In fact the RaspPi is not necessarily the best platform to base a box on as it's interfaces (GPIO) to the outside world require at lot of work (i.e. there is no protection, no ADC, etc). The Arduino or Picaxe can be better starting points.
However it is VERY cheap and it's potential for more clever boxes (e.g. networked scoring, video recording) is boundless.
Not sure a Pi would be up to the critical timing either. However if the people behind VSM released an API for their device (or someone reverse engineered it) then it could be done.
Originally Posted by neevel
IIRC, the stipulation for batteries was made way back when, for many potential host cities around the world, a clean (no spikes or brown-outs), reliable mains supply was not something that could be assumed. Car batteries were specified because they were a standard type that would almost certainly be available in any country.
I seem to remember that there was also the risk of damaged mains cables and metal pistes causing big problems.
I've thought a fair bit about a Pi based box, timing shouldn't be a huge issue as I seem to remember it has a pretty fast clock. I agree that the interface would require a bit of work, although maybe not so much.
I have also thought, a bit more seriously, about using some kind of FPGA board. Not as cheap commercially but as they are frequently pretty much given away to universities we have a fair few hanging about in work.