I need someone to explain this to me.

Hackaday Links: December 8, 2013

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Let’s start off with some high voltage. Here’s a sweet Jacob’s Ladder build from [Robert]. The site hosting his short writeup has been up and down for us so here’s a cache link.

Speaking of high voltage, if you want to switch mains with your project [Tom] has a breakout board for cheap mechanical relays. [via Dangerous Prototypes]

[Dario] made his own version of an electronic Advent calendar [translated]. There are no numbers, you must solve the mystery of the flashing LEDs to figure out which package goes with each day.

If you ever work with lighted arcade buttons here’s a guide for swapping out the light for an RGB LED. This hack uses through-hole LEDs. We’ve actually seen a surface mount hack that includes a PCB to mimic the old bulbs.

Next time you stay overnight at an event you can give yourself the best view in the campground. This tiny little camper was mounted on a scissor lift! That first step on the way to the Porta Potty is a doozy! [via Adafruit]

[Žiga] was nice enough to demonstrate this smart-watch hack by displaying our name and logo (we love pandering!). It features the MSP-WDS430 which is a surprisingly stylish offering from Texas Instruments. In addition to analog clock hands it has an OLED display driven by the MSP430 inside.

Here’s a quick PIC-based metal detector which [Nicholas] built.

And finally, [Chet] saw the oil tank level sensor we featured this week. He built a nearly identical system earlier this year. The oil level sensor works in conjunction with the custom thermostat he built around an Android tablet.

A Raspberry Pi Arcade Stick

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There are plenty of Raspberry Pi arcade builds out there, but rarely do we come across something as sleek as [Jochen Zurborg's] RasPi Arcade Stick. The build combines everything you’d expect from other RasPi arcade projects, but manages to pack everything into the form factor of a portable stick modeled on the Neo Geo 4′s button layout. It may not be as small as the tiny MAME cabinet from last year, but it definitely delivers a more authentic arcade experience.

[Jochen] had previously developed an add-on PCB for the Pi called the PiJamma, which simplifies connections from the RasPi’s GPIOs by providing a JAMMA interface for the controller(s). The Pi and the PiJamma sit inside a custom-made acrylic enclosure and hook up to the buttons and joystick above. Rather than try to fit the Pi directly against a side panel for access to the various outputs, [Jochen] rerouted the USB, HDMI, and headphone jacks and arranged them into a tidy row on the back side of the box. The top piece of the enclosure consists of a sheet of aluminum wrapped in custom artwork, with an additional sheet of acrylic on top for protection. [Jochen] also modified each of the arcade buttons to include LEDs that illuminate the buttons’ acrylic holder, and the case itself appears to have been cut into slats on each side to provide better ventilation.

Check out his project blog for further details and for a huge gallery of progress photos, then see a quick video of the RasPi Arcade Stick after the break.

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Adding RGB backlight to arcade buttons

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These arcade buttons started out as illuminated buttons. But they were bulb-based which only allowed for one color. [Jon] and his friends at the Leeds Hackspace wanted to find a way to retro fit them with RGB LEDs, without changing the buttons themselves. The hack lets them replace the bulb with an addressable circuit board. The really interesting thing about it is that there is no separate interface for addressing. The communications happen on the voltage bus itself.

After deciding to include a microcontroller inside the button they built a test version using some protoboard to see if it would fit. Indeed there was enough room and the proof-of-concept led to the factory spun board which you see above. It has pads for two of the four LED module feet on either side, with the opposite end of the board fitting into the bulb receptacle. The voltage line is pulsed to send commands to the microcontroller. We’re interested in finding out exactly how that works but we’ll have to dig through the code before unlocking the secret.

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Star Wars themed MAME cabinet is perfect in this basement bar

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Fans of the Star Wars series will immediately recognize these illuminated vertical bars as a piece of the style from the original movie. They decorate the MAME cabinet recently installed in this home bar. You’ve got to admit, it looks amazing. But we’re always on the prowl for the build log and this annotated 46 image set has no shortage of goodies.

The project started off as a very ordinary looking plywood frame. But it takes shape quickly as the rounded-over grills were added to the box. Holes were cut behind them to accept the acrylic that serves as a diffuser and to allow the LEDs to shine through from the inside. There are several shelves which will be used to store additional gaming systems in the future. For now all that’s inside is a pretty beefy computer that runs the emulators, allowing games to be played via the arcade buttons or using wireless Xbox controllers.

Make sure you get all the way to the end of the build images. We were delighted by the custom icons in the arcade buttons. Instead of the common player one and player two images there are silhouettes of Star Wars characters and objects. This attention to detail really makes the build something special!

[Thanks Jason]

Building a Quiz-show style buzzer system

Theses are the team buzzer boxes which [Philippe Chrétien] built for his mother. She’s a big fan of quiz shows (we’re thinking Jeopardy and the like) and he thought she’d enjoy a proper setup for home gaming.

Each unit consists of an arcade button and one LED, both housed in a project box. He uses telephone wire to connect each buzzer to the base unit. We like that idea since we’ve got a lot of old telephone cable lying around and our RJ-45 crimp includes an RJ-11 slot. This is perfect for making our own cables.

The base unit houses an Arduino board which polls the buttons to see which is pressed first. The LED on the appropriate buzzer box is illuminated so the players know who got in first. One special feature of this setup is the ability to choose from 30 different buzzer sounds.

There are several other quiz buzzer projects kicking around Hackaday if you’re interested. One of our favorites is this system which uses plastic bowls as the buttons.

[via Adafruit]

Light up your workshop with this arcade button light switch

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[Pete Mills] was browsing around online when he came across an arcade button light switch and immediately wanted one. He didn’t however want to pay the $35 asking price for the switch, so he decided to build it himself.

He says that his solitary arcade machine doesn’t warrant its own room, so he figured he would wire the switch up to an extension cord in his workshop instead. The switch was made with parts he had on hand, so seeing as he didn’t have any triacs, he opted to use a relay in its place. He thought about how he would construct a simple flip flop circuit for the switch, and settled on using a simple 555-based circuit instead of a pair of transistors.

The end result looks every bit as nice as the version available for sale online, and it works great as you can see in the video below. [Pete] has circuit schematics available on his site should you want to build your own, so if you do, let us know in the comments – we’d love to see different variations on the circuit design.

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Arcade Button Monome: Moanonme

[Johan Larsby] built this pretty cool Monome clone. He was starting with a kit to build an Arduinome, but had issues getting his LED matrix to work correctly. After digging around in some old parts and hacking together some custom LED arcade buttons, he ended up with the Moanonme.  Be sure to check out the video after the break.

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