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  • Lunar Lander – exhaustive and exhausting, but on the home straight

    Posted on April 19th, 2009 Iain No comments

    I’ve been pushing on with Lunar Lander as hard as possible – really want to get in finished now. All the effort is paying off finally.

    Mk 3 of the badge dispenser works, though had to be modified slightly when the badges I ordered were slightly wider than the ones I designed it for. It sounds funny if you look at the thing, but in some ways it’s the most precise engineering on the whole project. This version pushes the tolerances for hand-worked MDF a lot less far than the previous designs and is much more satisfactory as a result.

    Badge Dispenser

    Even better news though. I addressed a lot of gaps in the software that needed to be fixed to make in in to an arcade machine. Features added:

    • Tutorial so people can learn to play the game. This includes a demo capability to allow the machine to fly itself
    • Highscore table
    • Stats collection
    • Improvements to the scoring and general game play
    • Better graphics for the text display

    And there is more. Major work has started on the cabinet. I’ve got as far as constructing most of the base and having the panels cut that will form the sides and shelves. The original plan was to design it so it will fit in the back of my van in one piece. I am now starting to think that the whole thing might be too heavy to do that so it may be that it can be deconstructed in to major sub units for transport. More thoughts on that as it develops I think.

    Last but not least the backlighting for the meters is finished and I’ve designed new scales. The backlighting changes colour when you exceed the safe parameters.  Inspired by a scene form “The Prisoner” I’ve stuck a big label saying “DANGER” in the excess speed zone. It looks fab.

    Down to 13 items on the “To Do” list, but as some of those are things like “build cabinet” there is still a ways to go. I can finally see the finish line though!

  • Nixie hardware working (badge dispenser not!)

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Iain No comments

    Got the circuit board for the nixie tube control at the weekend. Built and worked first time (phew!). Just need to do the software for the AVR.

    Things not going so well on the badge dispenser. Really reaching the limits of precision engineering on that one. There is enough flex in the carousel wheel that the badges can slide underneath and get stuck. Ideas for Mk3 design though…..

    I also got around to coding a “demo” mode to teach people how to play the game. One of the learnings from Newcastle is it helps people a lot to understand if they see how the controls work first. The demo will land the lander on the first pad and provide guidance on what it’s doing. Something rather odd about writing a closed-loop control system for a physical system that is just being emulated on the same machine – but there you go. I actually cheated and added some helpful damping to the physics for the demo mode which isn’t there when humans play it. Too much effort to write a proper control system.