Gaetan's playground: "How might we"...

From a very young age, I was fortunate enough to have access and guidance in the toolshed/garage at home and the workshop of my grandparents at their farm... I could make and take apart little projects and create a go-cart, an arcade machine for the Commodore 64, make stuff of all shapes and sizes. I've build furniture and shelves for my office, and I'm certainly not shy with the paintbrush and decorating.

The personal projects selected here involve a fair amount of planning, doing and tweaking based on my own ideas and the feedback from my (patient) friends and family. 

I also enjoy travelling and taking pictures as a great source of creative inspiration and opportunity for exploration and discovery... off the beaten path. a boat without a single nail?

The main Gili island of Trawangan is best known for its pristine beaches and diving, parties and dining... 

But the Lombok traditional art of building long boat is still very much alive today and small teams of 4 to 6 men can construct a 25m boat in about 6 months without using a single nail.


...setup a 4 players console gaming in 1 min?

How might we... get a 4 players LAN gaming setup ready in 1 minute, in any room?  

Setting up screens, power and network cables is a rather impractical and slow proposition for any living room...  So, I started to look at ways to make the experience easier and the setup faster: a set of pre-build travel cases.

The 4 pillars of my LAN Party idea to get gamers back in the same room for extra camaraderie and friendly banter are:

  • COOPERATIVE : a curated selection of classic and new video games for teams of gamers.
  • MULTIPLAYER: local network play, couch co-op with split-screen or connected over the internet, all in the same room.
  • VIDEO GAME: console gaming modular system with space for PS4 or Xbox One.
  • SOCIAL CLUB: evening or weekend gathering to chillout and enjoy a gaming session.

pencil down a plan

Portable AAA game systems have been dreamt of by enthusiasts for a long time... Companies have made some dubious attempts at selling under-par components packaged into cheap plastic cases and charging an arm and a leg for it!

I took the opposite view: 1080p 24 inch monitors that offers the best value for money without compromising resolution. After considering building the case myself, I found a set of rock solid flightcases at a discount price.

Then testing started... and I managed to blow one of the power adapter for lack of ventilation! Luckily, easily fixed.

measure every mm

Back to the drawing board... The Xbox power adapter actually has 2 little fans that apparently need a lot of fresh air!

Repositioning them in the centre of the case with a set of 80 mm USB fans also provides for a good ventilation of the console GPU.

Each player has a set of headphones plugged into the controller... which works well but does not provide sound for the onlookers, so I'll have to consider how add a set of speakers so the public can understand what's going on in the game.

press play!

For my friends it is a nice get together and a relaxing (if competitive at times) way to enjoy a multiplayer game in the same space rather than over the internet.

For the few private parties I organise, a chance for the kids to try out new games and work out on the spot how they have to play as a team to beat the machine…

The younger they are, the quicker they seem to understand what cooperative gaming is!

...plug & play minecraft in a bed storage box?

How might we... Give Gabriel access to the wonderful Raspberry Pi learning/ coding/ playing world of possibilities and give his parents the ability to control the time and place he's dedicating to digital edutainment?

Gather the plugs, cables and power supply... then hunt a suitable case that would be easily stacked away for safe keeping. A £5 underbed storage box will do the trick, after some strengthening to hold the screen. While a variety of screens are available for the Raspberry Pi, the most versatile and compatible with all projects is a full HD hdmi monitor, a basic 22 inch model.

plenty of ideas...

The RPi is an educational project with a buoyant community and a variety of creators of software and hardware: Pi-topKano, Pimoroni, PiHut...

I picked Kano as it offers a good learning curve and connects with the kids in a colourful and engaging way. The programming in Minecraft is serious play!  

building together

Best part of the fun is to put the pieces together! The plan was laid out: a piece of wood is added to the back of the box to become the monitor stand. A female kettle plug is attached to the righthand side and delivers power to the screen and the RPi.

Gabriel gets to put together the RPi case and plug it all in.


time for homework?

With the release of Raspbian Pixel, a full desktop operating system with LibreOffice and Chromium internet browser, Grabiel gets a homework computer by just swapping the SD card.

...create a boombox stereo with salvaged speakers?

When the Bose speakers stopped working, an opportunity presented itself, not to go to the shop and buy another ready made expensive device, but rather build your own!

Over the years, I've modified classic boomboxes to give them a new lease of life, greatly boosting the 80's analog sound with modern amplifier or linking them to digital music server with raspberry pi.

music server

Streaming music from the internet and paying a subscription fee has never been top of my priority list when I already have a huge collection of high quality 320kbps mp3.

The main options to access my music collection is through the NAS (accessed over my home wifi or ethernet) or with a physical Hard Drive tethered to the player.

pi charmer

Sound quality depends on the original sound file sample rate and the DAC decoder ability to deliver a rich analog signal. 

The hybrid tube amp gives a sweet sound output ready for headphones or home stereo room experience.

beatbox power!

Music and design are a constant source of inspiration... a great cultural mix of fashion statements and technological prowess. 

Play awesome music for your design. Or check out the variety of styles.

Learn more about The Boombox Project by Lyle Owerko. an HD screen + any console in a briefcase?

Get a full HD monitor in the smallest possible form factor: 19.5 inch. Strip the bezel off and put the frame into a flight case. Add a modular fixation system to accommodate most consoles; Playstation 3, or Playstation 4, sound decoder...

Make the cooling versatile: top of the case for the PS3 or right hand side for the PS4. Provide separate USB power to the fans and optical sound decoder. You get your own PlayCase...

bits & bobs

The main challenge here was to keep the case as is and only do as few mounting holes as possible...
Probably the most complex part of this project, fitting the screen in the lid of the flightcase... I had wrongly assumed the screen would be one solid piece of electronic once dismantled.

What should have been a simple case of removing the plastic side of the screen, turned out to be a bit more difficult as this panel is not fixed to the VESA mount but just taped together.

one plate fits all?

A sheet of aluminium is the base, place the console and mark the fixation points.

Adaptable size to fit each Sony console... And now also compatible with the Xbox One S thanks to the lack of power brick.

Use Griptite Black Self Gripping Tie 30mm to create a solid fixation system.

udoo voodoo...

Using another base plate, I can take advantage of the all in one design and experiment with new components like the Udoo x86.

The idea is to configure the SBC with an external disk and multi boot options, then be able to remove the plate, place it upright in the office and use it on any screen or projector.

Read more about the speakers update and how to connect 20 years old Tekken fightsticks at Instructables.

...harvest the power of Raspberry Pi?

There is a start to every story! A modest beginning to the exploration and progressive discovery of applications and ideas.

At first I explored the Pi PCB on its own and soon realised it could replace a standard PC for daily task of web browsing and music listening... with the help of HATs!

boot from ssd

Perhaps the most significant breakthrough was the ability to greatly boost the pi speed and longevity by replacing the SD card with a SSD boot option. (Also with its own power supply)

sound cards

From soldering components on an empty board, to high-end fully assembled DAC and Amps, the building blocs of RBPi eco-system have grown in choice and quality.

vpn firewall router

I'm currently exploring the configuration and coding for a stand-alone small case using the 7 inch official touch screen and a USB ethernet adapter to filter all web traffic through a VPN server.