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?”
[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.
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.
[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”
If you happen to be in the market for some designer dice or need a set of custom dice for a game you have created, you could pay a ton of money to have them made, or you can do it yourself.
[Dicecreator] runs a blog dedicated to the ins and outs of creating DIY game and collector’s dice. This subject is not something that we would normally be interested in, but one particular item caught our interest – DIY toner transfer dice. Very similar to the process of creating a toner transfer PCB, he walks through the steps required for making your own dice with very little overhead.
The steps are likely quite familiar to those who have fabricated your own PCBs at home. He starts out with blank dice, sanding the sides down with increasingly fine sandpaper until they are ready for the transfer process. An image is printed on glossy inkjet photo paper, which is then applied to each die with a standard clothes iron. After a bit of soaking in water to remove the excess paper, the die is ready to go.
Sure it’s not exactly rocket science, but it is a cool little trick that would work quite well if you are trying to replace a lost die or if you simply want to make a fun gift for a friend.
[Rafael Mizrahi and Anat Sambol] decided that Angry Birds was missing one crucial element – mind control. They grabbed a copy of the game for their netbook and [Rafael] strapped on an Emotiv EPOC headset to see if he could play it without using a mouse or keyboard. While he was able to move the cursor around with his thoughts, he found that Emotiv’s EmoKey software lacked any sort of mouse button support. Undaunted, they turned to the Internet for help and found that he could map the Emotiv’s output to his mouse via another application, GlovePie.
As you can see in the video below their efforts were successful, though we doubt [Rafael] will be completely giving up his mouse just yet. With some more refinement, we imagine [Rafael] will be blasting pigs to kingdom come in no time.
If you are interested in trying this yourself, be aware that only the SDK version of the EPOC headset can be paired with 3rd party applications, the standard consumer version is locked into using solely authorized software.
Continue reading if you would like to see a video of their Angry Birds neural interface in action.
Continue reading “Flinging birds and slaying pigs with your thoughts”
Medical conditions that prevent individuals from being able to walk are difficult to handle, even more so if the patient happens to be a child. Shriner’s hospitals treat a good number of children suffering from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or amputations. They are always looking for creative treatment methods, so their Motion Analysis Laboratory looked to some Rice University undergrads for help. They asked the group of engineers to design a system that would make physical therapy a bit more fun, while helping encourage the children along.
The team recently unveiled their project, called the Equiliberator. The game system incorporates a series of five Wii balance boards situated between a pair of pressure-sensitive handrails. The platform communicates with a computer via Bluetooth, registering the patient’s movements as he or she moves along the path. The software portion of the system consists of a monster-slaying game which requires the child to step on a particular section of the pathway to dispose of the oncoming enemies.
The game is designed to get more difficult as the child’s balance and coordination improve, encouraging them with an ever growing bank of points as they progress. The final goal of the project is to enable the pressure sensitive handrails to determine how much the child is relying on them for balance, offering in-game incentives to walk with as little support as possible.
We love seeing hacks like this which not only entertain, but truly help people in the process. Kudos to the team at Rice University – they have done a fantastic job here.
Continue reading to see a quick video describing the Equiliberator in the designers’ own words.
Continue reading “Teaching children to walk using video games”