Many months ago, I decided that it would be super cool if I had a digital game table. Having a digital table would allow me to accomplish several things.
First, I would be able increase the efficiency and quality of my DnD DMing through the usage of Maptool. This would have the added bonus of allowing remote users to join our session and have a more complete playing experience.
Second, I could use it as a platform to explore programming for a touchable surface interface that is larger scale. Touchable interfaces are only going to be more and more common (Think tablets like the iPad in addition to all the touch driven smart phones).
Third, I would have a lot of a fun and learn a lot.
With the help of my friend and many months of switching between working and slacking, I am super proud to announce that the Digital Game Table has completed phase 1: Carpentry.
This was no easy task for sure. When I set out to create a digital table, I immediately ran into some stumbling blocks. Lorena and I had different visions of what our living space would look like, and as it turns out, we realized we really didn’t want a full sized table at all. We ended up agreeing that a low coffee table flanked by two couches would provide adequate seating for entertaining and dining. With such limited space to work with, I had to design a table that would meet our needs.
I was inspired by this project, but as you can tell, the table isn’t something you would want as a centerpiece between two couches, as it doesn’t really have the form or function for such a location.
Another issue presented itself. The idea of this implementation of a digital game table relies on a projector and enough distance so the minimum throw distance of said projector is satisfied. The other table used a mirror and hung the projector facing the floor to get the extra distance needed. I had to find another way, since my table would be low.
Fortunately, at the same time I was thinking on this, I realized that if we got a good enough projector, we could replace our old TV and mount a screen. This encouraged me to find a solution that allowed the projector to be mobile enough to project for the table and the big screen.
Eventually I realized that I could use the same mirror trick (this is still theory of course) that the other table used, but instead I could set the projector outside of the table pointing inward. A mirror under the table would face 45 degrees from the floor/surface and cast the image upward.
This seemed reasonable, but there was another problem. A projection surface uses a clear material, usually acrylic, and that doesn’t really meet the durability needs of a all use table. I decided then that a multilevel table would be in order. I designed a removable leaf in the table that measured half of the tables length (2ft.)
With these problems resolved, I drafted a design for a 4x3ft table with a removable leaf. With a lot of help from my friend Todd, we embarked on the task of creating a hand crafted table made of Red Oak, because hey, if you are going to make a hand made table, you might as well realize what decent lumber costs.
Here are some photos of the new table.
The next step is to buy some acrylic and translucent material to project against. Once I have that sized correctly, it will only be a matter of getting a mirror to sit at a 45 degree angle. I’m thinking of creating some kind of frame for it that will allow it to easily snap into the right angle and then lay flat again when needed.