Firstlook!

IMG_20151010_172945Last weekend, the Taiko kit traveled for the first time to a festival other than Animecon. We were present at the Firstlook Festival in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. Needless to say, it was a hit in more ways than one. 🙂

Timeline: the story in a nut shell

Let me tell you a little bit about how this project came to be.
I’ve been a fan of the Taiko no Tatsujin game for many years. On my first trip to Japan, I ventured into an arcade in Tokyo where version 5 sat prominently in the arcade’s main hall.
It took me a while to gather the nerve to try it, but was hooked once I did. 🙂
A couple of years later, I decided that the PS2-version needed to be in my posession as well, so I got a Japanese PS2, a couple of drum controllers (タタコン, or tatakon) and three games and brought them back home.

While enjoying the game with friends, one thing annoyed me: the tatakons were too light and went walking all over the place during the game, which is kind of annoying when you try to play a song and miss the drum. I had to do something! So I did.

Tatakon-holder version 1 was slightly more than a prototype and consisted of little more than two 18mm pine planks, some stiff foam to hold the tatakons in place and some other bits and bobs to keep the whole contraption fixed to the table.
Version 1.1 saw the addition of two powered speakers mounted to some PVC plumbing to aim the sound at the individual players.
A 24″ Dell monitor acted as video screen, the audio was limited by a small mixing console.

It was a tangle of wires and a pain to set up, but it worked.

Version 2 was built in 2010. It consisted of a large boombox-type of case (again, 18mm pine) with slanted front, a built-in 30W stereo amplifier, a removable TV-stand with a donated LCD TV and the same type of foam tatakon holders. The addition of an attenuator knob enabled me to ditch the mixer and feed the audio signals directly into the box.
A paint job to finish, with custom painted speaker grills to add that extra touch and feel. It’s been a hit at conventions throughout the country, sometimes to a point where our booth became more popular than that convention’s own game room.

Over the years, I steadily added the various Taiko no Tatsujin games to my collection and added some extra tatakons as well, in the event that one would break. I currently own 14 games on four platforms and five PS2- and five Wii tatakons.
They are simple creatures, built incredibly sturdy: to this day, none of my tatakons broke down amazingly enough.
The Wii version (in addition to a Japanese Wii) was added to my collection in 2011, and the 3rd Wii game finally added a third and fourth player possibility. It still wasn’t great though, so I just kept it limited to two and remodeled the first tatakon holder to accomodate the Wii tatakons as well as the PS2 versions.

When I returned to Japan in december 2013, I bought a Wii U, three extra drums and the Wii U version of the game. This new version provided proper 4-player action, HD graphics and a host of other improvements which warranted me to get it this time.
Taiko Console v2 however, wasn’t capable of holding 4 drums, but still large and in desperate need of an overhaul, so I set out to build something new.

The rest, as they say, is history. 🙂

The future of this blog

It’s obvious I started this blog to keep track of my progress of making the consoles, but I intend to turn it into something more than that. A wiki is in the works, the consoles’ travels will be documented here and I hope to make this site a small knowledge base for English speaking Taiko no Tatsujin players around the world.

I’m also planning to give the V2.0 Taiko console a makeover, which also will be documented as I progress.
Here goes… 😉

The aftermath

And there you go. Anime 2014 has come and gone and was a stunning success: people were happy, most things went great and the Taiko consoles have had their debut.
People who played them were in awe and the whole setup was very well received. The translator for Hideo Baba (producer of Namco Bandai’s Tales of-series: he was a guest at the festival) even asked me if she could snap a picture and send it to HQ. Naturally; be my guest. 😀

And now for the nitty gritty…
It’s obvious the whole thing is made by hand: small variables crept in despite the use of a table saw and custom cut panels. I also designed many things as I went, and despite taking care and trying to make sure I replicated everything evenly, crossing a bridge when you get there often results in one thing being slightly different than the other. I also  made an error when measuring, so one of the plexiglass panels need to be re-done at a later date.

I’ve also got some minor details to sort out: the lighting around the drum isn’t finished due to programming problems and too little time to sort that out, the USB charging port doesn’t do anything yet, one of the extension cables I bought turned out to be flakey and some of the trim needs a little more adjusting, but most of it is just my nitpicking.

But enough about that: let’s see some pictures!

progress1 IMG_20140525_182801_1 GKW_4045 GKW_4043 finished1 kratten1 IMG_20140614_095407

End of the build draws near

It’s been oddly silent here, I’m aware of that. The point of this is that the build is nearly finished, and I want to wait for the great unveiling at Anime 2014 untilI show off more of the work I’ve done in the past few weeks.

The side art has been designed and ordered (delivery on Friday) , the displays are functioning and the thing works. My test rig has a small problem with its amplifier: a problem that will sort itself out this weekend.
The only thing that’s left are some nuts and bolts to fix the plexiglass in place.

Paint, print and plexiglass progress

IMG_20140518_211505Well, the weather was absolutely stunning this weekend, so off I went for some much-needed progress.

I sanded the lot down to a smooth finish, got two layers of base paint in, designed the plexiglass panels that go on the box of the unit and designed a small plastic bit that holds the drum extension cord in place.
Today, I went to the local FabLab to turn a perfectly good panel of plexiglass into perfectly good smaller panels. 😉 I also made use of their Ultimaker to print out aforementioned plastic bit. While expensive at about €5 for each bit, I must say I’m pretty happy on how it turned out.

The result can be seen above. While the protective foil is still on the plexiglass, It gives an idea on how it’s going to turn out.

This week will encompass more painting, more plexiglass and then it’s finally time to start putting things together while we wait for the final bits ‘n bobs to come in.

Currently not much to report

Due to hideous weather, progress has been slow. My immediate goal is sanding and paint, but this needs to be done outside due to dust and fumes. The past few days had a weather pattern that matches England’s default weather perfectly, resulting in delays.
Fortunately, Friday and the weekend show promising forecasts and me being home, so I reckon new updates will be posted on Sunday.