Nintendo light gun retrofit lets it play color-based games

This Nintendo light gun, aka Zapper, looks like a stock device. But a peek inside shows that the circuit board has been replaced. [CNLohr] added USB functionality and a few extra sensors that let him write his own games for that use the classic controller.

After cracking open the case he measured the shape of the circuit board so that he could recreate it exactly. This let him design his own board that would drop right into the same plastic support pieces as the original. His circuit uses an ATmega8u2 to provide a USB connection and read the attached sensors. One interesting aspect is the group of four long traces that act as an expandable i2c bus. [CNLohr] went with this so that he could use daughter boards to add in sensors later. In the demonstration seen after the video he’s using a photodiode as a color sensor. It allowed him to write the color-based game seen above where you shoot a different color of target in each round.

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BlinkM gets upgraded to a USB mass-market device

[TodBot] has a new piece of hardware on the way up. His Blink(1) is currently about 50% funded on Kickstarter. It’s a USB nub that has an RGB LED inside of it. When plugged into a computer it can be used as a status indicator. At first that sounds like a let down, but his marketing is fantastic as the myriad of uses really caught our attention. If you’re on the road you can use it to report back your server statistic. Plug one into each rack-mounted servers for quick visual indication of which one has crashed. Or find your own use.

You probably remember [TodBot] as the creator of the BlinkM. Recently he was calling it the world’s smallest Arduino. Well this Blink(1) is being marketed as Arduino programmable as well. The board size is about the same, and both have an RGB LED module. The difference is that the BlinkM had an ATtiny85 and needed a serial converter to program it. This has a USB plug so we’d bet he’s swapped the tiny for an ATmega8u2 or something from the same family.

Don’t think one blinky LED is going to cut it? For folks that just need more resolution there are other hardware options out there. For instance, this project gives you a wireless 8×8 RGB led display to use as an indicator.

Playing footsie with your video games

[Jon] will be tapping away with his toes during gaming session thanks to this foot controller which is packed with buttons and sensors. It’s the second iteration of the build. The original had some solder joints break and the USB stopped working. He had also been experiencing some erratic behavior and so he decided to upgrade the control hardware and add a few more things in the process.

This version uses an Arduino Uno as the interface board. He did a bunch of prototyping to find the best way to hook up all the analog sensors, and how to properly debounce the buttons. Once he was happy with the inputs he set about finding a better way to use the USB HID standard with the device. We were surprised to hear that the ATmega16u2 (one of the new AVR chips which includes USB hardware) doesn’t play nicely with Linux. But [Jon] managed to hack his way around that issue and now he’s gaming with an even better foot controller than before.

Red Bull Creation hardware (Bullduino) arrives

The Bullduino’s are starting to arrive. When [Arclight] received his in the mail the first thing he did was to share the hardware details. Of course this is the hardware that participants in the Red Bull Creation contest will be receiving ahead of this year’s contest.

The board is an ATmega328 Arduino clone. Instead of an FTDI chip for USB this one is sporting an ATmega8u2. That’s not too much of a surprise as it should translate to a cost savings. [Arclight] reports that the stock firmware flashes a message in Morse code. It seems the Harford HackerSpace got their Bullduino several days ago and already decoded the message. It reads:

“Wouldn’t lou prefer a good game of chess?”

The guys that did the decoding speculate that this could be a type as ‘l’ and ‘y’ are inversions of each other in Morse code; or it could be some kind of clue. At any rate, if you want to do some disassembly and see if there’s anything lurking in the firmware, [Arclight] posted FLASH and EEPROM dumps from both ATmega chips along with his article.

Arduino UNO and Mega 2560

The Arduino Team presented some new products at Maker Faire this weekend. It’s a significant update. The Arduino UNO and Arduino Mega 2560 update the Duemilanove and Mega respectively. They now use an ATMega8U2 instead of an FTDI USB to serial converter chip. Allowing an Arduino to become nearly any kind of USB device. A fourth mounting hole has been added to the UNO for more stable mounting. The booloader is now the Optiboot bootloader. The boards can run firmata out of the box. We are not sure about existing Arduino boards, but the last six bytes of EEPROM have a unique serial number. At this point, the Mega 2560 has some kind of issue with gcc on certain platforms and unable to use the full memory available until there is an update to the IDE.

The team also gave a preview of some works in progress. Arduino Ethernet POE can be power over ethernet and loaded with TFTP. Available October 18, TinkerKit will be released. Geared toward designers, the kit has PCB modules that include a joystick, soft pots, transistor, relay, power MOSFET, push button, LEDs and motor driver. That same day will be the launch of the multi-lingual Arduino Store.

These developments will be a nice addition to the toolset out there that you can use and we look forward to new projects using these tools.

Update: [PT] sent us a link to an ever-growing FAQ about this hardware.

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