My Dome / Environmental Game Pod - 4 years later


Just floating this out there..

Thinking about parting with my Prototype Dome Environmental setup in order to re-arrange the space a little / make it less cramped. I'm pricing it at $2800 obo.. Partial trade for games on my list:

(DK Cabaret, Ms Pac Cabaret, Galaga, Tempest, Ice Cold Beer or Zeke's Peak, Street Fighter II)

I'm also considering just stowing it away for a season and picking it back up as a version-2 enhancement down the road... but where does one store a 60+" Dome? :)  

The backstory was, I left from a Dave & Busters and after playing Mach Storm and Star Wars BattlePod - I got the wild hair to try to build something like it but that would support any HDMI input source.  

The dome was formed and cut to my specifications by SSD Plastics and Design in Denver, CO.


Mach Storm and The Star Wars Battle Pods both use an NEC NP-PE401H 4000 Lumen 1080p projector.  They use direct-projection through what is essentially a planetarium fisheye lens.  The design  is nice because it puts the projection booth above the player and frees the floor of the cabinet from obstructions.    The downside is that a Hemistar 180degree planetarium lens starts at about USD$8500.  The lens reduces the brightness by a factor of ~40% and limits the projectable area.    This means the projector is essentially 2400 lumen and the resolution is downscaled to 720p.


My dome operates off of reflected-projection.   The wonderful concept of light traveling directionally in vectors means that if you'd like to project onto a 180degree surface, you can bounce the light off of a 180 degree reflective curve.   The light bends and reflects back in proportion to the angles and VOILA! - science is awesome.

Upsides to this:

  • Very little reduction in light intensity

  • Very little reduction in projected size

  • Cost. 180 degree mirrors are cheaper than planetarium fisheye lenses.

Downsides to this:

  • Mirror and Light at your feet.

  • You can't sit with your knees closed without making leg-shadow-puppets in the projector reflection.

  • Image quality is directly related to mirror cleanliness, especially on white scenes

More about my dome

The seat, is from a Mercedes sports car, the enclosure was hand built. Prototype-level woodworking, not spit-and-polish of a commercial product but about as good as most arcade cabinets we encounter in this hobby.

A couple videos:

Hydro Thunder Gameplay Example

High Res Photo Gallery:

Game Systems / Interior Capability



Optoma 3D 1080p 3200 Lumen Projector
Klipsch ProMedia THX Speaker System
Wii U
xBox 360
Spare Circular Mirrors
Experimental Lens (for direct projection prototype, future enhancement)

Seeing the World through a GoPro


If you've ever been to an IMAX, you know somethings translate well to the dome distortion and other things: not so much. 180degree dome distortion works great for flight-type applications, especially in cases where the horizon is expected to curve.    Space-stuff is awesome.   Walk-around-type 1st or third person games are hit-or-miss.

I, umm.. piloted a drone once from inside the dome and that was... surreal.

Logistics and Qualification


I've observed that folks that are prone to motion sickness can't last in the dome for very long.  On the other hand, I've seen kids disappear into the dome for hours on end.   If you are prone to motion sickness, this probably isn't for you.

This is not a completely novice ownership experience.    It measures about 60" deep by 75" wide.