Come and see some short horror films this weekend - bring a few beers and enjoy a mixture of 8mm and 16mm stories. Both main features are shot in black and white on spring-driven cameras and developed by hand.

All films were shot and developed with the assistance of Dark Room and their amazing 16mm workshop.

The first is 'Electronic Voice Phenomenon' - delving into the clash of religion and science in Ireland, this film hones in on a period of detente in the 1970s when priests and engineers joined forces to record voices of the dead.

The violent, amateur photographic development process adds weight to the spectral presence in this spine-tingling film, as our heroes face down forces of evil and the outcome is uncertain as the malevolent power builds to a crescendo.

The second feature 'The Inheritance' follows the hapless relative of a deceased country landowner who discovers that his estate is not the windfall it appears to be. Featuring Tim Hawkin's inimitable direction, the film uses the results of some interesting research into apotropaic magic to uncanny ends.

I will also be screening an 8mm version of 'The Picture in the House' the infamous HP Lovecraft short story adapted for an Irish location, and perhaps some other spooky films will follow before the night is out.

I had some free time this weekend so I took out the Picade kit I have been saving and finally assembled my new console. This is my third Raspberry Pi project, so setting up the linux installation was no problem, however the wire loom was another kettle of fish.

Luckily the Pimoroni guide includes a colour-coded wiring diagram which takes some of the pain out of the process.

I wanted a JAMMA cabinet like most people who grew up when the arcades were still around; then I looked at custom Mame cabs and finally I had to settle for a more pragmatic solution. The Picade is small and runs off a 2.5A@5V phone charger but it has a proper stick and buttons and feels rugged enough to hammer it like a real arcade machine.

The case is solid and all the parts are carefully prepared and labelled. All you need are a Philips-head screwdriver (I used the one on my penknife), a small flat-headed screwdriver, a Bluetooth keyboard (I use this Logitech one for all Raspberry Pi projects) and a HDMI-connected monitor.

The console is a little tight on space but the parts are so well designed you could probably do it without the guide. Definitely something that is pleasant to put together with a beer in hand.

I ran into some problems with speaker interference, so best keep the USB and speaker cables apart (see circled cables above). Also, the guide doesn't really cover the Raspberry Pi installation, so make sure that you hook up the 3.5mm jacks on the Pi and Picade board as well as USB.

This is the box when finished. There were a number of glue-backed rubber tabs, four thick black ones are obviously feet for the unit but the others I couldn't figure out - maybe they sit between the PCBs and the chassis? Make sure you don't screw the Pi or Picade board down too tightly - they will warp as they do not have flat bottoms.

You can test the buttons when you power on the unit. Each one will activate the Tx LED on the Picade board. Don't worry about the volume buttons - they don't trigger the light. The default wiring diagram assigns volume to the two black buttons on the front of the unit. I would probably change this to have the buttons at the side if I open it up again.

I also tried the top panel flipped in a left-handed position. This actually works pretty well but I discovered that I am now much more comfortable with a right-hand joystick layout and I wanted the printed flyer, so I flipped it back.

In terms of setting up the OS - I pulled down the latest RetroPie image. Once that had finished setting up, I plugged in the Bluetooth dongle and installed Unrar and Transmission.

sudo apt-get install unrar-free
sudo apt-get install transmission-daemon transmission-common transmission-cli


I also updated the Pi config to reduce speaker noise

sudo nano /boot/config.txt


disable_audio_dither=1


The MAME Roms that RetroPie uses are now available from archive.org and can be installed with

cd ~
cd ~/RetroPie/roms/mame-mame4all
unrar ~/mame%200.37b5%20roms%20and%20bios.rar


There's a lot of faffing about with configuring the inputs in Emulation Station that I'm not entirely finished with, but my final change will be to switch the input over to my old CRT TV for a more arcade-like experience. That can be accomplished with the following steps;

/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -o
/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -c "PAL 4:3"
sudo nano /boot/config.txt


sdtv_mode=2


Overclocking to follow!

James Turrell's Sky Garden

Timelapse / Super 8

I have long been fascinated by a peculiar chapter in recent Irish history; a set of experiments conducted in the early 1970s to record the voices of the dead. Not only does this illuminate the unusual nexus of science and religion that existed at the time but it also appeals to some distinctly Irish traits; the sense of time being thin, the communion with the dead and the love of a good ghost story.

Thanks to Darn and Mella at Darkroom, I finally captured some of the story of Electronic Voice Phenomenon in Ireland on film last week. The footage is now with Crystal Media for telecine but Darn organised a rough screening before I sent it, so I know it is in good order. Here's a cameraphone photo from the test screening.

This is a subject that has fascinated me since I found 'Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead' by Konstantin Raudive, as recommended by William Burroughs, and then the local history of the same sensation, 'Voices on the Tape' by Peter Bander. It contains that irresistible clash of rationality and superstition, religion and science that I think appeals to our distinctive cultural make-up.

In 1971 a group of Vatican-sanctioned researchers teamed up with electronics experts from Pye Laboratories to pore over tapes recorded in Faraday cages on high-end audiophile equipment, listening to the howling ether, as Aleander Graham Bell's assistant Watson did, in the hope of picking out voices from across the Great Divide.

The reconstruction was filmed in 7 Henrietta Street on the 28th of November. We used a 16mm Bolex and Fomapan black and white stock. Other than a problem with the smoke machine triggering the fire alarms, everything went off without a hitch.

The film opens with Tim Hawkins, playing a priest in the 18th century, experiencing a paranormal phenomenon that causes his death. Not that this actually happened, but it does give our real investigators an interesting haunting to work with.

The second scene picks up the thread when priests from the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists (played by Sean Swords and Alan Lambert) supported by scientists from the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (played by me) set up their equipment to detect traces of this ancient horror.

The equipment we used included a Bang & Olufsen Beocord 2000 reel-to-reel (as specified in the book) and a Compaq Portable II Computer. This experiment has a precedent in Ireland; WB Yeat's attempts to make radio contact with the deceased (as described in Roy Foster's biography as well as connections with a whole host of Irish parascientific endeavors, such as time travel outlined in J.W. Dunne's 'An Experiment with Time', 1927.

We also got to do a lot of work on Tim's short film, 'The Inheritance'. An unlucky beneficiary of a will (played by me) discovers odd things in the walls of his new house, all the while watched over by the previous inhabitant's spectral widow (Nodlag Houlihan).

I was given the opportunity by Xavier from the AngularJs Dublin group to present at Google's auditorium on Barrow Street yesterday.

The talk I gave was on scaling Angular Apps for large development teams to work on. The slides are here

The other talks were by Danilo Castro from Media One, on creating bullet proof directives that can be used on any website, even those not running on AngularJS and Filipe Silva from KonnectAgain, about the importance of using Angular Style Guides in your next project. All the talks are archived here.