I’m going to take a break in the Dance Mat hack just to suggest a couple of idea’s on how to expand, and where to watch out for possible problems.
Suggestions & Ideas…
You could make the entire thing wireless by getting a wireless keyboard, the rest of the hack is pretty straight forward, there is enough room in this enclosure to run the signal wire around the enclosure at least once, maybe one and a half times.
You won’t need to hack the receiver unit and the rest of the hack is straight forward.
Another suggestion (and I learned this the hard way) is solder your wires to the keyboard circuit then don’t touch it with your soldering iron again, instead get some terminal blocks like in the image below
Then once you’ve wired up the mat, you just screw them into those connectors, and it’ll leave it open for upgrades, or if you want to use the mat for a different game? Maybe a MAME cabinet, or a game Emulator (Super Mario Brothers would be funny on this)
If I make another one (which to be honest, I wouldn’t mind) I’ll be following these suggestions for certain.
Now possible area’s you could run into snags.
Wiring… you’ll need to make sure you label each pad, I had post-it notes on the actual pads I was working on just so I didn’t get confused.
Also make sure you have ‘too much’ wiring coming off the pads, don’t run into the same mistake as I have by thinking you have enough then finding out you’ve cut them WAY to short, I’ve got to cut / strip / tin / resolder / isolate some extensions on mine because I didn’t follow the old saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once”
Make sure you’re careful when handling the mat, my mat actually surprised me by staying attached to the circuit board, if it does come apart, you should be able to put it back together fairly simply, by aligning the connectors up and using some duct tape.
Also don’t solder on / over the actual mat, I did this once and a bit of solder dropped off and melted a spot on the plastic mat and the bottom protective layer.
Another suggestion and possible problem area, key/pin mapping I’ve got a couple sheets of paper laying around my office with pin diagrams that I drew by hand to map out the pins to what key presses are required, ALWAYS consult them you don’t want to fuck up and having to de-solder any wires (if you don’t do the screw terminal suggestion) as you could burn an important trace right off the board (I’ve almost done this but I managed to secure it with some hot glue) rendering the board useless.
If you do re-create, or create this hack in your own vision I hope you’ll walk away after reading this article with a better understanding and some idea’s on how to make your hack amazing.
Thank you for reading.