Daytrip to Margate

About three weeks ago I bought a log flume from a seller on Ebay. It was definitely an impulse buy. The auction was due to end one evening and I put in a cheeky bid expecting it to be declined and woke up the next day to find I was the new owner of a used log flume for £120.

When I told my colleague at work he also temporarily lost his sanity and bought a roller coaster car from the same seller based in Margate. These things really don’t come up for sale very often and we both felt we could create some crazy projects around VR using these.

After some difficult communication with the seller, we finally departed Slough on Sunday at 8.00am to drive the 100+ miles to Margate to collect both items.

It was a cold day with snow on the ground but we made good time and arrived around 10.30am in my colleagues van. The seller was still on holiday in the U.S but his colleagues were on hand to show us the items. It immediately became clear these were very large and very heavy requiring 4 or more people to lift and there were two of us. After an hour and half of lifting, winches, ratchet straps and to be honest Chris’s lifting ability more than mine, we managed to get the rollercoaster in the back of the van and turned our attention to the log flume. It was quickly obvious the log flume was too big and heavy to fit in the van with the rollercoaster. I remembered the seller was also offering some smaller log flumes for the same value and after a quick discussion it was agreed we would take one of these instead and again loaded in the van after some time and effort.

By this point it was early afternoon. Chris’s van has no heating and after loading these items we were cold and thirsty. We were told of an indoor market called the Old Kent Market where we could get some refreshments and walked around the corner to see what they had to offer. Its a fantastic little indoor market with lots of character offering food and beverages and some small indoor market stalls. We had a lovely coffee and warmed up then visited a couple of the antique shops nearby before making the 2 hour journey home in the fresh snow.

The last picture shows my log flume hidden in our server room at work after loading into the lift and taking it up to the first floor.


Arcade Machine Project Part 1

This is the start of another arcade machine project inspired by something similar I saw being sold on Ebay. It was an arcade system using Jamma or Raspberry Pi made using recycled wood.

I found someone selling old pallets on Ebay for a £1 in Slough and bought 3 thinking this should be more than enough wood for the job. The intention is to break up the pallets into strips of wood, remove any nails and then sand and varnish. I will then cut the wood to make a table top arcade machine big enough for a at least a 19″ TFT monitor or whatever else I can scrounge. I will buy some arcade joystick, buttons, speakers and then I haven’t yet decided whether I go down the usual Raspberry Pi route or with some sort of Jamma/MAME system, perhaps even one of the Pandora boxes that come with hundreds of game ROM’s already built in and can be bought cheaply from Ebay sellers?

Total cost to date £3 for pallets

More to follow…

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Nerf’ing Good fun

Bought this a few weeks ago from Argos for about £15. A Nerf gun with battery operated firing that can fire up to 10 rounds in quick succession from its revolving chamber. Works up to about 20M and can be fairly accurate. Certainly accurate enough to annoy some of my colleagues although everyone has fired it in anger at some point.


Sunfounder DIY Arcade Kit

I first saw these online some time ago but they have been out of stock or quite expensive to get hold of in the company. Finally, Ali Express had a fantastic deal on and it was actually cheaper for me to buy from them with shipping from the US.

Bought this in January for $35.99. Cheaper than I can get in the U.K. Delivery was quoted as up to 40 days but I think I had to wait for about 10 days so was very happy with this.

This is a kit to make an arcade machine using a Raspberry Pi computer. It comes with everything you need except the Raspberry Pi and the software including:

1 x Arcade Joystick Kit (screws and fixing plates included)

6 x Arcade Buttons

1 x Paper Box

1 x 8G Micro SD Card

1 x Raspberry Pi GPIO Reference Card

1 x Guide Brochure

Several Wires

The box arrived well packaged and already looked funky from the outside. I decided to take this into work and get my students to help build it and learn some maker skills. Beow is what the kit looks like when taken out of the outer packaging. You can see the precut holes for buttons and joystick with the colourful artwork. Although this is just a printed cardboard box it still felt fairly rigid and like it will take a reasonable amount of abuse.


Once opened there is some foam packing to keep everything in place and momentarily hide the goodies underneath.


This quickly gives way to the goodies inside. Everything seemed well packaged and in separate compartments to make it easier to identify everything.


Here’s the contents:

The buttons just push fit into the precut holes in the box.


You then need to take the four screws out that secure the top plate of joystick so it can be fitted into the top of the box:


The kit even includes a little GPIO reference board that slips over the pins to help ensure you connect the wires correctly – a nice little touch.



After this, its time to connect the buttons and joystick together. The Raspberry Pi just sit sin the bottom of the box although we plan to secure it better using some sticky pads of some kind.



And the finished hardware setup..


Follow this guide for downloading and installing RetroPie onto the free SD card supplied with the kit. Don’t forget you will need an SD card reader/writer and Etcher installed on a PC to write the RetroPie image to the SD card.

The kit comes with full instructions to help set up the Raspberry Pi and the controls..


I will update the post later this week when we finish the setup and copy some game ROM’s (legalley owned of course) onto the RetroPie setup. More to follow….




















Gakken WorldEye Globe Display

I bought this on Amazon as a Japanese import with some vouchers I received for my birthday. Its is a spherical HDMI display with built in speaker that I plan to use with a Raspberry Pi based project. It comes with a number of videos supplied on a USB stick for demonstration. These unfortunately are in Japanese.

It cost about £150 in February and is quite large and comes supplied with a 2 pin adapter. I had a 2 pin to 3 pin UK adapter lying around and used this to convert the voltages. It has a built-in speaker and comes with a round remote for navigating its menus. The display is quite readable in normal lighting but looks better in a dim room.

The globe fits into a stand that lets you adjust the display angle.

I will make an update to this blog post when I find time to connect it to one of my Raspberry Pi projects.

Christmas hunt for Snes Classic Mini

696304_gen_bSome time ago I ordered a retro console from Nintendo and they let me down badly. The console never arrived and then they said they had no more and I wouldn’t be receiving my order. Their customer service was certainly not apologetic, sympathetic or sincere in their dealings with me. Since then I have tried to avoid buying their products.

However they have started releasing some more retro remakes of classic Nintendo consoles and I wanted to purchase the Snes Classic Mini console at £79.99. Again, Nintendo have produced limited quantities and sell out with minutes of releasing any for sale. Its been the same story with other retailers like Argos and Games.

In the past I have used sites like to keep up to date with any stock held in the U.K but again no luck. Then I read an article saying that Game had some in stock but you couldn’t buy online but rather you needed to check their stores for stock using your postcode on their website. Tried this last night and it showed Bracknell had a limited stock. I thought this was bound to be a mistake but called their store today and was able to reserve the last one for collection. Had to ask the boss to leave early (was honest about why) and made my way to Bracknell expecting them to say it had gone or they had made a mistake but when I walked in they were just about to close and to my delight they handed me the console. One happy Snes Classic Mini owner and for the RRP of £79.99 and not the hiked prices sellers on sites like Ebay are asking.

If you want one, go to the Game website and then on the right hand side, look for the ‘Want it today? Check your local store for stock then pop in’ 

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and then enter your postcode and search local stores. Good luck. I will post a review of mine when I get time to open it and play. Its like Christmas!