kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:47 am

Hi guys,

    My name is Ryan. I'm from Providence, Rhode Island. A friend and I are working on a homemade video game cabinet design in the style of classic arcade games from the late seventies to nineties. We're designing a system that allows people to play these original games on their original hardware, as they would have 20-30 years ago, because we have a tremendous passion for the 'golden age' of arcade gaming. We also have a passion for open source and the Ubuntu culture, which is why we've decided to use Raspberry Pi systems for our data relay.
To truly recreate the classic feel of 80's video arcades, we want to provide a token-operated system that will interface with classic systems like the NES and Atari 2600, and reward high scores by dispensing tickets. That's where the UNIX code comes in.
With little programming knowledge ourselves, we are looking for help envisioning a UNIX-based program, in all probability using OCR, to interface with the video output of the classic consoles, converting scores and 'Game Over' screens into data that can be interpreted by the systems (token acceptors and ticket dispensers). The system would also be required to take electrical pulse signals from the token acceptor and activate a controller, deactivating it when it senses a Game Over.
    We're extremely excited about this project. We've been talking with programmers from around the world about the theory of this device, and now we're looking for UNIX pros to help us bring it all together.

(P.S. Ideally, we'd love to sit down with the RasPi guys and talk shop, but there are obvious roadblocks to that.)
 

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Jessie
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:15 am

kabungalee said:


(P.S. Ideally, we'd love to sit down with the RasPi guys and talk shop, but there are obvious roadblocks to that.)


Not really, many of them have screen names on the forums here and won't mind talking at all.  With launch comming soon getting ahold of them is going to be a challenge, but I imagine in a couple months you will have no issues getting ahold of the foundation members.

Now on to your post.  What you want to do is completely feasable.  You can implement a lot of stuff via USB ports and the GPIO pins like you are talking.  I do want to caution you though, if you are planning on making an emulation cabenet and placing it in a coin-operated environment without paying the original publishers royalties they will come after you.  They generally turn a cheek when it comes to hobbiests, but when you start talking about proffit then things become different.

As a person that managed 2 arcades for 8 years durring the 90's I share your passion for coin operated entertainment and would love to see a re-surgance of amusement centers.  It would even be nice if these cheap boards got backed by some developers and original coin op titles were made but I don't see that hapening I think the traditional arcade is dead for the most part.

 

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:46 am

Jessie,

The main roadblock I was referring to was the extreme workload they will be feeling these few months. Still, I can hope to connect with them some time after the launch.

We've put a lot of thought and research into the legal aspect, and our proposed system is within the law.
First of all, at this time, we aren't really exploring commercial use of the system, but more of a fully-immersive cabinet to take generic tokens or similar, to add to the experience of an arcade game. As such, the system isn't emulating the games in any way. The system would be the original console hooked directly into the screen, with a video splitter sending a video signal to a separate system powered by the RasPi.
Also, we've thought about a commercial application in the future, in which case we would charge only for use of the space and the cabinet, regardless of the game itself. We would have multiple games from multiple publishers on hand to utilize the cabinet at that point. If it came down to permits/royalties from/to a particular publisher, we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

Thanks so much for the response! I'll be posting some rudimentary outlines of the system, as well as some tests I've done with game screens and a Windows based OCR.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:35 am

Basic Device Communication Diagram



1. Console sends video and audio to Screen and speakers respectively.

2. Console sends video to Raspberry Pi.

3. Raspberry interrupts signal between Console and Controller until token is inserted.

4. Controller sends signal to Console

5. Token Module sends signal to Raspberry Pi when token is inserted.

6. Raspberry Pi sends signal to ticket dispenser at Game Over.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:08 am

Preliminary OCR Workflow


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Jessie
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:12 am

All of that is doable, you just need to use the NO contacts on a solidstate relay and use them to interupt the current to your controler.  In you pic that is a NES so the voltage would be 5V.  The system would then not read a joystick as being present.  When there was a coin inserted then the R-Pi would tell the relay to close the contacts and allow a supply of current to the controler.

Getting the coin mech mapped to some GPIO pins would be a simple affair, as it is a simple switch.

The ticket mech I don't know much about, I had techs to fix my machines so how they work is unknown to me.  But I imagine it just spits out 1 ticket when it sees a pulse or something along those lines.  This would also be doable via the GPIO header.

Getting OCR to work I also know nothing about but I would say that is the hardest part of your design.  Also you are aware that the R Pi does not run Windows?  Someone may be able to get Windows CE to function but any other version is out of the question.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:56 am

Jessie said:


Getting OCR to work I also know nothing about but I would say that is the hardest part of your design.  Also you are aware that the R Pi does not run Windows?  Someone may be able to get Windows CE to function but any other version is out of the question.


Yes, I am aware. I'm currently running Win7 until I can get my hands on a Pi. The Windows-based OCR was just to evaluate the effectiveness of the algorithms. I'm using FreeOCR, an open-source OCR that runs on the Tesseract engine developed by HP Labs and now Google, written (I believe) in C++ and tested regularly in Ubuntu 10.04.

[Project Home: http://code.google.com/p/tesseract-ocr/]

The GPIO connections, like you said, will be the easiest part. Also, I know the rest can be done, I just need to find a solid group of programmers who can help me pull the pieces together.

Chris_O
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:20 am

What a wonderful project!

Can I ask why you're not using an emulator?

I'd love to help as I am a freelance Linux software developer. E-mail me

chris _at_ 64studio _dot_ com

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:38 am

Hey, Chris

We're avoiding using emulators because the driving force behind the project is developing a cabinet system that will allow the player to experience the games on the original hardware with which they were presented in the market, up to 35 years ago!

With all the gaming tech available today, people have become obsessed with the best graphics, the most intelligent AI, and the most advanced systems. We've played on the most cutting edge systems, but when we go and plug in our Atari 2600's and Nintendo Entertainment Systems we realize that we have more fun on those systems than a 3-400 dollar x-box setup!

It's an experience that kids nowadays just don't get, because there's no one to teach them an appreciation for the ingenuity and initiative that went into creating the systems that would spur the widespread creation of a billion dollar market!

Much in the way Raspberry Pi wants to teach kids a skill that is all but inaccessible to them in the current society, we want to teach people of all ages that you don't need more than 8 bits to change the world

EDIT: When we say original hardware, we really mean it That's why the video signal is sent from an original console or console motherboard. Then it's split, rather than looping through the RasPi, and it's displayed on a Cathode Ray Tube television, as opposed to an LCD or any kind of HD display. It's crazy, I know

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Mezo
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:21 am

How you going to do Vector screens then?

Mezo.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:30 am

We haven't dipped into any vector games yet, but we've talked about it and if we do, we'll try to get the original screens for them Thanks for the interest!

Lakes
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:08 pm

Great use for all those CRT`s that no one wants now.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:10 pm

Haha Absolutely! We should have some luck with cheap equipment in that respect

DBloke
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:31 pm

kabungalee said:

. We"ve played on the most cutting edge systems, but when we go and plug in our Atari 2600"s and Nintendo Entertainment Systems we realize that we have more fun on those systems than a 3-400 dollar x-box setup!


It"s an experience that kids nowadays just don"t get, because there"s no one to teach them an appreciation for the ingenuity and initiative that went into creating the systems that would spur the widespread creation of a billion dollar market!


Stepping in here.

I do a night of gaming in a pub twice a month (one this Friday check my site for details) and we dont have new stuff, we have loads of older games, games that people enjoy, I also know of loads of video games events where the retro gets more attention that the new (was on the staff for Replay last year im technically a games events Roadie)

Old stuff wise.

I have seen people queuing up to play Pong and cheering as a game goes on

You cant say that "Kids these days dont get it" because I have seen loads at big retro events enjoying playing some older games. Even at a mates house party one dad brought his kid and a stool, he was happily playing Berserk for ages. even my nephews like the older games.

Just say "Some kids" (and its those "Some kids" that are the ones best ignored)

Annnnyway

Your idea is ok, but the token thing is a bit of a bugger it would be hard to set up, there have been arcade machines that have a console inside thats on a timer in the past (50p for a minutes play on Sonic?) and you can wire a old console up to a cab with a special cable (some people on a forum called Jamma+ can make some)

You can get CRT TVs cheap-o these days, but with them the bigger they are the heavier they are and with VGA ones you cant plug a old console into them with out a lot of messing about

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Mezo
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:26 pm

kabungalee said:


We haven't dipped into any vector games yet, but we've talked about it and if we do, we'll try to get the original screens for them Thanks for the interest!



Good luck finding them, there's a few thousand people ahead of you in that que.

A vector has not been manufactured in donkeys years & no plans ive heard of to start making any again, plus you wouldn't be able to interface it with the Pi (unless you're real clever) but not financially worth the hassle.

A lot of games from the 70` & early 80`s (which your aiming towards) used the vector screens, problematic screens that needed constant maintanece & often prone to bursting in to flames.

My top of the list vectors are,,

#1. Battlezone

#2. Asteroids

#3. Lunar Lander

#4. Tempest

#5. Star Wars

#6. Black Widow

#7. Red Barron

#8. Gravitar

#9. Space Dual

#10. Starhawk

But there again im biased towards Vectors.

Mezo.

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patolin
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:17 am

I know we all love the "classic" stuff, (I spend 6 year of my life playing galaxian in the high school cafeteria years ago.... and yes! my school's cafeteria had a couple of arcades). But we need to use the actual technology to our favor. With the R-Pi you can concentrate more in the cabinet than the hardware. Lets be honest, With a big crt, a original arcade stick and buttons, and a nice painted cabinet, the playing experience will be the same using a z80 or a R-Pi. I know for some people (me included) the whole experience includes the hardware, but this can be a 2 stages project.

my 2 cents.
Patricio Reinoso - www.patolin.com

godashram
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:58 pm

Just browsing and when I saw this I thought someone must of overheard me yesterday. I was at CES yesterday (1/12) and got to do a real quick interview with Eben about Raspberry Pi for a local tv station here. Afterwards, I mentioned about wanting to pop a Raspberry Pi into an arcade Cabinet that I was rebuilding.

i'm just in the early planning stages, and am bypassing the coin door all together. Also plan on emulation using an X-arcade Stick as my control panel from the cab literally disappeared!

Prometheus
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:17 pm

godashram said:

i"m just in the early planning stages, and am bypassing the coin door all together. Also plan on emulation using an X-arcade Stick as my control panel from the cab literally disappeared!
Please say that you're going to build the controls into the cabinet, rather than just putting the X-Arcade on a shelf, like this.

godashram
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:40 pm

Prometheus said:


godashram said:


i"m just in the early planning stages, and am bypassing the coin door all together. Also plan on emulation using an X-arcade Stick as my control panel from the cab literally disappeared!


Please say that you're going to build the controls into the cabinet, rather than just putting the X-Arcade on a shelf, like this.


nothing like that! not a shelf at least….. would actually have a cutout for the x-arcade that leaves the top flush with the sides…. that and maybe put the raspberry Pi in the x-arcade unit directly.... making it easy to take to a friend's house.

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:05 pm

@Godashram,

That's a great project!
The fact that you're going the MAME route makes it a million times easier to set up than what we're working with. We want to host the game on its original console and use the Pi to relay between the systems.

Good luck in your cabinet! If you want swap ideas, or if there's anything I can help with, feel free to email me

[email protected]

That goes for everyone. If you want to help out with the Arcade Pi project or if you want to talk about building home cabinets, I have a lot of experience with classic systems and computer hardware.

Pat
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:55 pm

kabungalee said:


Hey, Chris

We"re avoiding using emulators because the driving force behind the project is developing a cabinet system that will allow the player to experience the games on the original hardware with which they were presented in the market, up to 35 years ago!

With all the gaming tech available today, people have become obsessed with the best graphics, the most intelligent AI, and the most advanced systems. We"ve played on the most cutting edge systems, but when we go and plug in our Atari 2600"s and Nintendo Entertainment Systems we realize that we have more fun on those systems than a 3-400 dollar x-box setup!

It"s an experience that kids nowadays just don"t get, because there"s no one to teach them an appreciation for the ingenuity and initiative that went into creating the systems that would spur the widespread creation of a billion dollar market!

Much in the way Raspberry Pi wants to teach kids a skill that is all but inaccessible to them in the current society, we want to teach people of all ages that you don"t need more than 8 bits to change the world

EDIT: When we say original hardware, we really mean it That's why the video signal is sent from an original console or console motherboard. Then it's split, rather than looping through the RasPi, and it's displayed on a Cathode Ray Tube television, as opposed to an LCD or any kind of HD display. It's crazy, I know

Hi kabungalee ,

I understand you wanna give the users the real feel of the old games. but emulators are so good, that you would not notice if you not use the original.

To get the real feel, you just need CRT screen and good arcade sticks and also the cab has to look nice. The Atari2600/NES (ok NES had some arcade cabinets) games were not on the arcade so that way you already can not get the "real" feel.

Also if you run them from HD you don't have to change cartridges.

In my opinion :

- Have CRT screens

- Nice Arcade sticks

- Nice cab

- Play with time limit.

- good frontend (NO WINDOW SCREENS, this will not be good for the arcade felling)

xbox1 would e a nice setup for this. you could use Pi or arduino for time limit after coin is inserted

a little sample of my cabs : fKz7A9pzVpM (youtube)

But I understand you wanna keep I real, but sometimes you have to look at result and practical use. Maybe I did understand you wrong, but how could somebody miss the feeling game looks and plays the same ?


slaapliedje
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:25 pm

From what I've seen with Emulators, there is the occasional time where either it doesn't do the colors right (especially the NES, where it would interlace between two colors to create new ones, which is why you'd see lines flickering), or other times where the sound is off.

Although funny story about that.  Mario Bros on the Atari 800xl back in the day had this really weird distorted sound when starting up the game.  On my emulator, it sounds normal.  But that's a perfect example of some random oddities between emulation and real hardware.

Some software just outright doesn't work on Emulators.  This is another reason to do it.

But overall, I agree with you, it's a worthy quest, but a difficult one to get real hardware for all the platforms you want, not to mention you'd have to make slots in the sides of the cabinet for the NES, 2600, etc.  So you can swap Cartridges, unless of course there are 'flash carts' for them.  Pretty sure the 2600 has one, not sure about the NES or other platforms.

slaapliedje

kabungalee
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:58 pm

Hey, Pat, you bring up a good point, however, not one we haven't discussed in length. Slaapliedje actually said most of what I was going to say. There are aspects of these original consoles that just can't be recreated on an emulator.

In response to the post immediately previous to this one;
The cabs will have hinged doors on the front and back. For the most part, they'll be used for one game, but to switch games is an easy task. Also, there are (or can easily be made) flash cartridges for pretty much all classic consoles.

We've been making some headway in the continued design of the project and streamlining the design of the system. It's becoming more and more feasible as we hammer it out. Not to mention, it's great fun

We're experimenting with the ideas of microprocessors and USB capture.

Pat
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Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:34 am

Thanks kabungalee (and slaapliedje nederlands ?)

Oke I see you wanna keep like the orgininal.

Then the dilema is are you using arcade sticks or the original game consoles.

if you use original gameconsoles you lose the whole arcade feel and otherwise if you use the arcade sticks you lose the console feel.

But I have to say it's a very nice project !

maybe i will power one of my arcades with the Pi, but than as emulator.

I hope more people will come and help making these things possible.

What kind of cabinet you style are you going to make ? small big.

orginal cabinet or selfmade ?

DBloke
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Contact: Website

Re: Possible Video Arcade Cabinet application of the RasPi

Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:00 pm

http://www.thinkgeek.com/elect.....ming/e762/

Could use one of these.

some one on another forum is going to try to turn it into a mini mame cab

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