Raspberry Pi NES Build

Over the years I’ve played around with the Raspberry Pi to see what I can get it to do. I have limited programming skills and rely heavily on the opensource community and how-to documents.

The most successful projects I’ve done with the Raspberry Pi have revolved around using them as DNS and VPN servers. I also have them running with a monitor and wireless keyboard/trackpad combo in the basement utility room and garage. The screen on my phone to look up something in those rooms gets to be a little small and I’m usually using the phone as a flashlight so having a full sized monitor comes in very handy.

One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while is build a portable gaming machine. Something that could easily go in luggage and look decent to the TSA as it gets scanned. I tried putting something together in 2013 with a Raspberry Pi B first gen, but struggled with lag and the controller setup. As luck would have it, I’ve had an extra Raspberry Pi 3 Model B sitting around I’ve been trying different projects with, but haven’t found the one until I read about RetroPie again.

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Maker High Fashion…the EL Coat

Actually, I’ll leave the judgment as to whether this is fashionable to the reader.  Taking a cue from the ready availability of electroluminescent tape/wire to the Maker community, and yes, the recent Tron movie (which re imagined the cult classic costuming in a decidedly more modern twist), it has become too tempting to ignore the possibilities and shaking up the norm.

And so, using white EL tape from Adafruit, two AAA battery packs, a coat I rather like from H&M, and a bit of sewing, viola!  My Jeff Bridges impression is complete, man.

So, project aside, this has got me thinking about the state of change in fashion in the modern age.  Making a coat like this is one thing…how you use it quite another.  I think the Steampunk community must also face this problem.  When you think a certain fringe fashion is cool, do you wear it only among those who also share your (weird) tastes, or do you let that freak flag fly, hoping to inspire?  Let the social experiment begin!

TacitTheremin: A spatial awareness tool for the blind.

What’s this strange thing?  This is the TacitTheremin, a device which helps blind people understand their surroundings using ultrasonic sound ranging.  Designed to work in tandem with a cane, this device allows users to get a greater sense of what’s around them at ranges that exceed a cane and in any direction in which its pointed.

Inspired by the Tacit, an invention made by Grathio Labs, the TacitTheremin is a modification of that design concocted right here at the Omaha Maker Group.  It mounts to the wrist, receives distance measurements from an ultrasonic sensor, and outputs sound to the user through a speaker (low tones for far distances, high tones for short distances).  It ranges from 16 feet down to 3cm, 5 times per second.

See the original Tacit here.  The TacitTheremin is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License.

This whole project started as an attempt to replicate a Tacit (because the idea is just so darn cool), and in the end it turned out to look quite different, with different coding as well.  You can read about the epic journey in detail, and make your own for a friend (on an individual project basis).

But enough technical stuff.  See it in action!

Currently, this prototype is being field tested by a local Omahan named Mike, who happens to be blind.  Stay tuned for a followup video.

You can reach me with any comments, questions, or concerns here.  Just be sure and put “TacitTheremin” in the subject.  Alternatively, feel free to comment below!