Building a Better Dance Pad

So a while ago, I designed and built my own Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad.  I’m not going to go too much into the details behind that, but for a variety of reasons, I’ve actually used it considerably less than I’d hoped.  I also found recently that the arrows don’t detect properly anymore since they are connected to the Directional Pad which reads as analogue not digital.

So, I fixed it.  While I was fixing it, I finally added the button box I’d been meaning to add.


The button presses of a Playstation Controller are simply the creation of an electrical contact.  This can be replicated on any similar button by soldering wires to either side of the PVC board’s pads inside the controller.

Anyway,  the first task was to rewire the pad’s “buttons” to the shoulder buttons of the controller board.  Simple enough.  Now they show up as “buttons” and not analog pulls in the PC.

Step two was to make the box removable from the pad for easy storage.  This also allowed me to replace the ball of wire that I’d ended up with when building it the first time.

IMGP5406 This mess becomes a network cable and a network jack.IMGP5405 The network cable is the one used for the new connections tot he shoulder buttons.

Next is the box, which I wired to the four face buttons of the controller.  It really doesn’t matter if I use the “start” and “select” buttons since in the end, the Playstation shell is tossed out and I simply map the buttons to whatever I want in game (I have yet to see how this will affect it if i use it on the Playstation).


The end result is much cleaner and much more reliable all around.  I will probably add some stickers or something to the box to make it look prettier.

Some Thoughts on SOPA and PIPA

The whole internet is abuzz with SOPA and, to a lesser extent, PIPA talk.  Basically, these two bills in congress, one for the House, one for the Senate.  You can get plenty of information through Google or if you’d like, try the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The gist of this bill, is that it would allow media companies, through the government, to block websites with “pirated content” through manipulation of the Internet DNS system.  Without proper due process of law.  DNS, is essentially the phone book of the internet.  You could also compare it to a road map.  It’s what computers use to know how to find the websites you look for online.  All websites are in fact a series of numbers called an IP address, however remembering is tricky.  Remembering “” is not.

Feel free to use that link, it leads to Google.  Which brings up one major flaw with this bill.  Pirates will easily circumvent these blocked DNS entries by using IP addresses.  If say, the Pirate Bay is blocked, people will just use it’s IP address instead.

Also likely there will simply be “rogue DNS” servers.

I am not endorsing piracy, I am saying the bill will not do anything to stop it.  People also may suggest the idea of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of”.

The problem with this logic, in every situation, is that the question of “what is wrong” is extremely subjective and often changes.  Guess what, in a world where SOPA passes and becomes law, it starts off simply as it’s told.  Places which host “pirate content” are effectively removed from the internet.  Nevermind that there will also be legal content taken off as well when sites like Megaupload are taken offline.  The block is not single file or even single subsite specific. 

But hey we’re all happier now without The pirate Bay and Megaupload right?

Until people start hosting their content through loopholes on blogger or WordPress.  Sure, it’s against the TOS and both companies work to remove them as they are found but hey, guess what, now they need to be blocked.  Thousands, probably millions, of independent bloggers are now silenced.

Or perhaps the definition of “piracy” and “copyright infringement” gets pushed out even more.  Universal studios puts out a big blockbuster movie, it cost them a shitload of money top make and it gets totally panned by the internet.  Nobody wants to see this movie, all this negative press floating around, well hey look, Blogger Bob used the movie poster in his review.  Nevermind that this may fall under the fare use clause, that’s infringement, let’s close down because his negative reviews may be hurting ticket sales.

Just remember, governments generally don’t start off deciding to become repressive totalitarian regimes.  (NOTE: Link will not work 1/18/2012)

I mean hey, we have a precedent now, plus, once a site is “gone” people won’t notice right?  Universal killed BloggerBob, why not suppress a few of those “anti government kooks” out there spreading bad spirits through the country while we’re at it.  We have the mechanism in place after all.  John Q Public doesn’t know what DNS is, he thinks it’s a new sandwich at Subway.

It’s not even that it’s a terribly BAD idea, it’s more that, in an effort to make things “move more quickly” it rejects the idea of due process, and facts, and evidence.

Which also brings up what really is a whole different rant.  The world is changing.  The world is not the US, or Europe, or China, or the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s an entire globe.  The internet is even more-so, and it’s the driving force of the world these days.  Which is the real problem here.  Because despite the best effort to push more crap on what used to be a pretty ignorant and docile public, it’s not working anymore.  Any sort of exaggeration or lie in favor of “marketing” is almost instantly debunked.  People who used to be made to feel better or pushed aside as isolated cases of problems realize that they are not alone.  The internet is the ultimate engine for real democracy.  look at the whole election system, when it took days and months to ride a horse across the country, then things like congress or the electoral college etc were a great idea.  is it even necessary anymore when people can express their opinion and desires to the world instantly?

The Build Process

I got a stack of boxes last Thursday, somewhat previously discussed.

I already owned the case.  It’s this one here.  It’s basic, holds a shitload of hard drives, and has several huge quiet 120mm fans.  I also already had a 1TB SATA drive to use.

It’s been a while since I have built a PC, but, in general, it’s pretty simple.  The hard part is picking out the components really, which obviously, I’ve already done.  He was not around for the build but my son asked if I thought I would be done putting my computer together within a few months.  He seemed surprised when I told him it would take maybe an hour, once I had all of the parts.

The only real key is making sure the heat sink on the processor makes good contact and works, since otherwise, you’re liable to burn up an expensive component.

The place to start is the Motherboard.  Here it is, removed from the box and placed on its static bag.

This part is essentially the central nervous system of the computer.  It connects all of the other parts together and lets them communicate.  It does a few other things but at it’s core, that’s what it does.  The Motherboard can’t do math for crap though, which is why the next step is to add the Processor, which more or less only does math… very very quickly. 

It’s small, maybe an inch and a half square.  This one runs at I believe 3.3 Ghz, with 4 cores, which essentially means it does 3.3 Billion calculations per second and can do four calculations at a time.  This chip costs more than any other individual component in this computer.  Because it works hard and runs everything, it also gets hot quickly.  Which is why the next step is to add the heat sink. 

Ok, so a little story on this humongous heatsink and fan.  The last time i bought a processor, it did not include a heatsink of it’s own.  Heatsinks, personally, a pretty generic and unless you’re overclocking the CPU, you really don’t need much.  So I threw the “Number one selling CPU Heatsink on Amazon that was only like $20 anyway” on my order.  The pictures on Amazon make it look like a standard chunk of metal that sits on the CPU with the fan on top.

Turns out the chip came with a heatsink and fan.  It also turns out that the one I bought was like four times larger than expected.  I decided that since it was cheap, I may aw well use it rather than return it.

Hence, gigantic heat sink.  Fortunately, the case I’m using is pretty large.

The last step before bolting the Motherboard assembly into the case is to stick the RAM in.  It’s nothing particularly exciting other than I had to consult the manual to figure out the optimal slot placement.

After the board is in the case, the power supply can be strapped in as well.  The manual suggested putting the PS in first but my experience has been that often the PS obstructs access to the Mother Board.  It didn’t in this case (pun intended) but I waited anyway.  I also stuck the hard drive into the drive bay and reinserted it.

While the view is still relatively clear, I also wired in all of the front panel controls and lights.  Just a side note, I ended up putting all of these in reverse, which meant opening the case later and flipping them all over.  No biggie.

Finally, the Graphics card is inserted.

The desire to upgrade the GPU was a heavy driver in my decision to build a PC to begin with.  This one can be expanded to a second card using some ATI technology that I forget the name of if I want to add a second one.  It’s huge and pretty impressive to look at.

Finally, everything is assembled and it’s time to power things up.

I go through and describe the build Process for a home desktop PC.

Aside from the flipped button leads, I also had a bit of a worry when turning it on with the cooling.  The PS fan doesn’t power up unless it’s needed, so it didn’t immediately spring to life as expected.   This wasn’t helped by rear fan, which it turns out is dead.  I’ve since bought a replacement for it though I have not installed it yet.

I also ran into a slight snag when I went to install the OS.  I don’t own any SATA CD/DVD/BluRay/Disc drives.  Fortunately, I have a USB DVD drive for my netbook, which functioned just fine for this use.

I also had to wait a day for my Monitor to come in and later realized I don’t own a second USB Keyboard or Mouse (no PS/2 Ports).

It’s been running just fine for several days now.

I can run all of my games on super uber graphics mode with no stutter or slow downs.  It boots up very quickly, despite the non SSD hard drive.  Basically, it’s everything it’s supposed to be.