Uzebox in an NES controller

[David Cranor] has managed to fit a fully working Uzebox system into an old NES controller. Uzebox, an open source gaming platform based on the ATmega 644 and an AD725 NTSC encoder, is one of a couple systems that are becoming more and more widespread and accessible. There are a number of ready-to-go Uzebox kits available, but for the more hands-on types, [David] has been very generous with his schematics and step by step instructions. These schematics can all be readily reshaped, and would easily fit into controllers with less fun applications and sentimental value.

Virtual pool, real-world interface

Sunday we saw robots playing pool and an augmented reality pool game. Today we’ll complete the pool trifecta: virtual pool using a real cue stick and ball in another vintage video from Hack a Day’s secret underground vault. The video is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:

First is the year it was made: 1990. There’s been much buzz lately over real-world gaming interfaces like the Nintendo Wii motion controller or Microsoft’s Project Natal. Here we’re seeing a much simpler but very effective physical interface nearly twenty years prior.

Second: the middle section of the video reveals the trick behind it all, and it turns out to be surprisingly simple. No complex sensors or computer vision algorithms; the ball’s speed and direction are calculated by an 8-bit processor and a clever arrangement of four infrared emitter/detector pairs.

The visuals may be dated, but the interface itself is ingenious and impressive even today, and the approach is easily within reach of the casual garage tinkerer. What could you make of this? Is it just a matter of time before we see a reader’s Mini-Golf Hero III game here?

C64 emulator for iPhone approved — minus BASIC


After a lengthy process that had previously met with rejection, Manomio’s Commodore 64 emulator for the iPhone and iPod touch has finally been accepted by Apple. This marks the first time a multi-purpose emulation title has been approved by the App Store. The $4.99 C64 app comes bundled with five fully-licensed classic games, and additional titles can be purchased and downloaded directly within the application.

App Store policies prohibit software that could run downloadable code, which barred most emulation attempts in the past. A couple of Sega titles worked around this by nature of being single-purpose emulators. The condition by which the C64 title was finally approved was the removal of the BASIC programming language (though ironically it’s still shown in screen shots, even on the App Store). Since only sanctioned programs can be installed and run from within the application, no user-alterable code is present.

The C64 emulator is neat enough in itself, but the really encouraging news here is that a precedent has been set; the business model may open the floodgates for developers to bring more classic gaming titles to the iPhone platform. So download that SDK and get hacking!

[via TouchArcade]

Update: The iPhone Blog has a simple work-around for accessing BASIC!

Update 2: App pulled, no surprise. If you jumped on the opportunity while it was available, [George’s] comment might be of interest.

Arduino + hang man = Hangmanduino

We saw this nifty little toy today and thought you guys might get a kick out of it.  Its called the Hangmanduino, and as you can probably tell from the name, it plays hang man. This was an exercise in simplicity, you’ll notice there is only a single control for the entire game. We thought that the design was pretty cool, especially the single control. We weren’t surprised to see that this is actually the very same control we featured previously. You can download the code yourself from his website, if you want to make one of your own.

[via Flickr]

VR Game Gun

Many of you have probably experimented with alternative gaming interfaces. Here’s a well done little hack where they created a gun with a display mounted on it, for video gaming.  At a glance you can probably figure out exactly what they’ve done. They’ve attached a gyration mouse to the gun for tracking and gutted a keyboard for the buttons.  We have to give them some credit, they seem to have packaged it all nicely. Since it’s a standard mouse and keyboard, it just plugs in and works with any game.  As you can see in their version, the screen works very well in this configuration, almost seeming like a giant scope. You can see the wireless version and hear their aspirations for projector based models after the break.

[Read more...]


[Scott] runs One of his biggest hurdles was producing real random numbers for the games. He had tried various methods like math.random and, but kept getting complaints about the quality of the random numbers. His solution was to build an automatic dice roller. His initial attempts were made from Legos and were never quite reliable enough to be put into the system. The Dice-O-Matic however has proven to be a random number generating monster. It is 7 feet tall and capable of 1.3 million dice rolls per day. Wow.

[thanks Troy]

OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator teardown

m8ta fun did an extensive teardown of OCZ’s Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA). OCZ’s computer/mind interface is actually a fairly straight forward design. An analog front-end cleans and amplifies the ‘neural’ signal with a few op-amps before feeding it to a 24 bit analog to digital converter (ADC). A USB enabled PIC microcontroller reads the 24bit parallel ADC output through a common 7400 series parallel to serial adapter IC. The device has an ICSP programing header (top right), though it’s not yet clear if the PIC can be read or written.

[Thanks, joeyo]


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