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Mooga

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Reply with quote  #1 
So I'm interested in building a cheap-ish bridge for cons and parties.  I figure that touch screens will look better and work easier for beginners (my first experience was on a touch screen).

This is what I'm thinking:
Computer: Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 - $99 - A small system that connects via HDMI with a single USB port (fine for touch controls).  Has proven to work fine in another thread.
Monitor: Dell S2240T 21.5-Inch Touch Screen LED-lit Monitor - $258 - The cheapest decent quality monitor with a touch screen.  It can also be angled, which helps.

Throw in a wireless router and a laptop as the server and it seems like it COULD work.  I know wireless is not the best for cons, but getting USB NICs and doing anything to make that all work seems like tons of extra money.  I figure a well secured and hidden network without any internet access would be fine.

This adds up for less than $400 a setup.  5 stations would be less than 2K.  I'm not sure if could get any money from Cons, but it honestly seems totally reasonable for the cost.

What do others think?
Omovic

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Reply with quote  #2 
This sounds like a nice, cheap and rather portable setup.

If you choose to go fully wireless, you _will_ experience some stuttering, as has already been decribed in the other thread you referenced. This is because a WiFi network uses just one radio channel for all communication.

TL DR;
The game experience is much smoother with wired network.


Long, technical explanation of reasons by network technician

Only one Station can transmit at any time. If two stations transmit simultaneously, the radio signals will interfere and both transmissions become garbled. WiFi has been designed with this in mind, so it has mechanisms to avoid or correct most of these collisions.

There is a catch, however: On a busy channel (e.g. 6 Stations and a server communicating wirlessly), collisions happen, and each collided message will have be reetransmitted. This takes time, and quite a lot from the perspective of a comuter game.

This increased communication latency can lead to 'stuttering', desyncing stations and even disconnects of clients.

Using cables, each station has a dedicated connection on which it can communicate with another (as in a telephone connection). The remaining stations are free to do communication of their own. Collisions are still possible, but are more easily avoided on a cable conenction (comp. CSMA/CD)

USB Ethernet adapters start at about $10 (you dont need more speed then 100MBit for Artemis), so you are facing a total of maybe $100-$150 for six adapters, an 8-port switch and cables.

Given the investment value you have for your Stations ($99+$258) x 6 = $2142, the aditional $150 are just a 7% increase in total cost.

Since mentioned Cons, another reason to especially avoid WiFi are
  1. Interferences from other Visitors devices
  2. Interference from the Venues WiFi Access-Points
  3. Interference from other wireless bridges

In conclusion, I wouldn't recommend fully wireless bridges (a tablet or two as additional displays work just fine in my experience).

Sorry for the long post.

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Hyperion Engineer

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Reply with quote  #3 
I have about 2K in my entire bridge build which has built up consoles and a projector.  The primary way I cut down my costs were by buying a used set of refurbished laptops on ebay and I got VERY lucky and found a nice matching set of "point of sale" (POS) touch screens at a goodwill.  

I know luck had a lot to do with it but it doesn't take much of a computer to run an Artemis console well and the same goes for the monitor.  All the consoles don't benefit much from having high end monitors.  Which is why I like the POS style monitors.  They have heavy glass fronts that people can bang on all day and they are none the worse for the wear.  

Something that I am currently experimenting with is running an artemis console on a rasberry pi 3.  They are about $35 (plus a case, SD card, etc, etc).  I'll let you know how it works out but I've got my fingers crossed.  I'd love to have a "built in" computer in my consoles, instead of messing with my laptops every time.  



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notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #4 
I own 8 of the computers we use on my bridge. I have spent about $300 on all of them. I did this by scrounging, making friends with an IT guy and buying PC parts online. My Helm, Weapons and engineering computers are all scratch built for under $50 a piece. I was working on a post about it, but I havent finished it yet.




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notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #5 
If youre planning on doing cons touchscreens are the way to go, the ease of use and immersion for new players makes it well worth it; The Dell is also a pretty commonly used screen and I think you will get good use out of them. I would agree that you really want to get away from Wifi. If your running a game the last thing you want to deal with is connectivity issue and the massive amount of interference from all the signal at a con. If your using a stick computer springing for the extra gear to get wired network would probably be worth the investment.

There are other options that  may work for you in the tiny PC market that may work well as well. I have seen the "Zotac ZBOX AMD E-350" sold as a refurbished unit for as little as $40 and it has wired network built in. I have used an AMDE-350 APU (in a motherboard, not this PC) in two of my computers and they have worked great. I would upgrade to 4GB of ram though.

I would also suggest using an actual PC with some kind of video card in it for the server if it is an option.

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Mooga

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'm aware of wireless issues, but I'm not sure it will be as big of a deal as we thing.  The main issue with the systems I was looking at is that they only have 1 USB port.

This makes me want to look into the Zotac ZBOX AMD E-350.

How would you get it working on a Raspberry Pi?  With Linux and an Arm processor, you wont be able to run Artemis under wine.

I should look into the POS monitors.  I've heard they are pretty bad in general, but it could be worth a shot.  Amazon has 15'' POS touch screens for ~$200 which would help reduce cost.  Building old system with Windows XP is possible, I'd rather just buy something that will work instead of building up from old hardware.  I can try looking into buying a set of old computers, but again, the hassle of getting a bunch of old system working doesn't seem worth the time unless I can actually save a lot of money.

I'll check out a local thrift store and see what I can find.  Good call.
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #7 
Our experience is that the consoles benefit very little from wired Ethernet. The wifi lag comes from the server. So if you can wire your server directly to the wifi router all of the consoles should be able to run on wireless with no noticeable lag.

That said, when you go to conventions you might be fighting against the hotel's wifi network.

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larkinvain

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Reply with quote  #8 
I had a similar setup for Kawaii Kon this year. Here are some pics at the con. I got the Acer touchscreen monitors (refurbished) for $150 at that time on Amazon.

12919697_10209233665738431_1212504345390065993_n.jpg 

12936670_10209242444837903_8531941449602927004_n.jpg 
Here are pics of it being setup in my house.
12733609_10208724073638947_830832144003000669_n.jpg 

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