Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mountain Lions at NASA Ames Research

Mountain lions have reportedly been sighted near a golf course at NASA's Ames Research Center. I find this article interesting for the perspective it provides. In orbit or on the moon, an astronaut is isolated from his fellow man in a way that is hard to fathom. But once returned to Earth, astronauts reenter the food chain. We forget sometimes that humans are part of the food chain and that wild things do still live in the woods.

A little white ball might be the least thing that would spoil a walk at Ames. [Wink]

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Neat but mysterious manuscript

This is a text in my posession of a mysterious nature. The paper has a relatively fine tooth and is a bit darker than in this image. The true color of the ink is more towards rusty brown than it is red. It may be the medium of the ink or some other element, but there is a slight halo effect around the character strokes. The fading at the top appears to be from mild water damage. The script is as yet unidentified. Interesting stuff.

Monday, March 21, 2005

MAME Arcade project - Part 2

The MAME machine is in a very fast and intense phase of development. The picture above was taken after I had finished the primer and first coat of paint. This first coat does several things. It helps give more regularity to the surface of the medium density fiberboard. It also allowed me to see where the largest holidays were in the putty and joinery. After this photo, I went back to all the places where there were bumps and rills, and I filled them in with more compound. As that dried I used a yardstick to scrape the biggest swatch of filler clean with the edge of the board. After some more sanding it is now ready for the more serious painting. The promised views of the controls are coming soon.

Friday, March 18, 2005

MAME Arcade project - Part 1

My latest project for fun is a multi-arcade emulator or MAME machine. The controls are from X-Gaming (X-Arcade) and I purchased them in 2 stages. First I ordered the buttons and joysticks from an authorized reseller on Ebay. I saved a few dollars over buying direct, but still got the warranty. X-Gaming's controls are as sturdy as anything you'd find in a real arcade cabinet, but they cost a lot less than controls from companies like Happ. After I got the controls situated in the panel, I bought the controller card directly from X-Gaming since it is hard to get elsewhere. The card is essentially a keyboard encoder which comes with software to map profiles for different hardware and game configurations. Adapters allow the controls to be connected not only to a PC for arcade emulation, but also to the major consoles. My kids have a Game Cube and being Nintendo, it allows them to play a lot of kid friendly arcade style games like the many variations of Mario. I wanted them to be able to use the arcade controller with the Game Cube, so I built it into a seperate box that latches onto the cabinet.

The photo above was taken several days ago and I've made a lot of progress since then. I devised a bracket system that allows me to square up the monitor very precisely to the lip of the viewing area of the cabinet. This has been installed, along with the overhead which will contain the backlit marquee, and the framing for the cabinet door on the bottom. Next I'm looking to buy a coin box on Ebay and I will install that in the door before finally mounting it to the frame. The cabinet is built from medium density fiberboard which I bought from the cull bin at Home Depot for $7. The framing is simple white pine. I use Gorilla glue to fashion my joints and Durham's Water Putty to fill all the cracks. When the whole thing is done it will be painted and decorated with some arcade style cabinet art. In the next post I'll show the latest views of the cabinet with all the new stuff - and take a closer look at the controller box.