Custom Arcade Control Panel

customArcadeControlPanel

Anybody can fire up an emulator and play arcade games of yesteryear, but if you want to capture more of the nostalgia, you should build a custom arcade control panel. [Quinn] started her build by narrowing down which games she was most interested in playing, and decided on a straightforward 2-player setup. The biggest challenge was finding joysticks that would allow for switchable 4-way or 8-way control: some games such as Ms. Pac Man were made for 4-way joystick input, and the added positions on a 8-way can lead to confused inputs and frustrated players.

[Quinn] found the solution with a pair of Ultimarc Servo Stik joysticks, which use a servo motor to swap between 4 and 8-way mode. The output from both the joysticks and the buttons feed into an iPac encoder, which converts the signal to emulate a USB keyboard. The panel was first mocked up on butcher paper, with dimensions borrowed from various games: the panel itself resembles Mortal Kombat 2, while the buttons are spaced to match X-Men vs Street Fighter 2. [Quinn] chose some spare melamine—plywood with a plastic coating—to construct the panel, drilled some holes and used a router to carve out space for the joysticks. A USB hub was added to power the servos and to make room for future additions, which [Quinn] will have no difficulty implementing considering that her electrical layout is enviably clean. To cap it all off, she fit two “coin slot” buttons: a quarter placed into a slot serves as a start button when pressed.

Be sure to see the videos after the break that demonstrate the coin buttons and the servos, then check out a different retro joystick hack for a tripod controller, or look to the future with the Steam Controller.

Continue reading “Custom Arcade Control Panel”

Have a Router? Build a Skeeball Machine

skee

There are a lot of hackerspaces and maker labs all around the world that have amazing capabilities for manufacturing. Mills, lathes, drill presses, laser cutters, and CNC routers are no stranger to the any maker’s arsenal of tools. Do you know what isn’t? A DIY Skeeball machine.

This, ‘should be a project for every hackerspace’ project is the brainchild of [fungus amungus] over on Instructables. Despite what you might think about the complexities of building a Skeeball machine, [fungus’] build is actually rather simple, and also easily transportable.

The main material used in the build is seven sheets of 3/4″ plywood. These sheets were cut out on a ShopBot CNC router, and held together with screws in a tab-and-slot construction scheme. The playfield is covered with cork for what we assume is a proper Skeeball experience, and all the electronics controlled by an Arduino and Laptop.

The electronics for this build are very simple – just a few IR distance sensors mounted under the holes. The laptop is running a Processing sketch to display the score on a TV above the cage, allowing for some improvements in the gameplay and scoring system of the original Skeeball machines.

It’s a really fantastic project, and something that we’re sure will be the center of attention wherever [fungus] brings it.

Continue reading “Have a Router? Build a Skeeball Machine”

Making Asteroids Miniature

Asteroids

Mini arcade cabinet builds are fairly common, but we’ve never seen anything like [Jurgen]’s mini vector Asteroids cabinet that takes an original Asteroids circuit board and a true vector monitor and shrinks it down to table top size.

Unlike the raster monitors of a later generation’s arcade games, the original Asteroids cabinet used a vector monitor just like one would find in an oscilloscope. [Jurgen] found the perfect CRT in, of all places, a broken Vectrex console. The video circuitry in the Vectrex was rather primitive and the beam deflection was far too slow for the video signals generated by the Asteroids PCB. To get around this, [Jurgen] added a custom XY driver board. While the Asteroids game – and other vector Atari games – were designed for a screen with 1 MHz of bandwidth, [Jurgen] found that 300 kHz was ‘good enough’ to display proper Asteroids graphics.

While the cabinet isn’t a miniaturized version of any proper cabinet, [Jurgen] did manage to build a rather nice looking case for his luggable version of Asteroids. The exposed PCB on the back is a great touch, and an awesome project for any ancient video game aficionado.

75 Controllers, One Gaming System

Multi Video Games System

This gaming cabinet lets two players select games from a wide array of consoles and play them using the original controllers. [Patrice] built it around his Multi Video Games System 2, which converts each of the 75 controllers to a common format. Players pick controllers from the display case, plug in an  HD-15 connector, and choose the game they want to play. The cabinet contains a PC that runs a variety of emulators, and uses HyperSpin as a menu system.

Using adapters, the converted controllers can also be used on other game systems, tablets, or smartphones. [Patrice] claims that they’ll work across 110 different game systems. A full list of the controllers and systems is shown here.

This cabinet is definitely one of the most comprehensive video game installations we’ve seen, and the display case of controllers looks fantastic. Check out a video of the system and some controller porn after the break.

Continue reading “75 Controllers, One Gaming System”

An arcade controller for the original PlayStation

I love it when you hit those switches

[Kevin] just finished a project for someone who lives in his apartment complex. This resident loves the game Pop ‘n Music – a Guitar Hero sort of game for the original Playstation and PS2 that uses nine colored buttons instead of five buttons along a fingerboard. His original idea was to wire up a few arcade buttons to a Playstation controller but this plan fell through, forcing [Kevin] to figure out the PSX bus all by his lonesome.

The initial code began with simply bit-banging the PSX controller interface with an AVR. This had a few problems, namely speed, forcing [Kevin] to move onto assembly programming to squeeze every last bit of performance out of a microcontroller.

The assembly route failed as well, dropping some transactions  Looking at the problem again, [Kevin] realized the PSX controller bus looked a little like an SPI bus. There were a few changes required – reversing the order of the bits, and using the MISO line to drive a transistor – but this method worked almost perfectly on the first try.

Now, [Kevin]’s building mate has a custom Playstation controller for his favorite game. Of course all the code is up on github for all your PSX controller emulation needs, but be sure to check out this completely unrelated Pop ‘N Music video from someone who desperately needs a piano.

Making vector arcade games with an FPGA

3d

While we’re sure most Hackaday readers were raised by arcade games featuring sprites, pixels, and other shiny brightly colored squares, this was not always so. Many classic arcade games – Lunar Lander, Gravitar, and Asteroids in particular – used vector displays. Instead of drawing individual pixels, these games functioned more like an oscilloscope, drawing lines. When [Todd] and [Andrew] got their hands on a monitor from an old Asteroids cabinet, they knew what they had to do: build their own vector arcade game.

The guys made their own DAC and Amplifier board that plugs right in to a Nexys2 FPGA dev board. This was after they tested out some 3D drawing code with a gnarly handmade R2R DAC they used to draw and rotate a cube on an oscilloscope screen.

Not only did the guys build a vector video card, they also connected the FPGA’s VGA out to a monochrome monitor for an in-game HUD. Awesome work that blows away anything available in the golden days of vector arcade games. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering that certainly deserves its own cabinet.

Video of the game available below.

Continue reading “Making vector arcade games with an FPGA”

The tiniest arcade cabinets you’ve ever seen

arcade

After perusing Amazon one day, [Dave] found a very interesting piece of kit: a small, 1.5″ digital picture frame. They’re not very complex, just an LCD, a few buttons to cycle the picture, and a battery to keep everything portable. He decided the best use of this tech would be a tiny arcade cabinet, featuring screen shots of the best games a darkly neon lit arcade of the late 80s had to offer.

After sourcing a few of these digital picture frames on eBay, [Dave] set to work disassembling the frames and designing a custom enclosure. He wanted a few specific features: controls in the right place, replaceable sides, and the glowing red eyes of a coin acceptor slot. [Dave] whipped a model up in OpenSCAD and sent the parts over to his printer.

The controls for the digital picture frame were connected to a quartet of tact switches on the control panel, and a red LED provides the glow from the coin acceptor. With a USB plug and the frame’s memory loaded up with screen shots, [Dave] has a fabulous desk toy.

All the relevant files are up on Thingiverse if you’d like to build your own.