Portable PS2 With A Side Of Pi

Home games consoles have occupied a special space in the marketplace over the last 3 decades. The crowning jewels of their respective companies, they inspired legions of diehard fans and bitter enmities against followers of alternative hardware. For some, a mere handheld is a watered down experience that simply won’t do. Nay, the console itself must become portable!

It’s this line of thinking that may have inspired [Darkwing Mod] to produce this elegant portable PlayStation 2. Started at the end of 2013, it’s the product of six years of on-and-off work, a situation familiar to many a hacker. It packs an original PS2 motherboard inside a slick black-and-blue case, expertly crafted with plastic and putty for a smooth finish. A Raspberry Pi 2 also lives inside, serving up games over a Samba share. This method was chosen for its short load times and robustness for the portable form factor, versus trying to squeeze a full DVD drive inside. It’s used in combination with Free MCBoot to load the games.

The worklog is extensive, detailing the long road to completion. It’s clear that this was a labor of love, and we hope it sees many hours of use now that it’s up and running. It’s not the first portable PS2 we’ve seen, and it likely won’t be the last. Video after the break.

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PC And Console Gaming United Courtesy Of Origin

When folk at Origin PCs realized that their company was about to celebrate its 10th anniversary of making custom (gaming) PCs, they knew that they had to do something special. Since one thing they did when the company launched in 2009 was to integrate an XBox 360 into a gaming PC, they figured that they might as well refresh and one-up that project. Thus 2019’s Project ‘Big O’ was born.

Naturally still featuring a high-end gaming PC at its core, the show piece of the system is that they also added an XBox One X, Playstation 4 Pro and Nintendo Switch console into the same full-tower GENESIS chassis. For this they had to strip the first two consoles out of their enclosures and insert them into the case each along with their own (appropriately colored) watercooling loop. Unfortunately the optical drives got ditched, presumably because this made things look cleaner.

The Switch was not modded or even cracked open. Instead a Switch dock was installed in the front of the case, allowing one to dock the Switch in the front of the case, and still use it in a mobile fashion after undocking it. Meanwhile an Ethernet and HDMI switch simplify the interfaces to this gaming system a lot, requiring one to only plug in a single HDMI and Ethernet cable to plug in all capable platforms. The result is a pretty sleek-looking system, definitely an eye-catcher.

Since Origin will never, ever, sell the Big O to customers as it’s just a promotional item, it does tickle the imagination. Case-modding and combining multiple computers (often an ATX and mini-ITX) system into a single case is nothing new, but aspects such as having a dockable Switch feature, this clean aesthetic and overall functionality makes one wonder what an enterprising hobbyist could accomplish here.

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Nintendo Does Sony, Better Than Sony

Fans of game consoles from the golden era of TV game appliances have been in for a treat over the past couple of years as a slew of official reboots of the stars of the past have reached the market. These so-called “classic” consoles closely follow the styling of the originals, but under the hood they pack modern hardware running an emulator to play a selection of games from ROM. Even better, with a bit of hacking they can run more than just the supplied emulator, people have managed to use them to emulate completely different consoles. Even then, it’s unexpected to find that a PlayStation emulator on a Super Nintendo Classic runs PlayStation games better than the same emulator built in to Sony’s own PlayStation Classic console.

The feat from [8 Bit Flashback] is achieved despite both machines having near-identical hardware specifications based upon the Allwinner R16 system-on-chip. The Nintendo provides smoother action and more responsive controls, making for a far superior gaming experience. How is this achieved? The most significant difference is that the SNES Classic had the RetroArch front end installed upon it, which may have lent some optimisations and tweaks to make the system more efficient.

Readers with an eye for unusual consoles may remember another Nintendo/Sony hybrid, the ill-fated early-1990s prototype SNES with a CD-ROM which was the first machine to bear the name “PlayStation” (or “Play Station” as it was sometimes styled, leading Sony marketeers to be hot on writers using a space between the words a few years later).

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PlayStation Classic Hacked Live On Stream

When Sony announced they planned to release their own classic/mini/plug-n-play system this year, many fans were filled with excitement at the chance to relive countless classic games from the 90s. However, once the actual list of titles were made public that excitement faded as reality set in. So many favorites like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were left off the final PlayStation Classic list, no doubt due to the complexity of licensing agreements. That will all soon change now that [YifanLu] cracked the PlayStation Classic live on a Twitch stream thus laying the ground work for swapping-in a “more curated” list of classic PlayStation games.

Over the course of three days, [YifanLu] documented the process in real-time of cracking the PlayStation Classic’s security armed with little more than a keyboard. The crux of the hack came from fellow hacker [madmonkey]’s revelation that the firmware update files were signed with a key that had been mistakenly left behind on the device by Sony. Or as [YifanLu] stated, “One key is, ‘Hey am I Sony?’…The other key is saying, ‘Hey I am Sony.’ They distributed the key that identifies [themselves] uniquely and this key doesn’t expire for another 50 years or so.”

Once inside [YifanLu] was able to sideload a prototype image of a Crash Bandicoot over USB. He simply overwrote the first title on the list, Battle Arena Toshinden, and could launch the freshly injected game from the PlayStation Classic menu screen. The video below is from Day 3 of the PlayStation Classic hacking series, so skip to timecode (03:44:45) to see the results in action. For a bit more nuance there are another 15 hours or so of video to catch-up on [YifanLu]’s Twitch page. Here’s to everyone getting their favorite onto the PlayStation Classic in the near future.

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How The Sony PlayStation Was Hacked

Playgrounds were the comment sections of their day. Every weekday from exactly 1:17 PM until 1:43 PM there were swings to be swung, rumors to be spread, and debates to be settled by whomever was the loudest (some things never change). Allegiances were formed and battle lines were drawn based solely on what video game console you supported. It was this playground system that perpetuated the urban myths of the time.

For PlayStation fans there was the myth that you could save Aerith from her fate in Final Fantasy VII if you just cast the right spell, or the secret code in Tomb Raider that would let you see all of Lara Croft. There was the myth that no one could possibly copy a PlayStation game because all the bottoms of the discs were black. Even the very existence of the first PlayStation, the Super Nintendo PlayStation prototype, was an urban legend. The difference was that last one turned out to be true.

Let’s jump in and take a look at the cat and mouse game between modchip makers looking to defeat the original PlayStation’s copy protection, and Sony’s efforts to protect their castle.
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Even The PlayStation 2 Can’t Escape Java

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Java has a pretty impressive track record in terms of supported platforms. Available on everything from flip phones to DVD players, not to mention computers, Oracle once famously claimed that Java runs on three billion devices. An estimate that, in truth, is probably on the low side at this point. Especially when [Michael Kohn] keeps figuring out how to run it on increasingly esoteric devices.

[Michael] writes in to tell us that he’s added support for the PlayStation 2 console to Java Grinder, his software for taking Java code and turning it into a native binary for a variety of unexpected platforms. His previous conquests have included the TRS-80 and Atari 2600, so by comparison the PS2 is an almost tame addition to the list.

Let’s be honest, you probably don’t have any desire to run a Java program on Sony’s nearly two decade old game system. But that’s OK. The documentation [Michael] has written up is fascinating anyway, covering specifics of the PS2’s rather unique hardware and quirks he ran into when developing on an emulator and deploying on real hardware. Even if you’ll never put the findings to practical use, it’s absolutely worth a read.

In the video after the break you can see the demo [Michael] came up with booting on a real PS2 to prove the software works. To really put his mark on it, he mentions he wrote and performed the demo’s songs and even drew some of the artwork on paper and scanned it into his computer.

We’ve previously covered his work getting Java running on the Sega Genesis, as well as the venerable 6502 CPU. Oh, and one time he encoded data onto a pancake. We like this guy’s style.

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Bluetooth Photo Booth Gets Vetting At Wedding

With just two weeks to go before his friends’ wedding, [gistnoesis] built a well-featured robotic photo booth. Using a Bluetooth PS3 controller, guests could move the camera around, take a picture, style it in one of several ways (or not), and print it out with a single button press.

The camera is mounted on a DIY 2-axis gimbal made from extruded aluminium and 3D-printed parts. It can be moved left/right with one joystick, and up/down with the other. [gistnoesis] set up a four-panel split-screen display that shows the live feed from the camera and a diagram for the controls. The third panel shows the styled picture. Guests could explore the camera roll on the fourth panel.

LINN uses two PCs running Lubuntu, one of which is dedicated to running an open-source neural style transfer program. After someone takes a picture, they can change the style to make it look like a Van Gogh or Picasso before printing it out. A handful of wedding attendees knew about some of the extra features, like manual exposure control and the five-second timer option, and the information spread gradually. Not only was LINN a great conversation piece, it inspired multi-generational collaboration.

Despite the assembled size, LINN packs up nicely into a couple of reusable shopping bags for transport (minus the TV, of course).  This vintage photo booth we saw a few years ago is more of a one-piece solution, although it isn’t as feature-rich.

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