If you’re an automotive enthusiast of a certain age, you probably owned a Tomy Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard toy at one point. The horrible grating sound of its motor is very likely a direct flight back to nostalgiaville, and who can blame you? The thing was rad. But what if someone made it radder?
Enter Circuitbeard, an electronics hacker who, among other things, has turned a Tomy Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard into a miniature arcade version of Sega’s legendary racing game, OutRun. The results are even more incredible than you might think.
The process of transformation begins with a small TFT screen and a Raspberry Pi “Picade” controller. It goes way off the rails from there. For example, a slide-type potentiometer was used to make the steering wheel work as an analog input. This takes the wheel’s rotational movement and turns it into a signal that the Picade can understand.
Controlling the throttle is handled by the little plastic gearshift on the side. This required more hack engineering with rubberbands, hot glue and micro switches. Apparently, getting it to work reliably took several iterations. The car’s in-game speed is displayed on the dash, as is engine speed. The fuel gauge is used to indicate the remaining stage time. There’s even a turbo light that turns on when you’ve hit the highest gear.
The best part is that except for the power input on the side, the toy looks almost totally stock and original. Things like volume control switches have been hidden inside the old battery compartment to keep them from spoiling the looks. The time and effort needed to make this lil’ guy work must be staggering. Luckily, you don’t have to do any of that. You can just watch this YouTube video of it working in all its red plastic glory.