Tag Archive | Demoscene

Kettlers of Satan

There was a new finnish demoparty called ‘Icons’ held last weekend in Helsinki, Finland. Besides the usual categories, there was also one called ‘Natural Media’. This allowed for all kinds of physical entries (paintings etc.) that were put on display to a gallery-ish space inside the party place.

Just so as it happens, since last summer I have been toying around with an idea of a electronic painting of sorts; A embedded computer system that would not just simply display a (bitmap) image but rather self-generate graphics on the fly. This would then be presented in the context of a traditional painting (read: fancy frames and wall display).

The way I thought it out, it might be neat to see this electronic painting as a static image at a glance. If you’d then look elsewhere for a while (f.ex. other paintings inside a gallery space) and then return to the electronic one, you’d realize it to have changed subtly in the meanwhile. Not to say that the graphics couldn’t evolve with a fast pace as well.

Anyway, this idea had its roots in a few bits of hardware. For quite some time now, I’ve had some single-board CPU modules (PC104 form factor) and 10,4″ TFT displays piling up at work. These are parts that do not pass the required company spec, but are still functional if run in a regular indoor environment.  So to say, good for something and just waiting for me to figure out at least one use for them ;)..

Indianapolis 500 the game. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

I’ve already done some testing with the CPU module and TFT earlier last year. Simply connecting the parts together, booting to MS-DOS from a 1,44Mb floppy and playing some old games like Indy 500 and Ivan Ironman Off Road Racing. Especially the display cable is a bit of a nightmare to construct (around 40 signal pins, fried one TFT during tests), so the test rig sure served its purpose. As this basic setup already existed, it didn’t take too long for me to connect it with the electronic painting and the Natural Media competition at Icons.

The CPU module test setup from 2006 running Super Off Road.

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Atari Senior Riot – Smells Like TIA Spirit

A small break from all the DIYing, here’s my Atari 2600 entry ‘Smells Like TIA Spirit’ from Breakpoint 2006:

In overall the compo was once again pretty C64-heavy, but there were also single entries for Spectrum ZX, Amiga 500 and Atari STE. My tune placed 7th with 209 points whereas the winner, Reed’s C64 tune ‘R.E.E.D.’ got 309 points. You can download a zip archive of the binary + mp3 files from here. Check out Whimsey’s Z26 if you wish to run the binary on Linux or Windows. If you wish to check out my earlier posts related to this Atari 2600 entry, click here.

Backlit coffee break fun

Some of the products I repair at work use TFT LCD display elements and out of these, a 10,4″ size unit (manufactured by NEC) is of most common variety. When these parts are swapped during repairs, I’m of course left with a defunct LCD which I have to take apart and sort for recycling (plastic/metal/electronics). Two of the most usable ‘DIY bits’ in these display elements are the enclosure back plates (2x very thin aluminium sheets, can be cut with scissors) and the backlight diffusion/dispersion element. The latter is basically a piece of plexi glass that has, on the side facing the visible LCD surface, a stack of different thin plastic films (think overhead projector slides) taped together. These films help scattering the light coming from the CCFL tube evenly across the whole surface. Some of these films are pretty fun for trippy eyeglasses whereas the plexi glass is good for, well, whatever plexi usually is good for :)

Returning to the issue LCDs in a short while, I’ll shortly present Kewlers, as the group hasn’t yet been mentioned in my previous posts and it relates to what I’m getting at here. Kewlers is one of the demoscene groups I’m a member with and one of the key visual elements of the group are the Kewlers and the Finger(tm) logos designed by Curly Brace. Those of you lazy enough NOT to visit the Kewlers website through the link above, the Kewlers logo looks like this:

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