Acorn BBC Master and electron cartridge breakout

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The Acorn Master cartridge breakout board by Simon Inns:

This project provides a simple breadboard adapter/breakout board for prototyping cartridges for the Acorn BBC Master and Acorn Electron 8-bit computers.
The design consists of two PCBs, the first plugs into the computer’s cartridge slot and the second is designed to plug along the edge of a standard 2.54mm pitch breadboard.  The two boards are connected by a length of 50-way ribbon cable.

Project info at waitingforfriday.com and GitHub repository here.

Pi Cart: 2,400 Games In One

What’s the quickest way to turn one game into 2,400? Cram a Raspberry Pi Zero running RetroPie into an NES cartridge and call it Pi Cart.

This elegant little build requires no soldering — provided you have good cable management skills and the right parts. To this end, [Zach] remarks that finding a USB adapter — the other main component — small enough to fit inside the cartridge required tedious trial and error, so he’s helpfully linked one he assures will work. One could skip this step, but the potential for couch co-op is probably worth the effort.

Another sticking point might be Nintendo’s use of security screws; if you have the appropriate bit or screwdriver, awesome, otherwise you might have to improvise. Cutting back some of the plastic to widen the cartridge opening creates enough room to hot glue in the USB hub, a micro USB port for power, and an HDMI port in the resulting gap. If you opted to shorten the cables, fitting it all inside should be simple, but you may have to play a bit of Tetris with the layout to ensure everything fits.

Using a Back To The Future game cartridge encapsulates the essence of this project, considering its contents would be nearly science fiction back in the 1980’s — a nice touch. We’ve featured plenty of RetroPie setups — each with their own unique flair — but if you’re looking for a more period appropriate gaming station, you could simply gut an NES for the purpose.


Filed under: how-to, Raspberry Pi

The Potowitzer: A Rapid Fire Potato Cannon

If you’ve ever fired a potato cannon, you’ll know that they are a raucous good time, but are somewhat clumsy to reload after each shot. Seeing an opportunity to improve on the design and minimize the delay between launches, [Danger First] have concocted a fast reloading potato cannon — or should I say — Potowitzer.

The key here is that they’ve gone through the extra effort of designing and building honest-to-goodness artillery rounds for their Potowitzer’s manual breech-loading mechanism. Foregoing the inconsistency of potatoes, they’ve 3D printed a bevy of bullets and sealed them with propane gas into PVC pipe cartridges. Metal contacts around the base to carry current from a BBQ lighter to the inside of the cartridge to ignite the propellant. Seeing it fire at about 18 rounds per minute is something special.

This home-made piece of artillery looks like a blast to fire. The only issue appears to be that the rapid salvos are offset by the necessity of fabricating more ammunition — something that isn’t an issue with regular potato cannons. Remember to exercise all necessary precautions if you plan on using any kind of combustible.

If you want to get an idea of what’s going in inside these rounds — or the chamber of a regular potato cannon — check out this tennis ball cannon with a clear combustion chamber.

[Thanks for the submission, Ivan Owen!]


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, weapons hacks

SNES EPROM Programmer with Arduino

Most video game manufacturers aren’t too keen on homebrew games, or people trying to get more utility out of a video game system than it was designed to have. While some effort is made to keep people from slapping a modchip on an Xbox or from running an emulator for a Playstation, it’s almost completely impossible to stop some of the hardware hacking that is common on older cartridge-based games. The only limit is usually the cost of an EPROM programmer, but [Robson] has that covered now with his Arduino-based SNES EPROM programmer.

Normally this type of hack involves finding any cartridge for the SNES at the lowest possible value, burning an EPROM with the game that you really want, and then swapping the new programmed memory with the one in the worthless cartridge. Even though most programmers are pricey, it’s actually not that difficult to write bits to this type of memory. [Robson] runs us through all of the steps to get an Arduino set up to program these types of memory, and then puts it all together into a Super Nintendo where it looks exactly like the real thing.

If you don’t have an SNES lying around, it’s possible to perform a similar end-around on a Sega Genesis as well. And, if you’re more youthful than those of us that grew up in the 16-bit era, there’s a pretty decent homebrew community that has sprung up around the Nintendo DS and 3DS, too.

Thanks to [Rafael] for the tip!


Filed under: nintendo hacks