Friday, October 7, 2022

RetroChallenge 2022-10: The Map, a Spreadsheet, and a disk image...

I now once again have a map to use!  The black circle in the Atlantic is the starting position.  The open circles are all of the locations you can visit. (China, Japan, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, The Caribbean, England, Switzerland, Greece, Egypt and India.)  The black lines are "preferred" ways to go, and the pink lines are unnecessary loops, dead ends, and game-ending branches of the maze

I started with a printout of the image from the previous post, and played the game a bunch just to explore the map.  I also started writing down what items you can get from which locations, which I've condensed down into a google sheet which is available as I work on it here

I checked it against maps online, and it seems to be 100% the same as those.  I really wanted to make the map entirely by myself rather than using one from the 'net.

Once I mapped it out the entire thing, I re-opened Photoshop and added a new map layer, and reduced down the map to only the segments that I should use in the game... eliminating dead ends, unnecessary loops, and places that will just end the game. 

Last night I also played a bit, streaming to my BleuLlama account on Twitch, which was my first time doing that too.  I learned a lot about how NOT to do it, and things to improve for the next time I play... I also need to figure out how to get it to record the stream for later viewing. 

One of the snagging points was that my disk image for C64 of the game was corrupted, so I also had to track down another copy that worked.   I think I'll prefer playing on the C64 because after the game is loaded, the transitions are much quicker than they are on the Amiga version.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

RetroChallenge 2022-10: Beginnings


Just to get started, I quickly mashed together a couple screenshots from the game, drew a grid and adjusted colors so that I had this map template.  Every possible place on the planet that you can move the robot to is here.  Most of these positions you cannot actually get to, but that's fine.  I printed out a copy and will run through the game, just to map it all out, without actually doing any of the "talking with spies" nonsense.  I know enough to avoid a certain area, but i'm gonna map out the maze there anyway. ;D

RetroChallenge 2022-10 : Hacker!

I've decided that for RetroChallenge 2022-10, I'm gonna finally win the game "Hacker" from Activision.  I will probably play it on an Amiga emulator on my modern laptop, perhaps streaming gameplay on my YouTube channel or my Twitch channel (which I've not set up yet.)  I'll send a tweet through on my twitter when I'm gonna stream or whatever.

The basic premise of "Hacker" game is that... well, you don't know when you start it up.  The only instructions included with it originally were "insert game disk, turn on computer"... that's it.  You have to figure things out, how to use the interface, everything, just by playing it.  I love this.  You have to navigate this robot around the earth, trading stuff from your inventory with various spies, to get all of the pieces of a shredded document.  Some spies will trade for multiple items and some spies will only trade for specific things, so you need to get it right.

"Hacker 2" had a similar concept, but it was controlling a robot inside of a building where you also had control of four video screens, four tape recorders, and a bunch of surveillance cameras to be bypassed.  It's a lot more complicated of a puzzle... for another time..

Anyway, I've loved the concept of this game since I first got it in the mid-80s for my Amiga. I got pretty far in it, but my map got thrown out or lost, and I never really returned to it.  So part of this will be recreating a map so that I can figure out where I am and how to get around in the maze of game... especially once the map disappears.

Additional update posts will be made here to this blogger thingy as I progress.

I'd like to solve it for the first time on my actual Amiga 1000 if possible, which is in storage/on display in my office right now, so I may need to do some quick restoration of it to get it running for this. ;D

I may also stream/do a run through of the game on C64 since I have that one set up and ready to go right now.

Hm.  It might be fun to solve it on every platform I have.  I also have an Apple IIc that's easy to set up... hmmm... :D

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

My Lego/Technic Saab 900 and Popup Camper

My mid-80s (flatnose) 1:12 scale Saab 900 Turbo.  I 3D printed my own set of 24-spoke "manhole cover" wheel covers for it.  I have a design for the "Inca" wheels too, but I can't get them to print right.

Rear shot showing the back lights and trailer hitch.

The trunk hatch opens!

And the hood slides open just like the real one. Also you can see the 3D printed steering wheel.

Trailer hitch? Let's hook up a trailer!

This is a 1:12 scale reproduction of our Forest River 2318G pop up camper... 

Let's look at that and all of its features in more detail now!

First, let's detach it from the car.

Lower the small support wheel first of course!

Lower the four stabilizers in each of the four corners.

Next, let's turn the crank to raise the top!

The lifting mechanism is based on the real one.  One string from the crank pulls a liftarm that slides, which pulls the four additional strings that go to each corner's telescoping lifter.  I used some "rigid" tubes to help guide the strings better.

The only issue is that by the time the force of the string pulling gets to the end bits of the liftarm, there's not a lot of power left... so it can lift the arms just fine, but not when the roof is in place.  So we need to remove the roof first...

Turn the crank and it lifts the four corners!

And now we can put the roof back in place.

Slide out the front bed...

and lower its support stabilizers

Next we fold up the end fabric support frame

and hook in the roof support bar

and then we repeat this for the rear bed.

Looking good!  Next we need to slide out the dinette.  

Look, i know it's ridiculous to have a slide-out on a popup camper, but this is based on my real camper that does this.  And it is ridiculous. :D

It just slides right out, no supports underneath needed.

Fold out the side frame and insert the roof support

The only remaining thing to do is to pull out the step that helps you get in easier!

There we go!  On the real camper, the entrance door is right there in front of the wheel.

And that's it! The camper is all set up now!
Here are some more pics of the completely setup camper, as well as the real one that it's based on...
which it's been sitting on this whole time! HA!


Friday, November 19, 2021

Rochester Maker Faire 2021 - Exhibit info!

Welcome! If you're here you either from using the QR code I had at Maker Faire, follow me as @yorgle on twitter, or perhaps from my YouTube channel ... regardless... welcome!  This is my project blog thing and I post info about all of the esoteric and weird things I work on here.

This post is meant to provide more information to you about all of the projects involved.  Follow this blog for more updates about these projects; links to videos, source code, etc.

Projection Mapping

For this, I got inspiration from this video on YouTube where they played this video of the Happily Ever After fireworks show at Walt Disney World onto a Lego model of "The Disney Castle".  It came out awesome, and I wanted to do something similar.

While I'd love to have that Lego set, I don't have any place to put it, and on top of that, I don't have $350 to spend on it... however, Lego released the much more budget-friendly Mini Disney Castle which sells for $35 and still has some excellent details and even comes with a Mickey minifig!  I used this as my starting point.

I dug out my Dell short-throw 1080p DLP projector, and projected it onto the castle.  It didn't match up perfectly, which I had expected.  I bought a second Lego Mini Disney Castle for parts, and made a bunch of modifications to the model to add a few small spires, adjust heights and proportions.

Then I built a base using some gray rocks made out of Lego, to line it up perfectly with the projector.

For MakerFaire, I also made a projection screen to set up behind it.  For this I used some 1/2" PVC pipe and fittings, and made space for a roughly 2x3 foot screen.  For the screen itself, I used about a yard light-blocking fabric from Joann Fabrics for about $8.  The fabric I picked out was tan, with a white backing. I'm using the white backing side for the screen.  The main criteria I was looking for in a fabric was something with as little surface texture and depth as possible. I think this material choice was a great find!

Lighting Effects for Lego Models

I've loved the idea of using small vignettes to display my favorite minifigs, and I was super happy to find instructions from @benbuildslego to build a super tiny Cinderella Castle, long before the "Mini Disney Castle" was released. I highly recommend his instructions.  And I have no plans to make a tiny projection mapped version onto this model. Lol.  Anyway, one of the other instructions of his that I ordered included my favorite geodesic sphere in the world... Spaceship Earth from EPCOT.  (aka "that big golf ball thing").

I thought it would be great to light it up just like the real thing, so that's what I did.

I built up his design, but I added some supports around the edge for some Technic pieces to support some lights.  I also 3D printed some Technic-compatible holders that I used to mount some of these tiny NeoPixels into.  I designed the element so that the lights can be adjusted and pointed exactly where I wanted them to go.

The NeoPixels are wired together using some kynar/wire wrap wire so that I could be sure it could be routed well, and not be too obvious.  All of this is wired back to an Arduino to control it all.  Any model of Arduino (Uno, Leonardo,  Mega, etc) would work, but I used a "SS Micro" as I had an extra one and I love the formfactor of it.

The code, soon to be available in Github, consists of a set series of "scenes", which the 10 Neo Pixels can display.  The scenes can be faded between, randomized in intensity so that they've got some life to them, and randomized in duration and sequence.  The code demonstrated just cycles through the four animated scenes forever.

The scenes are: 
  • "Night" - dark blue, as though it's just night time by itself
  • "Glow 1" - the wonderful color mix of orange, reds, gold and lavender
  • "Glow 2" - same as Glow 1, but roughly mirrored left-to-right for some variation
  • "Twinkle" - just like "night" but with a twinkle of cyan on the lights occasoinally
There's also two special lights; one for the obelisk/fountain in front of the sphere, and one for a spotlight on the Mickey minifig atop the sphere. These operate externally to the animation sequences described above.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Handheld RC2014 System (RetroChallenge (sorta))

One of the great things about making stuff is that you can make stuff that doesn't yet, or shouldn't exist.  

I honestly didn't get anything done on my RC2014 projects for RetroChallenge this year, other than an idea, and some 3D printed stuff within the final few days of the month.

I've had it in my head for a while to make a gameboy formfactor RasPi system for a while now, even though I already have a portable Pi emulation system in my Atari Lynx enclosure.  So I found a model for the "super retropipod" enclosure on Thingiverse and printed it out, and ordered and then modified a 3.5" lcd and shoved it all into the case.

I decided i didn't want to make a PCB or hack up a perfboard to support tact switches, and I had a bunch of largeish 12mm tact switches, so I modeled and 3d printed mounting boards for those too.

Then I had an awesome-horrible idea.  I would mount a RC2014 inside the enclosure as well!  If I managed to make the enclosure a little thicker (about 1cm) I could easily fit a RC2014 mini or micro inside the case along with the pi and all of its fun stuff.  I could even probably also fit in the TMS9918A video card piggybacked onto it inside the enclosure.  So I modeled and printed out the thickness extension too!

Long story short, I have the beginnings of my ultimate multipurpose Pi/RC2014/Llichen-80 handheld!  And she's a chonky beast too!

I modeled and printed a piece to sandwich between the layers of the "pi-boy" enclosure I printed, and added a space for a nice switch for power on the side.  I still need to wire it all up, but I'm on my way to having this thing be AWESOME!  

Although I still want to make a "tall-boy" at some point... take two GB DMG enclosures, and extend the screen space to be taller, and put in a rotated, vertical monitor in the space there.  eg, use a 4" or 5" lcd in portrait instead of a 3.5" in landscape...

Next actions on this project:

  • Wire up the buttons to the GPIO header
  • Wire up the LED on the front panel to the GPIO header
  • figure out a power solution for the system (batteries, recharging, etc)
  • Mounting solution for RC2014 inside the enclosure without it moving around
  • Make a 2-board backplane for the RC2014 so I can also have the TMS board internally
  • Wire the TMS to the monitor too, and figure out a quick way to switch inputs... perhaps two NC momentary buttons that disconnect the monitor from each of the two inputs, so it will auto-switch to the other input. (or short the input to ground via 75Ω resistor?)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Lego Lighting braindump (for Rochester Maker Faire 2021)

For this year's Rochester Maker Faire, I'm going to be showing off a couple things related to lighting up Lego stuff.  This post is just meant to show where I am with the two things (for now) that I'll be showing off and what's left to do.  This year, I will be showing off stuff in the "dark room". I've wanted to do something back there for a while, and without Interlock or RLUG exhibiting this year, and at Dan's suggestion, it seemed like a perfect time to do it!

Spaceship Earth lit with LEDs

This one is setting up an "SS Micro" Arduino (my favorite 'ardy form factor) to drive a handful of tiny neopixels to simulate the nighttime illumination of Spaceship Earth in EPCOT.  This is based on @BenBuildsLego's EPCOT design.  Buy his instructions, they're great!

Currently, I have everything as seen above.  The model is essentially complete, and the arduino code is written with a LED strand "scene" concept.  I've started to add a few transitions to go between scenes, randomize them, etc.  Here's the current TODO list for it:

  • Add illumination for Mickey
  • Add illumination (and update the baseplates) for the fountain to be lit up
  • More decoration around SSE
  • Redo the wiring to be less conspicuous - replace the servo wiring with kynar/wire wrap wire
  • New version of the light mounts?
Now, that all said, everything as it is now is sufficient to be exhibited, the above are all icing. :D

Projection Mapping on the Mini Disney Castle

After seeing this done with the fullsized castle, I had to do it for myself on my "Mini Disney Castle", set #40478.  I tried it with the same source video, and it has promising results. There are a few issues with it that I can fix by Maker Faire.
  • The proportions differ a little from the real Cinderella castle slightly, and do not include the side walls.  
    • I need to buy a second MDC and use it for parts to adjust the model to fit the one in the video properly.
    • Until they're back in stock, I can mock up the additions using Lego elements I already have.
  • Video needs to be edited
    • about 70% through, there's a slight jostling where everything shifts by a few pixels
    • There is no fadeout at the end, so that needs to be done
    • or remove the fadein from the beginning so it just runs forever.
  • Playback device needs to be figured out. 
    • Perhaps a Pi connected directly to the DLP, that launches OMXPlayer or VLC on boot, with looping?
  • Need to figure out a good tabletop + back screen system that's easily reproducable rather than the quick test seen in the photo above.  
    • I need to be able to just plop everything down at MakerFaire without needing to spend lots of time to tweak things endlessly.
    • The geometries need to be 100% figured out and perfected before then.
  • Try my other DLPs for best fit
    • The above is with my Dell Short-Throw projector, which means it can be closer, and the background will be larger, which is really nice
    • The BenQ projectors might have better results though and need to be tested.
    • Perhaps figure out all of the geometries for both projectors and bring one as a backup, since they're all self-refurbed anyway.  (leave the backup(s) in the car)