Tag Archives: Mario Bros

Starduino is an 8-bit Super Mario tree topper

Bring this classic power-up to life as part of your Christmas decor. 

Super Stars (also referred to as Starmen) can be found in a plethora of Mario Bros. games, including the original and the Mario Kart series. One place you’d typically not find them, however, is on top of a Christmas tree. That was until now.


In the game, when a player gets a star, they become temporarily invulnerable to all damage. This enables them to defeat anything and rack up points, except to hazards that would normally be fatal regardless of power-ups. Well, John Edgar Park has decided to swap out invincibility for some sparkling decor.


The Super Mario fan has built his own 8-bit tree topper using an Arduino, LEDs and a few other off-the-shelf tools. Starduino — a name that was coined by yours truly — is a fairly straightforward project. It consists of an Arduino GEMMA (ATtiny85) that drives an Adafruit NeoPixel ring housed inside a 3D-printed blocky star. Meanwhile, power is supplied by a USB cable plugged either into a wall adapter or a battery.

Still looking for a last-minute focal piece for your tree? Don’t despair! Park has provided a step-by-step breakdown of his build on Adafruit, so you can spark some nostalgia of your own this holiday season.


3DRacers is bringing Mario Kart to life

The next Hot Wheels? 3D print your own personalized cars and race them throughout the house.

Who could ever forget waking up on Christmas morning to find a remote-controlled race car set under the tree? Or, how about heading out to the local Toys”R”Us to grab yourself the latest Mario Kart game (or should we say ‘Kartridge’) to slip into your Super NES? Well now, Rome-based 3DRacers is seeking to revolutionize the toy and gaming industries with something that’s even more fun than a simple RC set or video game.


In fact, the Maker duo of Marco D’Alia and Davide Marcoccio is ushering in a new generation of products, ones in which will allow users to 3D print their own smartphone-enabled, Arduino-compatible racing games. Think Mario Kart on your living room floor, instead of your TV screen. Rather than steer your way through Bowser’s Castle, Donut Plains and Mario Circuit tracks, kids can now navigate their way around in-house like rugs, tables, beds and even Uncle Bob’s legs as he snores on the couch. The 3D-printable cars were designed to have exceptional ground clearance from the bottom, which lets them to speed across these fabric and carpeted areas with ease.

With 3DRacers — which was successfully funded on Indiegogo — you can drive small radio-controlled, fully 3D-printed cars with your phone or with a custom-built remote (also 3D-printed). And, what truly sets this product apart from the pack is that each car can be customized to your liking. This opens up a wide-range of possibilities from Jeeps and Corvettes, to tanks and monster trucks, to dune buggies and rally cars, to even a Back to the Future-inspired DeLorean.


While its first beta set was introduced back at Maker Faire Rome 2014, the Italian team has since launched a web-based editor where users can create a car online and 3D print it for free, or through 3DRacers’ official print partner 3DHubs. What makes it even sweeter, in the likelihood that a car is broken or lost at some point, a user can now simply make a new one. No more trips to the toy store! 


Each 3DRacer is driven by a custom-built electronic board, based on an ATmega32U4. With a focus on low-power consumption and adhering to an extremely small form factor, the team’s Arduino-compatible board is making it possible for users put personal touches on the game, as well as design a new type of Bluetooth-enabled vehicle. The board, aptly named 3DRacers Pilot, can control up to two motors and three servos, and is equipped with an embedded RGB LED, a battery charger, a custom-made gate/position detector, and is even programmable through a simple USB link.


“We choose the ’32U4 for the embedded USB, so that it could be programmed and upgraded easily without an external programmer,” a company rep tells us.


But the online editor and free creation of cars is only the beginning for the team. In true Mario Kart-like fashion, 3DRacers comes with a companion app that allows users to compete against each other in battle mode with automatic lap counters and race times, pit stops with simulated tires and fuel consumption gauges, an online scoreboard, and of course, turbo lanes and power-ups. The app is compatible with all Bluetooth Smart mobile devices, including iPhone 4S or later, iPod 5th or later, iPad 3rd/Air/Mini or later, Samsung Galaxy S3, Note 2, Nexus 4 or later.


Whether you’re looking to spark up some nostalgia, have a child that plays with Hot Wheels, or know of a friend that loves RC gadgetry, race on over to its official crowdfunding page here. Pending all goes to plan, delivery is set for this October.

Super Mario question mark lamp lights up Maker Faire

The light of nostalgia was burning bright at Maker Faire last week, thanks to product designer Adam Ellsworth of 8bitlit and his Super Mario question mark block lamp.

The custom-made, touch-activated lamp brings your room one step closer to Mushroom Kingdom, not just with its funky yellow aesthetics, but also its classic Mario Bros. sounds.


Every time you touch (or punch) the lamp on, it rewards you with the classic coin “ding” sound, while every eighth punch triggers the extra life “1-UP” sound for added happiness.

The lamp is made from laser-cut plexiglass and uses four energy efficient LED lights. It comes attached to an 11 foot power cord, but can also double as a bedside lamp with the additional purchase of a custom acrylic stand. Best of all? It runs on Atmel’s AT Tiny Chip.