The current hotness is anything to do with artificial intelligence, and along with some interesting experiments comes a lot of mindless hype. The question is, what can it do for us! [Jesse] provides a fun answer by asking ChatGPT to perform as a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master.
There are many ways to approach a game of D&D, and while some take the whole thing very seriously indeed we prefer to treat it as a lightly inebriated band of intrepid heroes smacking each other and assorted monsters with imaginary swords and war hammers. Would the AI follow the nerdiest cliches to their pedantic conclusions, or would it sense that the point of a game is to have fun?
Continue reading “Can AI Replace Your DM?” →
The thermal printer is ubiquitous in today’s world, mostly found whenever we have to get a receipt from somewhere. They’re cheap, fast, and easy to use. Not only that, though, but as [Daniel] found out, they’re also pretty straightforward to re-program and use for other things than a three-foot-long receipt from a drug store. He’s adapted them to serve as a key tool of the dungeon master in his D&D games.
While he has adapted the most common thermal printer standard, the Epson Standard Code, the real fun of this project is in the user interface. He’s made it possible to build templates and other D&D-oriented sheets quickly via HTML, so the dungeon master can print out character sheets, items from the game, maps, or anything else they might possibly need at the time. It’s all highly configurable to whatever needs arise, and the interface works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
All of the project code is located on Daniel’s GitHub page for anyone looking to try this out. Most thermal printers use this standard too, so cheap ones can easily be found and put to use as long as a roll of thermal paper is available. If the feel of thermal paper is bringing up some childhood nostalgia, it could be because you had the Game Boy Printer as a youth and are looking for ways to recapture that thermal printer magic.
Retro hardware often looks fantastic, but we may find we no longer need it for its original function. [John Anderson] found that to be the case with some old Heathkit gear, and set about giving them a fun overhaul.
With the help of AVR microcontrollers, the devices have been repurposed into electronic dice towers for playing Dungeons & Dragons. A seed is generated based on the chip’s uptime, and supplied to a pseudorandom number generator that emulates dice rolls. The devices can be configured to roll a variety of dice, including the usual 6, 8, 10, and 20-sided varieties. Plus, they can be set to roll multiple dice at a time — useful when you’re rolling complicated spells and attacks in combat.
[John] has converted a variety of Heathkit devices, from Morse code trainers to digital multi-meters. They provide their beautiful cases and a great retro aesthetic, and we think they’d make fitting table decoration for retro cyberpunk tabletop games, too.
Creating your own electronic dice is a great way to get familiar with programming microcontrollers. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2022: Digital Dice Towers Built In Beautiful Retro Cases” →
For the casual Monopoly or Risk player, using plain six-sided dice is probably fine. For other games you may need dice with much more than six sides, and if you really want to go overboard you can do what [John] did and build electronic dice with a random number generator if you really need to remove the pesky practice of rolling physical dice during your games of chance.
The “digital dice” he built are based on a multimeter from 1975 which has some hardware in it that was worth preserving, including a high quality set of nixie tubes. Nixies can be a little hard to come by these days, but are interesting pieces of hardware in their own right. [John] added some modern hardware to it as well, including an AVR microcontroller that handles the (pseudo) random number generation. A hardware switch tells the microcontroller how many sides the “die” to be emulated will need, and then a button generates the result of the roll.
This is a pretty great use for an old piece of hardware which would otherwise be obsolete by now. [John] considers this a “Resto-Mod” and the finish and quality of the build almost makes it look all original. It’s certainly a conversation piece at the D&D sessions he frequents.
More and more companies are offering ways for customers to personalize their products, realizing that the increase in production cost will be more than made up for by the additional sales you’ll net by offering a bespoke product. It’s great for us as consumers, but unfortunately we’ve still got a ways to go before this attitude permeates all corners of the industry.
[Keegan Ryan] recently purchased a TV and wanted to replace its stock boot screen logo with something of his own concoction, but sadly the set offered no official way to make this happen. So naturally he decided to crack the thing open and do it the hard way The resulting write-up is a fascinating step by step account of the trials and tribulations that ultimately got him his coveted custom boot screen, and just might be enough to get you to take a screw driver to your own flat panel at home.
The TV [Keegan] brought was from a brand called SCEPTRE, but as a security researcher for NCC Group he thought it would be a fun spin to change the boot splash to say SPECTRE in honor of the infamous x86 microarchitecture attack. Practically speaking it meant just changing around two letters, but [Keegan] would still need to figure out where the image is stored, how it’s stored, and write a modified version to the TV without letting the magic smoke escape. Luckily the TV wasn’t a “smart” model, so he figured there wouldn’t be much in the way of security to keep him from poking around.
He starts by taking the TV apart and studying the main PCB. After identifying the principle components, he deduces where the device’s firmware must be stored: an 8 MB SPI flash chip from Macronix. He connects a logic analyzer up to the chip, and sure enough sees that the first few kilobytes are being read on startup. Confident in his assessment, he uses his hot air rework station to lift the chip off the board so that he can dive into its contents.
With the help of the trusty Bus Pirate, [Keegan] is able to pull the chip’s contents and verify its integrity by reading a few human-readable strings from it. Using the
binwalk tool he’s able to identify a JPEG image within the firmware file, and by feeding its offset to
dd, pull it out so he can view it. As hoped, it’s the full screen SCEPTRE logo. A few minutes in GIMP, and he’s ready to merge the modified image with the firmware and write it back to the chip.
He boots the TV back up and finds…nothing changed. A check of the datasheet for the SPI flash chip shows there are some protection bits used to prevent modifying particular regions of the chip. So after some modifications to the Bus Pirate script and another write, he boots the TV and hopes for the best. Finally he sees the object of his affection pop up on the big screen, a subtle change that reminds him every time the TV starts about the power of reverse engineering.
With little more than pen, paper, dice, and imagination, a group of friends can transport themselves to another plane for shenanigans involving dungeons and/or dragons. An avid fan of D&D and a budding woodworker, Imgurian [CapnJackHarkness] decided to build gaming table with an inlaid TV for their inaugural project.
The tabletop is a 4’x4′ sheet of plywood, reinforced from underneath and cut out to accommodate a support box for the TV. Each leg ended up being four pieces of 1’x4′ wood, laminated together with a channel cut into one for the table’s power cable. An outer ledge has dice trays — if they’re even needed in today’s world — ready for all those nat 20s, cupholders because nobody likes crying over spilled drinks, and electrical outlets to keep devices charged. Foam squares cover the tabletop which can be easily removed and washed if needed — but more on that in a second. [CapnJackHarkness] painted the table as the wood rebuffed many attempts at staining, but they’re happy with how it turned out.
Continue reading “Dungeons And Dragons TV Tabletop!” →
[Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson] is a member of the NYC Resistor hackerspace and an avid fan of a D&D themed improv theatre called The Campaign. To show his appreciation, he decided to gift them a Christmas present: a giant D20. The original plan called for integrated LEDs to burst alight on a critical hit or miss, or let out pulses if it landed on another face. Cool, right? Well, easier said than done.
[Vejdemo-Johansson] figured a circle of 4 tilt sensors mounted on the one and twenty face would be enough to detect critical rolls. If any of the switches were tilted beyond 30 degrees, the switch would close. He mounted eight ball-tilt switches and glued in the LEDs. A hackerspace friend also helped him put together an astable multivibrator to generate the pulses for non-critical rolls.
This… did not work out so well. His tilt sensor array proved to be a veritable electronic cacophony and terribly sensitive to any movement. That and some other electronic troubles forced a shelving of any light shows on a critical hit or miss. [Vejdemo-Johansson] kept the pulsing LEDs which made for a cool effect when shining through the mirrored, red acrylic panes he used for the die faces. Foam caulk backer rods protect as the die’s structure to stop it from being shattered on its first use.
Before The Campaign’s next show, [Vejdemo-Johansson] managed to stealthily swap-out of the troupe’s original die with his gift, only for it to be immediately thrown in a way that would definitely void any electronic warranty. Check out the reveal after the break (warning, some NSFW language)!
Continue reading “Giant D20 Is A Critical Hit In More Ways Than One” →