Monday, July 11, 2011

Duct Tape DDR...Wait, what?

Back when I was in college, I made a modification to one of my DDR dance pads.  The top side was starting to rip, and I figured I'd go for the whole enchilada and give the entire dance pad a makeover.  This little duct tape mod took me about 3 hours to complete, and looked great when it was done.  That dance pad has since bit the dust, but I kept the pictures and reference notes I took, just in case.  Well, now is the time to resurrect this bad boy and pass along what I learned.

  I had this awesome DDR dance pad for several years.  It went through a ton of abuse and stuff like that, and it eventually ripped on the down and right arrows.

You see what I mean.  I patched it up with some duct tape, but that stuff started to peel and stick to my feet while playing.  

Yeah, I removed a decent amount of tape that was piled up on the down arrow:

Yuck.  That's not aesthetically pleasing at all.  So, I set about doing up a new cover on my dance pad using...

Duct Tape!!!

I also took the time to record my exploits and show the process.  Here's what I did.

You'll need:

Duct Tape.  This should be obvious.  I recommend picking up both silver and black at a bare minimum.  The red and blue tapes came from a surplus store in my area.  They're relatively easy to find, but it's fun to experiment.

Scissors.  This is very handy.  You'll see why later.

A way to test your dance pad as you go.  This is necessary later on in the process.  I used a playstation controller to usb adapter connected to my laptop.  I use it for stepmania as well, so I didn't shell out $15 for one project.  You cold also use a console with a ddr mix running, or something that will recognize each button press independently.

And, of course, an mp3/music player loaded up with your favorite DDR songs ;-)

The Base Layer

Start with a base layer.  The tape I used was 3 1/2 inches wide.  It's a good idea to avoid overlap when you're working, but you don't want to leave gaps in between the strips.

When you're laying down the tape, use the scissors to cut the tape instead of ripping it.  I would assume this goes without saying, but you get a cleaner edge and you're less likely to find your masterpiece fraying and peeling in a few years.

At this point, just work your way across the dance pad, using the scissors to cut the tape to conform to the curves/angles of the pad.

The corners are the toughest part to complete well.  It took a lot of small cuts and measurements to get it flush with the edges of the stitching.  Take your time, and you'll get it done.

By the time the base layer is complete, your dance pad should look like this:

The next phase in this project requires a bit of trial and error.  Remember that usb adapter I used?  I had to figure out where each of the sensors was.  That's where this little device came in handy.  Since each button on the dance pad was mapped to a different game pad button, the diagnostic in windows came in handy when I needed to figure out where each "zone" of the dance pad ended.  If it helps, use a graphite pencil to trace roughly where each zone changes.  Then, apply silver duct tape in the areas you don't want to see black.

It's just not a DDR pad without the trademark red and blue arrows.  I traced out a large arrow on a piece of paper, then started lining up strips of blue duct tape.  After I had the size I wanted, I cut the blob of tape into the shape I wanted.  Then I attached it to the black area of the dance pad.

As for the Start and Select buttons, I used two rectangles of red and blue tape on the upper parts of the dance pad.  Then I used a permanent marker to write start and select on the respective buttons.

The Finished Product

When it's all done, it should look something like this:

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