Raspberry Pi: the perfect machine for old DOS games

DOS

There’s a treasure trove of excellent yet ancient games made for DOS that are nearly unplayable on modern computers. Awesome games like the Lucasarts SCUMM adventures, the original Civilization and SimCity, Starflight, the King’s Quest series and even Leisure Suit Larry aren’t played much today because of the near impossibilities of getting them to run on modern hardware or setting up an emulator with proper sound.

[Patrick] has been doing his best to help out classic gamers with an x86 emulator for the Raspberry Pi. It’s designed to be a very capable DOS box with 20 MB of extended memory, a 640×480 display with 256 colors, an ~20MHz 486 emulated CPU, and a Soundblaster 2.0 sound card.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but outside of finding a 20-year-old computer, emulation on a Raspberry Pi it probably the most authentic DOS gaming experience you’ll get.

Building your own Model A Raspberry Pi

A

When the Model A Raspberry Pi is released in the coming weeks or months, you’ll have the opportunity to buy an even cheaper ARM Linux computer that will draw 1/3rd the power of the classic Model B. Some people just can’t wait a month to get their hands on it, so [Blair] decided to make his own.

The Model A Raspberry Pi is nearly the same as the Model B; the only things missing are an Ethernet port, a single USB port, and the associated chips required to drive these ports. In a brave bit of desoldering, [Blair] removed the Ethernet/USB controller with a butane torch.

In part two of [Blair]‘s adventures, he removed the Ethernet connector and replaced the two-high USB ports with a single port, greatly decreasing the height of the Raspberry Pi.

As of right now, this is just about the only way to get your hands on the lower power, more compact Raspberry Pi. We can’t wait, though, for the eventual tutorial of how to turn a Model A into a Model B. That’ll be an awesome demonstration of god-like soldering skills.

Turning a Raspberry Pi into an SNES

snes

Back at the turn of the century, shoving MiniITX motherboards into just about everything was all the rage with the technologist crowd. [waterbury] had the idea of making a computer out of an SNES, but with the added ability of reading SNES cartridges. This idea had been floating around in [waterbury]‘s head for years now, and with a Raspberry Pi he can finally make his project a reality.

After desoldering a cartridge connector from an original SNES, [waterbury] plugged it in to a piece of perf board and started to figure out how to actually read the cartridge. An SNES cartridge need 16 address pins, 8 data pins, 8 bank control pins and 4 other control pins to be read; a total of 36 pins that [waterbury] accessed with the help of a neat I/O expander and a whole bunch of level converters.

[waterbury] accessed these data, address, and control lines via the Raspberry Pi’s I2C interface, a non-trivial task that took 70 minutes to read Donkey Kong Country before he found a way to speed up the Raspi by a factor of two. You can check out [waterbury]‘s complete project – able to read cartridges and play roms with EmulationStation after the break. Also, the code for the cart reader is available on [waterbury]‘s git
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Custom MOTD for the Raspberry Pi

motd

With so many uses for a Raspberry Pi in a headless configuration – especially with the impending release of the Raspi Model A – we’re surprised it has taken so long for someone to send in a way to create a custom message of the day that is displayed whenever you SSH into everyone’s favorite Linux board.

A MOTD is used by servers to display messages to new users, or simply system information for server admins. It’s a simple text file stored in /etc/motd, but with some proper beardly Unix wizardry it’s possible to display uptime, free memory, and even the weather wherever the Raspi is located.

[yanewby] over on the Raspberry Pi forums created a nice little MOTD that grabs weather data from the Internet and displays it alongside an ASCII rendering of the Raspberry Pi logo. Of course like everything in Unix, this MOTD can be modified to do just about anything, from checking your Twitter to sending a text message to your phone.

Hackaday Links: December 5, 2012

PS1 hombrew competition

code

The PlayStation Development Network is hosting a six-month long competition to develop homebrew games for the original PlayStation.We don’t get many homebrew games for old systems in our tip line, so if you’d like to show something off, send it in.

This is how you promote a kickstarter

snes

[Andy] has been working on an SNES Ethernet adapter and he’s finally got it working. Basically, it’s an ATMega644 with a Wiznet adapter connected to the second controller port. The ATMega sends… something, probably not packets… to the SNES where it is decoded with the help of some 65816 assembly on a PowerPak development cartridge. Why is he doing this? To keep track of a kickstarter project, of course.

What exactly is [Jeri] building?

jeri

[Jeri] put up an awesome tutorial going over the ins and outs of static and dynamic flip-flops. There’s a touch of historical commentary explaining why dynamic registers were used so much in the 70s and 80s before the industry switched over to static designs (transistors were big back then, and dynamic systems needed less chip area). At the end of her video, [Jeri] shows off a bucket-brigade sequencer of sort that goes through 15 unique patterns. We’re just left wondering what it’s for.

Finally, a camera for the Raspberry Pi

camera

In case you weren’t aware, the camera board for the Raspberry Pi will be released sometime early next year. Not wanting to wait a whole month and a half, [Jouni] connected a LinkSprite JPEG serial camera to his Raspberry Pi. The whole thing actually works, but [Jouni] didn’t bother posting the code. Maybe we can encourage him to do so?

Blatant advertising? Yes, but fireballs

Nintendo gave [MikenGary] a Wii U and asked them to make a film inspired by 30 years of Nintendo lore and characters. They did an awesome job thanks in no small part to Hackaday boss man [Caleb](supplied the fire), writer [Ryan] (costume construction) and a bunch of people over at the Squidfoo hackerspace.

Raspberry Pi Model A coming soon

A

[Liz] over at the Raspberry Pi foundation took a trip over to the manufacturing facility in Wales and found some of the very first Model A Raspi samples. They’re just samples, but this means we should be seeing a few Model A Raspberry Pis pop up on Element 14 sometime very soon.

As the lower-cost model of the Raspberry Pi, the Model A lacks a few features of the more complete Model B. For starters, there is no Ethernet port or controller, and only one USB port, This greatly reduces the power requirements for the Model A, measured by the Raspi Foundation at about 1/3rd of the power draw of the Model B.

To save costs, the Model A is using the same PCB as the Model B – the Ethernet controller and port simply aren’t populated. It may seem like a downgrade, but if you’re planning on building a Raspi-powered autonomous drone, high-altitude balloon, or other robotics project, the reduced power draw will be a great feature.

Raspberry Pi Quadcopter

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but that doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of [Matthew]‘s Raspberry Pi-powered quadcopter.

[Matthew]‘s quadcopter is similar to all the other flying drones we’ve seen before with one important difference – all the processing, from reading the gyroscopes to computing exactly how much power to give each motor – is handled by a Raspberry Pi. This task is usually the domain of a microcontroller, as these calculations need to happen in real-time. The Linux distro [Matt] is running on his Pi has a lot more overhead than a simple AVR or ARM microcontroller, so doing everything that needs to be done in real-time isn’t guaranteed. With a bit of clever programming, [Matthew] managed to make sure all the necessary tasks were taken care of in time. It’s still not a real-time operating system, but for this project at least, it’s good enough.

Since the Raspberry Pi in [Matthew]‘s quadcopter is much more powerful than a microcontroller, there’s plenty of head room to SSH into the ‘copter while it’s flying. There may even be enough processing power to stream video to a web server; we honestly can’t wait to see what [Matthew] does with his flying Linux computer in the future.

You can check out [Matthew]‘s code over on the git or watch a few flight test videos over on his youtube.