Adventure #3 – If I could chuck wood….

Merry Christmas adventurers. In this adventure I am building the frame for my arcade machine. It is built of Wickes’ finest 12mm MDF. It is held together with pine and prayer. My brother and I used the tablesaw to cut the front, sides and back. In this image it is waiting for its face.

I have stripped down an LCD monitor and mounted it in the frame.

After getting the frame together and standing in front of it, it only really seemed big enough for 2 players. I have tested mounting the joysticks.

Kindly Ipswich Makerspace’s own superhero Adam helped laser out the screen surround on “Helios” the big laser.

It me

Outstanding jobs

  • Build replacement button PCB to control the LCD
  • Procure PC parts and mounting system
  • Install IEC C14 connector and power button
  • Vinyl wrap
  • Finish and polish the turd game in Unity
  • Unleash it on people

Look out for my other adventures where I go off down rabbits holes, such as:

  • Write a new game! and build its artwork
  • Convert a SNES controller to XINPUT compatible
  • Build my own gaming mechanical keyboard
  • Hack a Boilermate 200 PCB into a “Smart” Boiler
  • Macro photography
  • Learning Finnish and the Piano
  • Something to do with my day job, I forget what it is now, probably Internet or phones or something.

Adventure #2 – Lathing away

Afternoon adventurers. As part of my project to build an arcade case for Laser Defender game, this weekend with my good friend Matt G, he has been instructing me in the ways of the metal worker.

To test out the analog axis of my Teensy USB gamepad, I needed some potentiometers, which needed finishing with same handles. I found some old kitchen drawer handles and put them to work on Matt’s lathe.




Input Device #1 : Thottle control

A 10K slide pot with kitchen drawer handle

This works great as a throttle control in “Simple Planes”, next step is to build a housing for it, or maybe integrate it into a custom keyboard project.

Input Device #2: Turny handle thing

Yeah I dunno what this is really for, but its a turny handle thing. Im sure I’ll want a turny handle thing at some point.

Arcade stick

Actually all of the lathing was really for helping make some metal adapters for mounting rumble pack motors to my XINPUT arcade sticks, which look a bit like this. These are 2 separate parts “smushed” together (technical term).

When mounted on the stick, look a bit like this (rumble motor up underneath).

That’s it for now. Hoping to get my circuit boards next week!

October Gets Talky, Tech Talky

Coming up in October we have not one but two Tech Talks to take your minds off the gathering gloom.

casting of cthulhuFirst up we have David Kirkby (Thurs 5th Oct), a talented local sculptor and maker who will be explaining the ins and outs of mould making and cold resin casting. Imagine being able to reproduce your favourite thing in glorious but lightweight bronze.

3.Test RigFor fans of animation we have Alan Clark and Doug Selway (Thur 19th Oct) who will be showing us their cunning video camera rig which allows programmable, repeatable camera control for stop motion animation. The team designed, built, programmed and fettled the rig themselves and you can see the results on YouTube.

If you want to come along, both events are completely free of charge and you can have a tour of the makerspace and a chat afterwards. Of course we’re also open on our regular Tuesday and Thursday evening slots.

Keep up to date with all things Makerspace on here or on our Facebook group.

Open Day 8th July 2017

Following on from our last great Open Day we’re throwing the doors to the Makerspace open once again. If you’ve ever wondered what a Makerspace is, now is your chance to find out. Depending on how busy we are you may even get some help and advice! Come along, meet the team and see some of our equipment in action.
There’s parking just next to the Makerspace which costs just £3 all day. Click here for details of how to find us.WIN_20170505_15_43_47_Pro

Local Nerds Challenge Cambridge

A local team of robot builders from Ipswich Makerspace took second place in the Cambridge PiWars competition at the weekend. They entered the Professional category in the prestigious robotics event, a challenge-based robotics competition in which robots created by teams compete in various non-destructive challenges. The Makerspace’s team competed on Sunday and got off to a rocky start getting knocked out of the Pi-Noon robot duel in the first round despite some skilful moves by the driver Jon Leach. They also had issues with the bright sunlight on the course for the Maze and Speed challenges. In training the robot had operated flawlessly under artificial light but the sun interfered with the sensors on the day. The team quickly recovered with an excellent run on the autonomous Line Following and a blistering time for the Crazy Golf with Phil Willis in control. A solid performance on the grinding Obstacle course boosted the team’s morale no end. The final challenge was to present the robot to be judged by Dr Lucy Rogers one of the judges from recent series of Robot Wars. Under Dr Rogers’ critical eye the team explained the highlights of their design helped by Phil’s 10-year old daughter Amy.

The team captain Keith Ellis said “It’s amazing what we were able to achieve with modern technology. Parts were laser cut and 3D-printed, we had custom circuit boards made and we even made use of Open Source computer vision software; 10-years ago we couldn’t have built this robot”.

Steve Chalkley from Ipswich Makerspace said “This was our third PiWars and we’ve been in the top three in each one. We’re very proud of our team and grateful to Rapid Electronics in Colchester for their sponsorship. It allows us to be more adventurous with our designs and produce winning robots”.
PiWars 2017 group 1

About the image:

Left to right: Keith Ellis, Dr Lucy Rogers (Robot Wars), Phil Willis (Amy’s Dad), Jon Leach. Front Amy Willis and Harrison Ellis (holding the trophy backwards, bless).

Dr Lucy Rogers is a chartered engineer, who appeared as a judge in the two most recent series of Robot Wars. She is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the British Interplanetary Society. Her current projects focus on reducing the damage from space debris. At the PiWars weekend Dr Rogers judged the technical and innovation elements of each team’s robot.


Pi Wars is a challenge-based robotics competition in which Raspberry Pi-controlled robots are created by teams and then compete in various non-destructive challenges to earn points. There are prizes awarded at the end of the event. At the weekend teams from schools, families and groups of hobbyists competed for two full days of robotic fun and games. Pi Wars took place in Cambridge, UK and was open to anyone from around the world. This year there was even a team from the USA. It is run by the same team that organises the Cambridge Raspberry Jam.

Ipswich Makerspace

The Makerspace is a collaborative workshop and community space for creative people to work, gain new skills and inspire each other. After three years of hard work the group now has its own premises in Dove Street which they are filling with high and low tech tools for budding makers. They organise a range of activities such as the regular Thursday project night. The team from the Makerspace has entered all three of the PiWars competitions winning one and coming second in the other two, a fantastic achievement given the level of the opposition. (Website:

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Foundation was launched in 2008, in order to endorse and develop the Pi. On February 2012, the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B launched at just £25, and offered a 700MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, two USB ports and a GPU capable of 1080p display – all in the palm of your hand. Recent Raspberry Pi sales figures show that the humble board is, in fact, the world’s third best-selling general purpose computer after the Mac and PC. Raspberry Pi achieved this milestone by selling north of 12.5 million boards in five years. This figure beats the previous third place holder, the Commodore 64. What seems like a simple creation went through an arduous journey on its way to becoming the best-selling UK-developed computer in history. (Source:

Pi Wars 2017 – Radio Ga Ga

So for the second year we intend to run the robot as a Wifi access point to allow us to connect via ssh and check/debug Tractor Bot. Phil was a bit concerned that the Pi 3’s radio could not run as an access point however he came across this handy guide and we can now connect either to the Pi as an access point or allow it to connect to any of the  Wifi networks it knows about.

It works really well and means that Tractor Bot can be run headless very easily.

Screenshot from 2017-03-06 23-05-36

Multiple wireless interfaces

Pi supporting two wireless interfaces, one using the internal radio as an access point and one using an external dongle bound to Phil’s router. Not to mention a hard line to the same network.