Put An Open Source Demon In Your Pocket

Back in 1996, the Tamagotchi was a triumph of hardware miniaturization. Nearly 25 years later, our expectations for commercially designed and manufactured gadgets are naturally quite a bit higher. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be impressed when somebody pulls off a similar feat in the DIY space.

The Xling by [dsl] follows the classic Tamagotchi concept. A little creature, apparently inspired by the demon from Netflix’s Disenchantment, lives in your pocket and needs occasional attention to remain healthy. The user pushes a few buttons to interact with the creature displayed on the display to do…whatever it is you do with a pet demon. Feed it souls and what have you.

But unlike the iconic 90s toy, both the hardware and software for the Xling are open source. The CERN-OHL-W licensed PCB was designed in KiCad and features an ATmega1284P microcontroller and SH1106G controller for the 128 x 64 OLED display.

Power is provided by an AP3401 DC-DC converter, MCP73831 charge controller, and a 400 mAh 3.7 V battery. Everything fits inside of a 3D printed case that looks like it could easily hang off of a keyring.

While the hardware is admirable enough, the software side of things is quite interesting as well. The Xling is running on a FreeRTOS kernel ported to the ATmega, but the GPLv3 licensed firmware sill needs some work. Right now only a few core functions are implemented, and [dsl] is hoping to get some ideas and feedback from the community so his dream of a fully open source demonic Tamagotchi can finally be realized.

Build enough of them, and you might even be able to implement another virtual pet Singularity. But to be safe, maybe you shouldn’t.

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You’ll Flip For This Toggle Switch Handheld Game

Teacher says that every time a toggle switch clunks, a hacker gets their wings. Or something like that. All we know is that there are few things the hardware tinkerer likes more than the satisfying action of a nice flip. Which by extension means this handheld game built by [Roman Revzin] and controlled by nothing more than three toggle switches will likely be a big hit at the hackerspace.

The parts list for this game, which [Roman] calls the ToggleBoss, is about as short as it gets. There’s a NodeMCU ESP8266 development board, a common SH1106 OLED display, and a trio of suitably clunky toggle switches. Add a bit of wire, toss it all into a 3D printed enclosure, and you’re halfway to thumb flicking nirvana.

Naturally, you might be wondering about the sort of games that can be played with three latching digital inputs; after all, it’s not exactly the most conventional controller layout. But there is where ToggleBoss really shines. Instead of trying to shoehorn traditional games into an exceptionally unconventional system, [Roman] has come up with several games which really embrace the limited input offered to the user.

In a platforming game not unlike the classic Mario Bros, the positions of the physical switches are mapped to virtual walls that are raised and lowered to control a character’s movement through the level. Another game shows the player three dots which correspond to the intended switch states, which they have to match as quickly and as accurately as possible. [Roman] has released the source code to his current lineup of games, which hopefully will inspire others to try their hand at creating software for this fascinating little system.

With the availability of cheap OLED displays and powerful microcontrollers, we’ve started to see more of these bespoke gaming systems. While some will undoubtedly prefer a pocket full of Nintendo’s classics, we think there’s something special about a game system that you can truly call your own.

A Smart Controller For Your DIY UV Cure Box

Resin 3D printers are finally cheap enough that peons like us can finally buy them without skipping too many meals, and what means we’re starting to see more and more of them in the hands of hackers. But to get good results you’ll also want a machine to cure the prints with UV light; an added expense compared to more traditional FDM printers. Of course you could always build one yourself to try and save some money.

An earlier prototype build of the interface.

To that end, [sjm4306] is working on a very impressive controller for all your homebrew UV curing needs. The device is designed to work with cheap UV strip lights that can easily be sourced online, and all you need to bring to the table is a suitable enclosure to install them in. Here he’s using a metal paint can with a lid to keep from burning his eyes out, but we imagine the good readers of Hackaday could come up with something slightly more substantial while still taking the necessary precautions to not cook the only set of eyes you’ll ever have.

Of course, the enclosure isn’t what this project is really about. The focus here is on a general purpose controller, and it looks like [sjm4306] has really gone the extra mile with this one. Using a common OLED display module, the controller provides a very concise and professional graphical user interface for setting parameters such as light intensity and cure time. While the part is cooking, there’s even a nice little progress bar which makes it easy to see how much time is left even if you’re across the room.

At this point we’ve seen a number of hacked together UV cure boxes, but many of them skip the controller and just run the lights full time. That’s fine for a quick and dirty build, but we think a controller like this one could help turn a simple hack into a proper tool.

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Tiny Duck Hunt Looks Like Big Fun

Unless you’ve held on to an old tube TV, did the hack that lets you use a light gun with an LCD via Wiimote receiver and a couple of microcontrollers, or live close to one of those adult arcades, you might be really jonesing to play Duck Hunt by now. It’s time to renew that hunting license, because [Danko] has recreated the game for NodeMCU boards, and it’s open season.

Instead of ducks, you get to shoot cute little Twitter-esque birds of varying sizes and point values, and a tiny cab-over truck if you wish. There’s a 60-second free-for-all, and then time is up and your score is displayed. As a special bonus, there’s no smug dog to laugh at you if don’t hit anything. Be sure to check out the demo and build video after the break.

This pocket console lives on a nicely-wired breadboard for now while [Danko] works on a custom PCB. He’s also planning to add support for Arduboy games in the future, and maybe a joystick instead of a D-pad of buttons.

There are a lot of myths floating around about how the old CRTs read the NES light gun, but our own [Will Sweatman] shot them down in his fascinating Duck Hunt: Reloaded write-up.

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Arkanoid Clock Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

A clock can be a simple device that keeps you aware of the current time, but it can also be so much more. It can express an aesthetic ideal from yesteryear, or be a throwback to a popular cultural touchstone. It can even be both, in the case of the brilliant Arkaclock from [Victor Serrano].

The build started when [Victor] wished to create an old-school arcade-style game. Aiming to work with limited hardware, just like the pioneers, he settled on using the PIC18F86K22, with less than 4KB of RAM and just 64KB of program space to play with. Hooked up to a 256 x 64 OLED screen with a pleasant green glow, he set about recreating Arkanoid in assembly language.

With this done, [Victor] noted that the retro-looking display was rather pleasant. At this point, the device was repurposed into a clock, with the program generating an Arkanoid level in the shape of the current time. The AI would then play the game, destroying the bricks each minute before the level changed.

It’s an excellent timepiece, and one that would be perfect for the wall of any indie game studio. Other retro games make for great clocks, too. Video after the break.

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Arduino Handheld Game System Gets A Grip

With little more than an Arduino, an OLED display, and some buttons, it’s easy to build your own faux-retro game system. There’s even a growing library of titles out there that target this specific combination of hardware, thanks in no small part to the Arduboy project. But unless you’re content to play Circuit Dude on a breadboard, at some point you’ll probably want to wrap the build up in a more convenient form.

Like many that came before it, the OLED handheld created by [Alex Zidros] takes inspiration from a Nintendo product; but it’s not the Game Boy. Instead, his design is based on a 3D printed grip for the Switch Joy-Cons that he found on Thingiverse. After tacking on a holder for the PCB, he had the makings of a rather unique system.

We especially like the offset SSD1306 OLED display. Not because we think a game system with an asymmetrical layout is a particularly sound design decision, but because it gives the whole build a rather cyberpunk feel. When combined with the exposed electronics, the whole system looks like it could have been cobbled together from a futuristic dumpster. Which is high praise, as far as we’re concerned.

Opposite the display is a LiPo pouch battery that [Alex] says was liberated from a portable speaker, and down below is an Adafruit Feather 328P. There are two tactile switches mounted to the front of the Feather, and in something of a departure from these sort of builds, there are two more on the shoulders of the 3D printed case. Everything is held together with nothing more exotic than a scrap of perfboard, making it easy for anyone who might want to build their own version.

If you prefer your Arduino and OLED gaming to come in a slightly more familiar form factor, the build that was done inside of a Dreamcast Visual Memory Unit (VMU) has always been a favorite around these parts.

An Arcade Cabinet With Displays To Spare

We’ve all got a pretty good mental image of what an arcade cabinet looks like, so you probably don’t need to be reminded that traditionally they are single-screen affairs. But that idea dates back to when they were built around big and bulky CRT displays. Now that we have modern LCD, LED, and OLED panels, who says you have to follow the old rules?

That’s precisely the sort of out of the box thinking that lead [Al Linke] to build this unique multi-display arcade cabinet. The game itself is still played on a single screen, but several smaller sub-displays are dotted all around the cabinet to indicate various bits of ancillary information. Are they necessary? Hardly. But we can’t deny it’s a clever idea, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing something similar in other DIY cabinets.

The build started with a commercially available cabinet from Arcade1Up, which at this point are popular enough that some of the Big Box retailers have them in stock. All of the electronics except for the display were stripped out, and replaced with a Dell OptiPlex 9020 computer and high-quality joysticks and buttons. [Al] then installed his various displays all over the cabinet, including a gorgeous LED marquee that we’ve featured previously.

So what do all these little screens do? [Al] explains them in the video after the break, but the general idea is that they provide contextual information about the game you currently have loaded up. A two-color OLED display shows the name of the game and what it’s rated, while a seven segment LED display shows the year the game was released. The displays are located both by the controls and where you’d expect the coin slot to be, so whether you’re actively playing or across the room, you can see all the information.

We’re always amazed to see how builders find ways to make their own personal arcade cabinets stand out. While it’s an idea that at this point we’ve seen quite a lot of, no two projects have ever been quite the same.

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