Posted on June 6th, 2012 in Androcade, Android, Arduino, Projects | No Comments »
Well it’s been a year since I first created the original Androcade. I finally found some time over the past couple of months to create a new and, I think, better version! Introducing Androcade 2.0 and the iAndrocade (more on this one later)!!
I’ve been busy with other projects such as an Arduino based clock, a monitoring system for my son’s snake - and of course my day job… but, my original Androcade has been sitting in my office the whole time and I’ve enjoyed more than an occasional game with it. Although it has been a reliable and fun system there was always some things about it that I wanted to change.
I found that the button layout was a little limiting (not enough) for some games I wanted to play. Also, the fact that it was running a serial protocol, required that I run a program on my Android devices to pass along keyboard presses.
Here’s a little chart that compares some items of the old with what I planned for the new version:
|1.0 vs. 2.0|
|Androcade 1.0||Androcade 2.0|
|Controls||3 buttons/Joystick||8 buttons /Joystick/Indicator Lights|
|Bluetooth||Serial protocol||HID protocol|
As you can clearly see the 2.0 version has a much broader scope and it is a much more versatile system.
The original Androcade was made of wood, which was nice for me to work with since I have all the tools to do so but, it was not an easy material to use for duplication of the design. It was time consuming and overall difficult for me to duplicate.
I decided for the new version to use acrylic for the housing and have it laser cut. So I laid out the design in InkScape. One of the nice things about using InkScape to design it was that I could print out my design on paper and get an overall feel for how things are positioned in the real world.
After I was happy with the design I sent it off to Ponoko.com to have it laser cut. Unfortunately they did not have a green acrylic that I was happy with so… I decided that this time I would have it cut out of black acrylic. This turned out rather nice as I had red buttons and a red joystick topper that blended nicely with the black. also the addition of red led indicator lights made the whole design come together!
I didn’t want to stray too far from my original design with the components as I wanted to keep it simple. I stuck with a trusty Arduino UNO for the logic controller. It has worked nice as it has enough pins to allow for all the buttons and joystick and is easily able to interface with the bluetooth module.
The bluetooth module is where I made a major change. I went from using a serial protocol to a HID protocol. I ordered the bluesmurf HID from sparkfun. The interesting thing about this is that is was much simpler to program the HID vs. the serial device. All the devices that I wanted to connect with already supported the HID protocol for a keyboard so it was simply reading the buttons and sending a HID raw packet to the bluetooth module and everything else just worked!
Since my new Androcade turned out so well I had a couple of friends ask if I could build one for the to use with their iPad. Well… being an avid Android user I was a little reluctant at first to take on this project. In the end I decided that it would probably look pretty good if I made a white case with white buttons and some blue led indicators and sure enough it did!
I used the exact same layout and electronics that I used for my Androcade but I changed the case design. Since the device uses the HID protocol it is easily able to connect to iPads/iPhones as well as Android devices!
Well my buddy is pretty happy with the finished product and I guess I am too!
What’s Left To Do….
I have been thinking that I would like to produce a lot of these to let others have an opportunity to get one. I’m also thinking that I will release the design files and code out into the community to let people make their own.
I have a little problem though…
The files are not perfect and I think the assembly could be made a little easier. Also, I think it would be nice to design a circuit board with the bluetooth and an arduino built in. I think that these two enhancements would make this a much easier project.
So here’s what I’m looking for: I would like to find a couple of people that have design skills and/or circuit board design skills to contact me and see if we can put something together. It would be really great if you were local to the Phoenix AZ area but, that is not a requirement – send me an email if your interested and we’ll see if we can work something out!