In 2006 a new miniature scale of model trains were introduced, the T gauge. I believe we can go even smaller! This is a complete train set that is the size of a book, featuring a motorized train that has variable speed and the ability to switch tracks on demand.
The locomotive is propelled by a magnet attached to an on-rails motor in the base. This system is a lot like those mechanical PONG tables which debuted a few years ago. The nose of the train has the metal needed to be pulled by the magnet below.
The rails system is something you’d find in a 3D printer, image scanner, or even an Etch-A-Sketch. It would guide the tiny train along its route that is stored in an onboard computer. It would be nice to swap out the track for different layouts (these could be printed on cardboard).
This desk toy would feature dedicated controls for the track switches, and a big dial for the speed. When this device is powered off, the train is automatically diverted to a side rail where it parks. The design above is sparse but the layout could be populated with buildings, trees, vehicles, and so forth. Lights and sounds are also possible.
There are drawbacks! Only one functioning train is possible, the train length would need to be short, and the terrain would need to be flat (you can add tunnels, but no bridges over rivers for example). And lastly if the motor is loud this concept wouldn’t be worthwhile, this thing needs to be quiet!
In the meantime you can buy these neat tiny trains but they feature basic oval tracks.
This controller design is to help make older game systems like the NES and SNES become more accessible. While it looks like a regular joystick, this was inspired by automatic shift knobs seen in modern cars. The hand rests on top and moves the stick for D-Pad inputs. The thumb controls the action buttons (A B X Y plus START/SELECT), while the index and middle fingers hit the L and R shoulder buttons (much like clicking on a mouse).
The action buttons can be placed on both sides of the stick to make this for both lefties and righties, OR another set of L and R buttons could be included to achieve the same dual functionality (the shape of the stick would need to be symmetrical). However it would be more comfortable, and better for button-mapping, if a dedicated version was made for right hands, and another for left hands.
While it could be wielded like a regular joystick, this controller may need to be placed in a spot that is similar to the aforementioned car shifter knob. The user would need to be sitting in a reclined position, with the controller parked next to their knee. This layout would yield the most comfort, especially for prolonged gaming sessions.
SNES was used as the example here, but the idea could be applied to most 8-bit and 16-bit systems, or other systems that had a single directional input (Saturn, Dreamcast). I already designed a one-handed controller for the Atari.
Another keychain design, this time commemorating Google’s famous dinosaur video game (which occurs when you have no internet connection on the Chrome browser). It’s a fun game that helps pass the time, and it would be nice to have in a pocket-sized package.
This design borrows a screen and solar panel from a calculator (engineering or scientific calculator for a fancier dot matrix screen), the idea being you’d have this to play with when your phone dies. It features one recessed button, which is pressed for 2 seconds to power the device on or off.
The solar aspect could be removed for a more traditional battery-based device that can offer numerous features like a power bank or USB drive, but personally I’d rather have one less gadget to charge all the time.
To fully experience Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, you need a serious flight stick. Behold, a design based on those kiddie rides of yesteryear! If you are not aware, a “kiddie ride” is a coin-operated machine, usually located in a mall or department store, that allows a toddler to ride a small vehicle or animal. These rides aren’t as fun as they look.
This is merely a joystick with a toy plane attached. Holding the tail will allow you to tilt the plane in all directions, so the plane in-game will mimic the behavior of this flight stick plane.
Turning the rudder will… turn the rudder in-game. That takes care of all 3 axis of movement! Many joysticks can be rotated as well, so the plane could be turned in this fashion too, if the rudder is a pain to use.
The coin box can operate as the acceleration thingy planes use…looks like a big lever? It’s a bit gimmicky but that is what this controller is about. There are a few buttons on the stand as well.
This was a fun design, I enjoyed making it. When I first started my goal was to make an accessible flight stick (like this accessible steering controller) and it was pretty basic: a small plane balanced/perched on a raised stand, which can be pivoted and turned with a single finger. It couldn’t work, the user would be constantly adjusting the plane and it would be tedious and slow.
Remember those Jakks Pacific plug-and-play consoles? Same deal here with the Bomberman character. Thought it would be fun if there was a button on top of the joystick, ideal for placing bombs . The side ear button serves as the secondary button used by the thumb, and is on both sides for righties and lefties.
It would be neat to have 4 or 5 of these controllers, in different colors to match each player. Such a set would be a fun game for parties. Bomberman used to be THE party game before Smash Bros. came along and stole its thunder.
Mini arcade cabinets are all the rage these days, even SEGA is getting in on the act! My hope is that a company like Basic Fun or My Arcade will issue a Last Starfighter-themed mini cabinet. Or even better, Arcade 1UP releases a bartop cabinet.
While there are fan-made video games of what was featured in the film, I think the twin flight sticks may make things difficult to execute. I would settle for a Galaga or Missile Command re-skin, or a generic shmup will do. As long as the iconic attract mode from the film is present in some form.
Even a Hallmark keepsake ornament (like this) would be neat. One can dream.
I’ve looked into building a bartop cabinet of this recently (I made the above mockup for that purpose), but I’ve hit a wall: all my email inquiries for custom side panels and vinyl prints have gone unanswered! Probably due to the recent worldwide hullabaloo.
When EA announced Star Wars Squadrons earlier this week, a game that includes VR support, my first thought was this contraption: a VR headset combined with a Rebel pilot helmet. With built-in headphones and microphone it appears to be an ideal gaming rig.
With everything packed into a helmet, it might be more comfortable to wear than a regular VR headset. A counterweight in the back would help distribute the weight, and the lenses would be suspended from the helmet visor instead of being strapped onto your face.
Then again, there’s probably a good reason VR hasn’t been packaged in helmet form yet: it might get too hot under there? Some motorcycle helmets have cooling fans, so that could be a solution.