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Interview with the Hacked Sega Rally Cabinet Team, Artica

The hacked Sega Rally Cabinet that made its debut at Codebits VI has been getting a great deal of buzz on the Web. From Engadget and TechCrunch to Gizmag and many more, the classic arcade game that controls a RC truck has intrigued the world. So, we decided to get the inside scoop on the team that created the project, Artica.

Artica is a two year old company, founded by Guilherme Martins and André Almeida. Guilherme and André are both engineers and artists. They named the company Artica (Art + Informatics), because their mission is to blend Art and Technology in order to create unique experiences. Artica works in the fields of custom electronics, robotics, video creation, projection mapping and interactive installations. “We can participate in projects as technological partners, or we can deliver complete closed solutions,” Guilherme explained. Guilherme was happy to answer more of our questions about the project.

Where did you get the idea to hack the Sega Rally Cabinet?
“We’ve had the idea for a while. We really enjoy to operate remote bots, and we’ve done it in the past. We called it SWARS, short for see what a robot see. [You can see those projects here and here.] For Codebits VI, we proposed this same concept with RC cars and steering wheels. And, by coincidence, they had a retro gaming arena with plenty of old arcade cabinets at the event. The guy behind the arcade is Luis Sobral aka TheArcadeMan. He had just purchased an old Sega Rally Cabinet, and we all thought that it would be cool to hack the cabinet and have it race our RC cars.”

How long did the project take?
“The project take about one month of hard labor.”

What was the hardest part about the project?
“This project had several stages, and the cabinet was in really bad condition. TheArcadeMan did an awesome job to make it brand new. On the software side, we used XBee radios to send the command from the cabinet to the car. And on the video side, we had to replace the old CRT’s for recent ones. Each stage was a challenge. We are very proud that we could turn the project into one solid piece.”

What do you hope people get out of seeing and playing with what you’ve created?
“We hope to inspire people to create awesome stuff out of stuff. We just connected pieces in a naif fashion, like a Lego, in order to see what comes from the experience. Sometimes nothing comes out, other times there is huge potential from the result.”

Is this your favorite project, if not, what is?
“This is an old dream come true, and we see great potential with it. So we can definitely say yes, it is our favorite project.”

What advice would you give someone looking to participate in Codebits or a similar event?
“Codebits is very oriented for programmers. Our advice in general, is that people should get their hands dirty. Hack stuff. Learn to program. Learn electronics. Join a HackerSpace!”

What do you plan on doing next?
“Our plan is to survive to the economical crisis that is affecting our country. Besides that, we want to continue to create even more cool stuff.”


Here’s a video of the project, you can learn more and see photos on the page for the hacked Sega Rally Cabinet in the XBee Project Gallery.

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