WifXL - GropXL

It's old, it's new, it's fun and casual, and I'm finally creating a proper project page for it !

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This old idea can finally start to become true, so I'll be logging the developments here.
It's a "casual gaming platform" that blends the latest technologies (wifi and other modern features) with old ideas and styles, allowing (almost) anybody to play in convivial, public or private places.
It's a multi-faceted project with equally hardware and software sides, but also social aspects, so it's quite a big undertaking and I won't get into all the abstract details here.

As of 20221211:

Technically the platform is composed of :

  • One main processor
    • Not chosen yet. Could be RPi2/3 for the early development.
    • WiFi interface is required. Delivers data through #micro HTTP server in C and interacts with #HTTaP.
    • Ethernet/RJ45 aux. port is welcome for management/dev/reporting/queue arbitration/...
  • PSU (of course)
  • 2 alphanumerical displays, A1 and A2, each made with a low pitch 84×7 bitmap array.
    • The first version used a custom bi-color LED display, with 1 byte per column, with MSB selecting color.
    • The current version uses a flip dot array with only 7 bits per column.
    • Both should be compatible, with the flip dot version ignoring the MSB.
    • 84 columns means up to 14 characters of 5px wide and 1px spacing.
  • One main graphic array with about 64 lines, and 32 or 40 columns.
    • Yes it's portrait because we use of smartphones this way.
    • The initial idea involved a 16×16 RGB LED array but it was too small and would draw quite a lot of power
    • 64×32 allows TETRIS with 3px per square, and quite a few other things.
    • I'd like to use flip dots but haven't found a proper array
  • Software :
    • Programming language not yet decided, probably C or C-like
    • OS+API / library that manages I/O are developed by the project
    • extra aps/games can be added by 3rd parties



1. Games
2. I need more dots
3. Less dots

  • Less dots

    Yann Guidon / YGDES12/20/2022 at 23:54 0 comments

    As I'm trying to source more dots, I realise that maybe my initial system was a bit oversized.

    I'm not sure that many places have enough wall surface for two 130cm-long displays (A1 and A2) or the humongous array I planned in the beginning. Look at this :

    This is definitely bulky and, I admit, a bit ugly...

    Sso I might has to plan for at least two sizes, and mix&match for each installation.

    As I'm trying to build an enclosure for A1 and A2, I played with a couple of boards and they are already quite large so maybe a 56-px wide display will qualify for a prototype. That's 9 full-length characters, enough to display some bits of information such as a score or player name... And if it's not wide enough, we can still scroll it !

  • I need more dots

    Yann Guidon / YGDES12/14/2022 at 02:00 0 comments

    I looked at the stock after some years of it collecting dust and I got these flip dots :

    • 210 rows of 7 dots, 10mm. That makes approx. 35×42px, 1470 total. The surface is barely enough.
    • 2 arrays of 28×16px, with octogonal dots, 15mm. The can only be tiled into a 56×16px array.
    • 3 arrays of 24×16 squares, 10mm pitch. They can be tiled into 24×48px but the surface is still too small.

    And a couple of large arrays in bad shape and hard to drive.

    I have several 28×7 arrays in 15mm but they can't be tiled vertically.

    Sam tried to

    1. unsolder the flip dots, and failed
    2. hack/saw the extra PCB and failed.

    Ideally the dots should be around 1 inch wide, or 25mm. That's 40 dots per mètre.

    In the early days of the project, I tried to make a RGB LED array using strips but

    1. it was still expensive
    2. it draws a LOT of current to make something clearly visible in all conditions
    3. consequently it dissipates a LOT of heat, requiring an aluminium backplate for extra heat conduction, and clearance in the back to let the air flow.
    4. Separator boxes must be built, with a proper optical design that diffuses the LED's spot without losing too much light/contrast
    5. It's still about as fragile as flip dots, without the noises or the null static current, and RGB strips are not ultra-reliable as well.

    I don't have the budget to get modules from AlfaZeta so the last possibility would be to safely recover the 7× strips from Hanover modules, which is going to be a mess... It would require a whole box, or about 14 modules 28×7, to build a 64×42 array, supposing recovery was 95% good.

  • Games

    Yann Guidon / YGDES12/08/2022 at 21:17 2 comments

    Question : what simple, casual, easy-to-use games are best for low resolution ?

    Tetris is one of the first suspects of course.

    Snake comes next obviously.

    Pong ? sure.

    Some sort of driving sim, or frogger ?

    space invader ?

    If possible, it should be easy to play with 1 or 2 players, so snake could morph into a TRON-like race ?

    Stéphane suggested Shifumi and it would work great : 2 players, extremely simple, and tolerates the latency of the system, which can hold the "votes" secret until both have been cast.

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