Custom Arcade Control Panel

customArcadeControlPanel

Anybody can fire up an emulator and play arcade games of yesteryear, but if you want to capture more of the nostalgia, you should build a custom arcade control panel. [Quinn] started her build by narrowing down which games she was most interested in playing, and decided on a straightforward 2-player setup. The biggest challenge was finding joysticks that would allow for switchable 4-way or 8-way control: some games such as Ms. Pac Man were made for 4-way joystick input, and the added positions on a 8-way can lead to confused inputs and frustrated players.

[Quinn] found the solution with a pair of Ultimarc Servo Stik joysticks, which use a servo motor to swap between 4 and 8-way mode. The output from both the joysticks and the buttons feed into an iPac encoder, which converts the signal to emulate a USB keyboard. The panel was first mocked up on butcher paper, with dimensions borrowed from various games: the panel itself resembles Mortal Kombat 2, while the buttons are spaced to match X-Men vs Street Fighter 2. [Quinn] chose some spare melamine—plywood with a plastic coating—to construct the panel, drilled some holes and used a router to carve out space for the joysticks. A USB hub was added to power the servos and to make room for future additions, which [Quinn] will have no difficulty implementing considering that her electrical layout is enviably clean. To cap it all off, she fit two “coin slot” buttons: a quarter placed into a slot serves as a start button when pressed.

Be sure to see the videos after the break that demonstrate the coin buttons and the servos, then check out a different retro joystick hack for a tripod controller, or look to the future with the Steam Controller.

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Here Be Dragons, and VR…and sheep.

dragonVR

This may qualify less as a hack and more as clever combination of video game input devices, but we thought it was well worth showing off. [Jack] and his team built Dragon Eyes from scratch at the 2013 Dundee Dare Jam. If you’re unfamiliar with “Game Jams” and have any aspirations of working in the video game industry, we highly recommend that you find one and participate. With only 48 hours to design, code, build assets and test, many teams struggle to finish their entry. Dragon Eyes, however, uses the indie-favorite game engine Unity3D to smoothly coordinate its input devices, allowing players to experience dragon flight. The Kinect reads the player’s arm positions (including flapping) to direct the wings for travel, while the Oculus Rift performs its usual job as immersive VR headgear.

Combining a Kinect and a Rift isn’t particularly uncommon, but the function of the microphone is. By blowing into a headset microphone, players activate the dragon’s fire-breathing. How’s that for interactivity? You can see [Jack] roasting some sheep in a demonstration video below. If you have a Kinect and Rift lying around and want some first-person dragon action, [Jack] has kindly provided a download of the build in the project link above.

We’re looking forward to more implementations of the Rift; we haven’t seen many just yet. You can, however, check out a Rift used as an aerial camera on a drone.

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Arduino Taipan! clone stays true to the original

taipan

Fans of vintage Apple ][ and TRS-80 games will undoubtedly recognize the image above in short order. Taipan! was a popular game in its time, and [Simon] decided it was a great title to try recreating with an Arduino.

His goal was to use a standard Arduino Duemilanove to reproduce the game, rather than opting for a Mega or something like the Raspberry Pi. Seeing those two options as “too easy”, he ventured into the project with some self-imposed limitations, making it a more fruitful adventure.

In the end, [Simon] had to use two Arduinos – one to control the gameplay and another to run the display. Simon tucked both boards, a keypad, and an LCD screen inside a first run copy of Tai-Pan, a move that is sure to please Apple aficionados and Xzibit fans alike.

[Simon] made sure that no detail was overlooked during the port, making sure to include every line of text as well as every bug found in the original game.

Check out a video of the finished project below, and be sure to swing by his site for a very thorough build log.

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Large scale Tetris game controlled with DDR pads

led_tetris_using_ddr_pads

Even though Tetris came to the US 25 long years ago, it never fails to entertain. Whatever it is that gives the game such lasting power is a mystery to us, but we’re always interested in seeing fresh takes on the classic game.

MIT students [Leah Alpert] and [Russell Cohen] tweaked Tetris a bit to get players off the couch and literally thinking on their feet. The game boards were constructed using RGB LEDs installed in laser-cut acrylic tubes, arranged in a pair of large 6 foot tall floor standing matrices.

Game play progresses as you would expect, with two players battling head to head to achieve the high score, while simultaneously sabotaging their opponent. Instead of controllers however, each player stands on a Dance Dance Revolution mat, manipulating their game pieces with their feet.

While the DDR pads aren’t exactly a Kinect controller, we have no doubt that playing Tetris this way is incredibly fun – we would certainly install a pair of these boards in our game room without a second thought.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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Fallout brought to life with this working PIP-Boy 3000

working_pipboy_3000

[MyMagicPudding] wanted to try his hand at hobby electronics, so he decided to go all-in and build himself a PIP-Boy 3000. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the PIP-Boy 3000 is a wrist-mounted computer from the popular Fallout video game series.

The PIP-Boy is based around an HTC Desire HD mobile phone, which [MyMagicPudding] mounted inside case custom made for him by [Skruffy] from the Replica Prop Forum. He wanted to stay true to the game, so the wrist-mounted computer’s interface eschew’s the Desire’s touch screen and is instead controlled via a set of buttons and dials on its face. The external inputs all interface with the Desire via an Arduino Uno, which communicates with the phone using TCP over USB.

While he admits that his soldering skills are pretty dodgy, and that there’s no longer room behind the neat-looking facade to mount the PIP-Boy on his wrist, we think that it looks great. If this is an example of his first electronics project, we can’t wait to see what comes next.

Continue reading to see the PIP-Boy 3000 in action.

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Driving game steering wheel controller without the wheel

For some reason this project makes us think of the Light Cycles in Tron. You know, the bike forms around the rider after they grab onto the wand that makes up its controls? Certainly you’re not going to see a car form out of thin air, but this driving controller let you grab onto nothing to control a racing game.

You can see that it uses a Kinect to map the body of the player and convert your movements into motion control. The demo video embedded below the fold shows the calibration step, followed by the available control options. Pushing the steering wheel forward turns on the nitrous, leaning forward or back accelerates and brakes, and a few arm signals let you navigate the game menus.

This works by mapping gestures to keystrokes. [Rajarshi Roy] tells us that there’s a very raw code package available in their repository but the plan is to clean it up this weekend. They will also work on a Wiki, documentation, and a tutorial on teaching the software new gestures.

We just don’t know what we like better, seeing the kinect extended as a gaming controller like this one, or using it in robotics like that quadcopter.

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A MAME cabinet fit for a Doctor (Who)

tardis_mame_console

While many people would be satisfied leaving a MAME console on their desk, others take the time to put their MAME creations in a nice, authentic arcade cabinet. Some people like [Simon Jansen] take the craft to a whole new level, crafting a TARDIS from the ground up in order to house a MAME console.

It all started with a computer that had no real purpose. [Simon] decided it would be great to use as a MAME console, so he started brainstorming ideas for an enclosure. As he tells it, he was staring out a window looking for inspiration when his eye caught a giant billboard for [Dr. Who], complete with a TARDIS. The rest was history.

The MAME cabinet is about 3/4 the size of an on-set TARDIS, and crafted mostly from MDF. Plenty of time was spent analyzing the different TARDIS designs featured on the show over the years, paying special attention to even the smallest of details. Once the construction of the TARDIS was complete, [Simon] started work on the MAME portion of the project.

His MAME console was built to completely fit inside the TARDIS when closed, but it also had to take into account the box’s inward folding doors, which take up a good bit of space. The base was also made from MDF, and includes a durable white plastic panel in which the controls are mounted.

The final result is amazing – it does the TARDIS justice, and it looks like plenty of fun to play as well.