Xbox 360 DVD changer is the ultimate in gaming laziness

ben_heck_xbox_360_disc_changer

Let’s face it – gamers have a reputation for being pretty lazy. In the most recent episode of his web series, [Ben Heck] takes on the stereotypical gamer role and cranks the laziness factor to 11, lamenting the fact that he needs to get up off the couch to swap discs in his Xbox 360 console. Never allowing laziness get in the way of his hacking, he springs into action, hauling off to his shop in order to construct an Xbox DVD changer system.

He grabbed a pair of CD changers and popped them open to see how they operated. After choosing the best candidate based on its CD loading method, he got to work disassembling the changer. The old CD player and its guts were removed, which he replaced with DVD drive components ripped from his Xbox. Quite a bit of trimming and tweaking was required to swap out the components, but it seems that [Ben] got things working just fine.

With the mechanical portion of the project out of the way, he dug into the electronics. The CD changer had no way of knowing how to interface with the Xbox and vice versa, so [Ben] had to devise a way for the two devices to communicate. He used an Arduino Uno to control the systems, triggering the CD carousel only when the Xbox thought it had its drive slot opened.

While the system looks a bit unpolished, and the controller quite bulky, we love this thing!  No matter if you are lazy or not, jamming these two devices together is exactly what hacking is all about.

Androcade is a controller and stand in one

We remember when retro-gaming required a lot of equipment and a serious time commitment to put together a gaming interface. [Scooter2084] proves that we’ve come a long way with this gaming controller built to complement Android hardware.

It’s not immediately obvious from the image above, but the controller itself looks just like Andy the Android. His head is tilted upward and acts as the tablet stand, while his torso hosts the controls. We don’t the arms and legs have a functional use but they are necessary to complete the look.

Traditionally arcade controls have used a hacked gamepad, or dedicated hardware like the MAME cabinets that use iPac control boards. But this rendition interfaces the joystick and four buttons using an Arduino. A Bluetooth shield lets you control the Android device wirelessly, and opens up the possibility to use this as a controller for laptop-based emulators and the like. Don’t miss the video after the break.

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Man spends 30 years helping disabled gamers

xbox_sip_puff

Using our hands to manipulate game controllers is something most of us take for granted. However for quadriplegics, whose arms and legs are completely paralyzed, gaming becomes a nearly impossible task. One man has spent the last 30 years of his life trying to help quadriplegics once again “pick up” the controller and enjoy a few rounds of their favorite video games.

Retired aerospace engineer [Ken Yankelevitz] has been using his skills to create game controllers that can be easily used by disabled gamers, offering them for sale at cost. Starting with Atari joysticks in 1981, he has been perfecting his craft over the years, creating some 800 mouth-operated game controllers. As the systems and their controllers became more complex, so did [Ken’s] designs. His new Xbox and Playstation controllers use all manner of components, including sip-puff tubes and lip-activated buttons in order to allow users to access every single controller function.

Even as he approaches his 70th birthday, he is busy making controllers, though at a slower pace than he has in the past. He has said that he will continue making them for as long as he can, but at some point he will have to close up shop. This has disabled gamers worried that they may no longer have someone to turn to for custom controllers, though we hope someone steps in to fill the gap whenever that day comes.

Be sure to check out his site to take a look at his designs, what he has done for the disabled community is amazing.

Hackaday Links: March 20, 2011

SNES Arcade Cabinet

arcade_cabinet

[Daniel] let us know that he finished up a SNES arcade cabinet he has been working on for awhile. It looks so good, he says that his wife has even agreed to let him keep it in the house!

DIY Overhead projector beamer

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[Liquider] sent us some information about a DIY beamer he built using an overhead projector and an old LCD panel. It looks like a great way to get a big-screen wall display set up in no time.

WordClock gets a makeover

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[Doug] wrote in to share with us some progress he has made on his WordClock. You might remember our coverage of this creative timepiece a little while back. This time around, he has built a new control board, and is using vinyl stencils for a much cleaner look.

Interactive water fountain

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[Gerry Chu] is well known for his water-based imagery and projects. His most recent project is a water fountain that interacts with passers by. There are no real build details as of yet, but we hope to see some soon.

Sixty Symbols explains why glass is transparent

glass

Do you think you know why glass is transparent, but a brick is not? If you looked it up via Google, you are likely mistaken. A professor from the University of Nottingham explains why the Internet is so, so wrong about this, as well as how energy gap determines if photons of light can make it through a piece of glass. [via i09]

Simple fixes breathe new life into aging game consoles

dreamcast_repair

While the Sega Dreamcast has long been out of production, there is an avid fanbase that loves the console dearly. As with many CD/DVD-based consoles, the Dreamcast can sometimes run into issues reading discs, at which point all games are unplayable.

Instructables user [Andrew] got his hands on a pair of the consoles and found that one could not read CDs, while the other suffered from a fried controller interface board, the result of a controller wiring mix-up on his part. Determined to get the consoles up and running again, he disassembled them and got to work, sharing his fixes with us.

The CD drive fix is a pretty standard one. He first needed to locate the potentiometer that regulates the laser. Once he did, a slight counter-clockwise turn is all it required in order to increase the laser’s voltage. Once he did this, he popped in a game to see if it worked. No longer greeted with a disc read error when he powered on his Dreamcast, he reassembled the console and began work on the other one.

To fix his controller issues, [Andrew] had to remove the entire controller board from the console. He eventually located a resistor that had been damaged by his wiring mishap, and replaced it. The console was tested and seeing that the controllers worked again, he put everything back together.

While this pair of fixes is not incredibly complex, it’s nice to see people sharing their tips for bringing these consoles back to life.

Portable gaming for retro console lovers

atari_2600_portable

There have been a fair share of portable video game console conversions over the years, but few tug at our retro-loving heart strings more than this one. Modretro forum member [Mario] constructed a fantastic looking portable Atari 2600 using a Flashback 2 Atari console clone.

He hacked apart the Flashback board to fit inside a small plastic case, then added a 3.5″ LCD screen, as well as some donated controller bits from other portable game systems. A pair of rechargeable batteries were added along with a small amplifier and speaker for sound.

While the Flashback comes with 40 games built in, he really wanted to add a cartridge port, so with the little bit of space he had left in the case, he did just that. When everything was finished, he sprayed on a few coats of retro orange paint and called it a day. Really the only thing that’s missing is some nice fake wood veneer and maybe some shag carpet.

Continue reading to see his portable creation in action.

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Odroid: all the open, none of the contract

The Odroid derives its name from the combination of Open and Android. The hardware is aimed at the portable gaming market and runs Android. The specs are amazing, the device is open and begging you to develop for the platform.

The Samsung S5PC100 System-On-A-Chip provides the device with an ARM Cortex-A8 processor running at 833MHz. The usual suspects are all here, a capacitive touchscreen, accelerometer, SDHC slot, and WiFi. What you usually don’t expect to see is a serial debugger and 720p HD output. But the best part, we get all of this without a 2 year contract or the hardware being locked down as we’re used to with and Android based cell phone.

[Thanks Stillbourne via LinuxDevices]

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