Creating NES cartridge clones from ROM dumps

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.

Continue reading “MIDI drum interface helps you step up your game”

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]!

Continue reading “Super Pong table doubles the fun”

Kinect hacked to work with Garry’s Mod means endless hours of virtual fun

garrys_mod_kinect

[John B] is a software engineer and had some spare time on his hands, so he started messing around with his Kinect which had been sitting unused for awhile. He wanted to see what he could create if he was able to get Kinect data into a virtual environment that supported real-world physics. The first idea that popped into his head was to interface the Kinect with Garry’s Mod.

If you are not familiar with Garry’s Mod, it is a sandbox environment built on top of Valve’s Source engine. The environment supports real-world physics, but beyond that, it pretty much lets you do or build anything you want. [John] found that there was no good way to get Kinect data into the software, so he built his own.

He used OpenNI to gather skeletal coordinate data from Kinect, which was then passed to some custom code that packages those coordinates inside UDP packets. Those packets are then sent to a custom Lua script that is interpreted by Garry’s Mod.

The result is just plain awesome as you can see in the video below. Instead of simply playing some random game with the Kinect, you get to design the entire experience from the ground up. The project is still in its infancy, but it’s pretty certain that we’ll see some cool stuff in short order. All of the code is available on github, so give it a shot and share your videos with us.

Continue reading “Kinect hacked to work with Garry’s Mod means endless hours of virtual fun”

DIY Racing Sim shift box

diy_pc_racing_shiftbox

Ask anyone who has ever owned a car with a manual gearbox – in real life and in video games, nothing beats stick shift. Rather than shell out gobs of money to purchase a pre-made shift box, forum member [nikescar] built his own for about $20.

Using some scrap wood and a plastic cutting board, he went to work building a prototype. The “H” shift pattern was designed in CAD and laid over the cutting board, which was hand-cut with a Dremel. Using some tips found online, he constructed a simple shifting mechanism, then wired in a cheap USB game pad found on Ebay. Using safety pins as temporary micro switches, he ran a few laps, and was quite happy with the results. Once the switches arrived, they were fitted to the shift box and it was off to the races.

[nikescar] reports that the shifter works extremely well, allowing him to row through the gears with the greatest of ease, sans any fear of breaking things. Keep reading to get a better look at the shift box internals.

Continue reading “DIY Racing Sim shift box”

AVGA: The AVR based video game platform

avrvideogame

We’ve seen our fair share of AVR projects, but this one’s pretty cool. AVGA is a color video game development platform based on the Atmel AVR family of microcontrollers. As seen in the picture above, one of the AVRs that the project uses is the popular ATMega168. There were several technical hurdles to using the AVRs to run color video games; one of the most difficult problems was figuring out a way to display detailed graphics from AVRs limited onboard RAM. Eventually, the developers figured out a way to display detailed graphics using a TILE-based driver. The TILE driver works by dividing the screen into X and Y coordinates, dividing the graphics into tiles. Then, when a graphic is needed it’s addressed from a reference table that’s stored in the AVR’s onboard RAM, allowing the bitmap graphic to be loaded from a game’s ROM. Currently, the only games available for the platform are a Super Mario clone, a Pacman clone, and a Snake clone. While there are only a few games available, the platform definitely looks promising. If anything, this project serves as a great example for what off the shelf microcontrollers are capable of.

Atari 2600 Slim

chriskoopa_2222 (Custom)

[Chris-Koopa] sent in this sweet little throwback to the good ol days of Atari 2600. He had been playing his old unit, lamenting the poor visual quality on his new TV when he had an idea. He picked up an Atari flashback2 and began modding. He added a cartridge slot and made some case modifications to make it look more like the 2600. The final result is that he can switch between the built in games, or play strait off of the cartridges with crisp clean video. There are other methods of doing this, like modding the Atari itself or building a whole new console, but this is pretty sweet too.