Mario plays piano with a little help from Raspberry Pi

mario-piano

[David] has created his own live robot band to play live versions of the music and sound effects of NES games. Most of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s have the music of Nintendo games burned into our brains. While there have been some amazing remixes created over the years, [David] has managed to do something truly unique. Armed with an emulator, some software prowess, and a pair of Raspberry Pis, [Dave] created a system that plays game music and sound effects on analog instruments. A Yamaha Disklavier player piano handles most of the work through a connection to a Raspberry Pi. Percussion is handled by a second Pi.  Snare drum, wood block, and tambourine are all actuated by a custom solenoid setup.

The conversion process all happens on the fly as the game is played. [Dave] says the process has about ½ second of lag when played live, but we’re sure that could be fixed with some software tweaks. Continue reading “Mario plays piano with a little help from Raspberry Pi”

Teaching a computer to play Mario… seemingly through voodoo

computer-learning-mario

Some people know [Tom Murphy] as [Dr. Tom Murphy VII Ph.D.] and this hack makes it obvious that he earned those accolades. He decided to see if he could teach a computer to win at Super Mario Bros. But he went about it in a way that we’d bet is different that 99.9% of readers would first think of. The game doesn’t care about Mario, power-ups, or really even about enemies. It’s simply looking at the metrics which indicate you’re doing well at the game, namely score and world/level.

The link above includes his whitepaper, but we think you’ll want to watch the 16-minute video (after the break) before trying to tackle that. In the clip he explains the process in laymen’s terms which so far is the only part we really understand (hence the reference to voodoo in the title). His program uses heuristics to assemble a set of evolving controller inputs to drive the scores ever higher. In other words, instead of following in the footstep of Minesweeper solvers or Bejeweled Blitz bots which play as a human would by observing the game space, his software plays the game over and over, learning what combinations of controller inputs result in success and which do not. The image to the right is a graph of it’s learning progress. Makes total sense, huh?

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Booting a 1989 Mac with Mario

As a new recruit to the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army, [dougg3] is really showing off his hardware hacking ability. He came up with a replacement ROM SIMM for his Mac IIci and made it play the Mario theme on boot instead of the normal chimes.

Swapping out the ROM in these old macs isn’t an uncommon procedure. On some 68k machines, there’s a SIMM slot to either replace or expand the soldered ROM. In fact, it’s fairly common to take the ROM SIMM out of a IIsi and put it in the king of kings computer to make an SE/30 32-bit clean. We’ve never seen a re-writable ROM SIMM for these old macs, so we’re pretty sure [dougg3] just spared a Mac IIsi from the dumpster.

Now that the entire 68k Liberation Army is clamoring for one of [dougg3]’s re-writable ROMs (we’ve got cash), the question of what to do with it comes up. Of course, SE/30s can now be 32-bit clean without installing MODE32 and new startup chimes can be added. We’d really like to see some hard-core ROM hacking going on, like installing a 68060 in a Quadra 950.

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No quarters required for this sidescrolling game in a box

teagduino_game_in_a_box

[Adam] from Teague Labs wrote in to share a new gadget they built to help demonstrate the capabilities of the Teagueduino. Their table top video game in a box was made with a bunch of electronic components they had sitting around, as well as soda straws, plenty of painter’s tape, and some popscicle sticks.

When someone pulls the string on the front of the box, a servo opens it automatically, and a second servo starts spinning the game reel. As the reel moves, the player is presented with a set of obstacles to dodge, guiding the “hero” via a knob-controlled servo. A hall sensor attached to the back of the character is tripped when passing over any of the obstacles, which are attached to the reel with magnetic tape. When the hero collides with an obstacle, the game ends and proceeds to close itself, much to the chagrin of the player.

As you can see in the video below, it’s a pretty entertaining and challenging game.

Looking to make one of your own? Swing by the Teagueduino site to grab the game’s code and be sure to share your creations with us in the comments.

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Super Mario coin block lamp is a Nintendo fanboy’s dream come true

super_mario_coin_block_lamp

[Laurence] was racking his brain coming up with potential birthday gifts for his friend when the idea of a Super Mario Bros. coin block lamp popped into his head. The block is constructed from drain pipe, a few pieces of plywood, some perspex, and a whole lot of awesome.

He wanted the lamp to make sounds when it was turned on and off, so he put together an audio circuit based on [LadyAda’s] WaveShield. His design is similar, though he swapped out the DIP packages for SOIC versions, adding a DAC, Op amp, and an audio buffer to fit his needs.

Once he had his electronics in order, he started construction of the lamp, painting the drain pipe green and mounting it under his light’s base. He built a large perspex box to serve as the coin block itself, printing the familiar graphics on tracing paper which he then glued into place. An arcade button adorns the top of the box, making for a very appropriate and fun light switch.

Be sure to check out the video below to see the lamp in action. We’re just a bit jealous of [Laurence’s] friend, and we sure wouldn’t mind having one of these in our office to sit alongside this mechanical coin block we featured a while back.

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Retro video games sounds…for your toilet

super_mario_toilet

After reading about a Super Mario Brothers themed bathroom, [Jonathan] decided that it would be pretty cool to have his toilet play the “warp pipe” sound whenever anyone flushed.

He grabbed a small sound drop key chain on eBay and disassembled it to see how things worked. Once he figured out which solder pads corresponded to the warp pipe sound he added a few wires that, when shorted, trigger the sound effect.

He debated as to how the sound generator should be wired to the toilet, and was pretty reluctant to place the key chain inside the tank due to concerns about sound volume and water damage. He ultimately decided to trigger the sound effects using triboelectric charge, much like those touch lamps from the ’80s. He rigged up a simple circuit that is connected to both the toilet handle as well as the water intake valve on the wall. When someone touches the handle, the small charge that is present in their hand triggers the sound effect as you can see in the video below.

Instead of using a standard project box, he opted to build a small warp tube replica from cardboard and paper, which really brings everything together nicely.

While he says that the circuit is pretty sensitive, triggering at odd times or not at all, we still think it’s awesome.

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Real life Super Mario coin block

mario_coin_block

Instructables user [Bruno] recently constructed a fun little toy that brings a bit of the Mario nostalgia out of the video game universe and into ours. His Super Mario coin block is instantly recognizable from the first Mario game and performs just as you would expect it to. Punching or tapping the bottom of the block releases coins one at a time, complete with sounds straight from the game.

The coin block is constructed from thick cardboard and wrapped in color mock ups of the in-game block. Inside, a spring-loaded tube of coins is placed above a launch arm which is also connected to a spring. A servo actuated arm pulls the launch arm down, dropping a coin from its tube on to the launch arm which is then flung from the top of the box once the servo arm rotates far enough. When this occurs, the built-in MP3 player is triggered to play the “coin sound” from the game. A 555 timer is used to ensure the servo actuated arm rotates once per activation, and a LM386-based amplifier is used to increase the output volume of the MP3 player, both of which operate using rechargeable batteries.

Be sure to check out some of the inner workings as well as the final product in the videos embedded below.

[Thanks, Samjc3]

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