Sapo Codebits as you might know is the geek event in Portugal.
Its audience range goes from programmers and entrepeneurs to hackers and designers! This year 800 people came to participate in 3 days full of talks, challenges, games, demos and workshops
They’re still addicted to race games but they don’t play them, instead, they prefer to create their own games.
They thought it would be cool to drive a remote control car using a steering wheel and pedals, and if the car had a wireless cam, the gamer could look at the screen and really see what the car was seeing in real time, just like an arcade game!
This was the proposal to Sapo Codebits! To have an arcade game where it would be possible to drive two cars and participate in a real race, without any simulations or complex algorythms, neither 3D graphics.. They want something real! Celso Martinho from Sapo was very excited with their idea, and by coincidence (or not) they were planning to have a retro gaming area at Sapo Codebits!!
An this is where I appear. I was the one behind the retro gaming area: The Arcade Man. Besides having my own Arcade machines there, I was working on 10 old arcade machines, making them work with the so acclaimed Raspberry Pi!!
I had just bought two old Sega Rally Consoles, to repair and prepare it to have a game console, like a Xbox 360 or PS3 and run modern games like Dirt, Forza, among others in this arcade. Here we had the possibility to transform them to be the control station for Artica RC cars!
On a first (of many) tours to my “mancave” we start disassembling the old consoles, removing the old electronics boards and wonder … what’s best way to connect all the gear!?
There is a strange beauty in this sturdy mechanical systems, they are so well engineered and one can feel they were pushed into the limits through the years, and are still able to be pushed a lot more!
This was the throttle pedal gear, on the right you can see a hand-made replacement, it was a cool hack to do.. and a miracle that it worked flawlessly all the event!
At this stage we couldn’t imagine that one of the biggest challenges was about to start …
Yes, the CRT’s… to send Video signal to this old CRT is not impossible by any means.. but it proved to be way to complicated…
after many attempts and despair.. they finally decided to “kill the rabbit”!! they found two Mitsai CRT’s willing to have a new glorious life!!!
And they fitted perfectly in the old frame!
The steering, pedals, gears and buttons were connected to an Arduino, and data was sent via xbee to the car.
The car had an Arduino receiver mapping the data to the wheels, throttle and to the video switch! The gamer could choose which camera to use, the front camera proved to be extremely difficult to use and only hardcore drivers used it!! The upper camera needed a support, and it had its iterations due to be easily broken when the car crashes or capsize! The final iteration was a one PVC piece bended with heat, it proved to be sturdy and survived to the hole event!
The Sega Rally Championship Arcade was fully working all the time, they only need to stop a couple of times for final tweaks.
..and to recharge batteries!
Driving this was soooo cool!! We are looking forward to repeat the experience!!
As a final note, we want to give a big thanks to all SAPO and PT Team for making this event a reality, Mauricio Martins and Adriano Couto from AltLab for helping us with the CRT’s, Francisco Dias gave a major help with his hacking skills, João Ribeiro for being a true Artica member, Filipe Valpereiro for all the hardcore geeky support. He was the guy who told us how to remove the steering wheel lag caused by the xbee buffer.. and finally thank you Celso Martinho for believing in us!!!