A 25$ Gaming/Emulation Powerhouse – Using the Dockstar as a Gaming Console

As most regular readers will probably know, I’ve got a thing for low powered devices. In my daily work life, I build clusters with them and write/run scientific computing and visualization software on them. At home though, I’ve got a thing for game consoles, emulation, and USB. I’ve especially got a thing for getting people playing games or running consoles on unusual systems that they would have never thought to use. I think the Zipit and IM-ME communities are fairly well aware of this already. What amazed me though, is how few people I found seriously discussing the idea of using a pogoplug device as a game or emulation console. Allow me to get the conversation started with a bang.

For those with web ADHD:
tl;dr – Using a Dockstar and a DisplayLink adapter in tandem for gaming works incredibly well not just as an emulation console, but as a general purpose desktop as well, watch the video below for a multitude of console and PC gaming goodness. I show it running

  • Scummvm (Monkey Island 3)
  • NES (Contra)
  • Doxbox (Warcraft)
  • Mednafen–
  • Lynx (Lemmings)
  • GBA (Aria of Sorrow)
  • GBC (Lufia)
  • GB (Links Awakening)
  • TurboGrafx (Bonk 3)
  • NeoGeo Pocket (Last Blade)
  • Wonderswan (Guilty Gear Petite 2)
  • stella 2600 (Adventure)
  • VisualBoyAdvance (Mario World)
  • SuperTux
  • Abuse – Actually this was cut for time in the youtube clip but it plays perfectly.
  • Wesnoth
  • yabuase Sega Saturn (Sonic Extreme)
  • Quake 3 (OpenArena)

Most with the exception of Saturn and OpenArena run at full playable speed with sound and full or near fullscreen graphics. I have no reason to believe SNES or even Mame and Playstation are out of the picture, with some cleverness. There is so much more below.

For everyone else, read on for photos, configuration files, tips, tricks, explanations, and a thorough walkthrough of the process.

Wasted MHZ
One of the greatest things about the pogoplug is the ease of finding cheap reference hardware. I have been purchasing Dockstar FreeAgent (pogoplug NAS devices) for 25$ shipped for sometime now, and they make for a great low power cluster node. However, what they are not great at is video. They have no discrete graphics, and only 3 USB and one gigabit ethernet ports to work with. On the other hand, they are rocking 128mb of internal ram, 256megs of rom (for flashing images if desired, I just throw mine on a USB stick), and a 1.2ghz marvell arm processor. For a device which consumes a mere 4-6 watts of power at full load, this is a hell of a powerful processor at this price point.

I mean think about it. That’s 1200 mhz of processing power with 128mb of ram. Among some of the low power machines I have developed for, that’s orders of magnitude beyond what the status quo is. My gameboy advance ran a similar architecture at 17mhz, and I had a hell of a good time playing those games and developing for that system (still an order of magnitude faster than the first systems I wrote code for!). These facts and the fact that debian-arm (which Jeff Doozan has a handy script to install on a Dockstar) has an easy to use apt and deb based install system and a full compiler chain really got me thinking. 6 watts, 1.2ghz, 128mb ram, 25$…. Could the Dockstar be the cheaper alternative to the open Pandora handheld I’d been looking for? (Note – I love the openPandora, and what it stands for. Go buy one now!)

Ignoring Battery, for now

Although I intend to eventually turn this into a battery powered handheld system, for the initial tests I’ll be running everything off A/C or my car’s DC socket. No battery array has been built for this system yet. I imagine my next build may use a mimo or lilliput usb powered monitor (built-in displaylink chip) instead of the usb->dvi adapter I used for this test. In the future, I’ll be doing some power requirements testing and perhaps some battery engineering for this. Even using this as a console replacement instead of a handheld replacement, the argument is quite strong. This device uses 20-30 times less power than a PS3. So if you’re running off the grid and you want to emulate yourself some Mario Brothers, for the same power usage you get 5 minutes of PS3 or 2.5 hours of the Dockstar.

Paying Again and Again

I have been chastised heavily for this believe for many years now, but if you are not legally backing up/dumping the roms for your arcade or cartridge games you are almost certainly costing yourself money. While many consider emulation to be an underground community by its nature, there are quite legal ways for you to enjoy your existing game library without resorting to theft of intellectual property, or worse re-purchasing the games for each platform as they are slowly re-released by the publisher. Support folks like Matthias_H and back up or play your cartridges legally with solutions like the retrode, a hand coded nes rom dumper like this one, or at least play some free homebrew roms.

Dockstar Running NES and ScummVM over TightVNC

Dockstar Running NES and ScummVM over TightVNC

Proof of Concept

Before running out to my local computer shop and plunking down the 60$ for a decent USB displaylink adapter, I wanted to make sure the Dockstar was actually capable of emulating a couple of systems. After using Jeff Doozan’s debian install script (which disables the pogoplug service, installs uboot, bootstraps debian onto the USB drive etc) I installed VNC server and Xorg (gotta have those fonts!), and started up two separate VNC sessions. In the first, I emulated contra with a nes emulator from the debian repository, controlled via a usb gamepad I had plugged in via an extra USB port gained from plugging in an old IBM USB keyboard with built-in hub. In the second, I used ScummVM to emulate Monkey Island 2 (both of which I have purchased many, many times). I then streamed both of these over the network to my desktop PC, simultaneously. So, concurrently, there was USB gamepad usage, NES emulation , Scummvm emulation, 2 X servers, 2 framebuffers being compressed with jpeg and tightvnc compression, 2 remote console terminals with byobu screen and a TOP processing showing CPU usage… which never pegged out, and natually was mostly spent on the TightVNC server processes. This gave me a bit of confidence when heading out to the store to purchase more hardware.

Alsamixer on the Dockstar Debian System

Alsamixer on the Dockstar Debian System

Easy and Cheap- Audio

The first missing component on the Dockstar is audio. I picked up a SIIC usb soundwave 7.1 soundcard for about 15 bucks at Frys. I’ve seen similar usb audio plugs for 1$ from sites like DX and meritline, but I prefer to shop local the first go-round in case anything needs to be returned. After pluggin it in, the dmesg log said

[  146.847548] usb 1-1.4: New USB device found, idVendor=0d8c, idProduct=0103
[  146.854467] usb 1-1.4: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=0
[  146.861822] usb 1-1.4: Product: USB Sound Device
[  146.867195] usb 1-1.4: Manufacturer: C-Media INC.
[  146.873810] usb 1-1.4: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
[  147.085508] usbcore: registered new interface driver snd-usb-audio

Looked good to me, so I went ahead and installed alsa and some utilities with apt-get install alsa alsa-utils apmd alsa-oss mpg123 This worked without a hitch, and alsamixer showed our PCM line out. A quick test with mpg123 determined sound was working fine, no additional setup required. After a reboot however, this was seemingly no longer working? I tried installing libasound2-plugins, which pulls in a good number of prerequisites,. no no avail. Turns out a /usr/bin/alsa reload was all that was required to get it working again. So watch out for that.

Getting Ready – Video

The USB displaylink linux driver and setup has grown in leaps and bounds since last I had looked into it back in 09. I picked up an IOGEAR USB->DVI external graphics adapter for 50$ open box at Frys (serial GUC2020DW6) as it supported 1080p out of the box. I’ve seen these for as low as 30$, though the price fluctuates around 60$ generally. I imagine any usb->vga or direct usb->lcd solution would also work with the same results. That’s what’s great about running a full Debian Linux distribution on this thing, you get a world of device compatibility out of the box. Having wrestled with a similar IOGEAR graphics adapter in the past, I was fairly confident it used the displaylink chipset and driver. Even better, this particular USB->DVI adapter has a standard USB mini female plug on one end. This means we won’t need to waste a port on the Dockstar, as the male USB mini plug is active and fits the adapter. If you can’t manage to squeeze the adapter onto the plug in the current position, it is only a 5 wire cable attached to the plastic casing. Removing the casing should resolve any spacing issues. I just cut a small hole between the 2 existing usb ports and run the micro usb cable through there.

Video, Continued

A quick search turned up a nice tutorial on setting up USB multiseat over at plugable.com. While a bit dated, I figured it was roughly analogous to the Dockstar Debian system I had running and should work. After installing module-assistant, I decided to skip the entire tutorial and just try plugging the device into the Dockstar and a (failing) 15″ vga Monitor from ancient times and seeing what happens… Success! It was a green screen with no borders. This means the driver is loaded and working! A quick test of dmesg showed what I wanted to see

DisplayLink Green Screen From Dockstar

DisplayLink Green Screen From Dockstar


[ 4033.407189] usb 1-1.1: New USB device found, idVendor=17e9, idProduct=0059
[ 4033.414104] usb 1-1.1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
[ 4033.421500] usb 1-1.1: Product: IOGEAR External DVI
[ 4033.426443] usb 1-1.1: Manufacturer: DisplayLink
[ 4033.431080] usb 1-1.1: SerialNumber: 009866
[ 4033.444201] usb 1-1.1: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
[ 4033.509436] udlfb: module is from the staging directory, the quality is unknown, you have been warned.
[ 4033.532242] usb 1-1.1: dlfb: allocated 4 65024 byte urbs
[ 4033.620197] usb 1-1.1: dlfb: set_par mode 1024x768
[ 4033.648492] usb 1-1.1: dlfb: DisplayLink USB device /dev/fb0 attached. 1024x768 resolution. Using 3072K framebuffer memory
[ 4033.659751] usbcore: registered new interface driver udlfb
[ 4033.665909] VMODES initialized

Success! So I skipped ahead to the Xorg configuration

Debian XDM Login On the Dockstar

Debian XDM Login On the Dockstar


Video -Xorg

From here, I decided to see if a reboot would bring up a txt console (and perhaps a login?) on the usb monitor. It produced another green screen. This is good, as it means we’ll not have to be manually stopping fbcon from starting on bootup as many guides have suggested. While I’m not sure if it’s necessary, I went ahead and installed pkg-config and xorg-dev, along with fluxbox and xdm. They pull in a lot of good prerequisites from the Debian apt repository, and may come in handly later.

Speaking of guides, I found a nice article on setting up your Xorg on a DisplayLink device here. Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I build my xorg.conf using his as a template. I tend to setup fluxbox as my default window manager on new devices as I know its memory footprint is quite minimal, and has worked well for me in the past. I decided to go with XDM as the display manager, as it’s a bit more lightweight than GDM but still gets the job done in an easy fashion.

After installing XDM, a reboot producted me with a XDM debian login window! Now edit your .xsession file to contain exec startfluxbox and you should be ready for fluxbox. Success! From here it’s all gravy. ScummVM works. NES emulation works. Web browsing, consoles, fluxbox, full windowing systems, etc etc so much working!!

Playing Games

  • fceu works great for playing NES roms. Make sure you disable openGL or it will not run correctly.
  • ScummVM works great out of the box, even with quite large files. Check the video for me playing Monkey Island 3 (1gb game) flawlessly
  • Dosbox – Edit your ~/.dosbox/dosbox-0.74.conf and put your install directory as a mount i.e. mount c ~/dosbox/images/
  • Mednafen – Make sure to pass the -vdriver sdl argument to mednafen or it will be slow. Use alt-shift-1 to auto-configure your joysticks

Anything in the debian repo should work (no guarantees on speed). I managed to install desmume the ds emulator, but it didn’t run faster than 3fps ever, and didn’t seem to do much.

OpenArena On the Dockstar

OpenArena On the Dockstar

Installing Programs/Desktop Usage

  • Do yourself a favor and install aptitude and synaptic! This will help you out greatly during package selection and when searching for new libraries/dependencies/emulators/games/etc.
  • OpenArena – This is going to be slow! Edit your ~/.openArena/orig/arena.cfg file and change your render mode to zero for best results.

Moving Forward – The Sky is The Limit

Having had a chance to test out the OnLive gaming service and console (and having a roku box at home), I am quite enamored with the idea of a tiny game console. When onlive announced they would soon be charging for access to older (possibly emulated) games, I realized that no cheap console solution existed for emulation fans. Moving forward, I believe I or anyone else can easily get SNES, Neo Geo, PS1, and various Mame backends working at full speed. Considering this is a standard debian system at this point, configuration, and for the most part compilation should be fairly painless and minimal. As soon as I can pick up an original Marvel vs Capcom cps2 board to dump, I’ll be legally playing that on my tv for the first time since the Dreamcast days.

159 thoughts on “A 25$ Gaming/Emulation Powerhouse – Using the Dockstar as a Gaming Console

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A 25$ Gaming/Emulation Powerhouse – Using the Dockstar as a Gaming Console « HunterDavis.com -- Topsy.com

  2. Great work Dave! I love seeing these types of projects. What about running some sort of media center on one of these, Boxee for example? It will definably need some sort of dedicated graphics (Over USB? 0_o). Ive ordered two of these, one i plan on using for this purpose.

    The other im planning on attempting to connect to a small/cheap USB Touchscreen Monitor, as a cheap tablet :)

    • Hey Tyler,

      If not boxee, then perhaps XBMC, freevo, something with python+vnc, etc? Not sure about the dedicated graphics over usb, but you’ve got me thinking. I’ve seen a usb->mini pci express card adapter before. I’ve also used a broadcom crystalhd mini pci express card before as well. Perhaps combining the two we could get a reasonable decoding performance for high definition h264 content. To be fair I haven’t tried decoding any video on the dockstar, just the emulation bit. As for a touchscreen tablet, I’ve seen models of the mimo that are touchscreen and have built-in webcams and microphones that could be rather interesting. Perhaps that’ll be my next target build ;)

      Good Luck!
      /H

  3. Pingback: How I Sell Thousands of Products Using the Web | Affiliates and Hot Internet Marketing

  4. Pingback: A 25$ Gaming/Emulation Powerhouse – Using the Dockstar as a Gaming … | Tombraidergold.com

  5. Great writeup, fun work, Hunter. :-) Always love seeing what you’re up to… and somehow always have an itch to spend money afterwords. Ha ha ha.

    I eventually passed my Zipit on to someone else to play with. I’m tinkering with drop-dead simple web-apps that will run on my Kindle 2′s 3D web browser… I’d get into Kindle hacking if I wasn’t afraid I’d brick it (and have a long talk with my better half.) :-)

    Cheers,
    Jeffrey

  6. Hey Jeffrey,

    Thanks, that sounds like a pretty fun project you’ve got going on. I always though the Kindle’s eink screen would be perfectly suited for those autostereogram 3d images that were popular back in the 90s. That or an SSH client, natch.

    Thanks, and good luck!
    /Hunter

  7. Pingback: iPhone 3G, 3GS get iOS 4.2.1 unlock, using risky ultrasn0w workaround | The iPad Bargain Shop

  8. I was at a flea market yesterday and although there weren’t any dockstars there there were some other interesting bits and pieces and cheap older laptops unfortunatly i was broke after buying SWMBO a claddagh ring. (I also still had my GEEK/NERD pin from comic-con on my hoodie so met a cool husband and wife geek team and chatted for hours about tech, sci-fi and fantasy :) ) but as they hold the flea market every month and the wife is selling her crocheted and knitted items and me selling notebooks made from floppies i’ll be keeping my eyes open for dockstars etc. as i need a good emulator platform and i’m getting quite good at porting stuff to ARM from x86 :)

    i really need to take up bank robbery. so many toys so little money.

  9. Pingback: Emulation (and Gaming) on the cheap « Executing Gummiworms

  10. Hey RK,

    I think the initial investment in Bank Robbery is a bit higher than the Dockstar heh. Have you thought about etsy? I think crocheted items and notebooks made from floppies would do quite well on there. Link me if you end up making an online store :). Claddagn rings and floppy notebooks though, sounds like a pretty good swap meet. (I’m guessing you grew up on the east coast/midwest?, here we call em swap meets).

    Let me know if you end up porting anything fun over, or get stuck with some assembler etc. I spend a great deal of time compiling on/for these things and porting is kind of my bread and butter latey. Bensoutlet.com is where I got my last batch of 6 or 7 dockstars, though I’ve seen them on saleaday.com too. Good luck!

    /H

  11. no i grew up in the midlands (of england :) ) i do have a really weird accent though as i’ve lived in brooklyn for nearly 18 years. So i have a cross between an essex accent (think london mockney accent) a leicester one (think using weird words for everything and ending sentences with “me duck” or “me hen”) and a brooklyn one :) anyone want to go get a cup of cawfee? :)

    we called them rummage sales or jumble sales in the area i grew up.

    the problem i’ve found (and others i know who put their stuff on there too) with etsy is that if you have something unique and post it on there it’s copied within a day or so and normally priced under what you are charging. it’s a problem with some traders at the flea markets my wife and I do but not as bad although we were at one recently where one of the vendors came to a friends stand made jewellery stands and started at a few pieces for 10 to 20 minutes went back to her stand and drew them and the next flea market she had exact copies of them.

    I really should write this one up but i’ve found the thing that causes most attempts at ports to fail is that gcc on x86 defaults to signed-chars and gcc on arm defaults to unsigned-chars so if you put -fsigned-char in the options to gcc alot of stuff that fails to build previously will now build and run correctly. it took me a few months to work out that the signedness of the char type was “wrong”

    There is one cool thing going on at the moment with the zipit. the author of virtualt (the tandy model 10X emulator) has ported it to a u-booted+mainline kernel+z2buntu’ed zipit. from what i’ve seen it looks darn cool :)

    when i lived in Berkeley (the year of the oakland/berkeley fire) i used to goto the swap meet at the BART station car park, picked up some great stuff there espcially old Zenith Z1XX computers, i had one solely for playing empire on :)

  12. Hey RK,

    I know exactly where you are talking about! I used to live in grantham in lincolnshire back in 00. I had no idea about etsy! That’s quite interesting. Out here I go to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena once a month. They hold it outside the rose bowl, and there’s always something interesting floating around.

    Good tip on forcing signedness! I know I’ve seen this crop up at least once when working on the Z2 stuff. Very cool on the model 10 emulator!! I had a tandy for a while back in the 80s, and had quite a bit of good fun playing space quest on it. Haven’t seen a Zenith Z1XX out here, but quite a few famicoms float by. Good for the occasional doki doki panic :)

  13. Tandy’s were my first love in computers, yes i’d used others before but the TRaSh-80 model 3 it was love at first sight. We used them at college for the “use of computers”, “computer programming” and COBOL course and I tried to include them in any other subject I could.

    My first real foray into “hacking” was done with tandy’s too, bets with the techs and admins for beer over whether i could crack the network security. (yes i did stuff before and after too but well who can resist free beer and free beer remains in the memories for a few decades or so :) )

    i am definatly a z80 family fanboy. i tolerated the BBC micro but if it didn’t have a z80 it wasn’t for me.

    oh and btw i solved my eprom erasing problem, a bit of research and a shopping session on evilbay and i picked up a uv baby pacifier sanitizer. it was broken but a quick dab of solder and some paper shims and the judicious placement of petit mint tins in the sanitizer and I can erase a psion organiser2 data pack in about 8 6 minute cycles :)

  14. Hey RK,

    I’d love to see a picture of that UV lightbox in action. Sounds like a pretty fun hack. Free beer definitely sticks in the mind heh. I’ve got quite a few Z80 devices floating around here right now as well. I saw another rex go up on ebay about a day after it ended. Not too worried, always more to hack on :)

  15. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | techwitted.com

  16. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) « Cyber Nation

  17. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Technology Blog

  18. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | bruno trani dot info

  19. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Netbook Gizmo

  20. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) : Um1neX

  21. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | AshishBajaj.com

  22. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | linksalphatest2

  23. Pingback: Turin System by Jerry Adler

  24. Pingback: world-ofbusiness.info - Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  25. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Koplak The Best 1# Phone Review

  26. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) « Iphone news and videos

  27. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | TechMunch

  28. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)Laptop Rental | Laptop Rental

  29. Pingback: Gadgets & Tech » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  30. Pingback: YouAreLookingFor Info » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  31. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | TechNews

  32. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Technolayer.com

  33. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | My Blog

  34. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Blog1

  35. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | EconoLan

  36. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | BlogThisPhone. Everything about mobile phones

  37. Pingback: triFlex Enterprise | Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  38. I’m a complete nub but I can’t help but love hack’s like this. I’ve looked around and don’t know enough to tell but would you be able to get anywhere with a vga to composite converter? I’ve been wondering how this could work somewhat like XBMC but straight emulation is great too, just getting it to my tv is the problem.

  39. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Funkburg.at - Blog

  40. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | TweetsOnTech.com

  41. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | freedykopatz

  42. Pingback: Tech Gadget Reviews » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  43. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Averagetraditio's Blog

  44. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | watchtvforfreenow.com

  45. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) : 有方网-一切如此简单

  46. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Virginiaskeeters's Blog

  47. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) |

  48. Pingback: Insurance Marketing » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  49. Hey Roland,

    I don’t see why not… depending on the adapter. I have seen some adapters that are passive, and require a different signal to be sent out by the adapter, I doubt these would work. Other, active adapters which use a chip to convert/scan/etc the output would probably work yes. Lots of ways to get an image onto a tv, you may have to get creative though :) good luck!

  50. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | weliketosay

  51. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Tech Blog

  52. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | everything for mobile

  53. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Infosite101

  54. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | News on the world

  55. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | High Tech News

  56. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Gadgetroom.info

  57. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Infosite102

  58. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | softwaredude.net

  59. Pingback: RealTime - Questions: "Seriously, is he playing with me?"

  60. Pingback: WHN Tech: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) - World's Headline News - Latest News Updates!

  61. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | removefiles.info

  62. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | remove-addware.com

  63. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) - Reviews on the Latest Gadgets on the Market - Hot-cool-gadgets.com Blog

  64. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) - Reviews on the Latest Gadgets on the Market - Hot-cool-gadgets.com Blog

  65. Pingback: Best Deals On iPhone » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  66. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Dominic Fallows

  67. I have no clue what you guys are talking about, yet I find the conversation extremely entertaining lol. I have close to no knowledge of computers but think it’s cool how easilypeople alter them or make full use of them. Well wish I can one day learn how to use a computer, or at least how to use windows 7!! Ugh lol. Ohh Ohh I have a jb iPhone 4, does that count as a hack? Lol. Well take it easy and good luck in your projects

  68. Pingback: Funny Gadget Gifts | Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

    • hey Dave,

      For that particular screen you’d need video output from the dockstar, but for a lilliput or mimo type screen (or any usb->lcd interface) you’d be good to go, and it wouldn’t take much. Good luck!

  69. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | ultimategolftraining.com

  70. Pingback: DIY-projekt med Dockstar FreeAgent | iPortal

  71. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  72. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Webtrendzone

  73. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Tech Toinks!

  74. Might I ask where you guys found these for $25, both the Dockstar FreeAgent and the Pogo seems to retail for $99 from what I can tell?

  75. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | F1 Racing Blog

  76. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) « My Tech Blog

  77. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Cutting Cards

  78. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Ferrariforsaleuk.com

  79. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | energy4

  80. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | KING.NET

  81. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Litzeymulvany's Blog

  82. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Nikki Kiang

  83. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Sooner 10 Later

  84. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | www-eggprotein.com

  85. Pingback: Vermont Cabin Rental » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  86. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) « Everheartz15's Blog

  87. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | The Forest

  88. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | The Missing Tuba

  89. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | NewGadget.Info

  90. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | uniquegifts4u.info

  91. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | santiagomuscott

  92. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | DeFraggler Tips and Tricks

  93. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Large Cup To Go

  94. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | nocomputererror.com

  95. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) « theelectroshock.com

  96. Awesome work.

    Do you think something like Maxima, R, or other math programs could run? Not as fun as emulators but I am thinking of an incredibly powerful calculator.

    • Hey Gene,

      Certainly. It’s running a full debian-arm system so R, S, octave, etc should be easily apt-gettable. That would make for one heck of a calculator.

      Thanks, and good luck with your mega calculator :)

  97. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | news and more in sports and hollywood

  98. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | allcelebsnews.info blog002

  99. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | Awkward Backward

  100. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | scam-killers.com

  101. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) | eBook Top Readers

  102. Wow. This is really cool! I wish this was done sooner so I wouldnt had bought an Original Xbox as an emulation machine, but this more versatile and less expensive.

    PS. Is the OnLive gaming service available for Linux?

    • Hey jojones88,

      Thanks, I don’t believe it’s available for linux yet, but I’d be very surprised if there own hardware box isn’t running some variant of linux or another RTOS that should be fairly easy to port to a powerful linux computer. Good luck with your xbo, lots of good emulators and such still out there for it :)

  103. Pingback: Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video) - Latest Technology Trends

  104. Hey Hunter,

    This is a very cool project and makes me wonder if I could run freenas(possibly with some hacks) to RAID(mirror) 2 drives(possibly similar size) connected via USB. I was running a homebrew freenas on a simple board without any bells and whistles and a celeron single core(conroe) processor and it still sucked up around 55Watts. There are mini-ITX and nano-ITX boards out there but they cost a fortune along with the case and most of them are built for HTPC setup.

    I have been exploring ideas to build something with a good price/performance/efficiency ratio and this seems worth exploring. Ofcourse I could buy a dlink or buffalo NAS for around $150 but then whats the fun in it and this thing has 3 USB ports. Hmm, how about RAID 5 with 3 drives :)

  105. Hunter,

    Do you know the hardware specs for pogoplug or other similar device that has more memory. Someone mentioned on Jeff Doozan’s forum that POGOE02 has twice the memory and ROM but I couldn’t confirm.

  106. Hey Nonya,

    Just a displaylink usb->Vga adapter from iogear.

    Hey Bhavin,

    Yeah, I’ve also hear the pogoplug proper has 256mb ram, but I don’t have one to verify. I think it has the same amount of flash ROM though.

  107. Your write-up is awesome! I have 2 unmodded dockstars currently running, one used with the pogo service. I have 3 more that I bought from Frys on clearance for $10 each that I haven’t figured out what to do with. Just need to find some cheap usb audio and displaylink and time to play.

  108. It seems to me, when looking at the videos, that this is not smooth at all, or that you can only play on a very small screen. I would not play a platform game or a fighting game with this kind of performance!

  109. Pingback: Classic game emulation on the Dockstar - Hack a Day

  110. Hey Hunter,

    Fantastic! I just picked up a Pogoplug from Best Buy (here in Canada) and already put Plugapps Linux on it, but it looks like Debian may be a better choice! I’m new to the whole Linux server idea, would it be possible to run these applications on the server, and output them visually elsewhere? Or am I just thinking VNC? I have VNC set up on all my other machines already. My professor at school has a Linux server running that we wrote and uploaded a few games for, and we could run them from the server (viewing it through X11 on my Mac). Is that the same thing? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Awesome project, it’s people like you that get me excited about electronics!

  111. Hey Ryan,

    VNC is just compressing an X11 output and sending it over the network, so yeah same thing :) There are a few other projects out there for remote headless and single application X sessions but all basically are using standard X11 and compressing it in some way. Hope it works out! Good luck!

  112. Hey DeadlyDad,

    Sounds like a pretty sweet build idea. Though I’m running a bit short on space, so for me I’d probably want a mini-mini mame cabinet :) Good luck if you end up giving it a build!

  113. Pingback: Classic game emulation on the Dockstar « Black Hat Security

  114. Pingback: FritzBox und USB Grafikkarte - Winhistory-Forum

  115. Damn… I’ve got the builder’s itch. All your fault, Hunter…

    Seriously though, it sounds like fun. I’m trying to track down a DockStar for less than $50, and it’s not that easy. I’m a fan of the ARM platform, and a few cheap machines laying around would make for far less boredom. Good work man!

  116. If anyone has FreeNAS running on a Dockstar I would love to hear how you did it.

    Hunter, have you done that?

    Thanks
    P

    • Hey Phreon,

      Can’t say that I have. Looks interesting though, I’ll have to check it out. If anybody else has run it I’d love to hear about it as well :)

      /H

  117. Pingback: Digital And Internet Information Blog » Blog Archive » Dockstar FreeAgent hacked into inexpensive emulation masterpiece (video)

  118. Hello !
    I’ve more or less successfully followed you instructions to transform my Dockstar into a gaming console.
    I’d like to thank you for this !
    Nevertheless, I’m struggling with some problems:
    I can’t get the Displaylink adapter to send a picture at a lower resolution than the screen maximum supported resolution. With today’s displays, I’m forced to run it with a super resolution 1280×1024 where 640×680 or 800×600 would just be fine. Moreover, when I start DosBox or ScummVM, the screens begins to flicker. I just can’t understand why…. Would you have any idea why ?

    Greetz,

    • Hey Tsunulukai,

      Sounds like you may need to set some new video modes in your xorg configuration. It’s possible that you’ve only got the top resolution set in the display profile and thus it can’t switch to a mode it doesn’t know about? I would assume the flickering is a result of the high bandwidth required for the top resolution, but it could also be related to a number of other issues. Is the displaylink adapter powered, or passive? I’ve had troubles with passive adapters attempting to draw too much power from the mini usb port on the dockstar. You could try with a powered hub and see if that effects it. Your best bet atm. is probably to work on the display resolution issue, which I’m guessing will resolve the flickering as well. FIngers crossed, and good luck :)

  119. sranHi Hunter ! Thanks for your response !

    I’ve already tried to adjust the resolution via the xorg.conf file… but it just ignores the settings I put there to start up with the (detected) maximum resolution of the screen. I tried to resize the display once the X server is started with “xrandr -x “, but the screen gets scrambled at any other resolution (see the attachments in this post : http://forum.doozan.com/read.php?2,2073,5567#msg-5567). I tried to trick the video driver by starting it without screen attached so that it’d fallback to the default 800×600 resolution, but when I do so, I cannot start the X server anymore !

    Error is the following :
    (EE) DL(0): Unknown EDID version 0
    (EE) DL(0): Unknown EDID version 0
    Backtrace:
    Segmentation fault at address 0×18

    My displaylink is USB-only powered… directly plugged on the dockstar. It work just fine so with the framebuffer driver for the console or in the x-server when ScummVM or Dosbox are not started… The flickering speed actually depends on the connected screen… The common point between ScummVM & DosBox is their dependancy on the SDL Library. The weird part is that flickering does not start upon the startup of a game, but upon startup of the ScummVM program, even in the menu…. I tried using an external-powered USB hub… no change :( And when stopping ScummVM or DosBox… screen gets back stable ! I just can’t understand it.

    It could also just come from the displaylink adapter… but I can’t resign myself to try and buy another one for the eventual same result… :D

    • Hi Tsunulukai,

      That’s interesting that it works fine for framebuffer and only starts flickering when ScummVM or Dosbox is started. Does it happen with a video file (vlc?) or another emulator? What if the emulator is running in a window instead of fullscreen? I’m wondering if it’s the virtual screen resolution used by Scummvm or Dosbox, or if it’s some artifact of coloration or fill rate. It’s possible it’s the displaylink adapter yes, but I am kind of doubtful of that. Did you add an extra displaylink section in your Xorg.conf with the /dev/fb stuff and a resolution specifically for the DL adapter? I’m wondering if that’s the root cause. Not sure though, but perhaps with more information we can figure it out. Best of luck!

  120. Hello again :)

    The flickering happens both in full screen and in windowed mode for ScummVM & DosBox. I installed VLC and could play a video just fine. Although the Dockstar was literally drowning when I put the video in full screen at 1280×1024 :D, the video ran OK in window mode, no flickering.
    I set up my xorg.conf file as show at http://www.adelpha.be/xorg.conf.txt
    The configured resolutions are ignored and xorg starts at the maximum screen resolution possible.

    Thanks for your help!

  121. Hey Tsunulukai,

    The fact that it’s happening in windowed mode for ScummVM and Dosbox, but not VLC, is quite interesting. I have read some documentation to indicate that displaylink adapters autoselect the preferred resolution of the monitor during the handshaking process. Not sure if this could be what you’re running into, but if you’ve got a lower resolution monitor floating around it couldn’t hurt to try :). I’ll see if I can figure out anything from the kernel driver side of things. Best of luck!
    /H

  122. hi. i was wondering if you’ve had any success with any SNES or genesis emulation? also, have you tried using mplayer or vlc to play any video (non-HD)? i have a dockstar unopened in my closet but don’t want to waste time/money setting all of this up if neither of those things work.

    • Hey eWookie,

      Have not tried snes or genesis. It’s possible they work, albeit with some slowdown. It’d probably take some tweaking. Mplayer and VLC should work for small video streams and youtube type videos, but large xvids will probably cause stuttering. Best of luck!

  123. Hi! Amazing work you’ve done with Dockstar! I managed to install Fceu NES emulator but I couln’t get the sound output to work with alsa.. Any ideas?
    I tried playing some MP3 files with a separate player so the USB-audio works ok. Can you name any emulators with working sound output (using alsa). No need to say I’m still new to Debian (and learning Linux).

    • Hi Dave,

      ScummVm uses alsa, as does dosbox. Both should run well :). Good luck! Glad to hear you’re learning Debian! It can be quite rewarding if you stick to it. Best,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>