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Bēhance

DESIGN/DEVELOPMENT: Boys & Girls Club Promotional Kiosk

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  • Interactive Display Kiosk
    Recycled from a defunct GameCube kiosk and a mangled Xbox
  • Once upon a time, I worked at Circuit City. One day, my boss decided to trash the GameCube display kiosk since the Wii had just come out; I persuaded her to let me drag it to the break room instead for us to use on break. Cut to a year later: I now work for the local Boys & Girls Club, and Circuit City had just declared bankruptcy. Sensing bargains, I head down to pick up what I could and on a whim, asked about the old kiosk. 10 minutes later, I'm the proud new owner of a broken-down GameCube kiosk and $100 lighter in the wallet.

    I had honestly grown attached to the thing, so I decided to come up with a way to give it a new lease on life: I would repurpose it as a kiosk for on-location promotion for the Boys & Girls Club. We already had plenty of promo materials to work with, and the old original Xbox we had received as donations were popular with the kids; I knew those old green behemoths were capable of much more than just games, too- I had tricked out my own Xbox to do everything from installing my games onto the hard drive to running Linux (all legally, mind you). I figured there were many more applications for an Xbox than a GameCube as the new brain of the kiosk.

    So I went ahead and dismantled one of the BnGC's Xboxes, and set to work retrofitting it to work with the kiosk's limited internal space, as well as replacing the components (controllers, etc.) with Xbox equivalents. I also needed to replace the monitor; the original had loads of burn-in, and what's more the tube was dying so the colors were distorted and darkened beyond usability. The TV currently in place is actually from my basement, a reliable 20" Magnavox. I also needed to replace the assembly and florescent bulb for the lighting in the marquee, which was all but junked. Aside from that, most of the components are the originals. I used the old inserts and graphics as temp-lates to create custom signage and logos to promote the BnGC, and using some duct tape I repaired the side shelves, which were made of cheap plastic and hadn't held up too well.

    And that about did it. A good month of part-time labor in my garage, and the reborn kiosk was ready for its new lease on life. It's proven to be an asset to the BnGC as a means to spread our promotional material; but even more importantly, it became a focal point for our young members who were captivated by seeing the "guts" of a video game system, and were eager to learn about all the customizations I had done. So while watching the kids take turns playing Halo was fun, my favorite part of this experience has been teaching them about the values of recycling, and the fun of taking things apart and rebuilding them to see how they work. Hopefully my little pet project will have inspired our members to look at the world from a more creative lens, and to actively think about how the world around them works.

    At least I hope so. I'm still out a hundred bucks....
  • This is the finished kiosk in its current home at a local junior high school cafeteria. Needless to say, it's very popular.
  • This is how the kiosk originally looked. Note: this isn't the actual kiosk, but a photo of a similar one I found on Google Images.
  • Here's a Before & After shot with that similar kiosk for reference.
  • Here's the kiosk powered off....
  • ....and powered on.
  • This is the "Brain", the GameCube's former home where I managed to stuff in a disassembled Xbox. The dome that had sat up top was missing so I had to make do with just the underside of the casing. I used a piece of polyurethane on top so the kids can look at all the parts while it's running.
  • The Brain's lid opens like so, revealing its components.
  • The bulk of the Xbox's components remain in their original positions; I relocated the controller ports, the power and eject buttons,and the rear fan.
  • I would've liked to reverse-engineer a slot for the disc tray, but there was no room anywhere on the sides so I settled on a makeshift clamshell. Turned out to be a good idea, as now the only way to change discs is to have access to the brain's hatch, so there's less chance of tampering.
  • I bought two blue Xbox controllers which matched the overall color scheme. I also replaced the Xbox logo badge with a custom B&GC logo.
  • The original GameCube controllers were held in place by brackets made to fit them, so to mount the Xbox's larger controllers I had to bend the metal to fit and secure it with screws into the plastic on the front and back.
  • The wires still run right into the Brain, nice and tidy. But now, that's only two controllers. The Xbox can use four at a time, right? Well, I thought of that....
  • ....and used two wireless controllers as our extras, with the dongles plugged into the ports inside of the Brain.
  • I ran a wire and a female jack through the back of the Brain, for internet connectivity. I would've liked to have used a wireless adapter-but we are a non-profit group, after all. Gotta think frugally.
  • The Brain's lid came with a handy key locking mechanism, which I repurposed to use a combo lock.
  • I found a cozy spot for the power and eject button panel- right inside one of the holes in the Brain's sides near the back. Finding perfect solutions like that always make me feel like I'm on the right track with a project.
  • Xboxes generate a lot of heat, and the closed compartment of the Brain posed a ventilation problem. So I unhooked the kiosk's dinky original fan which had been used for the plastic dome assembly, and hooked in a bigger, more powerful PC fan mounted to the big hole on the other side of the Brain, reusing the original grating on the outside.
  • It also glows cool blue when it's running. Aesthetics, baby.
  • Everything's plugged into the original power strip, which is still in its original spot on the back of the unit. So there's just one power plug, and one switch to turn on.
  • This is the rewired marquee, complete with custom-printed signage using the BnGC's "The Club" logo. Unfortunately I didn't have access to a larger printer, hence the seams between the sheets of paper.
  • This baby came with plenty of hardware for holding promotional materials....
  • ....including these plastic side shelves, which we keep stocked with free issues of Sports Illustrated For Kids.
  • And there's another decal, replacing the original 3D "G" icon with another BnGC logo.