Projects I Would Do in a Heartbeat (Time permitting)

Some of you may have seen my last post and thought it meant I was sick of building everything. Not true, I’m just sick of being asked for the same 3 things over and over. As far as not doing any more movies, I should clarify – not making any more with my own money. I’m glad many of you enjoyed Port Washington but I’d really enjoy having the money it cost back in my pocket.

As a counterpoint, here’s a list of project ideas I would enjoy trying:

  • Custom pinball machine – I’ve been planning one for 2 years but have never had the time or money, at the same time. Problem is I’d want to keep it. If you listen to our podcasts you’ve probably heard about this project.
  • Domestic automatic can crusher – Would be the coolest thing ever.
  • Alternative fuel car of the future – I’ve always wanted to build a car, I think that would be quite the challenge. It would have to be sporty and have a cool stereo however. (No Sparkomatics) The Tesla thing is cool but it’s not really a “people’s car”.
  • Hub-based main house PC / Xbox 360 / PS3 / furnace – Hey, those things put out a lot of heat!
  • Mass-produced single-handed game controllers – As mentioned before.
  • A robot.
  • Lead singer in a country music band – Much more interesting than an N64 portable.
  • Apple ][ portable – It’s shocking that I’ve only been asked about this maybe once in 7 years.
  • Design consultation work -If your company is working on a product, especially game related, and would like my input, please contact me to discuss.

So there you go – the kinds of projects I am interested in these days. Now I must get back to this new laptop…

47 thoughts on “Projects I Would Do in a Heartbeat (Time permitting)”

  1. come on ben its unfair saying you wont make a dreamcast portable when you havent even made one before. so would you make a dreamcast laptop?

  2. “Hub-based main house PC / Xbox 360 / PS3 / furnace – Hey, those things put out a lot of heat!”

    YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! I LOL’d. Gotta keep the house warm in the winter. Hehehe.

    You gotta make that soldering game man. Pitch it to a developer.

  3. I like the “car” of the future, but how about just an electric motorcycle that can recharge itself off of a tiny vegatable oil motor. A hub motor and re-gen braking would be sweet :). Nuts, I want to make that one, if I could get a 30-40 mile range imagine what I could save on gas.

  4. Might I suggest a new computer project? There was that cheapy you built out of a beer container a while back, I would certainly enjoy seeing some more of that sort of thing…

    Alternatively, why not try going backwards from your usual stuff? Take a handheld, hack the little bugger and make a home console out of it.

  5. Id have to say Mass-producing single-handed game controllers takes priority. If Ben cant do it with help from the community here he should make attempts to contact mad catz or logitech or some one and sell them the design. Maybe their is some kind of licencing issue with MS that is holding this up? Maybe we should start a petition online to get MS to produce one handed controllers.

  6. An Apple // laptop would be awesome. The //c model was pretty darn small, and they even made an LCD screen for it. (Albiet a small black and white, 4-lines-of-text only LCD.) I think it even has a 5.25″ floppy drive built in.

    A TI 99/4a laptop would be neat, too. Problem is I only have 1 I’d be willing to sacrifice, and it creates garbled junk on the screen, and I don’t have any cartridges for it. Maybe it would be possible to adapt a 3.5″ floppy drive to it, or fit it with a small tape recorder for the tape interface.

    I’m surprised you haven’t built a Commodore 64 laptop yet. (Or if you did, I don’t knpw about it :P) Radio Shack sells a Hummer game that is a C64-on-a-chip with a couple megs of flash memory, PS/2 keyboard support, and all sorts of other goodies. It just needs some resistor swaps to make the video and sound clearer. (Granted you could use a real C64 motherboard, too…)

  7. Actually, come to think of it, the //c Plus (//c+?) had a built in 3.5″ floppy drive, which (if made into a laptop) would make it much easier to get software off the PC and onto the Apple // laptop. (You might have to use a program such as RAWRITE or WinImage to write the .bin file to a physical disk, but that’s easier than tracking down a working 5.25″ PC floppy drive. Smaller, too.

  8. I’d like to add that you should also consider tiltboards from if you want a one handed 360 controller.

  9. i agree with the Mac Mini Portable.. couple that with a battery and a small monitor, that would rock 🙂 potentially, it’ll be alot cheaper than those UMPC machines

  10. I just got a great idea! How about a cabinet for a newer console? Maybe a 360 one optimized for arcade games or something. It could have a vision camera and maybe some other stuff…

  11. Have you ever considered a Mac Classic laptop? I just love those things, 7″ B&W screen and all!

    Most of the internal space in those is the crt screen. The mother board would probably be pretty friggin small.

  12. Better idea – stick a mac mini into a Mac Classic shell.

    People would approach it thinking it is something old. Move the mouse to get it out of the screensaver, surprise!

  13. Apple IIe was my very first computer I owned. And I tell you, I OWNED in Oregon Trail! Oh, I have very fond memories of sitting up late at night playing games made by MECC: Number Munchers was another awesome classic. I actually used a IIc in a science project where I wanted to take some computer generated readings in-the-field with a little experimental probe I had built. A IIc laptop would be veery cool indeed. I have a few extra Apple power supplies if you want to have a spare for your project.

  14. I was conversing with Ben via email a while back about doing a blackberry sized Commodore64 using the hummer video game hack (look it up on google if you don’t know what I mean)

    I think it would be somewhat usefull if it were hacked to take a compact flash card, and ran geos desktop, noy sure if it would be possible to do touchscreen though.

  15. Idea: Maybe make an Apple III portable! I don’t know why you would need to do that, but it would be really cool! Besides, the Apple III can run emulators which emulate the… Apple II!

  16. I’d rather use the European DTV since it has better color and joystick ports. But yes, a Blackberry sized device would be very doable. Probably about 1/2 the size of the Pico Commodore that one person made.

    Speaking of that, I’ve left loads of clues as to my next portable, both here and on my Engadget articles. Do some sleuthing! 😉

  17. I reckon a ZX Spectrum 48 portable would be awesome, Head Over Heels and Jet Set Willy played on the road with little rubber keys and the sound of a tape deck whirring round the back of the machine would be so cool. Would probably need to be a mini laptop format and the tape deck may be unreliable but it would be awesome. If only I had the money….

  18. benheck Says:”Speaking of that, I’ve left loads of clues as to my next portable, both here and on my Engadget articles. Do some sleuthing! ;)”

    without going too deep I’m convinced it will be c64 based

    benheck Says:”I’d rather use the European DTV since it has better color and joystick ports”
    the hummer can be modded to have as good or beter color than the european dtv, swap 3 resistor I believe. A joystick port can be added, but requires pached software, which is a PITA.
    Most games make use of the keyboard as wellas joystick, its just too bad there was no standardisation of control keys, otherwise a keyboard to joystick hack might be the ticket.

    I guess you’ll have to troll ebay for the euro DTV.
    I’m thinking I may undertake this myself someday.

  19. just bid on an NTSC version of the DTV on fleabay
    If I get it, I may consider donating it to our favorite modder. Thats if he wants the project.

  20. All of the aforementioned projects and ideas are awesome. I however, would like to suggest a revised Nes portable mod. I’ve mentioned this before a time or two, but I don’t think anyone took me serious. Basically, it would be the same Nes portable that benheck and several others have built, but instead of having to load the bulky nes cartridge, you should add a usb port to load your LEGALLY backed up Nes Roms. This could in fact allow you to increase the screen size or further miniaturize the system.

    This idea is open to any modder interested, not just benheck. I don’t even know where to start on something like this and I also don’t even know if this is possible. But I do know that I would be willing to talk about how much it would cost to make and ship. If anyone is interested contact me through my website at

  21. I really like the Apple ][ idea. Also a TRS80 portable would be pretty cool. One other idea would be a ‘universal handheld’ or basically a psp, nintendo ds, gameboy, gameboy advanced, game gear, and palm pilot all in one.

  22. If I might ask, (certainly not trying to pry), roughly how much *did* it cost you to make Port Washington? I admit, I ask largely as I’ve always wanted to make a film myself.

  23. Why must everything be made *smaller* or *more portable*? You know what I would just love, a full-size, standup dedicated Atari 2600 arcade cabinet. Wouldn’t that just rock? It could use actual arcade joysticks, buttons, and spinners!

  24. Hey if you do a car, I’d love to have my 1971 Ford Pinto Sedan turned into something fuel efficient. Plus not exploding is a bonus. Seriously.

  25. The Infamous Lunchbox Says:

    March 4th, 2007 at 3:33 pm
    Hey if you do a car, I’d love to have my 1971 Ford Pinto Sedan turned into something fuel efficient. Plus not exploding is a bonus. Seriously.

    check out
    I’m an admin on the forum there, turn any RWD car into a lightweight racecar, based on the Lotus 7

  26. You NEED to create a TI/99 laptop. It’s what the kids are into these days. In fact our local news did an undercover report from one of those seedy “Kid Bars” where they hang out and spread their filthy chicken pox and pokemon, and the lack of quality TI/99 laptops was all they talked about.

  27. Pingback: AcientWarrior22
  28. Ben, if you do decide to work with the C64 you might be interested in this SD substitute for a 1541 disk drive: No heat concerns, small, expandable, low power(?)… seems just right for a mini64. I’m excited if this is the secret project!

  29. Seriosly, it would take very little time to make a Apple II laptop, with an Apple IIc or Apple IIc+. You could stack the power converter and battery on the back, then just take the rest of the space up with an LCD.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.