the break, check out a video of BitBoy running on the Bitbox.

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SoundCube: A Companion Cube that can Talk

sound_companionCube

The Enrichment Center likely disapproves of the SoundCube: a portal music box in the form of a Portal Companion Cube. [Andreas] finished this project a couple of years ago, but we’re glad he’s finally had time to give a rundown on the details at his blog.

The build is primarily a modified speaker box cube—constructed out of what appears to be MDF—with four Alpine SXE-1725S speakers placed at the center of the middle faces. The faces were routed out to resembled the Companion Cube, while the electronics mount and the speaker grills were 3d printed. Inside is a homemade amplifier built around an Arduino Mega, with a TDA7560 quad bridge amplifier, a TDA7318 audio processor, a Belkin bluetooth receiver, and a 3.5″ touchscreen for volume control and for input selections.

Two 12v 7.2Ah lead-acid batteries keep the cube functional for an entire weekend of partying, but probably add a few pounds to the already hefty MDF construction. Check out [Andreas's] blog for more pictures and his GitHub for all the necessary code.

HTPC for Lunch

xbmcLunchbox

If you’re hungry for a portable HTPC (Home Theatre PC) solution, maybe packing everything into a stylish mini lunch box is the way to go. [tomhung] wanted a quick and easy way to drag his media around while he’s away from home, but in an intentionally portable, self-contained enclosure, and the Star Wars lunch box provided plenty of space for the necessary guts.

Inside, he’s stacked the RasPi and a USB hub on top of one another. Each is mounted to its own platform made out of plastic DVD covers, and kept separate by standoffs carved from what appear to be the casings of inexpensive plastic pens. The stack also includes a 250GB 2.5″ HD, which [tomhung] simply attached with velcro for easy removal. The cables underwent minor surgery to keep the rat’s nest under control, and although the interior may still cause cable management enthusiasts to cringe, the exterior of the box cleans up well for its evening out. [tomhung] fit a simple 6-port keystone wall plate to the face of the lunch box to provide simple connections for all the important plugs.

Hacking a DVD Recorder

Hacked DVD Recorder

[w00fer] wanted to see if any modifications to a DVD Recorder were possible. Initially, the goal was to upgrade the internal hard drive for additional storage. However, after cracking open a DVDR3570H and finding a service port, he decided to look a bit deeper.

Connecting an RS232 to USB converter to the service port resulted in garbled data. It turned out that the port was using TTL signal levels instead of RS232 levels. This was solved by building a converter using the MAX232 converter IC.

With the converter in place, the service menu appeared. It performs some tests and spits out the results when the device is booted. After that, it sits at a prompt and waits for commands. Fortunately, [w00fer] found the service manual which lists the available commands. So far, he’s been able to generate test patterns, test lights, change the display text, spin up the hard drive, and read device information. However, the next steps include disabling Macrovision copy protection, dumping the EEPROM and NVRAM, and copying data off of the hard drive. If you think you can help [w00fer] out, let him know.

Cobalt RaQ Retrofit Help Geek Up Your Entertainment Center

cobalt-raq-jukebox

Even network engineers who toil away in hot server rooms (which aren’t actually all that hot because they’re well climate controlled) deserve nice things. That’s why Cobalt came out with these gorgeous front bezels for their rack mounted equipment… around twenty years ago. [Geekmansworld] is reviving the look, but he’s not hiding it away in a server rack. He scrapped the guts and used the front bezel and controls as part of his media server.

His first new addition to the case was a pair of hard drives which connect to an eSATA hub also stored in the enclosure. He buttoned it up and gave it a test run. Everything worked smoothly and he hopes that it will continue that way without overheating when the summer rolls around again.

Of course a dead front bezel is no fun so he cut off the portion of the original circuit board which hosts the buttons seen on the right. These buttons now connect to a U-HID board which turns the button presses into mouse or keyboard inputs using a USB connection. The original display was swapped out for a backlit character LCD. The LEDs to the left are a refit which turns the status indicators into a VU-Meter. See the entire thing at work after the break.

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Easy Multi-Touch Table

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 1.53.13 PM

[2bigbros] put up an Instructable on his multi-touch table build. It’s a nice setup, using the typical frustrated total internal reflection method for touch sensing. Tinkerman’s Method was used for the screen itself, which involves rolling silicon onto vellum with a paint roller to improve the bond. [2bigbros] then built a nice aluminum and wooden frame for the whole thing. He’s light on some details, but most people with a basic understanding and Google will be able to figure it out.

This is a very accessible project for most builders. If you’re interested in getting into it, there are plenty of projects to reference. We previously covered the basics, as well as a more involved build. We’ve even seen an interactive tower defense game using multi-touch. If you decide to build one of your own, don’t forget the excellent resource at TUIO for finding frameworks and example implementations.

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Fubarino-Contest: 1980’s CD Player with MPD

fubarino-cd-shelf-player

[Ronald] had to scramble to get his submission in, but we’re glad he did. His demo video shows the display of a 1980’s CD player working with Music Player Daemon. It’s really just the original display itself that works, but the project is not yet finished. However, is far enough along to show our URL when a track reaches the 22:00 mark.

The display is driven by an ATmega32 chip which uses a USB connection to receive commands from the computer running MPD. [Ronald] had troubles figuring out how to send int values over USB so he hacked his own protocol that just uses the LSB of each byte coming over the bus. After the break you can see the video, and read the description which he included with his submission. There is also a code package available here.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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