66% or better

Coin-op Sega Rally used to race RC cars

Head to head video game action can’t even compare to this use of a coin-op Sega Rally game to race actual RC vehicles. Take a close look at those screens and you’ll see there are no computer graphics, just a feed for a camera on each of the toy cars.

The project was conceived for the Sapo Codebits VI conference in Portugal. The arcade cabinets had their controls connected to an Arduino, but getting video up and running wasn’t nearly as easy. After fruitless attempts to get the original CRTs to work the team ended up replacing them with functioning CRT units of the same size. The cars themselves have two camera, one on top of the vehicle’s cab and one mounted on a boom for a perspective that was above and behind the vehicle. The drivers can switch between either view. The cars were set loose in the room serving as the event’s retro gaming area and players were free to race each other wherever they pleased. Don’t miss the video clip after the break which shows off all of the fun. [Read more...]

Building a classic coin-op game in an FPGA

This game of Bomb Jack is the same as the original arcade version. The difference is that this hardware was built in an FPGA using schematics found on the Internet.

We’re a little shocked by the complexity of such a project. We’ve been impressed before by the use of FPGAs to implement classic CRT vector graphics. But that project used a library that had already implemented the original game. For this effort, [Alex] wanted to find a game that hadn’t ever been translated to an FPGA, and used stock parts. Bomb Jack is a 1984 platformer which ran on a Z80 processor, AY-3-8192 sound generators, and common TTL logic chips. This meant he didn’t have to write the cores himself, but rather use already existing versions of the chips and code together the hardware.

You can read about his experience at the page linked at the top, or just jump after the break to see video of the final project. You can see the monitor is on its side, and the game sounds great and runs flawlessly.

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Toorcamp: The Church of Robotron

“Only 72 years until the Robotrons conclude that the human race is inefficient and must be destroyed. Only the mutant produced by a genetic engineering accident can save us now!” –Church of Robotron Doctrine

Based on the 1982 arcade game Robotron: 2084, Dorkbot PDX’s Church of Robotron was an impressive installation at Toorcamp. Located in a large dome, the Chruch features an altar where the the player kneels and finds out if they are the saviour.

Many things in the Church are triggered by game events. Lasers fired in time with the game, a bright LED flashes at the player when they die, and the LCD display above the altar shows high scores. There’s a webcam that takes a player’s picture when they die so that it can be added to the high score list. There was also a Jacob’s Ladder and a fog machine to add to the eerie feel of the Church.

A side room in the dome has a TV displaying list of high scores, handouts of their doctrine and documentation, and stickers of the Church’s logo. Aside from the electronics, the group also created lore around the installation. There was a sermon that played on a constant loop at night, and the doctrine handouts explained the story of the Church. This is all documented on their website, and the build details and source are also available.

The combination of art, lore, and electronics made this installation one of my favourites at Toorcamp, even though I’m awful at the game. I’ll need to practice my Robotron for next time the group sets up the Church.

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.

Update: Androcade 2.0

[Chris] has been going about his business, letting his interest guide him as it will. But always in the back of his mind is his Androcade project, and he’s spent the last year making improvements. It’s an arcade controller for playing games on an Android tablet. It connects to the device via Bluetooth, and includes a built-in stand.

His original version was featured here last year. It was made from wood (with a nice Android green finish) and included three buttons and a joystick. This time around he moved to some black laser-cut acrylic for the case, and has doubled up on the buttons. It also now enumerates as an HID Bluetooth device, whereas before it was pushing serial data over the BT connection.

He’s had enough interest from his friends to also create an iPad version all in white. It connects and works just the same as the Android flavor. Check out a bit of Donkey Kong gameplay after the break.

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CRT vector graphics arcade game built from an FPGA board

[Sprite_TM] wanted to challenge his VHDL skills, and there’s no more satisfying way of doing this than making something that will be playable when you’re done. He decided to try his hand at creating a vector-based CRT arcade. The distinction here is that vector-based games take control of the magnetic ring that guides the electron path toward the screen. This technique allows point-to-point graphic generation rather than the pixel-based scanning that CRT televisions use.

He had a small color CRT on hand and decided to grab a VHDL version of asteroids from the Internet to see if he could get it to work. But upon further inspection of the source he found that it had a chunk of code which rasterized the vectors for use with a scanning monitor. After removing that chunk, and giving it a spin he had enough confidence that he knew what he was doing to start implementing his own game. The choice of what title really came down to the hardware the original arcade cabinets used. He was not interested in implementing a soft-process for the math chips used in games like Star Wars and Tempest. In the end he got a version of Black Widow up and running, and even built a miniature cabinet for the thing. Check out some of the gameplay in the clip after the break.

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Auto power circuit for an arcade machine

Some of the pinball machines which [Jeri Ellsworth] has restored have ended up in the break room at her work. We’re sure her coworkers are thankful for this, but sometimes they forget to turn off the power to the machines, and letting them run constantly means more frequent servicing will be necessary. She set out to fix the situation by building a circuit that will automatically power the machines.

We think the solution adds some much needed functionality. Instead of hunting for the power switch, you can now power the machine up by hitting the left flipper, and it will automatically shut off after about five minutes of not having that flipper button pressed. For this she grabbed a 555 timer chip and built a circuit to control the relay switching the mains power.

She added a magnet and reed switch to the left flipper switch assembly to control her add-on circuit. It connects to the base of a PNP transistor which controls a resistor network and capacitor. This part of the circuit (seen to the left of the 555 in the schematic) allows the timer to be re-triggered. That is, every time you press the flipper the 555 will reset the timer. Don’t miss the demo she filmed after the break.

[Read more...]