PCs And Automated Sound
With the ubiquity of personal computers, when we needed an automated music playing system for our race games, it was a no-brainer! Take an old PC with a sound card, add a few-hundred watt sound system and viola! Blow them away!
Well OK, it took a little doing. With a networked Windows PC we were able to use the joystick inputs to control when the music started and stopped and which music played and when.
|There are two basic
versions. The first plays songs (usually MP3s) from a list of
continuous background music stored on it's hard-drive but when the game starts,
the computer immediately
stops playing the background music and plays a song (or any sound file) that is
specific for the race. When the game ends, the race song stops
and another "end of game" sound file plays (usually an applause and
cheering sound) afterwards the background music resumes.
The other version uses the amusement facility's own background music, routed through the line-in input in the PC's sound card, and when the game starts the background music is muted and a race song plays. Like the other version, at the end of the game it plays a song or sound file and then the background music fades back in. It is perfect, and other than the time in software development, cost almost nothing!
Both versions have the ability to be programmed to adjust their loudness levels appropriately for different times of the day, i.e. quieter early in the morning and loudest during the busiest times. Also, as the PCs are on the location's network, we also are able to mute the background music automatically and remotely after the closing announcements. Pretty nifty eh!
The hardware is a PC with a sound card, sound system and a simple circuit to emulate a joystick connected to a relay (or relays) connected to the race game. The software is basically a melding of a number of standard software routines written in visual basic for joystick input, sound mixer control and media file playing. Quick and dirty, yes, but you can't knock success!
Here is a screen shot of one of the versions.
Software samples coming soon.