3D Printed Tray for Sega Saturn Rhea/Phoebe SD Card Adapter

The Rhea and Phoebe devices are SD card adapters that replace the ever failing disc drives in Sega Saturn consoles. These are great devices but they leave a very large space open inside the console meaning you can easily accidentally drop your SD card inside the console and be forced to disassemble it to get the card back. This SD card Tray is designed to fit on top of the Rhea or Phoebe device and seal off the inside of the console making it impossible to drop your SD card inside through an open lid.

I also included a set of 4 slots to allow you to store additional SD cards in the space available, the slots are staggered to allow easier gripping and they’re placed such that when the lid is closed it will keep them from falling out even if the console is turned upside down. There is a second file available without these slots for people who are not interested in this feature.

Fitment has been tested and confirmed on VA0 and VA1 console revisions with a Rhea version 3.1. the VA2-VA5 console version that require Phoebe haven’t been tested yet but they should fit as dimensionally they should be the same.

Files to print your own can be downloaded on Thingiverse.

Sega Model 2 and Model 3 Filter Board Pinouts

I recently needed to convert a Sega twin unit arcade machine that had model 2 boards to one that used model 3 boards. I found it really difficult to find information on which pins do what  on the filter boards so to get my head around how to change the wiring I made my own diagrams since none seemed to exist.

Model 2A, Model 2B/2C and Model 3 all use the same connectors for everything except for power. the only difference is the connector locations. The power connectors that have a line through them are for output; typically used to power another board somewhere.

sega_model2_a_pcb_arcade_filter_board_pinout

sega_model2_b_c_pcb_arcade_filter_board_pinout

sega_model3_pcb_arcde_filter_board_pinout

 

If you find any errors in these please let me know.

Virtual On Oratorio Tangram Arcade Stick Tear Down

This is an actual arcade stick from a Japanese Virtual On Oratorio Tangram (VOOT) arcade machine. I believe these are also used on Outrigger arcade machines and the sticks used on Virtual On Force are very similar, only differing in color and the style of the thumb button. These are completely different than the home-use sticks for Saturn, Dreamcast, PC and even the newer Hori twins-sticks which use Sanwa Parts.

If you or anyone you know owns one or more of these sticks, or even just parts and are willing to sell please get in contact with me.

Subaru Legacy Rear Speaker Adapter

subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_final

I have a 2nd Gen (1995-1999 BD/BG) Subaru Legacy Wagon and I wanted to installed some 6.5″ Alpine (SPS-610) speakers in all of the doors. It seems although there are many places that sell speaker spacers/adapters for Subarus, no one makes adapters for the rear doors on this generation of Legacy. Apparently most Subarus share identical speaker mounting except for the rear Legacy speakers, they’re a different shape and no one has bothered to make adapters specific for this car.

I recently bought a 3D printer so I decided to make some.

First I took some measurements of the opening in the door, and the spacing between the factory speaker screw mounts. I also measured the depth and basket diameter of my speaker and estimated the depth available in the door with the window down. Finally I estimated the space available between the factory speaker grill and the door itself to make sure I’d have enough room. and I drew up a sketch with some notes.

11377827_1604223863189547_1703726022_n

Next I used FreeCAD to convert my sketch into a digital sketch. I had never used FreeCAD before but I had heard it was similar to SolidWorks (which I am familiar with) so I decided to try it. It’s not nearly as good as SolidWorks but it worked well enough to do what I needed to do.

subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_free_cad

Once the sketch was complete I converted to 3D geometry and exported as an STL file for the 3D print.

subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_free_cad2

The STL file is then converted to G-Code instructions that the printer can read to create the object.
subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_gcode

subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_print

My first version was actually a little too thick, it rubbed up against the back of the speaker grill, So I remeasured, adjusted the 3D model and re-printed… the final result fits flawlessly and mounts up just like the OEM speakers.

speaker_spacers

I used some Metra wire adapters to make the whole thing plug-n-play.

subaru_legac_rear_speaker_adapter_final

If you’re interested in printing your own you can get the files on Thingiverse. I do have some of these pre-printed if you want a pair I will ship them anywhere in the USA for $15.

Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat Arcade Control Panel Dimensions and Button Layout

For a while now I’ve needed to map out the dimensions of my Killer Instinct 2 arcade machine so that I can print out new artwork and ensure that the button and joystick holes all line up.  To do this I created a pair of bulls-eye hole center finders. I got the idea from Pocket83 on Youtube here:

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For My hole centers I used clear “Binding Covers” that I bought at Staples, these are essentially thicker versions of transparency paper. Using this material instead meant that I could have some overlap between the bulls-eyes without much trouble. I also marked circles at 24mm 30mm and 57mm as these are either exactly or very close to the most common hole sizes you’ll find in a control panel. I found the center hole finders are actually extremely accurate and I used a level to ensure that both the machine and the center lines were horizontal for accurate off-set measuring.

ki_bullseye

Here are the dimensions and button positions of the KI2 control panel (should be the same for KI2) Units are in inches, and everything is to the nearest 1/16th.

killer_instinct_arcde_control_panel_button_dimensions

I also have a Mortal Kombat 3 machine at my disposal so I took the liberty of mapping out the dimensions of that as well:

mortal_kombat_arcde_control_panel_button_dimensions

This should be similar for other Midway games from that era. MK4 should be identical except for the placement of the start buttons. War God should be the same. And MK1 MK2 and Wrestlemania should be the same except without the run button.

Hopefully others will find this information useful, I know I looked everywhere for dimensions on these control panels to no avail before taking the time to measure them myself.

Perminent Fix for Drooping Mirror in a 2nd Gen Subaru Legacy

I have a 99 Subaru Legacy wagon with a pretty common problem. The rear-view mirror in these cars likes to droop, it adjusts itself downward whenever you go over bumps. It’s a problem that seems to effect all of 2nd generation legacys (1995-1999 aka the BD or BG chassis). It’s mostly due to the design of the mirror, the ball joint is on the back of the mirror rather than the top, which means in order for it to hold it’s position there needs to be a lot of tension in the joint in order to resist the force generated by the weight of the mirror whenever the car hits a bump.

Having owned several 240SXs I noticed that the S14 chassis (1995-1998) uses a very similar size and shape mirror as the 2nd gen Legacy:

legacy_mirror_fix_01

As you can see they both use a similar length arm with a similar shaped mirror and a similar 3-bolt mounting flange. The Legacy mirror is black but the gray color of the 240SX mirror doesn’t matter because it actually matches the gray headliner in the legacy.

 

What’s not the same about the mirrors the adjustment join:

legacy_mirror_fix_02

As you can see the 240SX mirror has the adjustment joint on the top of the mirror which means that any bumps or vibrations will have little effect on the adjustment. Having owned 3 separate S14s I never had any problems with the mirror falling out of adjustment, nor have I ever heard of it being a problem with other owners.

AMAZINGLY the bolt holes on the mounting flange line up perfectly in the Subaru for a 100% bolt on replacement. I used the plastic cover from the S14 mirror  since the mounting flanges are shaped slightly different but it looks right at home in the Subaru, and no more droopy mirror.
legacy_mirror_fix_03

StepMania (In The Groove) Improved Light Output

I have a Dance Dance Revolution machine that I installed a PC in to play StepMaia instead. I wanted to get full light output working on StepMania only to discover that because of the way it was programmed the port addresses are hard-coded and because my StepMania PC uses a PCI based parallel port card I would have to modify the source and recompile…

I thought this was a exceedingly DUMB design so I did something about it.

I have some programming abilities (albeit not with C++) so rather than modify the source I decided to write a new parallel_lights_io.dll that works the way SM should have worked from the start. That way anyone who wants to add light output to SM can do so by simply adding these files to to their installation directory. Basically all this does is provide you with a .ini file that you can modify with your port addresses instead of having to do it in your source code. (also it uses the freely available and better inpout32.dll instead of the licensed and buggy io.dll that SM was built to use)

Download it here: Improved StepMania parallel_lights_io.dll

If anyone is interested in the source code let me know.

Supported Versions:
This is tested and working on SM 3.9 Plus Redux and OpenITG Beta 2 in Windows XP… I wont work on any version that has light output intentionally disabled in source (which means vanilla SM 3.9 and 4.0 will not work) I haven’t tested it on any other releases or OSs…

If you’re using a Linux build then you don’t need this… this is only for Windows.

If you’re at all interested in getting light output working please feel free to download and try this out… I’m interested to see how it works for other people. You’ll obviously need some hardware output on your parallel ports to see it working.

Hardware:
I’m using a Rosewill RC-304 dual parallel port PCI card (it’s also low-profile if you’re using a half-height PC case) though any properly installed parallel ports should work

As for building a light driver board for your parallel ports there are literally hundreds of ways you can do it… some great info can be found here: http://www.epanorama.net/circuits/parallel_output.html#realworld

If your intention is to hook this up to a real DDR Arcade machine. DDR has a light driver board already installed, you simply need to invert the parallel port outputs by using an opto-isolator OR a few 74 series inverter chips…. OR utilize the transistor/diode/resistor circuit for relay output described in the link above. The circuit requires a lot more soldering but I’m using that because it’s self-powered from the parallel port which makes for a cleaner install (opt-isolators or inverter chips would require an outside power source)… the DDR driver boards don’t draw much current, they’re just checking for an on/off value on the pin…. If you try to power a lamp any larger than an LED then you’ll likely blow out your parallel port which would be bad.

Here are the pinouts for the DDR light connectors as well as the parallel port pins used by StepMania:
Player 1 Platform Lights (10-pin White Connector)
1 black logical ground
2 green-red player 1 up arrow lights
3 blue-red player 1 down arrow lights
4 purple-red player 1 left arrow lights
5 gray-red player 1 right arrow lights
6 white enable pad (tie to logical ground)
7 brown (unknown)
8 N/C
9 N/C
10 N/C

Player 2 Platform Lights (10-pin Orange Connector)
1 black logical ground
2 green-red player 2 up arrow lights
3 blue-red player 2 down arrow lights
4 purple-red player 2 left arrow lights
5 gray-red player 2 right arrow lights
6 white enable pad (tie to logical ground)
7 brown (unknown)
8 N/C
9 N/C
10 N/C

Cabinet Lights (10-pin Red Connector)
1 black logical ground
2 N/C
3 N/C
4 purple-brown player 1 button lights
5 gray-brown player 2 button lights
6 green marquee lower right floodlight
7 blue marquee upper right floodlight
8 purple-red marque lower left floodlight
9 gray-red marquee upper left floodlight
10 green/yellow earth ground

Sub Woofer Lights (6-pin White Connector)
1 black logical ground
2 gray subwoofer lights (both)
3 N/C
4 N/C
5 N/C
6 N/C

For reference here are the parallel port pinouts for stepmania 3.9

SM Parallel Light Output
Parallel Port 1 (LPT1):
1 N/C
2 marquee upper left floodlight
3 marquee upper right floodlight
4 marquee lower left floodlight
5 marquee lower right floodlight
6 player 1 button lights
7 player 2 button lights
8 subwoofer light left
9 subwoofer light right
10-17 N/C
18-25 logical ground

Parallel Port 2 (LPT2):
1 N/C
2 player 1 left arrow lights
3 player 1 right arrow lights
4 player 1 up arrow lights
5 player 1 down arrow lights
6 player 2 left arrow lights
7 player 2 right arrow lights
8 player 2 up arrow lights
9 player 2 down arrow lights
10-17 N/C
18-25 logical ground

I’m also opting to go with 36-pin Centronics connectors on my light board so that I can use off-the-shelf printer cables… for reference here is how the DB-25 (parallel port) connector maps to a Centronics-36: http://www.lammertbies.nl/comm/cable/parallel.html

The Centroincs 36-pin connector ends up being mapped out like this:
Output pins (same numbers as DB-25): 2-9
Ground pins: 16-17, 19-30, 33
Pins with No Connection: 1, 10-15, 18, 31-32, 34-36

Parallel Port Hardware Testing:
If you’re having problems and you want to test your hardware with a program other than StepMania then I recommend this app: http://lpt-port-test-utility.software.informer.com/3.0/

I used that myself quite a bit when developing this little dll. you just plug in your port address and you can turn on and off the output pins on the parallel port to test out your hardware without the use of StepMania.

—————

I’m just happy to get this working for myself but if it this helps someone else then that’s even better…

Killer Instinct 2 machine is done… for now

So I finally “finished” my killer instinct 2 arcade machine de-conversion.

Here are the changes I’ve made since the last update…

1. Tuned the monitor. The convergence on the monitor was way out of whack because the yoke was lose (missing a few wedges) I replaced the wedges aligned the monitor and build some homemade convergence strips to improve the image. I couldn’t get the convergence perfect but it’s better than it was and everything is secured properly now so it wont be falling out of adjustment again. I also manually degaussed the monitor because it needed it badly.

2. Added a light shield above the monitor glass, it bugged me that the marquee light was leaking into the monitor glass, a small strip of poster-board and some staples fixed that easily.

light_blocker

3. Repaired some of the structural wood that was lose, this picture is of the monitor bezel and glass support, it was coming lose and twisting so I pulled it, put fresh nails in it one size larger and then glued it in place. Now the bezel even lines up with the monitor better than it did before.

ki2_monitor_glass_support

4. Kick panel fill, smooth and wrap. I glued wooden dowels into the holes left from a lock bar, then I bondoed them smooth and filled some rough edges along the bottom. Sanded that and the black portion of the sides smooth. Once everything was dry and smooth I wrapped it in Matte-Black 3M Di-Noc Vinyl (the same stuff they use to wrap cars).

5. Coin doors were powder coated, all the parts cleaned and rebuilt, even put some fresh bulbs and new locks in there.

ki2_kick_panel_4

6. Touched up paint on the control panel box and some scuffs in the side art.

ki2_touch_up_paint_2

for reference here is what it looks like before the touch up paint:

ki2_before_touch_up_paint

7. All new fresh T-Molding

ki2_t-molding

 

There are a few things that still need to be done but I can’t do them until I find the parts…

  1. I need a coin door blank to fill in the bill validator slot
  2. I need a control panel overlay to replace the matte black placeholder I have there now
  3. I need a midway 120mm fan mount for the cooling fan
  4. Not needed but I’d like new graphics for the control panel box front and sides

Sadly none of those parts are readily available so I’ll simply have to keep an eye out and buy them if and when I see them pop up for sale.

Killer Instinct 2 Deconversion

Last month I cam across an eBay auction for a former Killer Instinct 2 arcade machine.  I say “former” because this poor machine was converted to “Turkey Hunter USA”. A conversion generally means spray-painting all of the original cabinet artwork black, replacing the computer board and the marque and finally gutting the old control panel, covering over the original control panel art with new art and drilling fresh holes for the new controls. It’s quite sad to see, and it’s something I hated doing when I worked in an arcade.

Killer Instinct 2 is my all-time favorite arcade game, they’re pretty uncommon to find in arcades these days and they’re fairly uncommon among collectors as well and growing in value.  The cabinet for sale had the turkey hunter controls and PCB removed so it was just a cabinet and monitor with Turkey hunter art work. $200 +another $150 or so for freight shipping. I decided to buy it and this is what I got:

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machine_01 machine_02

I had a lot of parts to order, I had to buy buttons and joy sticks, a Killer Instinct Marquee, new control panel lexan overlay and art, and the condition of the monitor and power supply were completely unknown and of course I had to buy a Killer Instinct 2 PCB, without that it’s just a fancy box. Lots of other little things such hardware, wiring, connectors, etc.

Paint Removal/Cabinet:
First thing was getting the paint removed off the original artwork, this was first because I wanted to get it done out in the garage before moving the machine indoors. I first tried a product called Lift-Off, which worked but not very well, I then switched to a different product called Citri-Strip, which was fantastic. The results:

ki2_day3_01 ki2_day3_02

I also attempted to remove the Turkey hunter control panel graphics, after unbolting the plastic overlay I tried both a heat gun and goo-gone to separate the new control panel art from the original control panel art, the results, sadly, weren’t that great:

ki2_day1_03 ki2_day1_04

You can see that the new art work pulled up some of the paint from the original art, leaving nasty white lines of missing graphics. Even if that wasn’t the case there were three additional holes drilled in the original overlay around the player 2 joystick and the colors were all faded and dingy (the Killer Instinct logo on the Control panel top is supposed to be red just like the Killer Instinct logo on the control panel front).

I managed to find a new, never used Killer Instinct 2 marquee, which made for the easiest and best looking part of the cabinet “deconversion” so far.

ki2_day2_02

Of course even this took some work, the marquee was for a conversion kit (meaning for people who wanted convert a non Killer Instinct machine to Killer Instinct 2) so it needed to be trimmed to size.

Electronics:
The power supply was making some horrid noises, it wasn’t even the original power supply. I pulled it and bench tested it and found that the output voltages were way off so it was getting junked. The monitor was making some horrible noises too, the PCB I put int to test it wouldn’t boot (due to the bad power supply) so I couldn’t determine if it worked or not.

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For some odd reason there were hundreds of finishing nails among other bits of hardware on the floor so I cleaned all of that up to prevent any electrical shorts and I bought a new power supply, then modified it to fit in the original mounting location (the junk one that came with the cabinet wasn’t original and had just been screwed into the floor)

ki2_day3_03

This let me boot it up but sadly the monitor wasn’t showing a clear image

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I pulled the monitor chassis and bought all new capacitors and a new flyback, I also planned to replace a few small parts related to image sync  to fix the horizontal sync issue the monitor seems to be having. Here is the chassis with all of the new parts installed:

ki2_day4_01

No good, after reinstalling the image quality was better but the monitor couldn’t hold a sync; it was even worse than before. After getting advice from a few experts they told me to check that I hadn’t installed one of the new parts backwards… after pulling the board back out again and checking I found that the part in question wasn’t in backwards but the solder joint wasn’t strong enough, fixing that, and reinstalling the board I get a nice stable picture. Some small adjustments still need to be made but on a whole the picture looks great.

Control Panel:
Not only was the original control panel gutted and then drilled out when it was converted but all of the original control panel wiring had been cut out of the machine as well. I had to completely disassemble the control panel and install new tee-nuts for the joysticks. I bought all new buttons, joysticks and switches. I couldn’t find a Killer Instinct 2 control panel harness for sale so I would have to build one. I found a harness for a different Midway game that used the same style connectors and wiring colors so I bought it. Repinned the connectors for Killer Instinct and then routed, trimmed, and crimped a disconnect onto each wire. Here is what I started with (just 2 wires!), and what I built:

ki2_day3_06 machine_04 ki2_day4_05

Control Panel Overlay and Monitor Bezel:
I still haven’t been able to find new control panel art, so I made myself an temporary cover-up out of some black poster board. I also bought a reproduction laser-cut lexan control panel overlay and I had new monitor bezel stickers printed from some scans that I found online.

ki2_day4_09 ki2_day4_08 ki2_day4_07

The Results so far:
So I’ve got all of the electronics fixed and rebuilt the cabinet has been washed clean of all the Turkey Hunter conversion stink, the last bit is to plug in the Killer Instinct 2 PCB I bought and fire it up:

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I got a few games in and I’m really happy to have all the work so far pay off.

What’s left to do:
I’ve still got some finishing touches to do here is the list

  • touch up paint on the side art to cover up scuffs and scrapes
  • repaint the front lower section of the cabinet
  • replace a coin door light bulb
  • find and install a bill collector blank for the hole in the coin door
  • find and install a proper control panel graphic
  • properly mount the KI2 PCB
  • install a cooling fan for the PCB
  • fine-tune the convergence on the monitor
  • built a light shield to prevent the marquee light from bleeding onto the monitor bezel
  • install new t-molding

I’ll get some of the larger items on this list done soon, but other items might take a while to source the right parts. I’ll do an in-depth wrap up video once I’m 100% done.

SteamBox Build

I haven’t been a PC gamer for years. I spend all day at work sitting a computer desk, I spend a lot of time at home sitting at a computer desk working (to keep my various websites running) so when I need some down-time I’d rather sit on my couch and play games then spend even more time at a computer desk…

steam-big-picture-mode

A few months ago Valve introduced “Big Picture Mode” for Steam. This mode basically adjusts the Steam menu system for HDTVs and controller based navigation. Rumors started flying that they were going to make their own console to compete with Playstation and Xbox. More recently those rumors were somewhat confirmed when Valve announced that they will be making a “SteamBox” spec for what this Living Room PC should be, essentially allowing any hardware manufacturer to make their own variation of the SteamBox and at the same time help standardize the PC; the first of which is the Xi3 Piston.

xi3piston

This obviously intrigued me since there are a number of PC games I’d love to play but not wanting to drop $1000+ for a gaming PC and then spend even more time in my office playing it. So I set out to build my own budget SteamBox. The SteamBox “spec”  hasn’t been released, though chances are it would be out of my price range anyway so I was just going to see if I could get the job done for under $300 (what I’d expect to pay for a console) leveraging the piles and piles of old PCs I had laying around.

nmedia_htpc_600bar

The first PC I was sacrificing was an old HTPC/DVR I built, after looking at the equipment inside I quickly determined that the only thing worth salvaging was the case itself and the disc-drive. The case was an nMedia HTPC 600BAR. It’s a nice black steel chassis that supports a full-sized ATX Motherboard with a real brushed aluminum front, an integrated IR window, as well as flash media ports right on the front and a decorative disc tray door. (it’s also got USB, Firewire, and audio ports on the side right near the front). The DVD R/W drive is nothing special but it’s compact, quite and supports SATA.

The second PC I salvaged was one that my brother gave to me. I had built it for him 2 years ago for HD Video editing. it was blue-screening on him every-time it booted up and he got frustrated and just bought a new PC and gave me his old one since I had built it. This had an Asus P5N-D motherboard which is setup for gaming with overclocking features, it had a Intel Core 2 Quad (Q6600) processor 3GB of DDR2 memory across two sticks, and a two Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200RPM SATA drives setup in a RAID array. It had a really nice Rosewill 550W power supply and a good-for it’s time but now dated ATi graphics card along with various other bits of essentially uninteresting hardware.

Comparing the specs of the Q6600 to an Intel i3 I found them to be fairly comparable CPUs, the i3 was more efficient and slightly better for gaming tasks, but the Q6600 was a slightly better performer for non-gaming tasks. So I considered this a good-enough platform for my needs… I don’t need a graphics powerhouse and my projector is only 720P so as long as I can run games above 30FPS at 1280×720 with decent AA and textures I’ll be happy with the results. Sure an i3 would be a bit better and an i5 would be a big step up… but the Q6600 was free and that would give me a lot of room to work with the rest of it.

nvidia_gtx_550_it_superclocked

Since I was short-changing myself slightly on the processor side I wanted to get the beefiest graphics card (I could afford) that was compatible with the somewhat dated motherboard. the P5N-D includes 2 16x PCI-e 2.0 slots (3.x is the current new standard) looking around there were a few $400+ cards that still supported the v2.0 slot but the GTX550 seemed to fit my needs, it has an HDMI port (an absolute must for a TV build) and I found a used “superclocked” variant with 2GB of on-board memory for $120, I probably could have found. The next step up used  v3.0 and the 2GB variant of that was prohibitively expensive so this seemed like a good choice. I also picked up two used 2GB sticks of matching DDR2 memory for $25 to max out the motherboard supported of  8GB of memory.

If you’re keeping track at home I’ve spent $145 including shipping and my PC specs are:

  • nMedia 600BAR HTPC Case
  • Asus P5N-D Motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor
  • 8GB Corsair DDR2 memory
  • nVidia GTX 550 Ti 2GB Superclocked
  • Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200RPM HDD in RAID array
  • Rosewill 550W Power Supply
  • Lite-On DVD R/W drive
  • integrated flash media slots

Now came the came the part where I’d need to chose an operating system. Ideally I’d run Ubuntu but that’s not really an option for gaming. Rumor has it the official Valve SteamBox will run Linux, which is great and I’m sure that will vastly improve linux gaming support, but the market is just not there yet. I like Win 7 but I’ve heard that Win 8 is a little lighter and runs a little faster, not to mention the Metro UI while loathed by traditional PC gamers seems the perfect interface for a HTPC Gaming machine… Win 8 was the easy choice.

sanoxy_pc_remote

The Last piece of the puzzle is the peripherals, I have a wireless keyboard and mouse that I bought so I could use the keyboard with my Xbox 360 before they released the “chat pad”… it’s USB based with it’s own 2.4GHz transmitter. Keyboard and mouse are a necessary evil but I really don’t want to be using that very often, especially not from the couch. after some research I found there are these generic chinese IR remotes sold under a dozen different names that emulate a keyboard and mouse. The one above I bought on Amazon for $7.50 shipped. It’s pretty slick you can move the mouse pointer around using the big directional button and most of the other buttons are mapped to standard keyboard shortcuts. The best part is that the Harmony Remote supports this protocol so anything you can do via keyboard I can do via my harmony remote.

The first one I received had a defective IR receiver, but the Amazon seller sent me another one without any hesitation. I had to rig up a custom mounting bracket to hide the receive behind the IR window in the front of the case and I even had a USB pin header adapter so I’m not even snaking the cable out to an external port… nice and clean.

wireless_gaming_receiver

The last peripheral bit was to pickup an official Microsoft “Wireless Gaming Receiver” a small USB dongle that allows you to use any wireless Xbox 360 controller on a PC. Sadly I wont be able to easily mount this inside of the case as I will need access to the sync button. I considered doing something clever like cracking it open and re-appropriating the case’s reset button for sync but then I might still run into problems with the metal chassis interfering with the signal… so outside the case it will stay, I may make up a custom mount to keep it at the back of the case.

steam_box

You may notice that there is another PCI card in there, this is simply a second network card. The reason being is that I had been using another old PC as a hardware firewall for my Xbox 360, this allowed me to force block people on Xbox Live, I’d remote into that PC and identify the IP of the person I didn’t want to play with and add them to the block list. I’d then never connect to them in-game again. It also worked the other way where I could set a white list so I would only connect to my friends, keeping randoms out or forcing myself onto a specific Xbox Live server. Now that I’ll have a PC in the same room as my Xbox I can use this for the firewall tasks and simply switch inputs on my receiver instead of involving my laptop to remote into the old firewall PC.

I haven’t tested it out yet (two of the fans in the case seems to be on their last leg so I want to replace those before I put it through it’s paces… I’m pretty happy with it so far and will be interested to see how my sub $300 SteamBox works out.