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17 January 2013, 16:33

Hardware Hacks: Raspberry Pi arcade, Radio-4-Matic, PirateBox

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Zoom This arcade might be tiny, but thanks to the Raspberry Pi it is a fully featured MAME system
The H
's Hardware Hacks section collects stories about the wide range of uses of open source in the rapidly expanding area of open hardware. It's where you can find out about interesting projects, the re-purposing of devices and the creation of a new generation of deeply open systems. In this edition, GitHub's make-me 3D printing server, the Radio-4-Matic, how to build a mini arcade with a Raspberry Pi, and the PirateBox.

  • GitHub's make-me – To keep the MakerBot 3D printer in their office busy, the developers at GitHub wrote make-me, a software component that plugs into the company's Hubot server and allows users to send STL files as print jobs to a connected 3D printer; entering a print job requires the printer to be manually unlocked. Make-me uses a webcam to show what is on the printing platform to gauge how far along the current print is. According to the GitHub developers, make-me "is still rough around the edges" and the company is encouraging users to help in its development and submit features through pull requests on the make-me GitHub repository.

  • The Radio-4-Matic – Adam Foster, who also goes by the name Cargo Cult online, has hacked a Raspberry Pi into an old Roberts radio, but its what the Pi does inside the radio's shell that's interesting. The Pi records the BBC Radio 4 broadcast with get_iplayer and then time-shifts it based on a specified time zone. This ensures that the Radio 4 programme is played at such a time that it maintains the illusion of it being broadcast in the listener's time zone. If the stream drops during recording, the software will instead include an appropriate amount of silence. In the future, Foster wants to include the sound of an out-of-tune radio during these gaps.

  • Raspberry Pi micro arcade – An enterprising hacker has posted plans to build a tiny MAME-powered arcade cabinet with a Raspberry Pi and a 2.4" LCD screen. The micro arcade even has a small OLED display that functions like the marquee on top of an actual arcade cabinet. The case for the assembly is laser-cut from plastic and the design includes its own custom-built power supply running on re-purposed smartphone batteries. The arcade also includes speakers, four buttons and an analog joystick.

  • The PirateBox – Originally developed by artist and designer David Darts in 2011, the PirateBox is a portable, self-contained file-sharing server and wireless access point. To build a PirateBox, an old router that can be installed with OpenWRT and a flash storage device with several GBs of space are sufficient. An attractive case like a lunch box is optional, but many users apparently like to decorate their PirateBox with a skull and crossbones motif. Inspiration for how to build the device and instructions for installing the software are available from David Dart's web site.


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