A classic 8-bit game in a new version
A thought that immediately struck us was, what if we can make the game wireless? We know communication, precise and reliable communication that again and again transmits control signals for example. Wireless in an proprietary radio network can work almost in real time, moreover, it is reliable. Of course, the game must work wirelessly.
The brain is a raspberry
All games need a brain and so even our retro game. We chose to base it on the minicomputer Raspberry Pi that makes it possible to select from a wide variety of 8-bit games. In just our game, we have chosen to put a version of Space Invaders in the Raspberry computer, a game that is programmed in Scratch , a programming language that makes it easy to customize the game to suit our application with other graphics and more, plus it’s fun to be able to change the programming of the game, we deleted the possibility to choose difficulty level and changed the controls that control the game, just to give some examples. And the Raspberry is perhaps the first of its kind with a DIN rail-mount for an industrial application.
To build the perfect cabinet
The Internet is full of drawings on the cabinet for these games, we decided to produce our own construction in plywood, wood glue and screws. We ordered all the parts sawn from timber yard, which saved us a lot of construction time. The cost was about 90 USD for all wood in the cabinet which then was cut into its final design with a jigsaw. It actually went pretty quick to get a good result because and the cabinet was then painted with a few layers matte black paint and then screwed together piece by piece.
If you want to make your own game, you can put down both more money and love than we did on our materials as plywood is a slightly uneven surface.
To find the typical controls
To control an older game requires a joystick and buttons with the right feeling. We chose to buy a new-old looking joystick ( Electrokit ) and buttons ( Kjell and Co. ) for the right feel. One key flashes all the time thanks to a turnsignal relay from the auto parts store.
In order to translate the movements of the joystick (left / right) to the ones and zeros (arrow keys), we have chosen a Makey-makey card that maybe is not really the most optimal because it’s a Lab’s short but we had the opportunity to test its function and it did the job. Makeymakey is a circuit board to which you can connect different types of conductive materials to control a computer. The Makey-makey have no ready made cable connections but it is a circuit board so we soldered the cables to the board, which means we do not need to think about bad contact in the future. Unfortunately, we got a very old version so did not know how to actually reprogram the card (although there are ways to do it), so we had to adjust the game’s programming instead.
Between the joystick and buttons and Makey Makey we mounted wireless link, more on that further down.
Display and visual elements
We chose a used monitor that fits the game’s design, old games were not using widescreens. We mounted the screen behind a plexiglass from the auto parts store and covered it with a custom cut matte black adhesive foil to give a little more TV-feeling.
All arcade has a light bar at the top, we managed to obtain a ready made panel in a kit that is really a wallpaper decoration from roligaprylar.se , which turned out to be perfect. The sticker is mounted on plexiglass and behind the sign, we have also have hidden speakers, modern computer speaker of a budget model that are screwed into the cabinet.
All arcade games have fun graphics around the buttons. We wanted that as well so we designed our own graphics, Maxum which manufactures signs for us to for fairs assisted with a sticker of outstanding quality.
Radio transmission of control signals
There coin slot was replaced by a money saving wireless link, SATEL-LP is a reliable link for wireless transmission of control signals and I/O. The radio transmits now all the wireless signals in almost real time and, as a bonus, each time a shot is fired a blue flash is seen around the radio modems. The receiving radio is mounted inside the cabinet and is normally not visible to anyone watching the game.
The construction period for this project including procurement of components and customisation is nothing that is solved in an hour or two, we recommend that you spend at least 2-3 days depending on how handy you are to solve this project and how far you want to go in your design. Much of the time we put down was to get to a game that hopefully are to be shipped around to fairs and events. If you take the chance to build something like this so we can guarantee a unique game and also new knowledge about electronics and programming.