The Pac-Man Bus Stop For Gamers at Heart

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Waiting for the bus can be drag. You never know exactly when it will come, always looking down the road hoping to spot the vehicle as it turns a corner. When it doesn’t show up right away, the result is usually staring down at a ‘smart’ phone checking it for any incoming messages. Directing the attention up might produce a list of estimated arrival times and maybe even a map showing the routes that are taken throughout the day. But there is only one bus stop in the entire world, that we know of, where people can play Pac-Man while they watch for the bus to arrive.

It was created by the combining efforts of two maker communities in town. Norwegian Creations and Trondheim Makers teamed up to build an interactive gaming display that gave individuals the ability to pass the time by directing the famous video gaming character around a blue maze, eating yellow pellets and avoiding colorful ghosts along the way. This display was also made to raise awareness for the upcoming Trondheim Maker Faire that year. They choose Pac-Man as the foundation and integrated a slightly modified invention kit called Makey Makey with a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie into the actual frame of the bus stop. The people involved must have had some serious business connections in order to get approval for that. They figuratively hacked into the bus stop’s power grid gaining the necessary 230 volts required to energize the custom gaming unit. Once hooked up, anyone standing by could play Pac-Man until the bus came. [Ragnar] at Norwegian Creations told us in an email that future ideas of theirs include syncing up several stops that can communicate with each other, which could lead to some great multiplayer interactions. They also have a fantastic video that they uploaded that shows the building process of their current design. Check that out below, and let us know what other types of games you would like to see at a bus stop near you.

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Fruit piano uses a different circuit than the Makey Makey

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[Hasbi Sevinç] is using perishable goods in his electronics project. The orange, tomato, and two apples seen above act as keys for the virtual piano. The concept is the same as the Makey Makey which is often demonstrated as a banana piano. This implementation uses an Arduino to read the sensors and to connect to the computer running the piano program.

You can see there’s a fair amount of circuitry built on the breadboard. Each piece of fruit has its own channel to make it into a touch sensor. The signal produced when your finger contacts the food is amplified by transistors connected in a Darlington pair. That circuit drives the low side of a optoisolator transmitter. The receiving side of it is connected the I/O pin of the Arduino. You can see the schematic as well as a demo clip after the break.

This use of hardware frees up a lot of your microcontroller cycles. That’s because projects like this banana piano use the timers to measure RC decay. [Hasbi’s] setup provides a digital signal that at most only needs to be debounced.

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Dead NES controller used as a Makey Makey shield

[Guillermo Amaral’s] NES controller was in great shape. Well, except for the fact that it didn’t work. Upon closer inspection it seems the shift register — which is the only IC on these ancient peripherals — had given up the ghost. But he made it usable again by making the NES controller into a MaKey MaKey shield.

You should remember the MaKey MaKey. It’s a little board that lets you create controllers out of just about anything — bananas being one of the more popular examples. All he needed to do is wire up the controller’s buttons to the board. For the task he chose to use extra long pin headers. To find the location for holes in the case he applied red ink to the top of each pin, then held the PCB up to the outside of the controller. After drilling at each red mark he glued the pin headers in place and started in on the controller’s original circuit board. Once all the point-to-point wiring was done he had a working controller. See for yourself in the clip after the jump.

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Toorcamp: Banana Piano

Banana Piano

[Michael] built his own clone of the popular MaKey MaKey Kickstarter project. His implementation uses an ATMega328 and the V-USB stack to connect as a USB Human Interface Device. He was showing it off at Toorcamp wired up to a banana piano, which captured the interest of kids and adults alike.

The digital inputs are pulled to ground with a large (10 Mohm) resistance. The user holds a supply voltage in one hand and completes the circuit by touching a conductive object like a banana, which is connected to a digital input of the ATMega328. Since the internal resistance across your body is typically around 1 Mohm, this pulls the input high and corresponds to a key being pressed on a normal keyboard.

We featured banana pianos before, and it’s a great demo of the interfaces that can be built with this project. This implementation is very simple, and works well if your internal resistance is low enough. [Michael] taught a workshop at Toorcamp to show people how to build their own. He has found that the ‘magic’ of playing music with bananas is a great way to get children interested in electronics.

Review and a build: Makey Makey, a banana piano, and Mario

We’ve been getting a lot of emails on the Hackaday tip line about the Makey Makey. This business-card sized circuit board turns everything – bananas, Play-Doh, water, and people – into a touch interface.

There have been a ton of blogs that have written about the Makey Makey Kickstarter and debut at the Bay Area Maker Faire, but Hackaday has been mum on the pending release of the Makey Makey. There’s a reason for that: [Jay] and [Eric], the MIT Media Lab rats who came up with the Makey Makey, offered to send a demo board out to somebody at Hackaday. Well, here’s the review of all the cool stuff you can make with the Makey Makey.

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Hackaday Links: May 21, 2012

Turning anything into a touch sensor

Makey Makey is a small board with a USB plug and bunch of contact points for alligator clips. Plug the Makey into your computer and attach just about anything to the contacts, and you can make anything into a video game controller, a keyboard, a piano, or pretty much anything you can imagine. If [Sprite_tm] copied it, you know it has to be cool.

RepRaps will finally cost a million dollars

The Pentagon is throwing money at 3D printers. It’s “only” $60 Million the DoD is putting into 3d printer research, but hopefully our most brilliant researchers will help refine some of the ‘unsolved problems’ – like metal and circuit printing – the 3D printer community is facing.

Getting started with FPGAs

[Tim] found a neat little $40 FPGA board aimed right at the hobby hacker. The good news: It’s compatible with Arduino shields, and it’s very cheap. The bad news: it only has 1280 logic cells, so you probably won’t be emulating CPUs on this thing. If anyone has a teardown / project with this board, send it in.

Improving a Bluetooth dongle with a bit of wire

Unsurprisingly, the extremely cheap Bluetooth dongle [Mike] bought on eBay didn’t have great reception or range. No problem, because you can just replace the internal antenna with a piece of wire cut to length. Now bluetooth devices are recognized instantly, and there are no Bluetooth ‘dead spots’ around [Mike]’s computer.

Come to France, make stuff

The Toulouse Hackerspace is having a little shindig this coming weekend (May 25-27) featuring a conference, workshop, concerts and performances. If you’re in the area, drop on by,