Maker Faire @ Newcastle 2010

March 19, 2010

We had a great time at this years Maker Faire in Newcastle over the weekend of 13th and 14th March 2010.

My kids, who are almost teenagers, were dragging their heels as we left our parked car, totally sure they weren’t going to have a good time as we walked towards the Centre of Life.

Walking up the foot bridge to mezzanine level of the maker faire, you could hear the crackling of the musical tesla coil, then as you reached the mezzanine level you were hit by a wall of sound from the various gadgets and things beeping and booping, the musically exhibits being played and of course the Tesla coil. Their faces slowly changed as they realised there was fun stuff here and after a couple of nervous minutes getting their bearings off they went and for the rest of the day it was like trying to herd cats. :D

I don’t think I saw a single kid, young or old who wasn’t enjoying themselves.

I was finally able to meet up, put a face to a name, with Baggers, Coley, TonyF and Leon from the Parallax and Xmos forums. Leon was being provocative in wearing his Xmos t-shirt whilst on the Parallax Propeller stand with Baggers and Coley. Coley got his own back by having on display a Xmos XC-1 board with a “powered by propeller” label stuck over the Xmos chip. Good nature ribbing :)

I had a great chat with John Honniball about his UK101’s he was displaying (I wish I had one for my collection of retro computers ;) ) and his Arduino music synthesiser.

We met up with Jim and Kat from Sonodrome who were showing off their PSOC (pocket oscillator) and Tubby amps. On Sunday Jim help Sid build his own PSOC. He took it to school for a show and tell and his teacher and class loved it. His teacher was especially impressed that Haydn had soldered it all himself (with a little help).

Abs, not to be left out, spent the afternoon building a mignonette handheld LED game at the Maker table with a little help from me.

Leon has posted some pictures from the faire:

http://www.leonheller.com/Maker%20Faire%202010/

http://www.leonheller.com/MakerFaire%202010%20(2)/

Jim and Kat from sonodrome have also posted some pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonodrome/sets/72157623644925608/

and Jonathan Street has a nice write up here:

http://jonathanstreet.com/blog/newcastle-maker-faire-2010


Zuzebox – A Uzebox compatible retro-minimalist homebrew game console

October 7, 2009

September and the start of October have been a busy time for me but I’ve finally managed at a last to capture to schematic my interpretation of the Uzebox the retro-minimalist homebrew game console. I’ve extended Uze’s design to include a USB and Ethernet interface and also Atari / Commodore 64 / Sega Mega (Genesis) style joysticks / d-pads through a classic 9W D interface.

The USB interface is based on the ubiquitous FDTI FT232 USB to serial UART chip. So far I’ve only connected it to the 644’s serial Rx and Tx and RESET lines but I will investigate if the USB interface can also be used as a AVR programmer as well.

The Ethernet interface is based on WIZnets WIZ810MJ module with a W5100 hardwired TCP/IP Ethernet on a chip. It’s available as a low cost simple drop in module that can be driven either through a traditional address / data bus scheme or through a 4 pin SPI interface. The Wiznet W5100 is used by the Arduino community so AVR drivers already exist to drive the chip.

Finally the Atari/C64/Sega joystick interface is provided by a 4021 parallel to serial chip for each port. The 4021 is used in the SNES controllers so the Uzebox kernel can read them without any changes. The small downside is the Atari/C64/Sega joysticks lack the SNES “Start” or “Select” buttons so I may have to add a couple of switches/buttons to the final design to allow existing games to detect these buttons.

A pdf of the prototype schematic is here. I hope to spend some time on the PCB layout in the coming weeks.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.