Cheap Projector Tells Time, Invades Space

Building a video projector isn’t something that most people do casually, but [Dominic Buchstaller] isn’t most people. As part of an ongoing street art  project, he built a rather neat scrap video projector/bedside lamp/clock device he calls Great Balls of Fire. It is made from a Nokia cell phone screen and a small projector mechanism, mounted inside a frosted glass light sphere.

One of the most interesting parts of the build is the projector mechanism. Rather than build one from scratch or tear apart an expensive Pico projector, [Dominic] found another source: a cheap car logo projector from eBay. These are designed to show a car manufacturer logo on the ground when you open your car door. It came with all of the parts he needed, including an LED light source and optics. He tore that apart and replaced the car logo with the phone screen, creating a very cheap projector. It isn’t that bright, but it is bright enough that when he mounted it inside the glass sphere, it could project the time and the odd space invader. It’s a great example of how sometimes it makes sense to look for a cheap solution rather than a free one: buying the car logo projector saved him a lot of hassle in building the optics. [Dominic] was also responsible for this awesome old-school tube radio hack, where he replaced the guts of an old radio with an internet radio player.

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Even More Emulated Microcomputers: 8080 on a Stellaris Launchpad

[Steeeve] just sent us his work on emulating a handful of 8080-based microcomputers on a Stellaris Launchpad, including the bare-metal to run Space Invaders. We know what you’re thinking: Is that all you folks are doing these days?!?!? There must be something in the water.

[Steeeve]’s build is based on the Launchpad with an external 64kB of SPI RAM, a nice little TFT display, and a built-in SD card for all of your storage needs. Add in an 8080 emulator and a keyboard and you’ve got a tiny microcomputer. (Is that redundant?)

What’s really neat about [Steeeve]’s project is that he’s cloned not just one target computer, but a whole bunch of computers including (GitHub links follow) the 8080-based UK101/Superboard, the CPM/80, and the machine that ran Space Invaders, as well as the 6502-based Commodore PET and Apple-1.  And as a bonus, you can save the state onto the built-in SD card so that you can hibernate the microcomputer and pick up right back where you left off at a later date. Snazzy.

He’s also built a library which provides an emulation framework if you want to build on this work yourself. And did we mention he can play Space Invaders? Bravo [Steeeve]!

Playing Space Invaders with Real Fire and Lasers

Making a Space Invaders game is up there on the list of most unconventional things you could do with a laser cutter. In watching the tiny little ships burst into flames, [Martin Raynsford’s] modification has got to be one of the more dangerous looking ones we’ve seen as well.

[Martin] always had the desire to make a tangible version of the classic game. Since his Whitetooth A1 laser cutter already contained the bulk of the moving hardware needed, not to mention an actual high powered laser to “pew pew” with, he decided it was the perfect starting point for such a project. The game is played looking down into the cutter since the laser of course fires in that direction, however a basic webcam is mounted to the laser assembly so that you can view the game on a computer screen at the proper perspective. An Arduino Mini is responsible for stepper control, allowing the player to jog back and forth and fire with a keyboard. [Martin] added an extra gear to the z-axis bed-leveler so that it could drive rows of paper invaders left and right across the bottom. Paperclips wedged into slots along a modified backboard hold each of the paper slips in place. This works ideally since they can be reloaded easily and won’t be maimed during use.

Due to the heat of the laser, landing a well positioned shot will likely nuke all of the nearby invaders as well, making for a theatrical inferno and easy win. Now to step up the difficulty level and figure out how to make them fire back…

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Space invaders played on a 16×2 character display

This Space Invaders game does more with less. [Rjk79] managed to make a video game using a two-line character display. The game consists of a wave of invaders on the top line, with the defender cannon on the bottom. The invader isn’t just stationary, but randomly moves to the left and the right. The image above captured a little bit of motion blur from the defender moving into position before firing on the enemy.

An Arduino board controls the 16×2 HD44780 character display. The game also includes sounds generated by the piezo buzzer seen on the breadboard. All the way to the right you can see the Wii Nunchuk breakout board which provides directional control and the firing trigger. If you want to recreate this one for yourself [Rjk79] is sharing the source code on Pastebin. There’s also a demo video found after the jump.

If you don’t have a character LCD on hand you might try this other Space Invaders clone that uses an 8×8 led matrix.

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Yet another Arduino blinkenlight thing, actually pretty cool

On the Tasmanian Linux User Group mailing list, [Hoolio] read someone complaining about the eventual downfall of their upcoming hackerspace as becoming a club of Arduino fanboys. [Hoolio] asked what was wrong with the Arduino, and this terrible, terrible Tasmanian replied, “there’s far too much boring blinkenlights and not enough actual cool stuff.” [Hoolio] took this as a challenge and created his own Arduino blinkenlight project that emulates Space Invaders on a 5×5 matrix of LEDs

The board is just a buzzer, 25 LEDs, 10 transistors, and a pot and button. Before the game begins, a LED chaser is traced out on the perimeter of the display, its speed controllable by the pot. When the button is pressed the game begins, allowing [Hoolio] to move his ship left and right with the pot and fire his lazor with the button.

Yes, it’s a game written for an array of blinkenlights for the Arduino. This doesn’t diminish the build, though. If this were put in a fabulous beige and transported back to 1978, we’d look on the LED version of Space Invaders as fondly as Mattel’s Football.

You can see [Hoolio]’s game demo after the break.

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Giant Space Invaders with road barriers and no moving parts

This is space invaders on the large-scale. To give you an idea of just how big this is, that’s a street lamp to the left. It’s being played on the side of a building, but it’s not really done the easy way. We’ve seen gaming on the sides of buildings by using projectors, but this one is more like a classic LCD handheld game… just really really big.

Each of the game pieces is hung in place on a black backdrop. The invaders themselves are molded-plastic road construction barricades. The shield area on the bottom is made op of center-lane dividers. All of the pieces are wired with lights that can be addressed by a central controller. As you can see after the break, just one button gets the action under way.

This is along the same line as the Christmas Light game we saw several years back. If you’ve got some extra strings of lights and don’t mind building a controller we think you should add a little fun to the neighborhood with your own giant installation. Just don’t forget to send in some pictures.

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Two player Space Invaders via FPGAs

Last semester, [Peter], [Jared], and [Jeremy] took a course on embedded systems. They managed to turn out a very accurate copy of the classic Space Invaders in their class. Not wanting good code to go to waste, they decided to develop two player Space Invaders, and we wouldn’t mind testing it out.

The guys built their Space Invaders clone on a Virtex II dev board. Wanting a little more hardware development, they picked up a pair of RF trancievers so the two boards could communicate with each other. The rules of two-player Space Invaders is fairly simple; if you destroy an alien, there’s a 30% chance it will appear on your opponent’s screen. Hit the space ship that flies along the top of the screen, and 1 to 7 aliens will appear on the opponent’s screen. It’s a bit like two player Tetris where your victories bring about your friend’s downfall.

The guys put a really neat spin on an old game, and we’d love to try it out. Check out the guy on the left losing a game of Space Invaders to his lab partner after the break.

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