Mini Gadgeteer Game Console on a Wii Controller

GadgeteerChuckyValentin Ivanov (aka Architect on the TinyCLR Forums) just posted one of the more awesome projects I’ve seen for .NET Gadgeteer. He’s built a mini game console using a repurposed Wii controller, plugged into his custom Chucky module, to control a ported version Pac-Man (he’s also working on a port of Space Invaders). This is just the kind of project that I think makes Gadgeteer so awesome.

Go read his blog post for all the details, including his hand-cut and drilled mounting board that connects the FEZ Spider mainboard and T35 LCD to the controller.

Oh, and if you’d like to see this awesome project in action, come to MADExpo next week. Valentin’s is just one of the many cool projects that will be on display in our demo room. I’ll also be bringing some Gadgeteer coolness, as will Pete Brown, and Sean Westcott (and Sean’s project involves electroluminescent wire…awesome!). And I hear the peeps from 757 Labs will be back as well. Should be great fun!

Register now!

Gadgeteer and MIDI: Making Music with Microcontrollers

At the end of what’s been a kind of tough week, with a spring cold making its way through my entire family (one of the perils of having young kids at home), I got a nifty package in the mail. Inside was an anti-static foil bag containing the parts for a nifty addition to my Gadgeteer hardware collection, the new MIDI Module created by my friend and fellow Microsoftie Pete Brown. I should have thought to snap a photo of the kit before assembling it, but I was sufficiently excited I could hardly wait to heat up the soldering iron. Here’s what the finished module looks like:


So, OK, you might ask. Looks neat, and all, but what does it DO?

Well, for the uninitiated, MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and the short definition is that it’s a serial protocol specification that lets musical instruments “talk” to one another. MIDI allows devices to communicate musical information (which note to play, how loudly to play it, etc.) digitally in a highly efficient format. Instead of creating a waveform and pushing it through limited bandwidth pipes, MIDI allows a controller device to simply provide instructions on what note should be played, which channel it should be played on (MIDI supports up to 16 channels per interface), along with any information on the specific sound (referred to in MIDI parlance as a patch) and parameters (referred to as control change) for the target device. Then the controller leaves the actual generation of the sound up to the receiving device.

So what Pete’s module does is allow a .NET Gadgeteer program to act as a sender or receiver of MIDI data. Which can be pretty fun stuff, with just a little work.

Continue reading Gadgeteer and MIDI: Making Music with Microcontrollers

Introducing Devhammer’s Garage

Over the last few months, I’ve spent a good bit of my free time (and some of my not-so-free time) learning about hardware and microcontrollers. One product of this will be a series of blog posts I’m working on detailing one of the projects I’ve built using Kinect, .NET Gadgeteer, and a few other odds and ends. I also just started working on my first from-scratch robot with my kids yesterday. So I figured there might be a need for a specific landing point on my site for my hardware-related adventures, and I’ve decided to call it Devhammer’s Garage.

In the garage, you’ll find information about my current hardware projects, including photos, links to other interesting sites, and more. If you’re a geek who’s into making stuff, I hope that you’ll find Devhammer’s Garage a useful addition, and I welcome comments, questions, and suggestions. And to whet your appetite, here’s a picture of my next build-in-progress, which I call the Hydrabot (so named for the fact that it’s powered by GHI‘s FEZ Hydra .NET Gadgeteer mainboard):


The gearbox is a Tamiya double gearbox geared at 114.7:1, and powered by two separate motors. The wheels are from a LEGO Mindstorms NXT set, attached using adapters that Tamiya offers for their hex shafts. The Hydra mainboard and Seeed Studios OLED Display module are mounted to a Tamiya Universal Plate kit, and not visible in the photo above is a ball caster which will allow the robot to turn easily based on difference in speed between the two front wheels.

I’m early in the build process, and I’m kind of designing this first robot as I go along, so I’m still deciding on what kind of sensors to use to help it navigate, etc. The Tamiya parts are very easy to work with. Assembling the gearbox took about 40 minutes or so, in part because I was showing my kids what I was doing as I was doing it, and in part because I took my time to ensure that both sides were geared identically. One advantage of using a gearbox like this is that you can get pretty good torque from even the small DC motors that come with the gearbox, which should help power over any obstacles in the way.

I’ll post more pics and videos as the project progresses, and will have more detailed build information over at the Garage.