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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.

Adding persistent memory and Ethernet to vintage arcade machines

z80_bus_tapper

If you are a frequent reader, you are undoubtedly familiar with hacker [Sprite_tm]. He has been working with fellow members of the TkkrLab hackerspace to get things ready for their official grand opening on May 28th, and wrote in to share a project he recently completed to kick things off.

As part of their preparations, they have been stocking the joint with all sorts of hacker-friendly goodies including plenty of tools and Club Mate, as well as a vintage ‘1943’ arcade cabinet. The game is a group favorite, though every time the power is turned off, it loses all of the hard-earned high scores. [Sprite_tm] knew he could improve on the current paper-based score register, so he pulled the machine open to see what could be done.

He used an AVR to tap into the machine’s Z80 logic board, allowing him to read and write to the entirety of the game’s RAM whenever he pleased. This enabled him to keep tabs on the high scores, restoring them to memory whenever the machine is powered back on. The addition of the AVR also allowed him to add a TCP/IP interface, which is used to send high scores to Twitter whenever someone beats the previous record.

His modular bus tap can be used in all sorts of Z80-based hardware, so if you have some vintage equipment laying around, be sure to swing by his site for a more detailed look at the build process.

A Weighted Companion Cube worth saving from the incinerator

companion_cube

It’s honestly sad that Valve has not released any official Portal-related items to the masses, as a market for them clearly exists. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and [Jamie] needed a Weighted Companion Cube in the worst way.

Actually he constructed his Companion Cube in order to test out some modifications and upgrades he performed on his homebrew CNC Mill. Judging by how the cube turned out, and the fact that he was able to keep tolerances within .005”, we would say that his mill is working just fine.

The cube was designed in Solidworks, and passed through the BobCAD plugin to generate the GCode for the mill. The base of the cube was machined out of a 3” solid block of aluminum, hollowed out on one side to give him access to the cube’s innards. He milled out heart shaped openings on each side, covering them with frosted Lexan.

He added a BlinkM to the mix, mounting it on the cover plate he milled for the open side of the cube. Once lit it cycles through several colors, including the pinkish tone anyone who has played Portal is quite familiar with.

We would say that it’s a great job, but it doesn’t do his work justice – it’s absolutely stunning. We’re not just saying that because we want one, though we do want one…badly.

Portal turret plushie is cute and harmless

turret_plushie

As many of you are probably aware, Portal 2 was released last week, and gamers have been going crazy over it. Over the years, people have constructed replicas of their favorite in-game items and “characters”, including portal guns, companion cubes, and turrets.

After playing Portal 2 for a bit, [Jonathan] wanted a turret of his own quite badly. Rather than construct it from hard plastics and resins however, he decided he wanted to construct a cuddly turret that talked.

With the assistance of his friend [Leigh Nunan], he is now the proud owner of a plushie turret. It’s a bit smaller than you might expect, but it is packed full of turret personality. The plushie plays audio from the game, can sense motion near its face, detect if it has been tipped over, and also knows when it has been picked up. [Jonathan] added all of these features by stuffing an Arduino inside the turret, along with a wave shield for playing sounds. Proximity and motion sensing are provided via a trio of different sensors, enabling the turret to behave in the same way its in-game brethren do (minus the machine guns).

It really is a neat little toy, one we would no doubt be glad to have around. Keep reading to see a short video of his plushie turret in action.

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Creating NES cartridge clones from ROM dumps

nes_cart_building

Sometimes emulators just don’t cut it when you want to play a vintage game. Like it or not, some people enjoy the nostalgia of playing old games on the actual hardware for which it was designed.

[Callan] wrote in to share a method he has been using to make some of his own NES game cartridges from ROM dumps in order to play them on an honest to goodness NES console.

He starts out with a 190 in 1 game cartridge, where he found a neat Famicom game never released in the US. He decided he would patch the ROM he found on the multicart in order to have an English menu, and then create his very own cartridge from the image. He discusses how to identify which EPROM chips you will need in order to construct your cartridge, as well as some helpful ways of finding a donor cart that has a similar enough board to house your components.

[Callan] also provides a quick walkthrough of erasing and burning your new EPROM chips, before discussing some post-soldering troubleshooting steps you might need to take before your game will work properly.

While we can’t comment on the legality of these game clones, we still think it’s pretty awesome.

Be sure to check out his site for a far more in-depth discussion of the process if this is something that interests you.

MIDI drum interface helps you step up your game

rb_drum_trigger

[Dan] likes Rock Band, but playing it makes him feel as useful as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking a drumming contest. He says that even using his friend’s ION kit leaves him searching out excuses as to why he’s not as good as he should be on the drums.

Eventually, he decided that he would settle things once and for all. The final excuse he came up with was that it is too difficult to press the drum pedal rapidly without getting tired, as the Rock Band gear does not properly simulate real drum equipment. Bass pedals on professional kits are weighted and balanced to allow the drummer to exert the least amount of work for the most return, resulting in a less tiring experience.

To give him a leg up while playing the game, he decided to rig a trigger to his Yamaha MIDI bass pedal, which is properly weighted. He consulted the Rock Band forums, and after looking at a couple of different circuit diagrams, he designed his own. He etched a PCB, mounted his SMD components, and was well on his way to becoming a drum legend.

He says that the pedal interface works quite well, and despite a couple of tiny soldering setbacks, he has yet to see any errant hits register in-game.

Be sure to check out the video below of his drum trigger undergoing some tests.

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Super Pong table doubles the fun

super_pong

While Pong has traditionally been a game played between two individuals, Instructables user [Brad] has put together a variation that doubles the fun.  His Pong coffee table has the ability to support up to four users at once, and makes for quite the living room centerpiece.

The table is made from sheets of MDF and incorporates a grid of 900 LEDs, all controlled by a PIC18 micro controller. The MCU is installed on a control board he designed, along with the other additional bits required to drive the LED array. A set of old Atari paddle controllers were disassembled and installed around the table, making this a true retro Pong experience.

As you can see in the video, the action is pretty frantic. It’s hard to tell who is winning until the game is over, but [Brad] says that a scoreboard will come in a future revision.

4-way Pong is a really cool idea! , but it looks like there are no open source schematics or code for the control board. We’re hoping someone sees this project and puts together a version for all to use, free of charge.

We were mistaken about the status of this project in relation to whether or not it was open source. [Brad] wrote to us letting us know that his code was not originally included with the Instructable as a result of a late night omission. As always, his projects are open source, and you can now download all of the source code and schematics at the page linked above (and in the first step of the Instructable, no less). Mea culpas all around, thanks for the update, [Brad]!

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