Plenty of electronics end up in the junk drawer or even landfill after their useful life ends, but in the modern world of planned obsolescence a lot more devices are thrown out simply because of lack of support. Sometimes it’s even worse than that as some products are designed to “phone home” and will lack critical functionality if the original producer of that product gets purchased by someone else, wants to sell its customers more products, or goes out of business. The latter is essentially what happened to the Ouya console, but if you still have one of these around you might be able to get it running again.
The Ouya was a commercial failure but an ambitious take on a new kind of gaming console. With little more processing power than a smart phone, the idea was to produce a console for the casual gamer that also could play retro games and other games available for Android. It had a low price point but eventually couldn’t sell enough units to stay in business. These devices needed to see a specific server to gain full functionality, and [Christian] has created essentially a spoofed server that allows users to sign in to their consoles and install games again. All that is needed is to modify a few config files on the Ouya to point to a different address and the Ouya boots up just like it’s 2012 again.
This project goes a long way to show that there are plenty of serviceable electronics out there that have just been needlessly borked, and with a little elbow grease it’s sometimes possible to get them working. The state of this machine is a little surprising given that the original machine promised to be hacker and developer friendly.
The folks at NASA are taking a well-deserved victory lap this week after the splashy reveal of the first scientific images from the James Webb Space Telescope. As we expected, the first public release included a lot of comparisons to images obtained from Hubble, as the general public understandably sees Webb as the successor to the venerable space telescope, now in its third decade of service. So for a “let’s see what this baby can do” image, they turned Webb loose on a tiny patch of sky in the southern hemisphere containing galactic cluster SMACS 0723, and sent back images and spectroscopic data from galaxies up to 13 billion light years away. There are plenty of analyses of Webb’s deep field and the other images in the first release, but we particularly liked the takes by both Anton Petrov and Dr. Becky. They both talk about the cooler scientific aspects of these images, and how Webb is much more than just a $10 billion desktop image generator.
Before smartphones exploded on the scene in the late 00s, there was still a reasonable demand for pocket-sized computers that could do relatively simple computing tasks. Palm Pilots and other PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) were all the rage in the ’90s and early ’00s, although for cutting-edge tech from that era plenty of these devices had astronomical price tags. This Arduino-based PDA hearkens back to that era, albeit with a much more accessible parts list.
The build is based around an Arudino Nano with an OLED screen and has the five necessary functions for a PDA: calculator, stopwatch, games, phonebook, and a calendar. With all of these components on such a small microcontroller, memory quickly became an issue when using the default libraries. [Danko] uses his own custom libraries in order to make the best use of memory which are all available on the project’s GitHub page. The build also includes a custom PCB to keep the entire pocket computer pocket-sized.
There are some other features packed into this tiny build as well, like the breakout game that can be played with a potentiometer. It’s an impressive build that makes as much use of the microcontroller’s capabilities as is possible, and if you enjoy projects where a microcontroller is used as if it is a PC take a look at this Arduino build with its own command-line interface.
When Portal came out in 2007, developers Valve chose not to release the groundbreaking title on an obsolete Nintendo console long out of production. Nobody cared at the time, of course, but [James Lambert] is here to right that wrong. Yes, he’s porting Portal to the N64.
The port, or “demake,” as [James] calls it, has been under construction for some time. The project has posed some challenges: Portal was developed for PCs that were vastly more powerful than the Nintendo 64 of 1996. Thus, initial concerns were that the console wouldn’t be able to handle the physics of the game or render the recursive portal graphics.
However, hard work has paid off. [James] has chipped away, bit by bit, making improvements to his engine all the while. The latest work has the portals rendering nicely, and the companion cube works just the way you’d expect. There’s also a visible portal gun, and the engine can even render 15 recursive layers when looking through mirrored portals. Sixteen was too much.
Of course, there’s still lots to do. There’s no player model yet, and basic animations and sound are lacking. However, the core concept is there, and watching [James] flit through the not-quite-round portals is an absolute delight. Even better, it runs smoothly even on original Nintendo hardware. It’s a feat worthy of commendation.
Under the Hackaday TV is a modern game console, it’s a well-known model that many of you also probably have, and its main feature is a 3D accelerator which allows it to create the beautifully rendered worlds we’ve all come to know and love. [Mircemk] eschews such fripperies with the Twang project, because it’s a game that’s not 3D, nor 2D, but 1D. The display, indeed the entire gaming surface, is a single strip of addressable LEDs which can be seen int he video below the break.
Behind it all is an ESP32, and a unique one-dimensional joystick using an accelerometer. There’s an audio channel with a little piezoelectric speaker too, and the LED strip is a particularly high-density one from DFRobot. Because this is an ESP32-driven device it has WiFi, upon which is exposed an access point for a network over which is served the game stats as a web page. It may not displace that modern console, but it’s certainly inventive.
Most Chrome users will have come across a neat little Easter egg when their Internet connection has gone down – a game known as “T-Rex” where a dinosaur must be jumped over cactii. Whether or not this is accurate in terms of the evolutionary timeline, it’s a bit of fun, and Volos Projects educator [Danko Bertović] decided to port the game to the ESP32.
The game runs on the LILYGO TTGO T-Display development board, which pairs the powerful microcontroller with a 1.14-inch color LCD. His clone goes as far as authentically replicating the “No Internet” page from within Google Chrome, before kicking into the game at the press of a tactile button.
The game is built using a sprite-based engine, which enables gameplay with a minimum of flickering on the screen. Transparency is included to stop the sprites from occluding other screen elements unnecessarily. [Danko] hasn’t yet released a full tutorial on using sprites on the ESP32, but code is available for your own digestion.
Back in the 1970s, there were a few LED-based games on the market that were quickly superseded by the rise of LCDs and other fancier technologies. However, [grossofabian] wanted to recreate that classic style of game but with more modern hardware. The result is the LEDBOY, a colorful handheld game built in tribute to that era.
The handheld is based around the ATtiny 1614 microcontroller, driving a 10×10 array of NeoPixel Nano 2427 LEDs, named for their small 2.4 mm x 2.7 mm form factor. They’re RGB, too, so there’s lots of wonderful colors to play with.
Wrapped up in a neat enclosure with a rechargeable 130 mAh lithium-ion battery and some simple tactile buttons, it’s a tidy little handheld game console. Add in the CH340C chip for USB to serial duties, and it’s easy to program with the Arduino IDE, too.
Code is available on Github for those keen to take a closer look. Amusingly, the project bears a striking resemblance to a similarly-named build we featured just under 12 years ago. Time is a flat circle, and the video, my friends, is after the break.