Monthly Archives: January 2014

OUYA as a retro arcade emulator (MAME, etc.)

I sometimes get things from to write reviews about. I will be doing a review on the OUYA “game machine” soon, but wanted to start documenting some technical things here.

OUYA is a cheap ($99 list price) Android based game console:

It is about the shape and size of a Rubik’s Cube, and it comes with a wireless joypad that looks like a Playstation or Xbox style controller. It has a power supply and HDMI cable included, and batteries for the remote. What they include for “documentation” doesn’t even tell you where the batteries go.

Installing batteries requires popping off the joystick palm covers on the left and right side. Here is a site that explained how to do this:

Once you hook the box up to a TV using the HDMI cable, you power it up (note: the power switch goes on top; I had mine upside down for the first day I had it), and then use the joypad to hook it up to your WiFi network. (Tip: Make an OUYA account, which you will need, on a computer beforehand. It will be much easier than using the joypad.)

The system will want to download software updates. Mine spent hours, appearing to just be stuck. I started it over and over, and eventually it worked, and the system restarted so I could use it.

The next steps will be installing emulators (MAME4droid, and various others), and a file manager utility (pwnfile). I also installed an FTP server (easier for me than copying files over from a USB stick) but if you plan to have your game ROMs on a USB stick, you won’t need anything else, really.

I will document some of the things I ran in to, and how I got all the files configured.

More to come…

2014 Arduino projects for Halloween

I have been tasked with creating two control systems for some Halloween attractions this year. I have a small budget for building the prototypes, and if they work, then I will be building a dozen or so of the units. I thought it might be fun to document the entire process here.

There are two projects:

1. A device will sense motion, then begin playing sound and toggle four outlets in a sequence that goes along with the audio.

2. A device will sense its location, and play a specific sound based on that location. It will have a fallback mode where buttons will trigger the sounds, for manual operation.

I plan to use low-cost Arduinos since there are many add-on Shields available for it to handle things like this.

Audio could be played in high quality using a cheap ($20) MP3 add-on, or, with a small amount of hardware (and a cheap SD card reader), lower quality audio can be played directly by the Arduino.

For triggering, the I/O pins will be used, hooked to a motion sensor. For the proximity sensor, I am researching iBeacon style tech (BLE, bluetooth low energy) or IR (infrared). Right now, it seems we could use cheap IR remotes, with a button taped down beaming and endless pulse. The Arduino can hook up a $1 IR receiver and software could decode the pulses to see which zone it is in.

For the outlets, there are $8 high voltage relay boards that can be wired to the Arduino’s Digital Out pins, and even a cheap $7.50 4-channel relay shield that can handle 120 volts 3 amps on each relay. The Shield is a nice idea, but dumping 120V in to the Arduino could be a problem if there was any kind of short.

I will document the various products I have found so far, soon.

To be continue…