Industrial Strength Dance Pad

dance pad

Inventgeek has just posted their latest project: an industrial strength dance pad. It’s built out of 14GA 1″ steel tubing and acrylic. I brains are from a generic set of DDR pads. There is also a separate lighting system. The pad was built it for an Xbox, but they’ve got a USB adapter for use with Stepmania as well. Although the construction looks really solid, [jared] is careful to mention that this is just the first prototype. It definitely looks better than anything you could buy or find in the arcade.

27 thoughts on “Industrial Strength Dance Pad

  1. Having worked as an arcade technician and torn apart a REAL DDR pad… I can tell you that this “better then” project is no where near the quality of the real deal.

    The real DDR pads are constructed of wood for a good natural overall springiness, then covered in sheet metal for durability. The buttons use pressure sensors as opposed to mechanical contacts, so there’s no actual movement to them (and they can go for years of abuse without wearing out because of it). Also each button has 2 sensors for redundancy, only one needs to be tripped to detect a push…

    Not to mention the best part of the real machine is that there are no ABXY buttons to accidentally push

  2. Still, it’s DEFINITELY better than those extremely crappy, home-console ddr pads, which I’ve used once or twice. Plus, it looks cooler :D The led color mixing system could have been self-built, though, and saved more money.

  3. “looks better than anything you could… find in the arcade”? Oh, please, spare me. Totally agreed with twistedsymphony, the arcade platforms are a hell of a lot more well-made than people give them credit for, which one realizes if one’s ever seen the inside of the pad. The only point of failure for the arcade pad is one or more brackets between the acrylic pad itself and the pressure sensor falling off, which dramatically shortens the sensor’s life. However, decent weekly upkeep keeps such occurrences to a minimum.

    Plus, this custom pad just plain looks ugly.

  4. I’m not sure I’m convinced by their stress test…

    “stacking a 55 pound anvil on top of a ballpin hammer and hitting it with a 20 Lb Sledge hammer.”

    … 70lbs of total weight, the anvil acts to absorb energy, not increase force on the plexiglass.

    I can imagine the plexiglas shattering, someone’s foot pushing through the razor (worse than glass!) sharp plastic edges. Since it’s plastic it could remain in place trapping their foot. A bouncing dancing player is going to put quite a bit of force on these pads, they’re not going to be gentle when their trying for a high score.

  5. @MooglyGuy
    yeah keeping the dirt out of the grooves and making sure the corner brackets around the acrylic pads are tight and you wont have to worry about them falling apart (I physically checked them once a month when I did machine diagnostics and gave them a glance whenever I walked by).

    In the 3 years I worked at the arcade I only had to replace 2 pressure pads and one of them was DOA, and the machine never went out of service because of the redundancy. Changing bulbs on the other hand… that thing was like a tiny light show.

  6. I’m not normally much of a spelnig nazi, but jesus, that article is awful. There’s like 4 glaring errors in the first two paragraphs. If you can’t spell, you should at least use a spelling/grammar checker.

  7. i was expecting more. Besides this guys numerous simple spelling errors. He could have saved alot of money. If his totals are right, he could have bought an actual dance pad for alot cheaper, which kind of makes the hack worthless.

    More importantly though, is he has a bad design. Hes bought an actual Xbox DDR pad just to tear up and make another DDR pad out of it. This is extremly wasteful since all he needs is a controller to wire everything up to. An old Xbox, or even cheaper, a PSX controller would of worked just as well, and would have been phenominally cheaper. I see PSX controllers for $2 now. Second, instead of performing the incredibly easy xbox to usb wiring mod, he went out and bought an xbox to usb adapter for $14! Finally, as mentioned earlier he spent $40 for 2 case lighting LED things. Something which could be easily made for a few bucks otherwise.

    I will say thought that his construction looks good, although i think the design itself is flawed and will break sooner than it should.

  8. hmm, i like the idea, but it costed to much.
    i mean, you cant really say that this was sucsesscsesesfull, as the other dude said, you can buy a better ddr matt for alot less, and i didnt like that he didnt resycle anything, its kindah what im hoping for when i check hackaday, that someone uses old crap for cool stuff.
    i think hackaday should be renamed useoldstuffforcoolthingsaday.

  9. Neat project, though nothing I would ever seriously consider doing myself. It’s too expensive, and doesn’t seem like it can last. Unless there are some drastic improvements in these areas for v2, looks like just bying a cobalt flux pad is still the best choice.

  10. I’ve obviously missed the point of this article. People have been building their own metal dance pads for ages now, there’s guides scattered all over the internet.

    Is it just a slow news day?

  11. I agree with everyone else here, this is a pretty lame “hack”.

    The point of a hack is to achieve a goal in a unique manner, hopefully in a manner that is more efficient than the norm.

    To tear apart a dance pad, only to make a more expensive dance pad out of it, is clearly not meeting that goal.

    Like the others said, this could have been made out of an old controller rather than a real dance pad, without buying the USB adapter, etc.

    Also, PlayAsia sells heavy duty metal dance pads, so you could just buy one.

  12. It looks neat, but as people have mentioned, unless he builds a mat based on pressure sensors for input, it won’t ever be as good as an arcade platform. And yeah, he definately should have built his own Xbox-to-USB adapters (he’s so much of a DIY’er that it would take him 5 minutes to do it) and taken other cost-cutting measures.

    Still, everyone’s a critic. He obviously enjoys it, and though the LEDs are just for show (unless I misunderstood, but they don’t light up when an arrow is triggered), I can’t say that what he built is “bad” by any means, at least in looks. It certainly appears to trump my measly setup of MadCatz Beat Pad Pro’s velcroed and taped to plywood (though my setup for two pads cost 10% of what he paid).

  13. On topic: That looks cool. I also would be a tad concerned about the shattering too, although plexi can take a lot of abuse. Does anyone have a source to explain how the arcade pads work with the pressure sensors (diagrams, pictures, etc)?

    Off topic to “josh” there:
    Yeah, and you know what really sucks? When people who can’t spell and don’t have good grammar complain about the same. Oops, I mean “spelnig,” sorry. Also, your missing some capitalization there (actually, you don’t have anything capitalized). I’m sure your shift buttons were just broken though.

  14. I like the look of it, couldn’t he just use force sensors and calibrate that to output the correct signals? From what I remember the circuits shouldn’t be all that difficult to build. I mean the stuff you guys build on here is awesome. I used to do simple hacks on stuff but wow.

  15. whoever said “70lbs of total weight” needs to go back to high school physics. 20lbs is the force due to gravity on the sledge hammer when it is at rest. this means that when it is moving, especially at a high velocity, it exerts a ***much*** greater force than 20lbs on the anvil, and the glass.

    and come on, guys, give this guy at least some credit. he took the time to build it according to his abilities, which seem to be more in the field of metalworking than electronics. if he wants to “cheat” by hacking a cheap dance pad, use mechanical switches, and buy a commercial led color mixer, then let him. it’s his time and money, anyways.

  16. I’ve got agree with andrew on this. So what if he used a few premade parts or there is a better pad out there for the same price… The point is he made it, it works and its somewhat inspirational. Sure pressure switches would have been better, but there are always improvements to be made.

    Besides that I for one really like the way it looks, minimal but with some flash. I actually like it better than the flashier pads I’ve seen in some arcades.

    That said, if they’re better implementation write ups out there… Lets see some links… I’d honestly find them an interesting read.

  17. >Midway threw this project we reached a major
    >detour. My little girl was sent to the
    >emergency room with a rather severe illness.
    >After a few days of mending she started to act
    >more like her old self and was able to get her
    >IVs removed. When we got home all she wanted
    >to do was dance on the dance pad. To this day
    >she loves the dance pad. But it stood as an
    >important reminder of what matters in life. So

  18. liam said: “I just wish these guys knew how to phrase their constructive criticisms with some tact… this, unfortunately, is what happens when a whole bunch of geeks get together on the ‘net and all decide to act like the alpha males they surely are not.”

    I think this is a problem with the geek community in general… I made a rant about it on my xanga, but I think geeky sites like slashdot have way too many people with an inferiority complex, and somehow saying snappy things at others helps make them feel more superior. Can we help make budding geeks feel good about just being geeks? Or do we have to constantly criticize?

    I loved the dance pad; simply because I’m easily impressed with colored LEDs. But that’s just me. ;P

  19. Since an earlier poster was talking about it. Is there any site that sells a kit or a completed pad that’s built in the same fashion as the arcade pads? Using pressure sensors instead of switches, that is.

  20. Palin, the pressure sensors are very expensive. I’ve read on one of the many DDR forums out there that the sensors are tens of dollars each (I think more than $30, if I remember correctly). I have, however, heard of people who have bought a broken DDR machine for cheap and interfaced the pads from it to a Playstation controller.

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