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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Lincoln Makerspace

Somewhere, deep in the capital city of Nebraska, is a building.  This building is full of smoke, full of mirrors.  Inside, birds take flight, machinists grind away in a vast darkened wonderland, and countless scavenged items from around the countryside rest in hulking, sometimes dilapidated heaps, thrown into rows awaiting re-discovery and thrifty sale.

Need to romp in an old grain silo turned on its side?  Do you want a 50s era dental xray machine for arcane experiments?  Wait, is that a VW Thing?  There’s an old jumbo-tron!  Think of the possibilities.  And oooh look!  Fiberglass light fixtures the size of your mom!  We could turn these into Death Star replicas!  That’s a rather large magnifying glass over there and, ah… wait.  Who really needs an Applebee’s sign?

That’s not really the point, people. Stop looking at that sign.  This, friends, is the home of something much more special something you might need way more than an Applebee’s sign.  The hackers and makers of Lincoln, NE lurk these grounds.  They are Lincoln Makerspace, and select members of OMG had the pleasure of meeting them this past week.


This fine group of enterprising guys work out of an old window factory.  They currently spend most of their time in a small office space on the second floor, where you can find various works of art, Maker style.  There’s an automatic drawing machine, kinetic sculptures, a record player with an ember on top that creates a flaming vortex when lit, and a dapper CNC milled likeness of Einstein, to name a few things that decorate the space.

Beyond that, the picture gets more dirty, more crazy, more awesome.  Their small office space is part of a huge building that has pretty much everything a maker would need to have an A team style warmachine creative fit.  Professional machine shops aside, the old window factory and Lincoln Makerspace have a 20x10ft CNC to call their very own (incidentally, this is where Einstein came from).  That would be impressive enough, were it not for this:

Gosh, what’s that?  It looks like a 10ft tall robot arm, fully armed and operational.  But what is it for?  What…does it do?

 Group member interests, when not flinging people around in racing chairs, include bioinformatics, physics, free energy, engines, robots, and art. So far Lincoln Makerspace is a small group, but they pack a big punch and have a very high cool projects to member ratio.

Omaha Maker Group is impressed.  If you’d like to get to know the Lincoln Makerspace, you can reach them here.  We look forward to working with this great group of guys in the future!

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!