Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's simply got to be said...

I haven't posted to this blog in far too long. Most of my blogging efforts have been focused on (A blog specific for news and information surround the Parallax Propeller Microcontroller.

This blog is for personal projects and random musings, so I thought I'd jump on my personal soapbox this afternoon and share what I see is beginning to happen in the world around us. Understand that my perspective is, well my perspective, and perhaps you have a different vantage point. :)

There has been so much unrest in the news lately. Countries where folks who were happy to live their simple lives under the rule of a dictatorship have decided that "enough is enough." In our own country, we are starting to see a revolt of sorts against those who exploit the everyday common man to add to personal millions. Its interesting to see that folks world-wide are starting to wake up to take control of their lives, and it's quite frankly, about time.

The really interesting part to me is the reaction that those who have had "the power" when they realize that the gig is up. We are starting to become a world of thinkers, doers and makers. Information is quickly becoming available to everyone. People are finally starting to figure out that they don't have to be a slave to dictators.

Webster defines a "Dictator" as: A dictator is a ruler (e.g. absolutist or autocratic) who assumes sole and absolute power. In countries like Egypt, or Libya it is easy to define who fill this definition, however America has it's own type of dictatorship, which can be seen in those who rule with sole interest in the almighty dollar. Variations of these wanna-be dictators can be seen in all levels of government and their big business partners. Our society is being programmed to consume without question.

There is a low rumble that is rippling here that is making our "dictators" nervous. It is the rumble of everyday people who haven't forgotten that this country was made great by being DOERS, not consumers. It is a rumble created by those who still take the time to learn and practice "making" skills, instead of just throwing something out and buying more. The rumble caused by those who would DARE to OPEN something they just purchased, laughing at the warranty seal, and in some cases violating the DMCA.

Grandpa had a wood shop where he would craft his own furniture. Dad had a tool shop where he had the tools to 'repair' an item instead of just buying another. A new generation is on the rise where we have the tools to 'create' anything I want instead of just purchasing whatever imported crap you had shipped in. Be afraid. This generation is about to take power, and we're sick of the line of bull that you've shoved down our throats. We are looking for value both in our lives and our products. We really don't care about your plastic coated, cheap junk.

Government, we've seen your partnership with big business. We know that you have accepted the easy way out behind the scenes. We know what is going on and are taking the steps to fill your shoes soon. A new generation is about to assume power in those places where baby boomers have milked the system for too long for their own greed.

The information is now at our fingertips. The power to create a new world comes with it. The next generation wants more than just to consume. We intend to create. Not only do we intend to create, but we dare to do so giving our designs and information away. After the attitude of consumption is changed, big business looses dictatorship hold on us, we'll 'open source' big government next.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parallax Decommissions Chip Programmer: Parts going to UPE

Parallax spent some time this week decommissioning their BP Chip Programmer. The parts from the machine are being packed into boxes destined for the Unofficial Propeller Expo junk table!

The junk table is a tradition of the Propeller Expo where attendees will bring extras from their shops and give them away. Sort of a electronics version of "Take a penny, leave a penny." It's guaranteed to be a popular UPE attraction again this year.

Unofficial Propeller Expos are being hosted this year in the Chicagoland area, NE Ohio, and Rocklin, CA. For more information on the expos visit:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Propeller Arcade: Finished!

The Propeller Arcade is finally finished!

The new marquee was installed today giving the unit the final touch!
Complete photos, etc have been uploaded here.

In the meantime here's a quick run down on the changes made from when the unit arrived in October of last year (pictured on the right).

* Removed the broken arcade monitor and replaced it with a 19" television. (I've learned through this experience that the next arcade box I do will use an LCD monitor.)

* Added two buttons to the arcade panel, as well as had it sanded down and painted.

* Added the Propeller itself with games running as binaries from the SD card.

* Removed the Zookeeper marquee and replaced with Propeller Arcade Marquee. (Thanks to Jeff Moomaw of Johnson Hardware and Ron at Lettergraphics!)

* Rewired the controls to operated with both Atari and Nintendo Interfaces.

* Added a PC power supply to power both Marquee and the Propeller.

* Added two switches behind the coin return buttons which turn on/off the screen as well as reset the Propeller, returning it to it's menu.

All in all a great project. It was expected to be done in three weeks, instead took three months.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Propeller Arcade Gets a new Brain.

A package arrived this morning from containing a new Propeller Platform Module and Platform El Jugador Module. The Propeller Platform Module is an Open Source Propeller alternative to the Arduino, without all that silliness weird offset pin plugs. The El Jugador is a new gaming module or "shield" if you will that plugs into the top of the Propeller Platform giving you audio/video, SD, and two NES interfaces.

While I had already built my own version of this board for the Arcade, this combination gives me a professional look as well as make things easier for others who may want to follow in these footsteps. Both modules were well documented and only took a couple hours to build total. The quality of the kits are on par with the high standards I see from Parallax as well.

Another addition to PropArcade is the addition of two switches mounted behind the coin returns. One activates the power on/off switch of the television, the other is tied to the RESET pin of the propplug connector on the Platform Module.

At this point I have completely closed the Propeller Arcade, but won't be posting a final video until the new marquee artwork returns early next week. The family has already accepted this new member of our family with trips to the workshop to play Boulderdash, Hero, or Defender.

Stay tuned for a final video update next week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Propeller Arcade: Control Panel Finished!

The newly painted control panel arrived from the paint shop yesterday just in time for 12" of snow on NE Ohio! I spent the day installing the controls and wiring. It works great!

All that is left for the Rropeller arcade is some new graphics and cleanup!

Here's some video of it in action!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Propeller Arcade: Atari Interface Test

I was actually hoping to be wiring up the actual control panel this weekend, but the ETA is Tuesday. This wasn't a huge setback as I still have a lot of work in several other areas of the project, those being the Propeller board itself, (A Propeller Protoboard with a few addons from and an Atari-2-Nintendo interface.

[Don't write me! Yes, I know my right hand from my left!]

In thinking about how to wire the panel itself, I thought it would be nice to follow some standards and give it an Atari/Commodore 9pin connection. This will allow me to test both the Propeller setup as well as the panel independently if I run into problems. There are just enough Unused pins in the Atari specification to pass the additional Nintendo B, Start, and Select buttons without a problem. For testing, I included an extra Start button on the interface itself.

Here's some additional close-up video of the menu system, (thanks Baggers!) and playing a few games.

More gaming... Was Boulderdash ever released as an Arcade? :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Home Arcade Update

After some winter delay. (It's just too cold to work in my garage!) the home arcade project is making some headway! First of all, the idea of doing a MAME cabinet has been scraped. (At least on this one.) This is becoming a Propeller powered Arcade Machine!
After spending too many hours trying to tie down a deal on a 19" LCD monitor and NTSC-to-VGA converter, I finally realized that I had a 19" TV I had been nearly tripping over at the shop for months! A quick check revealed that not only would it fit the arcade, but was a perfect fit for the original tube (broken) which came with the unit.

People who know me, know that part of my fun in my Propeller project hobby is to let the project take it's own shape as I work. This doesn't always pay off, but is rewarding when it works. Take a look at the way the TV's motherboard fell right into perfect place. (Almost like I had planned it. :)

Yep.. There's the Propeller! Not where it will wind up when I'm finished, but kinda funny to see this big arcade box running off a single chip board. We never dreamed this back in the 80's when these machines were in every shopping mall.

Finishing the arcade controls is next!