Building a small keypad for strategy games

A month ago [Andreas] started playing Starcraft 2 again. As he was not comfortable with the default hotkeys on a normal keyboard, [Andreas] decided to build his own.

He started by salvaging keys from an old keyboard he had lying around, then 3D printed the case you see in the picture above to fit them. The keyboard electrical design is a simple matrix and it appears that he etched the PCB himself. To provide the required USB connectivity, the Atmega8U2 was chosen. It comes with a pre-programmed USB bootloader that [Andreas] chose to activate when the left key is pressed at the system startup. The HID class was implemented using the LUFA-USB Framework and the final product is definitely good looking.

All the files required to duplicate his design can be found here. You can also checkout another starcraft keyboard and an ergonomic keyboard that we previously featured.

A charming Arduino king cobra game


Here’s a fun game from [A.J.]’s lab. It’s a simulated king cobra made from an Arduino, an ultrasonic sensor, and a servo. The aim of the game is to grab a ball in front of the device without being ‘bitten’ by the thumbtack attached to a drinking straw controlled by a servo. You know, just like a real king cobra.

There’s no schematic or build plans for this project, but it looks easy enough to cobble together. Despite its simplicity, this game looks hilariously fun, and could quite possibly provide more entertainment through using the machine rather than simply building it.

No text description of this game can do it justice, so check out the video below. It looks like a lot of fun, and if you already have the parts in a bin somewhere, it’ll make a great weekend build.

Continue reading “A charming Arduino king cobra game”

Minecraft Coming to Raspberry Pi

The folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation often gets asked “does it run Minecraft?” Mojang, the team behind the block building game, has announced that they will be releasing Minecraft: Pi Edition. This port will be based off the Pocket Edition of the game, but with a revised set of features.

So what does this have to do with hacking? Mojang has announced that the Pi Edition will have “support for multiple programming languages.” There aren’t too many details about what this support will entail, but it looks to be aimed at teaching programming by using the world of Minecraft.

Hopefully, it will be possible to interface with the RPi’s expansion header to allow external devices to get data and create objects in the Minecraft world. There’s a lot of potential for hacking and learning programming skills.

The best part? It will be a completely free download. We’re looking forward to the launch.

Should we make games for fish?

I have often sat, gazing at my aquarium, wondering what life is like for those critters I keep captive. Are they bored and yearning to be set free? Are they content with their gluttonous lifestyle and constant pampering?

This is a question that is often raised with animals of a higher order, like pachyderm in the zoo, or chimpanzee. Those are easier to personify and to debate, but those are also, not often in our homes.

I keep my aquariums overgrown with actual live plant life. I have a flourishing ecosystem of natural plant filtration and invertebrates that I truly enjoy watching as they pick at the debris and bustle throughout the day. I test my water regularly to make sure it is optimal for the health of all involved. But my fish, well, as I said, I wonder about them.

Continue reading “Should we make games for fish?”

Adding digital game indicators to a Neo Geo arcade cabinet


[George] is a Neo Geo aficionado, and among his collection of paraphernalia, he has a MVS-Mini game console. His mini “Multi Video System” is a 2-slot model, meaning that it can hold two game cartridges at a time, which are indicated by plastic cards inserted in the cabinet’s face plate. Instead of swapping those cards out each time he changed cartridges, he thought it would be far cooler to install digital displays instead.

He scoured just about every retail store he could before finding a handful of small 5” digital picture frames that looked to fit the bill. After some careful cabinet modifications he had them wired up and ready for display. The frames don’t hold a ton of pictures, but they do support the use of SD cards. [George] says that he’ll likely just buy a ton of small SD cards, swapping them out whenever he changes games, though over time that might become as tedious as swapping out the plastic cards.

We would love to see [George] take his new digital display up a level, so be sure to share your ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can persuade him to automate things a bit.

Desktop coilgun lets you play Scorched Earth in your living room


A few years ago when [Dr. West] was wrapping up his collegiate studies, he put together a pretty cool coilgun for his senior project. The gun was built to simulate the Scorched Earth computer game in real life, but due to time constraints he was only able to build one turret instead of two.

The turret was constructed using mainly salvaged components, most of which came from old laser printers and desktop computers. The turret sits atop a computer PSU, which also happens to be the source of the coilgun’s charging power. A Rabbit 2000 microcontroller is used to drive the gun, which is something we’re familiar with from [Dr. West’s] past projects.

The gun can be aimed manually via the attached keypad, but we prefer the more authentic route, allowing the turret to aim itself after being fed X and Y coordinates. As you can see in the demo video, the coilgun works nicely, allowing [Dr. West] to hit a target from across the room.

We love the concept, and think it would be tons of fun to play a real life game of Scorched Earth with a pair of these turrets. If you are interested in making one of your own, you can find the writeup for his final project here in his public Dropbox.

Old pachinko game tweaked to add a reward system


[Tim Higgins] picked up an old pachinko game at a garage sale for his wife, but it ended up sitting unused in the garage for a few years. When he finally dusted it off, he decided that he wanted to restore and build a nice cabinet for it, though he thought the idea was a bit lame.

He says he likes to use some sort of CPU in his projects, and even though it was overkill, he made it his goal to add some sort of microprocessor to the game. He didn’t want to ruin the original aesthetics of the machine, so he decided that he could use an Arduino to drive a rewards system for skilled pachinko players.

Using some PVC pipe, he built a treat hopper which is controlled by the Arduino. When the player wins, the microcontroller triggers a small hobby servo, which dispenses gumballs/candy/etc.

[Tim] says that his wife loved the gift, and he was quite pleased with how it came out as well. Hit up his blog for additional build details and be sure to check out the photo slideshow of the restoration that we have embedded below.

Continue reading “Old pachinko game tweaked to add a reward system”