Thursday, April 24, 2008

NES coffee table update 5: Painting

Hey people, for anyone that's actually following this, sorry it's been so long since my last post, uni has been pretty busy and I've just been finding time here and there to put more and more coats of paint on over the past few weeks.

With the construction of the box and lid itself pretty much complete, it was time to give it a bit of colour (although I personally thought it looked kind of cool in the straight brown colour).

To start, I have everything a few good coats of all-purpose spray primer that dad had a few random cans of lying around the garage:

While doing this, I realised that the parts of the MDF where I had cut it and sanded it etc. where soaking up the paint like a sponge, no matter how many coats I put on. To fix this I just rubbed a heap of gap filler over these bits, which made the surface nice and smooth again, and the primer sat on there very nicely.

To paint the buttons, I wanted a less glossy colour for the D-pad (it looked kinf of "messy" when I tries to paint it gloss black), and a gloss red colour for the A and B buttons, so I went down to the local art store and bought two cans of revel model paint.
They were pretty expensive (like 8 bucks each), but they covered the area easily, and they are oil based so they wont rub off or get super dirty with constant use.
I also bought a nice new brush, because I was sick of using crappy old knackered brushes I found around the garage, and my god it made painting the buttons SO much easier...

After painting the buttons, I gave the black part of the controller a coat of black acrylic paint that I had left from the asteroids cabinet I made.
To do the Nintendo logo, A and B buttons, I laid down three strips of masking tape across where the writing would go, I then printed out the logo at the right scale, I then lined it up and glued the piece of paper I had printed the logo on, onto the strips of masking tape.
After sticking it on, I then cut out each letter using a scalpel and peeled back the tape, to reveal the black surface underneath.
Effectively creating a perfect mask, that hugs the surface, to prevent paint bleeding.

I then painted the red over this. It took about 7 coats or so, since it's a light colour on a dark colour.

Half way through cutting the the tape, I accidentally cut myself real bad with the scalpel.
There wasn't too much blood though:

Here's how the Nintendo logo, A and B buttons came out, I wasn't really happy with how the Nintendo logo came out, the edges of the paint had peeled up slightly because my dad was a retard and said "you don't have to peel it back carefully, just rip the mask off real quick".
I don't know whether I should go back and sand it down and redo the logo, I might if it bugs me too much.

Next up was the 4 stripes that run down the controller;
I went to my local Bunnings with an NES controller and got the guy to colour match those bits of the controller. We decide that the Taubmans "Copra" colour was the closest match, so he mixed it up for me.
Seriously though, where else, besides while making a giant NES controller, would someone even use this colour!? It's like a vomit-brown, hideous colour!

At this point I was worried because the colour on the stripes looked really off when I looked at it here, but once the whole controller was painted, it matches in perfectly.

Once the stripes were down, I could then paint the start and select buttons, I used the same method as the Nintendo logo. It only took about 3 coats of paint for this these bits, because they are on a lighter background.

All these colours so far (besides the buttons), I painted with acrylic paint, because of the shorter drying time and because it doesn't take 3 fucking hours to dry the brush/roller out between coats like with oil based paints. Also because I already had the black and the red left over from the Asteroids cabinet.

Once this overlay section was fully painted, I could then mask it off carefully, and begin painting the plasticy grey parts of the controller.

For this I bought some White Knight "touch up paint", which is meant for metal roofs and stuff, but I suppose that just means its more durable.
The guy at Bunnings also helped me pick which colour of this was closest to the NES controller (not that it needed to be that close, most NES controllers are so sun damaged, its hard to tell what the original colour is meant to be).

After a few coats of paint, I peeled back the mask and viola! This is where I started to get really excited, the colours are perfect and everything came off perfectly (which you kind of expect it not to, when you're just figuring out what you're doing along the way)!

Here's what it looks like with the buttons in. In this picture I hadn't painted the base yet (I did that with some black enamel paint I had left of from the asteroids cab)

After this I put in all the button contacts and wired them onto the NES controller PCB and played Super Mario bros. 3 with my girlfriend for like 3 hours, I'm also currently putting the hinges on, and after that, it's done!
My parent's gave the piece of glass that I had made this coffee table to fit, to my sister (basically I will stick rubber stoppers to the piece of glass, to sit on the coffee table when it is not being played), so I will have to go get another piece of glass cut to suit it.

Next post will probably be the second last, or last post for this project! Stay tuned to see the awesome retro flavoured results!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

PID Tuning Application for Arduino Silvia Mod

As part of my Silvia modifications, I also wrote a special application to help in tuning the PID. Here is a screenshot of the application with an image of a shot and recovery. This is measure the temperature at the top of the boiler.

The application is written with Processing. It can run on any platform, and it's easy to communicate with the Arduino over the usb-serial interface. The "Bare Bones" code for the Arduino is here and that page has a link to the code for the Processing Ap.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NES coffee table update 4: mounting the buttons

Having finished making the start and select buttons;

It was time to actually mount the buttons into the lid of the unit itself.

I cut some small strips of the 4mm MDF I had left over to use as packing so I could mount the backing plate for the buttons under the lid and the buttons would protrude the right height above the surface.

Here is the backing plate for the D-pad mounted into the lid, I used two screws per corner just to be sure that it wouldn't rip out if someone whacked the button too hard.

This is what the D-pad backing plate looks like from the top without the D-pad itself inserted in there.

Here is what the underside of the lid looks like after i mounted all of the buttons in there.
I'm thinking perhaps I might need put some protectors over those screws so that I don't accidentally store something in the box that is in the way of the screws, thus damaging it.

And viola! Here are all of the buttons mounted, from the top. I'm thinking I might lower the start and select buttons a bit, they look like the protrude just a bit too much for my liking.

Now the next thing for me to do is to either wire up the buttons, or start painting it.
I'm thinking the bottom half of the box will be high gloss black (I'll use some spray paint for that) and the gray parts of lid will be semi-gloss gray.
The sticker bit of the controller (with the writing and stuff on it) I will probably paint with the left over paint I have from my asteroids arcade cabinet, I will use a roller to paint that because it give it the nice grain to it, just like on an actual NES controller.
I'm not sure how to do the writing, if i can't find some decals that match the Nintendo font, I will have to perhaps put some contact over the area with the writing, then cut out and peel back the parts of the contact in the shape of the letters (thus creating a stencil), and paint it that way.

Next post might not be for a while because I'm pretty busy at the moment, but stay tuned and spread the word suckas!

Arduino and Silvia: Two Italians, One Tangled Affair

Arduino knew the two of them could make sweet coffee drinks together!

In this precisely hot affair, the Italian born microcontroller board, Arduino, has won the heart of a sensuous piece of Italian engineering named Silvia, an espresso machine by Rancilio. Silvia, after an earlier stint with a microcontroller named PIC (those Harvard Architectures are all such squares), felt she could do better.  She was looking elsewhere for someone to add brains to her great body. Arduino was a great match. He is easy to talk to, isn't too fancy or expensive, but has the hardware she requires. For his part, Arduino respects Silvia for her sturdy simplicity. She opens up easily, and isn't difficult to get intimate with. Simplicity comes naturally when you are a water heater, pump, and solenoid. Sure, she's got some switches too, but Arduino knew the two of them could make sweet coffee drinks together! 

In courtship, Arduino gave many gifts to Silvia. One of the first was a fine real time clock featuring calendar, sleep timer, and wake-up alarm! He also decorated her boiler with a thermometer he vigilantly monitors to help regulate her temperature.  When she makes espresso, it's most delicious when her temperature is precise and steady. He also keeps a stop watch so he can time her pushing as she pumps water through the cake of ground coffee. "Egads," he says, "It is simply not espresso if she take not between 25 and 35 seconds!" Arduino holds all of Silvia's switches, even her main power switch.  Anyone who wants to talk to Silvia talks to Arduino first. Certainly, it's old fashioned, but it makes Silvia feel safe. With his fine manners and protocol, she prefers that he, not any old stranger with a finger, pass her messages.

Arduino doesn't just manage Silvia's connection to switching fingers. With the end of a wire dipped into her reservoir, Arduino can raise an alarm if she is about to come to a gurgling halt in her endless thirst for water. Perhaps the greatest extravagance Arduino allows is a connection to a nunchuck controller. He relays messages to Silvia from the nunchuck, and she adores it as it makes her feel like the wildly entertaining Wii. No doubt, given all the connections that entwine them, this relationship will continue a good long time to come. Together the two lovers will enjoy many magical mornings making delicious espresso.

Want a closer look under the hood? Ready to build? Check out the CoffeeTronics section on the Arduino wiki.