When it comes to controllers for racing games, there is perhaps no better option than a force feedback steering wheel. With a built-in motor to push against the wheel at exactly the right times, they can realistically mimic the behavior of a steering wheel from a real car. The only major downside is cost, with controllers often reaching many hundreds of dollars. [Jason] thought it shouldn’t be that hard to build one from a few spare parts though and went about building this prototype force feedback steering wheel for himself.
Sourcing the motor for the steering wheel wasn’t as straightforward as he thought originally. The first place he looked was an old printer, but the DC motor he scavenged from it didn’t have enough torque to make the controller behave realistically, so he turned to a high-torque motor from a battery-powered impact driver. This also has the benefit of coming along with a planetary gearbox as well, keeping the size down, as well as including its own high-current circuitry. The printer turned out to not be a total loss either, as the encoder from the printer was used to send position data about the steering wheel back to the racing game. Controlling the device is an Arduino, which performs double duty sending controller information from the steering wheel as well as receiving force feedback instructions from the game to drive the motor in the steering wheel. Continue reading “Force Feedback Steering Wheel Made From Power Drill”
[Pinkman] creates a smart RGB table lamp based off of the “Odradek device” robot arm from the video game “Death Stranding”.
[Pinkman] adds a XIAO BLE nRF52840 Sense device, with Bluetooth support, microphone and TinyML capability. The nRF52840 is used to push data to the five WS2812 strips, one for each “blade” of the lamp, and also connects to a TTP223 capacitive touch controller to add touch input detection. The TinyML portion of the nRF52840 allows for custom keyword training to turn on the lamp with voice commands ([Pinkman] uses “Bling Bling”). [Pinkman] has also provided Bluetooth control, allowing the color and pattern to be changed from a phone application.
The lamp is 3D printed with the build being based off of [Nils Kal]’s Printables files. Each of the five blades has a white 3D-printed diffusor plate to help ease out the hot spots for the LED strip. The lamp is fully adjustable in addition to having cavities, channels and access points for “invisible” wiring. [Pinkman] has also upgraded the original 3D files to allow for the three wires needed to drive the WS2812, instead of the two wires that [Nils] had allotted in the original.
[Pinkman] has all of the code, STL files and training data available for download, so be sure to check it out. Lamps are a favorite of ours and we’ve featured our fair share, including 3D printed Shoji lamps and RGB wall lamps.
Video after the break!
Continue reading “Illuminate Your Benched Things With This Death Stranding Lamp”
The Nintendo GameCube in many ways defied expectations. It was purple, it had buttons shaped like beans, and it didn’t launch with a Mario game. What we got instead was the horror-adjacent ghost adventure game starring Mario’s brother — Luigi’s Mansion. The game was a graphical showpiece for the time, however, the camera angles were all fixed like an early Resident Evil game. Not satisfied with playing within those bounds, modder [Sky Bluigi] created a first person camera patch for the game that finally let players see why Luigi was so freaked out all the time.
The patch dubbed Luigi’s Mansion FPO (First Person Optimized) does a lot to drive home the game’s child-friendly, spooky aesthetic. Along with the ability to explore environments with a new lens, it provides the ability to turn the flashlight on and off manually if you want. Though the most impressive part of Luigi’s Mansion FPO is that it runs on real hardware. All that’s needed to play the mod is clean image of the North American release of Luigi’s Mansion and a .xdelta patching utility like Delta Patcher. GameCube games can be ripped directly to a USB thumb drive using a soft-modded Nintendo Wii console running Clean Rip or similar backup tool.
Luigi’s Mansion FPO actually provides a collection of patches that offer revised controls and increased field of view depending on which patch is used. The original game had inverted controls for aiming Luigi’s ghost vacuum, so the “Invert C-Stick Controls” patch will install a more modern aiming scheme where up on the right stick will aim upwards and vice versa. The “Better FOV” pulls the camera a little further back from where Luigi’s head would be while the original aiming scheme is retained. Though no matter which patch you decide to go with, a mod like this is always a good excuse to revisit a cult classic.
For another fresh GameCube mod check out this post about a Raspberry Pi Pico based modchip for the system.
Continue reading “Luigi’s Mansion First Person Mod Brings Spooky New Perspective”
Around October, amid all the pumpkin spiced food and beverages, folks make their yearly pilgrimage to a local farm. They load themselves onto hay-filled tractor trailers and ride out in search of the perfect pumpkin to put on the front porch, and let it slowly decompose. The “closest” a video game has come to replicating this seasonal event is the annual Farming Simulator series. One modder, [Dylan], decided to add an extra level of authenticity to the Farming Simulator experience by controlling the game with an actual tractor.
The opportunity for the project presented itself thanks to a local Kiwi farmer (Kiwi as in New Zealand, not the fruit) who provided [Dylan] with access to a Case IH 310 Magnum CVT tractor. [Dylan] built a custom USB controller that mirrored the actual layout of the tractor’s control pad. Tilt sensors were wrapped around the tractor’s steering wheel and throttle to provide analog input for steering and speed control. After a number of hours tweaking the setup on site, [Dylan] live-streamed his Farming Simulator PC play session (video below) with the tractor itself left off for obvious reasons. Without tractor motor engaged there was no power steering, so he deserves a bit of extra credit for making it through multiple hours.
This certainly isn’t the first ridiculous controller project [Dylan] has taken on. He’s created a trombone controller to just to play Trombone Champ, a Nerf bow controller for Overwatch, and he even played through Hades using a literal pomegranate. You can watch more of [Dylan’s] custom controller projects on his Rudeism Twitch channel.
Continue reading “Real Tractor Moonlights As Farming Simulator Controller”
Science has affirmatively answered a lot of questions that, looking back, could be seen as bizarre to have asked in the first place. Questions like “can this moldy cheese cure disease” or “can this rock perform math if we give it some electricity.” Among the more recent of this list is the question of whether or not the video game Factorio, in which the player constructs an elaborate factory, can be used as the basis for other academic work. As [Kenneth Reid] discusses in this talk, it most certainly can.
If you haven’t played the game, it’s a sort of real-time strategy (RTS) game where the player gathers materials to construct a factory while defending it from enemies. On the surface it might seem similar to Age of Empires or Starcraft, but its complexity is taken to extremes not found in other RTS games. The complexity hides nuance, and [Kenneth] points out that it’s an excellent simulator to study real-world problems such as vehicle routing problems, decision making, artificial intelligence, bin packing problems, and production planning, among a whole slew of other interesting areas of potential research.
[Kenneth] and his partners on this project also developed some software tools with interacting with a Factorio game without having to actually play it directly. The game includes an API which the team used to develop tools so that other researchers can use it as a basis for simulations and studies. There was a research paper published as well for more in-depth reading on the topic. We shouldn’t be too surprised that a game can be used in incredibly productive ways like this, either. Here’s another example of a toy being used to train engineers working in industrial automation.
Continue reading “Researching Factorio…For Science”
A good chip decapping and reverse engineering is always going to capture our interest, and when it comes from [Ken Shirriff] we know it’s going to be a particularly good one. This time he’s directed his attention to the MOS 7600 all-in-one video game chip (Nitter), a mostly forgotten device from the 6502 chipmaker which we featured a few weeks ago when it was the subject of a blogger’s curiosity. The question then was whether it contained a microprocessor or not and even whether it was another 6502 variant, and the answer revealed in the decapping answers that but will disappoint the 6502 camp.
On the chip is a mixture of analog and digital circuitry, with some elements of a more traditional game chip alongside a ROM, a PLA, and a serial CPU core. The PLA stores pixel data while the ROM stores the CPU code, and the CPU serves to perform calculations necessary to the games themselves. He hasn’t fully reverse-engineered either, but the two areas of the chip are mask-programmed to produce the different games with which the chip could be found.
So the answer to the original question is that there is a CPU on board, but it’s not a 6502 and the operation is a hybrid between dedicated game chip and CPU-controlled chip. What we find interesting is that this serial CPU core might have as we mused in the previous piece made the heart of a usable 1970s microcontroller, was this a missed opportunity on the part of MOS? We’ll never know, but at least another piece of early video game history has been uncovered.
Anyone who has played an online shooter game in the past two or three decades has almost certainly come across a person or machine that cheats at the game by auto-aiming. For newer games with anti-cheat, this is less of a problem, but older games like Team Fortress have been effectively ruined by these aimbots. These types of cheats are usually done in software, though, and [Kamal] wondered if he would be able to build an aim bot that works directly on the hardware instead.
First, we’ll remind everyone frustrated with the state of games like TF2 that this is a proof-of-concept robot that is unlikely to make any aimbots worse or more common in any games. This is mostly because [Kamal] is training his machine to work in Aim Lab, a first-person shooter training simulation, and not in a real multiplayer videogame. The robot works by taking a screenshot of his computer in Python and passing the information through a computer vision algorithm which recognizes high-contrast targets. From there a PID controller is used to tell a series of omniwheels attached to the mouse where to point, and when the cursor is in the hitbox a mouse click is triggered.
While it might seem straightforward, building the robot and then, more importantly, tuning the PID controller took [Kamal] over two months before he was able to rival pro-FPS shooters at the aim trainer. It’s an impressive build though, and if one of his omniwheel motors hadn’t burned out it may have exceeded the top human scores on the platform. If you would like a bot that makes you worse at a game instead of better, though, head over to this build which plays Valorant by using two computers to pass game information between.
Continue reading “Aimbot Does It In Hardware”