Monday, May 18, 2009

DnD Project: Building a Digital Game Table, Pt 1

Thanks to Mad Brew Labs for exposing me to this with his article on the Untapped Potential of Technology for roleplaying games. I have read and re-read Shane DeSeranno's blog entries related to his digital game table and finally came to the conclusion that, yes, I could make one of those.

So, without further ado . . .

Building A Digital Game Table, Part I
In which an infrared pen is built, and various other materials are collected

There are tons of tutorials and YouTube videos on the web. Personally, I found Ken Moore's website (which includes a video clip and printed instructions) to be especially helpful.

I purchased all my parts at Radio Shack - here's the list, including part numbers and prices:
ItemPart #Price (USD)
5mm IR LED 940 NM276-0143$1.99
1 "N" Battery Holder270-0405$0.99
PK2 Submini PB Switch275-1571$2.99
PK2 Alkaline N Batteries2300023$4.99
1.5 oz solder .0626400002$3.49
SUBTOTAL (before tax)$14.45
It should be noted that I purchased 1 of each item, but the batteries and the switches came in packages of two. Also, if you already have solder and/or an oddly sized 'N' battery, you'll be paying less. For the housing, I used an old furniture repair marker that was used to color in scratched wood with stain.

A couple of important things I learned: First, The positive wire is red. Seems obvious, I know, but after wiring my basement, I got used to seeing the black (pos) white (neg) color scheme. Second, the switch goes in the negative part of the circuit, between the battery and bulb along the black wire. Finally, and probably most importantly, we can't see infrared light!

Once you get this thing wired together and try it out, you'll have to look through a digital camera to see it light up. I spent a night fuming at a pen I thought was messed up, only to rtfm (or website, in this case) the next day and figure it out.

In addition to the pen, I spent about $110 getting two sheets of 3' x 3' plexiglass for a table surface (one was 1/4" and the other was 1/8" thick). That's been the most expensive thing thus far. I am fortunate to work at a university and was able to get an old digital projector for $1.00. It's not super high-end, but it serves its purpose and I can always upgrade when they swap out projectors each year. ;-) I also purchased a $5.00 mirror from Wal-Mart, but I think it's too small and will have to return it.

I'm hoping to have the remaining materials purchased and the table constructed next weekend. Stay tuned for updates!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I was hoping I inspired others to build their own tables and also document the project! Let me know if you have any questions!