Bits to Atoms: The Pi Score

Welcome to the first episode of Bits to Atoms! The intrepid team of Sean Charlesworth and Jeremy Williams team up to bring their dream projects to reality, showing you the design and fabrication steps along the way. Their first build: the Pi Score, a tabletop MAME cabinet inspired by the classic Coleco mini-arcade games. (Download the files here!)

Comments (82)

82 thoughts on “Bits to Atoms: The Pi Score

  1. At first glance, I thought Jeremy was wearing a shop apron… which makes me wonder if there should be Tested shop aprons.

  2. Wonderful project & video! This is why I’m a premium member. Working on my own retro pi, going out today to find some controllers. I know I can go to game stop, but hoping to find them at a thrift store. This will be build one of many.

  3. Fanatastic!, This is something my son and I could do together, love it! For a suggestion could you guys look at this little Robot I had when I was a kid, could it be replicated with a smart phone interface for control? Sorry for the condition I took the photo after digging it out of my fathers workshop. I can send you the original if you like.

  4. Good grief!

    Normally not interested in trying to build something like this… I don’t have a 3D printer, never played with Arduino or Raspberry. I generally stay away from “modern” video game systems due to an… uh… er… “addictive personality disorder”. 🙂

    But what changed my mind was that brief glimpse of the list of games!!!!!!!! Galaxian? Spy Hunter? HOLY COW!!! Just the top two on my old school list of favorite games. I remember shoveling quarters into Spy Hunter… the fantastic music… the thrill of the chase… I was so good at some of these games I could easily play for an hour or more with just one quarter.

    If anyone knows where I could find one I am still in search of an accurate emulation for the FIRST vector Star Wars game. The FIRST one only in arcades. The one in the x-wing blowing up towers walkers and flying the trench. I have searched for the actual arcade games for sale but that particular game is very expensive even in crap condition. As for emulation, the main issue I think is probably licensing by Atari and Lucas Films.

    I got so good at that game that I could not lose. I could play indefinitely. One day as an experiment I wanted to see how long I could play non-stop with just a single quarter. I put a quarter into a sit-down Star Wars game (had to be a sit-down machine for that length of time) and… 5 hours later I realized I couldn’t lose so I just let myself “die” so I could put in the high score…and… uh… go for a long pee. That was the day I actually gave up arcades cold turkey. I think my brain got warped.

    Years and years later I haven’t seen that game anywhere… not online versions or even “antique” retro games. I would love to find an accurate emulation of that original Star Wars game just to see if I could still play it.

  5. That turned out awesome. I’m getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger on getting a 3D printer – This has taken me a nudge further!

    Was that audio amplifier really pulling 1.5A? That sounds incredibly high for a couple of tiny speakers! 1.5A sounds more like what I’d expect the whole system to draw.

  6. That’s a great idea!

    It reminds me of these robots I see at conventions nowadays, where a person can pilot the robot from anywhere in the world and wander around the con chatting to people? It could simply accomodate a smartphone with facetime or skype…

    Similar idea: some time ago a friend posted a photo on his FB of a very old wall phone, probably made of Bakelite and wood, and I figured it could be fun to accommodate a modern phone into the old casing. Then again it could also be 3D printed and laser cut?

  7. Thanks Guys, this was great! Would love to see a project involving animatronics. Specifically recording movement and sound for playback.

  8. This is brilliant content for this site. Would be good to see a lot me collaborations with the other tested crew working together.

  9. Where be the hardware list?

    Been looking for a pair of similar speakers for a project of mine for a while.

    Also Cheers for making the whole build into ONE episode!

  10. oh snap, Sean…that’s amazing! I felt like “achievement unlocked” when you demonstrated the dovetail test fit thing. TYTYTYTYTYTYTYTY

  11. cool series, sean & jeremy! i dig it. 🙂

    if you ever get into a project that’s a bit more heavy on the electronics craft (so, wiring things, soldering, etc), i’d appreciate if you could go a bit newb-friendly on it, and explain some basics.

  12. Thanks, all! Glad to see such positive reactions. There should be a hardware list coming, along with in-depth video walkthroughs on software setup and soldering steps.

  13.   I am totally in agreement with you on the Star Wars thing. If you find anything on this please let me know! I would love to 3D print the controller.

  14. This was out of site guys. Great idea for a series and allows the users to build what you make.

    Question for Sean: What, if any, techniques/materials did you use to make the case smooth like that ? Some areas of the case did not even appear to be 3d printed but molded.

    Anyhoo GREAT video!!! Thanks!

  15. Awesome! I’ve been playing with my Pi a lot, works brilliantly for all sorts of things. These built video’s are the reason I’m here, love it!

  16. It’s the Ultimaker – just prints real nice. Oh and some parts like the front panel I print face down on the glass so it comes out super smooth.

    Pro tip I just learned for Cura turn Combing off or No Skins to avoid the stings that will connect every shape and ruin the front panels good looks.

  17. That was an awesome start for a new series of videos!

    I think the lighting on the main set seemed a bit darker to me compared to other videos shot on it, maybe it just the angle of the lighting that bothers me.

  18. Was that audio amplifier really pulling 1.5A? That sounds incredibly high for a couple of tiny speakers! 1.5A sounds more like what I’d expect the whole system to draw.

    The whole systems pulls about 1.5A, not just the amplifier.

  19. Nice. I also love the little legal disclaimer about the roms in there. From what I remember about roms in the late nineties you can legally have them if you already own the game (like a backup of your game) or if you are evaluating it you can have it for twenty four hours. After that it’s supposed to be deleted. Not that they’re going to come hunting for you if you don’t. (For the old retro games like this, they’ve already made their money, they aren’t going to spend more money than they would make to track you down.)

  20. Indeed, it’s kind of ridiculous these things have restrictions on them at all. Like for my old Amiga which isn’t even built anymore, I believe I still can’t legally get a ROM file (on which the system lives).

  21. Great video guys, the whole thing was put together really well. Great video footage, good explanations and an overall nice flowing story. Keep it up 🙂

    How is the framerate on that screen when playing newer games? Does it handle NES/SNES and maybe newer games well?

  22.   Runs NES and SNES perfectly but controls are hampered on SNES due to lack of bumpers. It’s really best for vertical arcade games.

  23. Great. Yes this setup would be a bit limiting for horizontal games. But that screen might be good for a more GameBoy style system I want to put together.

    So I can confidently order two, then. Thanks 🙂

  24. Love it! Great job, guys!

    Even as someone without 3D printing or electronics experience or equipment, I love seeing you guys do cool stuff!

  25. This was great! Glad you guys have a series with each other, think it’s going to turn out to potentially be my favorite.

  26. No! The other one was hard enough!

    LOL. Fair enough. I’ll just have to have a go at it myself. Thanks for a great starting point!

  27. As someone completely new to 3D printing, you mentioned “free” modeling software but don’t mention any names. Cad I assume was a reference to AutoCad which as far as I can tell is pretty pricey. What free software do people use?

  28. Duuuuuuuuuuuuudes! That is so freaking cool. What a great build and a great combo of Sean and Jeremy as hosts. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  29. Fantastic! This is ideal premium content, a lot of reasons to subscribe but this is truly ‘premium’ value. I can’t wait for the next project and this is already on my shopping list for parts. Can’t wait to build one. I especially appreciate that this is made available to everyone to make their own!

  30. I really enjoyed this first episode! I’ve been teaching myself electronics over the last few years in my spare time, and then in November I jumped in and bought my first 3D printer (settled on the dual-extruder Flashforge Creator Pro 2016 after a year of research). After a month of printing models from Thingiverse (including a few of Sean’s designs, totally by accident!) I started learning CAD and making my own models. I even turned my spare room into a mini workshop. The most useful tool in my collection is probably my digital calipers, I’ve been able to design models which fit perfectly onto existing items.

    Sean’s tips on both designing and printing in this video were very useful! I hope to see more of that in the upcoming episodes.

    Each project I work on is designed to increase my skills in preparation for the next one. I made a HAL 9000 replica so I could learn about printing things larger than my printbed. I printed a two-color logo of my employer so I could learn about dual-extrusion printing. Next I’d like to do more electronics and robotics…

    Thanks to Jeremy and Sean (and everyone else at Tested) for all the inspiration!

    (Sidenote: As a Ubuntu user I’m pretty restricted when it comes to software, but I’ve settled on FreeCAD + Simplify3D)

  31. As someone completely new to 3D printing, you mentioned “free” modeling software but don’t mention any names. Cad I assume was a reference to AutoCad which as far as I can tell is pretty pricey. What free software do people use?

    I use FreeCAD, but there’s also OpenSCAD I think. I’m running Ubuntu so I can’t use AutoDesk 123D, but that’s free. There’s even TinkerCAD, it’s browser-based but it actually worked surprisingly well when I was testing it.

  32. Just found a video of someone with an absolutely perfect android version of the vector star wars game. It looks awesome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxi1TipJjUw

    The guy is a fanatic for that game and says that none of the controllers ever worked properly. Only that unique “yoke” control of the original game worked.

    He found a way to use “tilt control” on his android device to control his star wars game. He said it was closest he ever got to the original. He could then display the game on his tv and use the android as the control.

    The only drawback was that the controller isn’t “fixed”.

    It looks awesome.

  33. It would be great if you include the file for your first rendition of the controller, in case someone didn’t want to take theirs apart. That’s awesome that you took it to an actual arcade! I am of the generation that missed the whole rasberry/pi chips being used by everyone to do things. When you have a kid, your universe changes and suddenly you find yourself behind in what’s happening with tech. Do you guys have videos on how to do this programming with the chips? How much did the tech run on this project? Thanks for the great video!

  34. Sean-

    Most of my print failures with the Ultimaker 2+ have also been because the spool sort of knots itself into a tizzy and the mechanism cant pull from the spool anymore. Have you discovered a way to avoid this? The only thing I know that GUARANTEES that it wont happen is putting a fresh spool of material in then feeding it to the mechanism being careful to keep the material on the spool from shifting or moving. then not removing the spool from the machine until its empty. This is not awesome because it means that I cant really swap materials from print to print. Does the Ult 3 handle this any differently? it must just have to do with how the material is wound onto the spool right? Other than this problem I love love my ult 2…

  35. I did upload the first version as well as a blank plate for those who want to customize. An assembly video will be coming along as well.

  36. I’ve noticed with the shorter spool holder on the 2+ that some of my spools will start to slip off or feed funny. Never happened with the longer one from the 2 so a different holder might help. 3 is pretty much the same setup but a bit more complicated due to 2 spools.

  37. That’s a brilliant idea. Tested branded shop aprons. I’m in.

    After buying Sean’s squid/submarine and putting it together, the no-screw challenge wouldn’t have been that hard right? 🙂

    Fantastic series, can’t wait to see more episodes.

  38. Plastic screw mounts are the bane of my existence: nice to see Sean putting more thought into their design than most engineers. And remember not to over-torque those screws, people!

  39. Love it! I think this will be my new favorite.

    I second a robot build of some description for a future build. Can’t wait to see what’s up next!

  40. I signed up as a Premium member just to watch this and I’m not disappointed. I especially loved the coda at the end in the Arcade or was that Jeremy’s basement with his personal collection of Pinball machines 🙂

    Keep coming up with imaginative projects like this please and all the great little tips and tricks.

    I would have liked to have seen more of Jeremy doing the RetroPi and MAME setup on the RPi3 but I am Pi Nerd.

  41. Awesome first episode! Looking forward to the next one. As for ideas, I have 3 for you:
    – Nintendo ROB clone (bonus points for working with NES emulators)
    – Tron:Legacy identity disc – lots of LEDs, FX etc…
    – Counting coin sorter… there are some great examples of mechanical ones on thingiverse (with replaceable top section for different currency) but it really needs some removable trays and arduino loving e.g count of each coins + total amount stored + bin full notification when it’s time to bag it to go to the bank.

  42. You don’t need tools or screws for 3d printed parts, but you still need specific controller, screen, speakers,… Ordering standard screws isn’t that different and you can buy them bulk for future projects. This project wouldn’t benefit from them, but designing custom connections instead of simple screw connection often causes problems, like seen here with weak pins in blue part.

  43. I finished this today:

    All satisfied with my work, I browsed tested.com and saw your videos posted. Oh yeah, I heard about this on the podcast… Watched it in awe… This video and the additional ones are amazing! Top notch PREMIUM content. I’m sooooo building the pi score. I don’t know if the markforge will be able to print the parts, but I’ll find a way to get this built!!!

    Truely awesome work!!!! Great video! This could be a TVshow!

  44. Fantastic! Planning on getting into the retro game soon. Love what you guy did and can’t wait to see what’s in the near future for projects.

  45. Hey, anyone else completed their build? Also, is there a forum that people are talking about these? Didn’t see any convos in the Tested forum. I’m having some power issues with mine and looking for people to bounce ideas off of.

  46. I regret not downloading these thingiverse files sooner! Anyone by any chance have a mirror link? They were DMCA’ed from thingiverse

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