The DDR Pad is Alive!

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The recent bad weather here in Illinois has been no fun. It is too cold and too snowy to go outside very much, and we have a car stuck on top of a block ice in the parking lot. The university canceled classes one day last week due to the snow, which is a very rare event here.

All of this has been making us a little stir crazy. Probably as a result of this, last week I was struck by a sudden desire to fix the DDR Pad.

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It’s been years since I last mentioned the DDR Pad on this blog. I built it initially in 2001, during my first year in college, so that I and my friends could enjoy some arcade-style Dance Dance Revolution in the convenience of our dorm (and not have to pay $0.75 for each play).

I built it like a rock so that it could withstand the continuous beatings that a building full of college students was sure to inflict upon it. As a result it also weighed as much as a large rock.

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Being the trusty DDR Pad, initially it did its job well, registering millions of footsteps with only infrequent repairs. Thousands of songs were danced to on the DDR Pad.

Over time though, things began breaking more frequently. Being built to be extremely durable also meant that repairs to the DDR Pad were cumbersome. I began to tire of the frequent repairs, and ultimately the DDR Pad fell into disrepair, collecting dust in the garage.

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Sporadically over the years I have pulled the DDR Pad out and tried to get it working again. But always my efforts to repair it were half-hearted. Unfortunately, half-hearted repairs lead to only a semi-functional pad, and playing DDR without a well-functioning pad is very frustrating. The DDR Pad would usually head back into the closet after only a few songs.

That is, until last week. For the first time in almost 10 years, I had the desire to fix the DDR Pad. And, I decided it was time to go all the way.

Over the course of the next few days I gutted the entire inside of the pad. I rebuilt all the buttons, and rewired everything. (I have duct tape on the buttons to make them more durable, hopefully.) Catherine helped me put in some new, bright, arrow graphics, because the old ones were dirty and faded. I finished it all off by polishing the grayed steel across the face of the pad to a beautiful shine.

The end result? The DDR Pad is alive! It is back in all its DDRing glory. Ten years after its birth, it has been resurrected. It’s a miracle!

Post Script:

The DDR Pad was initially built as a PlayStation 1 controller. I still have a PlayStation that is functioning, as well as DDR CDs, but there is a much better option available today: Stepmania. Stepmania is a DDR like computer game with a large community of enthusiasts who are making their own songs and dances for the game. I bought a PlayStation-to-USB adapter on Amazon.com, and we are now DDRing with every DDR song ever produced, all on our computer.

Post Post Script:

I made a video about the pad back in 2006, featuring pictures of Catherine dancing in an Albanian flag shirt. I’m embedding it here for a trip down memory lane:

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