Yesterday whilst at work I spent quite a lot of time thinking about how one would go about making a full DDR
machine. I discussed this with some friends on IRC and we threw around some ideas. tktiger
was kind enough to let me know via Twitter how large the screens are on official DDR machines (pre SuperNOVA), which proved to be a large factor.
The main goal is that the machine should be as large as an official DDR machine; screen should be the same size or larger, stage should be the same size and height from floor, speakers should give the same quality, etc. Stage and cabinet should be constructed new, possibly salvaging parts from old home pads (controller). Software of choice is Stepmania.
, Lev, nidonocu
and I) managed to whittle our ideas down to four possibilities:1) Use an old arcade cabinet rewired for the purpose.
Although the idea is sound for a MAME cabinet I wasn't too happy as we'd be limited to screen size and orientation (DDR screens are angled so that the top is further back, allowing the user to look down at it). Idea discounted.2) Use a PC with a monitor.
This option, along with the following two, allow for a cabinet to be built from scrath (my preference). However finding a monitor that is as large as an official DDR screen (29" 4:3) is very difficult and potentially quite expensive. NOTE: As of this morning I have opened the possibilty of using 16:9 screens, like the DDR X machines, but large 16:9/16:10 monitors are still expensive. Idea discounted.3) Use an XBox with a TV.
This was suggested by jdel
as a way of streamlining the build process. Old XBoxen are a dime a dozen and there already exist lots of home DDR pads that I can mutilate to get the controllers. StepmaniaX exists for this option but is difficult to come across and is kinda in alpha. nidonocu
also pointed out that old XBoxen aren't really that reliable hardware wise, and for resiliance it would mean having multiple XBoxen ready to swap out. Idea totally discounted.4) Use a PC with a TV.
This I feel is the best idea of the lot. Stepmania has pretty low requirements, which means that I can build a machine to play it using old bits that are lying around. The other advantage is that old CRT TVs large enough are plentiful, so much so that my local FreeCycle group had four 30" CRT TVs going up for grabs in the past week! This plan has legs.
So I sent an email to one of the FreeCyclers for my area and arranged to collect a 30" Philips TV from them tomorrow evening for the princely sum of a taxi ride home. The plan at that point was to build a PC with Linux (to get the best performance) running StepMania, though I'd still need to get a graphics card that has TV-Out (composite preferably).
However on my way home I remembered something, that I still have a Mini-ITX machine that I got from jouva
a few years ago, and that little beauty has TV-Out! Not only that, but I'll soon be the owner of an Acoustic Solutions (I think) home stereo amplifier (seperate) and a pair of speakers to go with them. In the next few days I'll have all of the internals sorted, then I just need to build the cabinet and the stage. :D :D
Building the cabinet and stage might take a while though... need tools and materials (wood, metal, perspex, etc).TL;DR
After running through some hypothetical plans of how to make my own DDR machine, I actually realised that I actually have most of the hardware and software ready to go. o_o