By Braden Godley
Have you ever wanted to program, build, and decorate your own personal arcade machine? A triad of classes aims to make this possible, incorporating computer science, industrial manufacturing, and design all into a single project. Taught by Jesse Sherman, Tyler Tjernlund, and Anthony Harlan, the classes are intended to be accessible even to those without prior knowledge of any of the aforementioned fields wanting to venture into them.
The teachers’ idea for the project is to provide North Eugene High School with a more robust variety of classes for students to involve themselves in, as well as to cultivate a wider skill set for graduating students. “Students will display their arcade machines and invite local companies to be able to see the skills being taught at North,” says Anthony Harlan, the teacher for the class Into to Computer Sciences. One of the main goals of the project is to be suitable for a senior project, for those who are interested in the involved industries.
Each arcade machine is going to use a Raspberry Pi, a computer small enough to fit in your hand. “Raspberry Pi is a microcomputer… it is everything that is a computer, but much, much smaller,” explained Mr. Harlan, “They run on an operating system called Raspbian. The idea is to have the computer contain the least that is necessary so that the computer can cost only $35 dollars.” These cheap and compact microcomputers are beloved by hobbyists, who use them to power any number of projects, ranging from smart mirrors to automatic gardening.
Raspberry Pis will be configured to run emulators, programs that can allow the computer to run games and applications that it would otherwise be unable to. Using these emulators, arcade machines will be outfitted with public domain games that can be found on the internet, such as Super Crate Box, or Maldita Castilla. However, students are free to venture outside these boundaries: “Ideally, what I would like to have happen is have students from the game design class to make their own games,” says Mr. Harlan.
However, the project isn’t completely focused on the game-making and computer science aspects. Students who take the project will be able to create their own wooden case in North’s Woods Processing class, taught by Tyler Tjernlund. Students will use a CNC router, a cutting machine that uses a computer to make near-exact copies of blueprints, to manufacture the parts of the case.
Mr. Sherman’s design class will create custom designs to be put onto the cases, giving them a stylish appearance. “It’s a perfect design project because my design students will have to create a design that will fit,” explained Jesse Sherman, the teacher for North’s Design class, “The idea that students will be making retro gaming consoles, to me is very fun… This is an ideal multi-disciplined project because it bridges wood fabrication, computer science, and art and design.”
So if you’re an aspiring engineer, a retro-gaming enthusiast, or just interested in the idea of building an arcade machine, you can learn more about the program by talking to Anthony Harlan, Jesse Sherman, or Tyler Tjernlund. This is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your knowledge of computing, woodworking, designing, and how all three work together to create a finished product.