The Game: Case Mods

The game is coming together, all of the individual components are now built and it’s time to (hopefully) fit them into the TV case.

The case didn’t need too much work, just some holes in the top for the Rabbit Ears and associated cables, along with a big hole to fit the webcam.

At the rear of the case I needed to make sure a USB power cable would fit through for the Pi, and then had the thought to include an HDMI adaptor. This turned out to be a great idea, as it meant that I could theoretically finish the hardware side of the build, but still plug the completed TV into a monitor to fine tune the code.

A short male-to-female HDMI extension (from a 1st gen chromecast) was the ideal fit, exposing the socket through the rear of the case.

This helpfully dictated the placement of the Pi, and with a bit more drilling all of the necessary mounting holes were done.

With the case all ready the next step was to test fit all of the components, and then write some basic code to test the functions.

Project updates so far:

1: LCD Shutters
2: LCD Glasses
3: TV Teardown
4: Screen Cuts
5: Screen Test
6: Remote Working
7: Rabbit Ears
8: A Concept but No Name

The Game: A Concept but No Name

I’ve posted several updates on “The Game” but haven’t really explained what it is – that’s because until last week I wasn’t sure it would even work!

The original concept came to me when I was hanging out with Ken the vet at the Progress Bar. We were looking through some unused Pi accessories and

kicking ideas around, and came to the LCD Shutters.  We got onto discussing those awful (but popular!) “impairment” games like “Say it Don’t Spray It” and thought the LCD shutters could work in the same way, in that you have to perform a task but all the time you’re doing it the LCD glasses are messing with your vision and making it difficult.

From there I started thinking about what the game could be, and remembered the fun we had with the 12v siren a few weeks earlier.  The siren had to be a part of it, but how to make it with vintage tech? The next idea was to embed the siren in an old TV, and use the TV aerial to make one of those “bendy wire” games. And so the concept was born!

So the idea is that the old TV will have the siren poking out from its screen, the aerial will be a bendy wire maze and the controller will be an old corded remote control. As you try to negotiate the wire with the hook the glasses will randomly go opaque, making it difficult, and if you touch the wire the siren will blow, which is itself startling enough to really put you off.

So that’s the plan – a traditional bendy wire maze game, but with more peril because of the siren, and more difficulty because of the LCD Glasses. Hopefully the aerial will also be adjustable so that you can have different skill levels. I also plan to include some LEDs to light the screen in different colours during gameplay, and also integrate some sound effects. Ideally it will also take a photo of the “Winner” and upload it to Twitter, but that may be a step too far.

I hope to have it at least partly ready in time to take it to Raspberry Fields, but with less than a month to go this could be a tall order! At some point I also need to think of a good name for it. Stay tuned for further updates.

Project updates so far:

1: LCD Shutters
2: LCD Glasses
3: TV Teardown
4: Screen Cuts
5: Screen Test
6: Remote Working
7: Rabbit Ears

Once complete there will be a full YouTube video so you can follow along and make your own!

The Game: Rabbit Ears

This Pi-based game is coming together nicely, the hook remote went just as planned so Rabbit Ears are next. To be honest I put this part off as long as possible as there was a lot of potential for disaster.

I’ll cover the concept of the game in a bit more detail next time, but suffice it to say that a critical component is a TV aerial, bent up to form a kind of maze to negotiate with the hook remote.

Bending a TV aerial into a nice stable shape is much trickier than it sounds! The connections between the sections are pretty fragile, and even after heating the chrome tube is liable to kink when you bend it, leaving a really weak joint.

Several tests and destroyed aerials later I came across a solution- keep the design simple and make a smooth curve by “nipping” the aerial in multiple places with needlenose pliers. This gave much more control over the bend and I was able to replicate the same curve in both “ears”.  You’ll see when the video is released that this was quite a tense moment!

With the ears in good shape they then needed to be wired to a cable for connection to the Pi, which was straightforward as I just re-used the existing screw connectors.

Next I re-used the tip of one of the aerials I destroyed in testing to make a “Finish” button, wired to a different GPIO pin on the Pi. Now that the project is beyond the “danger zone” I’ll look at the overall concept in the next post.

Project updates so far:

1: LCD Shutters
2: LCD Glasses
3: TV Teardown
4: Screen Cuts
5: Screen Test
6: Remote Working

Once complete there will be a full YouTube video so you can follow along and make your own!

The Game: Remote Working

The controller is a key part of any game, and in this case it’s a remote control from a 1970s Sony Betamax video recorder. It’s a corded remote, and I needed to connect one end to the Pi’s GPIO with a hook at the other end to complete the circuit.

Firstly I soldered a 3.5mm audio cable to the hook (donated from some 1980s Sennheisers I picked up for 50p), then fitted the hook to the remote.

As only a single cable is needed to connect the hook to the Pi I had two cables spare in the lead, so connected these to a bright white LED within the remote case. I then tested and mapped the connections with a multimeter ready for testing with the Pi.

Of course a hook controller is no fun on its own – the next step is making the “Rabbit Ears” that form the main part of the game.

Project updates so far:

1: LCD Shutters
2: LCD Glasses
3: TV Teardown
4: Screen Cuts
5: Screen Test

Once complete there will be a full YouTube video so you can follow along and make your own!

We’re going to Raspberry Fields!

Exciting news! We’ve been accepted to have a Show & Tell stall at the Raspberry Fields event on 30 June / 1 July. More details to follow, but we’re hoping to bring along a selection of Old Tech. New Spec. projects, and hopefully “The Game” if it’s finished in time.

As they say on the official website:

Raspberry Fields is a brand-new event led by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with lots of help from our community of young people, educators, hobbyists, and tech enthusiasts. It will be a chance for people of all ages and skill levels to have a go at getting creative with tech, as well as a celebration of all that our digital makers have already learnt and achieved, whether through taking part in Code Clubs, CoderDojos, or Raspberry Jams, or through trying our resources at home.

It promises to be a great couple of days, come find us and say hello if you’re attending, there’ll be stickers!

 

YouTube Channel Trailer

The YouTube channel is finally ready for business, Subscribe now for your regular fix of #Retro meets @Raspberry_Pi!

I’m hoping to publish a regular monthly project video with Retro-Spectives and New Spec Reviews in between. The monthly video will cover all the stages of a project in detail so you’ll be able to follow along and give some of your Old Tech a New Spec!

The Game: LCD Shutters

I picked up these LCD shutters a while back from Pimoroni, essentially because they were a new product and I was sure I could use them in a future project.

As they say on the Pimoroni product description:

Essentially single pixel LCD displays, these panels polarise and go black (completely opaque) when you pass 3V through them, and then de-polarise (become transparent) when pulled low or shorted. Easy!

You can treat the LCD shutter like a low value capacitor. Once energised, they will hold their polarised/opaque state, but slowly leak charge over time and become de-polarised/transparent again

The shutters were really well packaged (as you’d hope for something so fragile) and had a clear plastic protector on both sides, which is handy as you’ll handle them a lot.

As you can see in the GIF they go completely opaque when you attach 3v, then slowly become clear again (unless you pull down or short the connections). They don’t seem too fussy about polarity.

This week I finally nailed the concept for using them in a new Raspberry Pi project, which I’m calling “The Game” for now – a long way to go but there’ll be regular updates here and a YouTube video of the whole build when it’s finished.