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HowTo Build a Quality DDR Deck 96

Compu486 writes "In an effort to show that quality dance gaming systems can be done affordably, has put together an article showing how to make DDR systems better than arcade quality for not a lot of cash. Using this type of system and the free stepmania, hopefully schools in West Virginia can save some scratch and buy some modern text books."
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HowTo Build a Quality DDR Deck

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  • by mogrify ( 828588 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:34AM (#15471080) Homepage
    On Slashdot, if DDR is meant to stand for "Dance Dance Revolution" instead of "double data rate," as in "DDR SDRAM," then you're gonna need to spell it out at least once, mmkay?
  • Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:47AM (#15471113) Homepage
    Using the free Stepmania and what..completely original songs?

    The songs included with any of the games are all 'protected'. Schools would rather pay $500 per piece of software than have something that might not be completely legal.
    • Or...
      They could use the original songs, if it's only for exercise then why waste hundreds of dollars on Brittney Spears tunes?
    • well obviously the songs would be for educational purposes
    • Yes Mr Troll, there are a lot of free "original songs" out there. A LOT.. Just one example here: []


    • Re:Free? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sinclair44 ( 728189 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:21AM (#15471699) Homepage
      As a matter of fact, StepMania recently had the StepMix contest []; only songs and stepfiles that could be legally redistributed were allowed.
    • Using the free Stepmania and what..completely original songs?

      The songs included with any of the games are all 'protected'. Schools would rather pay $500 per piece of software than have something that might not be completely legal.

      Stepmania itself comes with nothing but the program, and the default skin, you have to download all the DDR/ITG/PumP songs, themes, and characters separately keeping them out of that legal trouble for the most part. And yes, there are original songs. BEMANISTYLE.COM is a goo

    • Actually I'm involved in a project to make a completly free and high quality song pack for stepmania

      We have about 30-40 songs already underway from several artists.. including DM Ashura who is set to have a song included in one of the next DDR games

      Check it out.. we are located at []
      • an important adjective I left out.. legal..!!!

        Free, High Quality, and Legal..

        I fought fairly hard to try to get a true open content license (I wanted the CC Attribution ShareAlike [] but the rest of the team, and more so the artists wouldn't fold entirely

        I ended up penning my own varaition of the CC by-nc-nd with several loopholes.. most importantly to allow commercial performance (so that it could be used in arcade machines), this license is located here []

        Once again, please check it out if you have a
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:03AM (#15471152)
    Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but why not just toss the kids outside and station a college near-drop-out to shout "run, fat-ass!" at them every few minutes. That certainly sounds cheaper.
  • Hrm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    I seriously question the results of this being as good as other designs I've seen, from looking at the parts list.
    The use of springs in particular worries me - moving parts on DDR pads are not a good thing, as they introduce a critical breaking point.
    I've seen light-based sensor designs (from a couple sadly cancelled arcade dance game projects) that work better by minimizing part motion and allowing you to actually hit the things with your hands (anyone who has played Expert songs on the Stepmania-based g
    • I don't think the springs will be a problem, because the range of movement is very small.
    • Re:Hrm... (Score:4, Informative)

      by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @08:16AM (#15471365) Homepage
      Having worked as an arcade technician and torn apart a REAL DDR pad... I can tell you that this "better then" project is no where near the quality of the real deal.

      The real DDR pads are constructed of wood for a good natural overall springiness, then covered in sheet metal for durability. The buttons use presser sensors as opposed to mechanical contacts, so there's no actual movement to them (and they can go for years of abuse without wearing out because of it). Also each button has 2 sensors for redundancy, only one needs to be tripped to detect a push...

      Not to mention the best part of the real machine is that there are no ABXY buttons to accidentally push
      • *pressure not presser
      • Depending on the unit... There actually 4 sensors. When you go into the IO test mode, it'll have 4 little dashes, and when you step on the panel, it'll show you which of the 4 sensors are coming up.

        That's only for 2 player cabs... For the solo cab, it's 2 sensors per.
      • Having torn apart several REAL DDR stages (including solo stages), I can say there is absolutely no wood in a doubles stage. I don't recall there being any in a solo stage either, though I've only taken one of those apart. The crappy Namco knockoffs are made of wood. They also suck big time. The springyness of a real DDR stage comes from compressing the pressure sensors as well as the thin layer of rubber foam on top of the L-bracket. There is then a hard stop from the slots on the L-bracket to prevent
        • huh... Well I haven't touched one in over 2 years now so maybe my memory is a little foggy. The one at the arcade I worked at was an older DDR2 machine imported from Korea that had just been converted to whatever the latest was at the time.

          It looked very similar to the one in your post except for the sensors which were just white rubber strips. I also seem to remember that whole area shown in white being made of wood. Maybe the older ones were built a little different, maybe my memory isn't as good as it
  • Cost effective? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:08AM (#15471162) Homepage
    Not really. From Lik-Sang you can get a pretty solid metal dance pad for under $150. Maybe not "better than arcade quality", but then I'd question whether the project listed is better either. Without trying it, you can't tell, but hey. Fair play to the guys for doing it though, it's a nice project anyway! :)
  • Need raised panels (Score:5, Interesting)

    by starbuck8968 ( 224854 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:12AM (#15471173)
    You can tell that the author is not a seasoned DDR freak like there are out there.
    The arcade pads, higher end home ones (cobalt flux), and even the foam pads have raised sections so that you know where you are while you're playing. It's very easy to get lost and start stomping the wrong buttons while playing on heavy (hard) or challenge mode.

    --my 2 cents
  • Quality for $1000? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solokron ( 198043 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:35AM (#15471223) Homepage
    I am going to have to disagree. You can build a reputable steel one for less than $100. Howtos are all over the web. The Cobalt flux is far more affordable at $299 as well. Fantastic quality, takes a beating and the polycarbonate plastic and galvanized steel can stand up to a barage of vehicles running over it with no problems. ogy_Runover+Holic.avi []
  • Now we need an article explaining WHY anyone would want to do this....the HOW is trivial.
  • A reason could be interactive mediainstallation. I did something like that with alarm pads and a hacked gamecontroller for much less but only 5 points of interaction in this project: [] Another project from Canada with a higher resolution than mine: []
  • "Buy some modern text books"?! Now THAT'S quality journalism.
  • Cost range... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tolookah ( 837210 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:17AM (#15471676)
    It's really hard to take the creators seriously, their price range itself is quite a laugh, from $250 to $1000.
    I have built my own pads, and as has been mentioned, movement is a very bad thing for actually playing DDR, and the most expensive I have gotten one of my pads to cost was about 150, with LEDs, a polycarbonate surface instead of the acrylic. I had tested an acrylic setup by making a steel square (what I was using to hold up each arrow) and having friends jump on it, which is a little more realistic than "stacking a 55 pound anvil on top of a ballpin hammer and hitting it with a 20 Lb Sledge hammer." at 150lb, with a hard jump, I broke it. My 300lb friend didn't even get a chance to try.

    I really think if this kid was trying to be serious about selling them to a school, he would have designed his own control box, it's not hard to make a HID device, and costs much much less.
    For more information, check out this thread on making DDR pads: 54 []
    • First of all, if you read his article it's a prototype. Secondly he is not selling them to any one. And lastly the price range is from different materials and 2 decks verses one. Read the article, not the /. comments for accurate information.
    • I was also surprised by the cost. The RedOctane Afterburner is only 200 and requires no assembly time.
  • An older DIY design is here [], and Riptide's videos [] as well. Build costs are estimated at 140 and 200 dollars. One more here [].

    The main problem with the InventGeek design is that it doesn't appear to have any tactile feedback. You need the subtle height differences to be able to read with your feet. Also, you want the standing surface in the middle to be solid metal (unless you're going to play Pump It Up [], as that provides further feedback.

    It also doesn't use any vertical crossbeams in the pads, leading to
  • Looks like the author could use some remedial schooling themself. Grammar/spelling errors abound.
    • As much as I hate to say it, I totally agree. Spelling and neatness count, people. And it's not just like it was a few places, either.

      If you decide consciously that you are not going to play by the rules that the rest of us play by, don't be surprised when the rest of us look at you as though you're an idiot.
      • If you decide consciously that you are not going to play by the rules that the rest of us play by, don't be surprised when the rest of us look at you as though you're an idiot.

        You should reconsider your overuse of the word 'that'. Your first sentence would be more readable as follows: "If you decide consciously you are not going to play by the rules the rest of us play by, ..."

        Removing the unnecessary 'thats' results in a cleaner, more natural sentence. Also, you really aren't supposed to start sentences wi
  • These pads are for the Xbox. There are of course the PS2 verities as well. But the reason we chose the Xbox version was for the super easy ability to plug into a USB port on a PC. Just a simple converter is required and allows for pc play for free via step mania.

    Which is the same reason you can choose a PS2 one... there are plenty of PS2 to USB connectors available that work fine with dancepads.

  • I see typos every day in news stories from "journalists" why should we expect more from some geek? It really is the decline of western civilization as we know it. Oh yeah, and DDR is gay.
  • If you want a high quality DDR danceing surface that lasts and you don't want to spend lots of dough, do this:

    Get a cheap "soft" dance pad - the kind without the foam, but not madcatz - from gamestop or EB. ($20)
    Cut a piece of plywood (or particleboard) just a little bigger than the dance pad ($10)
    Put down carpet tape on the plywood in a grid pattern ($5)
    stick the dance pad down to the carpet tape
    Get a sheet of clear vinyl from the fabric store just bigger than the pad, but a little smaller than the plywood
  • How, exactly, can the author claim the build time is only 30 minutes ("0.5 hours") while at the same time bemoaning the loss of their welder?

    If a project requires welding, I think that moves it squarely outside of "amateur" territory.
    • I wouldn't say welding moves it outside of "amateur" territory - as long as you know how to weld (plug: my site has a "beginning welding" textfile, if you are interested in learning). Welders aren't terribly expensive (even a 220VAC AC/DC wirefeed welder can be had for under $1000.00 - stick welders are considerably less expensive).

      What I wonder about is how you can weld the thing in under 30 minutes. Unless they aren't including setup time for welding (getting parts, tools and safety equipment together, se

  • 54 []

    That topic has *lots* (too much, probably) of info on this. There are several different designs. Personally I would think that the wood-based ones developed there are better (and they are the most common). I am designing a CCFL-lighted(one tube per arrow which light up permanently, when you step, or when you're SUPPOSED to step depending on mode), microcontrolled (PIC18F4550 based), pressure-sensor-based (no moving parts, at least not substantially moving
    • Hey there - hows your design going.... Been looking at designs with my friend... Yours looks very promising... Got friends keeping their eyes out for dead weighing machines... Looking forwards to seeing your finished design... On the Article - Can I just say that the finished product looked quite good and had some interesting approaches I haven't seen anyone else do. It definately looks an improvement from the cheep foam pads I have at the moment.
  • The deck is supposed to be cheaper than the West Virginia systems. Hmm...
    Pad (estimated): $250 - $1000 USD
    Stepmania: Free, but...
    A computer: at least $400-500 for the low end, probably more if you want to run Stepmania flawlessly. (Guess what: School systems tend not to have extra computers laying around they can ship off to gym class. I know, I go to a high school.)
    Plus, computer monitors are what, 15, 17, 19 inch? Versus a TV monitor at 30-40 inches, which one would you r

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