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

Prep for #RaspberryFields

It’s less than a month to Raspberry Fields and we’re trying to get organised early to save a last minute panic!

After picking up an old TV turntable at the car boot at the weekend the Pi VCR is ready for show-and-tell time, but will it still work 3 years on?

Cards and stickers have also arrived, the kids are very excited about dishing these out, not sure we’ll have enough so come and get one early if you want one!

Showing the Google Pi Intercom and ’75 Info-TV is challenging as they’re both wall-mounted, so I’ve slung together a display stand out of scrap wood, including an illuminated Old Tech New Spec sign (currently taking up lounge space).

We’re super-excited to be a small part of this event and hope to see you there.

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!

A Blast from the Past

Not a bad car boot last weekend, lots of sellers and not too many gawkers, which is how we like it. We scored some Old Tech on the very first stall, first a vintage Screen Pointer for £1, very similar to the one we picked up a few weeks ago, which will make a nice little project in the future.

The standout find though was an early 1980s personal stereo, a Saisho PS-121. It also set me back £1 and is almost identical to the first one I owned. Back in 1984 I went on my first “big” school trip to Paris – a not inconsiderable 23 hour coach trip from Newcastle. With the growing popularity of personal stereos the school suggested that we all bring one along, to help keep us entertained on the journey.

Of course Paris was the ideal place to expand my tape collection, and I picked up a couple of Jean Michel Jarre cassettes (french versions, ooh la la!) while we were there, listening to them throughout the trip. It was really nostalgic to dig out the original tape and give it a play (amazingly the stereo works perfectly), sounding even better through the Walkman headphones I snagged a few weeks ago.

As we left the sale I spotted a pretty old TV Turntable, which I’ve been after for a while – I need to present the Raspberry Pi VCR at the upcoming Raspberry Fields event, but it’s really tricky as it weighs a ton and has both a screen on the back and controls on the front – this turntable will hopefully make things much easier!

 

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 in the MagPi Issue 70!

A warm welcome from Old Tech. New Spec. to everyone following links from the May 2018 MagPi magazine!

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to this month’s upcycling feature, and hope you enjoyed reading it. If you don’t have your copy yet you can download a .pdf from the website or find it in all good newsagents.

If you want to know more about what I’m doing here have a look at the introduction page, and if you like what you see please join in on Twitter @OldTechNewSpec and subscribe to the YouTube channel for regular project videos.

The Game: Screen Test

In the last post we successfully cut a hole in the TV screen to make space for the siren, so the next step is to secure it in place and make a translucent filter for the screen.

First though fitting that siren – as luck would have it I had a small metal 90 degree bracket that was exactly the right size to fit between the siren’s mounting bracket and the side of the TV case. The holes needed to be drilled out to hold larger bolts, but with a bit of fiddling it was rock solid.

Next was the screen filter. For this I printed a “TV Snow” image onto an A4 Transparency sheet (the kind you’d use in old-school overhead projectors) and then trimmed it around the existing screen with a craft knife. With everything test-fitted together I placed the assembly in front of the Pi prototype rig so that the Unicorn pHAT would shine through the screen. It looked just the way I had hoped, lots of indirect light and a bit of a glow to the screen, which will hopefully look even better when the inside of the TV is painted white.

Next time we’ll be moving on to the remote and the rabbit ears.

Project updates so far:

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

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!

 

The Game: Screen Cuts

With the TV dismantled  the next stage is to start fitting the other parts together, firstly the siren. The siren needs to poke through the TV screen, so the first order of business was to cut a hole for it.

Initially I thought of using a hole saw, but the screen is so bendy and fragile I had a feeling that would end in disaster. I decided to use the Dremel to nibble through the plastic, later using a sanding attachment to clean up the hole.

It all went really well, all limbs and digits are still intact and the hole is both the right size and neatly cut. It fits perfectly over the siren, and test-fitted together with the TV it’s really starting to take shape.

Next on the list is fitting the siren permanently in place, and sorting out some kind of translucent image for the screen, one that will display the different lights controlled by the Raspberry Pi but not let you see all the way inside the TV

Project updates so far:

1: LCD Shutters
2: LCD Glasses
3: TV Teardown

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