An Arcade Bar And Hackerspace, All In One

Hamvention was last weekend, and just like Hackaday’s expedition to Maker Faire, it was only fitting to find a bunch of Hackaday fans and take over a bar. This was in Dayton, Ohio, and you would think the nightlife for Hamvention would be severely lacking. Not so, as downtown Dayton is home to Proto BuildBar, a bar, arcade, and hackerspace all wrapped into one.

We’ve heard about Proto BuildBar a few years ago when it first opened. The idea is relatively simple; instead of having a hackerspace, with alcohol and video games on the side, Proto BuildBar is first and foremost a bar, with 3D printing services, a few workstations for soldering, and a few arcade games. It’s the perfect place for an impromptu meetup.

A Very Big Claw Machine

Somewhere on a corner in downtown Dayton, Ohio is a world record holder. It’s the world’s largest crane game. Those arcade machines with a joystick, a bin full of stuffed animals, and a tiny little crane? Yeah, the largest one of those. It’s $5 a go, and the prizes are either large inflatable balls, or the rare large hamster ball with a t-shirt inside.

For a world record, the world’s largest claw machine is surprisingly simple. It’s really just angle iron, an electric wheelchair motor, and a few large motor drivers. The joystick, while very large, uses standard arcade button switches. It’s an extremely impressive build, but you’re immediately struck by how easy this would be to replicate.

3D Printing And Soldering

Proto BuildBar is loaded up with 3D printers, mostly Makerbot, including a single Thing-O-Matic that actually works. That, in itself, is exceedingly rare. Anyone can walk in off the street and have something printed. The price is about $10 for each hour of machine time – slightly expensive if you’re using this as a tool, but just about right for an ‘introduction to 3D printing’ that is so desperately needed among the general population.

An Arcade

Saturday night is apparently Proto BuildBar’s gaming night, and for that they trucked out a few classic gaming consoles onto a few tables. It was SNES, Genesis, and Sega CD all the way, and a few multicade bartop and standup units. By far the most impressive arcade machine is War of the Currents, a custom arcade game featuring a Street Fighter style rendition of the greatest battle of all time: Edison vs. Tesla.

War of the Currents is your standard fighting game. It does have one trick up its sleeve, though: the loser is shocked. Literally, through a conductive joystick.

War of the Currents wasn’t at Proto BuildBar during the impromptu Hackaday meetup. It was sleeping quietly while Hamvention was closed. I got to play it with some of the guys from Proto BuildBar, and yes, this is a proper, shocking Street Fighter clone.

What’s Proto BuildBar like? Great. If you’re in the area, you should check it out. If Hackaday heads out to Hamvention next year, we know where to plan our meetup.

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