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Posts Tagged ‘Dullcade’

The DVR I’ve been waiting for…

February 20, 2012 Comments off

When I was 15, my brother taught me how to do telephone wiring. His story was that some friends of his knew how to do it, and they weren’t too bright, so there’s no reason that he shouldn’t know how to do it, too, and taught himself then taught me.

That same logic has served me well throughout my life. That’s how I have the “Dullcade” video arcade. I knew nothing about building anything, but I saw a bunch of websites of people who had built their own, and thought “If these dummies can do it, why don’t I already have one?” Armed with a jigsaw and no knowledge, six months later, I had a working video arcade. :)

So back to me at 15, armed with my telephone wiring skills, I ran cable TV into my bedroom (unheard of in 1986), hooked the TV into the stereo (not unheard of, but very expensive), and generally wired anything into anything that I could find. So one day, thinking about how the VCR worked, I wired the cable TV plug into my audio cassette recorder and hit “record.” I was so excited at the concept until I played it back and got nothing.

What I was hoping for was to record all the channels at once, so I could just hit “Play” and then watch any channel I wanted to. I always hated that the VCR only recorded one show at a time.

So here’s the UK’s solution to that problem. It’s a DVR that records all 60 BBC over-the-air channels, and records them all the time, so you can go back and watch anything that was on in the last week. Sure, it’s $4,000, and only works in England, but how small a price to make 15-year-old Joe happy. :)

 

 

 

Categories: Cool Links, JoeRants Tags: ,

R.I.P. Dullitzer

January 14, 2012 Comments off

About 10 years ago, I built the “Dullitzer.” Here’s what’s left of her.

The Dullitzer was an mp3 playing jukebox, loaded with about 1,200 of my favorite songs. I built her from scratch, even bending the wood to make the top, largely without knowing what I was doing. The holes you see are where video game buttons were mounted, which plugged into a special device that turned the button hits into key presses for the computer hidden inside. The big hole had a computer monitor behind it, displaying a jukebox program that would let you select the next series of songs, just like a regular jukebox.

The Dullitzer, while never without bugs in the works (sometimes exaggerated by me, to keep me from having to constantly do the small “fixes” it took every time someone asked me how it worked), made an excellent conversation piece at many a party, as well as pumping out rocking tunes.

The move from California to New York took its toll, and I had to replace the bent wood with red vinyl (it got crushed enroute). It had other smaller cosmetic damages, but most of those got fixed. The move to Arkansas was less problematic, but it still needed some touch-ups that just never happened.

And now, all that’s left is the front of it. We’re building the upstairs into a combination game room/movie theatre, and there’s just no room for it anymore. Also, it can be replaced by my computer with my entire music collection or by a $30 Sansa mp3 player. And neither of those are buggy.

In taking it apart last week, I also remembered that the light inside that lit up the “Dullitzer” logo was originally a small shoplight that got very very hot and melted the monitor. The monitor still worked, but it was fun to find it as I opened her up, with half the side melted away.

My favorite story about the Dullitzer is when got rid of all the “adult content” songs (more accurately: I moved them so I could choose the family friendly or adult version, depending on the crowd), and had it supply the music for the chair of my department’s retirement party. You can imagine where this story is going, and that’s where it ends. It was a fun evening with many important people in the college present, and Joe (the chair) decided to recite a poem to cap the evening. At that exact moment is when, out of the cleaned up 1,100 songs that could randomly be played, AC/DC’s “Big Balls” began. Turns out I’d missed a song. Kat and I ran around the house turning off the attached stereos (the Dullitzer was way upstairs, but was attached to every stereo in the house), but to no avail. Seriously – the odds were 1,100 to one, and the one came through.

The jukebox software on the Dullitzer was written for people who have video game emulator cases, which I also have. The “Dullcade” was the first thing I ever built, after getting interested in video game emulators, and seeing the people who had built them and put them up on websites. The spelling and grammar of the websites convinced me that there was no possible reason that these people could figure out how to make one and I couldn’t. So knowing nothing and armed with a jigsaw (seriously, only a jigsaw and a drill) I made the Dullcade. Here’s a lousy quality picture of it:

I couldn’t imagine an evening when I wouldn’t want both the jukebox and the video game to be on at the same time (it’s an either/or kind of thing), so I built the Dullitzer to accompany the Dullcade, and for many many years it did.

I’m honestly a little bit sad to let it go – the Dullitzer was a big deal for me to build (took about six months all told), and it was so fun for so long, I get melancholy thinking about it. Ah, youth.

Of course, now I build 600 sq foot decks and movie theatres, and get to direct feature length films and hang out with my awesome wife and daughter. What’s a Dullitzer compared to all that?

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