Nov 15

Friday Post: MakeSmith CNC Router

Hey All!  Happy Friday!

This has been a “short” week for me.  Had the day off on Tuesday for Veterans Day, and today campus closed early because our football team is going up against Tulsa.  Go Knights!

PiPlay happenings!  Mark has been working on an advanced database scraper tool.

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It’s going to be awesome once it’s get a little more polished.  I’ve been working on some more controller stuff.  I’ll have more to say about that soon.

MakeSmith CNC

A few months ago I backed the MakeSmith CNC router kickstarter.  The project was created to design and sell a CNC mill / router that cost less than $200.

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My kit arrived yesterday, and I’ve gotten what appears to be the base put together.  The instructions are in the form of a bunch of YouTube videos, so I’m watching each one a few times, and then attempting the install.  I have forgone using wood glue at the moment, just in case I mess up or need to redo something.  I figure I will just reinforce the joints after everything is attached.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Nov 07

Friday Post: DISPMANX_vnc and Homepass

Hey All,

Happy Friday!  I want to send a Very Happy Birthday to my Father.  This weekend is his birthday and I’m very proud to be his son.

I’ve been very busy these past few weeks,  I’ve been contracted to write a second edition of my Raspberry Pi Gaming book, and it’s taking up a lot of my time.  Even though its a subject I’m very familiar with, i’m finding out tons of new things I can do with the Raspberry Pi that have cropped because of my need to record and capture things coming from the Pi’s framebuffer.

I’ve been using a few tools, mainly ones involving DISPMANX to copy the framebuffer into a png file.  It’s called raspi2png and it works really well.  Sometimes its difficult to trigger raspi2png at the right time though.

One thing I have always wanted was a way to ssh / tunnel into the actual console terminal.  Not a new tty device, and not from XWindows, but the one that displays on /fb0.  Enter dispmanx_vnc.  I had never thought of using VNC to tunnel the framebuffer,  but Hanzelpeter has done just that with dispmanx_vnc

There’s definite input lag, and I can only achieve about 15fps, but it is the best way I’ve found to record and capture straight from the framebuffer right now.  I can ssh into my Pi, run the dispmanx_vnc command, then use a VNC viewer (I used tightvnc) to control the main display.  I’m so excited about this 😀

Other news, if anyone has a 3DS, then you know about StreetPass.  It’s a way to virtually meet others who are around you with their 3DS.  There are a bunch of mini games built into the 3DS that require you to meet people using Street Pass in order to advance. There is also Street Pass Relay, which Nintendo created last year.  This allows those who are connected to a Nintendo Zone wifi access point to StreetPass with others from around the world, who are also connected to a Street Pass Relay. So of course this has been reverse engineered, and you can now turn a Raspberry Pi into a “HomePass” StreetPass relay.

Original instructions here .  There is a premade SD card available here, but I have yet to try it out.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Oct 10

Friday Post: Custom Carts

Hey All,

Happy Friday!  This week I got in two cartridges that I am very to share with you all.  The first one is a custom SNES cart called StarFox Legacy!

StarFox Legacy contains three games:

  • The original StarFox
  • The StarFox competition game (a modified version that has a timer set and you have to rack up the most points before it runs out)
  • The unreleased StarFox 2.

To change games, you hold the reset switch down for 3 seconds.  It’s a really cart, and I’m glad I was able to acquire it.

The second cart is made for the Sega Genesis, and is a homebrew game some of you may know called FIX IT FELIX JR!!!  Yes, someone programmed a recreation of the game from the movie Wreck It Ralph!  It’s really well done, the label looks awesome, and I love it.

PiPlay 0.8 Beta 7 is coming!

Nothing too groundbreaking in this one.  Bug fixes for the controller setup, a popup window on first startup to give you some hints as well as a change log popup.  Some bug fixes, a little bit of speed improvements, background sounds.  I’m also switching out the python flask built in webserver for gunicorn.  It causes great speed improvements, uses less RAM and CPU.  When I switched to it, I noticed a lot of SNES games stopped stuttering.

I’ll be uploading the image this weekend and the updater should be available shortly.

-Shea

 

Aug 08

Friday Post: PiPlay 0.8 Beta 5

Hey All,

Happy Friday.  One more week of break before the Fall semester starts up.  It’s going to be a busy month!

I’m happy to announce that PiPlay 0.8 Beta 5 is being released.  It should be available on SourceForge in a few hours.

Fixes / Improvements:

  • Smoother animations and framerate
  • More optimizations
  • Memory leak fix
  • Control Pad setup is now under the popup menu (press tab or the second button on your joystick)
  • This is the master image for the PiPLAY Kickstarter

Work is already being done on the next release, which will include 2 player controller setup support, thanks to Mark.

Have a good weekend everyone!

-Shea

Jul 18

Friday Post: Space Madness!

Hey All,

For the first time in a long time I feel rested.  I did a sleep study to find out why I was so fatigued all the time even though I was getting around 8 hours of sleep. ( I’m not counting that my other waking hours have been spent on the Kickstarter, PiPlay, and Work with no breaks 😉 )

The study people hooked me up to a machine that essentially blows air at you, and holy crap, it helped me sleep through the night like a log.  I was up at 5am, didn’t need any caffeinated drinks in the morning (but force of habit…) and I’ve been going strong all day.  If I feel this good and energized after one night,  I’m excited to see what will happen after a few weeks!

PiPlay

PiPlay 0.8 Beta 4 has so far been really good.  Only a few relatively minor bugs to fix.  I am going to push the update this weekend and a new image as well.  Be on the lookout for that.

Raspberry Pi Model B+

Last Monday the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the latest Pi board, the Model B+.  While the core hardware stays the same, the board includes 4 USB Ports, more GPIO pins, improved board layout, and a switch from SD Cards to Micro SD cards.  My board came in today, so I took some pictures of it.

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Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Jun 14

Friday Post: Joysticks

Hey All,

So, I’ve been looking at more joysticks, and I want to tell you about an experience I had with a cheap $15 Chinese joystick I imported.  I buy a lot of items from China.  This time it was a disaster.  I believe I ended up inadvertently getting a return rather than new stock, so I’m waiting for the vendor to explain the issue before I give up on them entirely (the other products I purchased were in good working order).

The joystick i purchased is supposed to be a Welcom WE-6200.  There are a lot of joysticks that look like this one, just browsing aliexpress will bring up dozens of similar products.

The one I received had:

  • solder on the underside,
  • a crack in the case that was “covered up” with sharpie
  • buttons that didn’t fit well.
  • mushy and sticking buttons
  • directly soldered connections rather than quick disconnects.

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Other than that, it does work.

PiPlay is coming along.  I’m finishing up the joystick config system.  I’ve add mednafen to the list of emulators.  I’ve done some code modifications to it to enable it to work on console with DISPMANX.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

 

 

Jun 08

Very Late Friday-ish Post: Compiling

Hey All,

Sorry for the very late post, I’ve had some family visiting from out of town and spent the weekend catching up.

For PiPlay, I’ve been spending some time getting into the nitty gritty of some of the emulators.  PiFBA happens to have a config file hardcoded in it’s source code.  Because I use PiFBA for a few different systems, I needed to have individual configs.

My patched version of PiFBA is available here as source code: https://github.com/ssilverm/pifba-config-patch

Looking back, it wasn’t that difficult to patch, but my C++ is rusty, and I needed some friends help to get it running.

I’ve also been playing with SDL and DISPMANX.  One of my favorite emulators is Mednafen, but it has a problem running on the console.  If you use DISPMANX and try to run Mednafen, you get an SDL error (due to not needing SDL_GetVideoInfo()).  I’m recompiling Mednafen right now which replaces the SDL_GetVideoInfo() call with generic video heights.  DISPMANX should scale correctly anyway, so I will see how it looks.

On that note,  I also had to deal with my favorite compiling issue on the Raspberry Pi: hq4x and running out of memory.

This is why I love the Raspberry Pi (and Linux).  I learn something new everyday.  To add or subtract swap space, type:

sudo /etc/dphys-swapfile
Change 100 to the desired amount of swap.  I used 300 for hq4x
/etc/init.d/dphys-swapfile stop
/etc/init.d/dphys-swapfile start

The swap space will be created, and you can now compile without crashing (usually).

Have a good week everyone!

-Shea

 

May 16

Friday Post: Themes

Hey all,

 I’ve spent the past week on a lot of administrative PiPlay stuff, but I do have a couple of neat things to show.

Theme Support

 Controller Config (very early)

Big thanks to Matt from the forums for coding up the theme support and Dan for helping with the controller configuration.

Desktop Arcade

On my off time (hah) I’ve been working on a desktop barcade machine.  I’ve done 2 days of 3 coats of paint, 1 day of sanding, and I’m getting ready to do another few layers of paint.

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Have a great weekend!

-Shea

May 09

Friday Post: FUNDED!

Hey All,

Thank you so much for your backings and support.  Over 400% funded!  What did I do to celebrate?

Icee

 I got a delicious post-Kickstarter celebratory Icee 🙂

Updates

To keep you all updated on my progress, I created this:

PiPlay Update Board

As I finish tasks (or add new ones) I will be updating this board (notice the green filled in dots at the bottom) and letting everyone know.

PiPlay Case

I got the PiPlay case in my hands last night.  It looks and feels great.  There is only a minor alteration that needs to be done.

Everyone who backed a tier with the case will receive this version that has Kickstarter Edition branding.

PiPlay Case Kickstarter Edition

 PiPlay

Lots of cool work is being done on PiPlay.  Theme support is now built in, but it does have some quirks.  We are fixing that, and it should be part of the PiPlay 0.8 beta 4 release.

Bartop

I got in a Bartop Arcade Kit from Rich’s Arcade today.  I am going to take pictures as I build it, and put that up as it’s own post.

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Enjoy!

-Shea Silverman

May 02

Friday Post: It’s Over 9000!

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The PiPlay Kickstarter has gone over $9000!!!!

So far, we are working on theme support, joystick support, joystick configs, auto grabbing of game screen images, screen image previews, and more emulators.

I’ve also started a joystick build so that I can test out different encoders easily.

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  • $30 for the encoder, joystick, and buttons from eBay.
  • $15 for the case and $5 for the drill hole bits from Harbor Freight.
  • Ability to carry around all my stuff in a joystick case: Priceless!

 

Custom menu from the PiPlay forums:

I’m going to go celebrate!

 

-Shea