Gaming’s newest accessory: headbands

These aren’t terrorists, they’re electrical engineering students. For their final project they developed a headband and rifle input system for the NES. The controllers send data to a laptop which then maps out the inputs to NES controller commands and sends them to an original NES console, no emulation here.

The controllers in the headband and rifle are Firefly sensor network nodes. Originally, [Kevin] and [Evan] tried using accelerometers for motion information but found the data do be unreliable. After an upgrade to gyroscope modules the interface is much more responsive, as seen about 3:50 into the video after the break. We like seeing motion controller hacks and we appreciate the choice of a classic system (and lesser known game title). This really makes it a whole different game.

Comments

  1. JohnnyD says:

    There’s been at least one typo in the last three or four articles. I like reading everything, but I’m a stickler for grammar.

  2. Icarus says:

    overkill?
    pain in the neck?

    I don’t think Nintendo will hire them…

  3. biozz says:

    … wooooooow

    massive overkill

    im not going to buy one any time soon

  4. monkeyslayer56 says:

    “data DO be unreliable”?… so what if i failed english but that doesn’t sound quite right…

  5. MS3FGX says:

    That looks like it is painfully inaccurate. Head tilting for movement is already a terrible idea, but the gun looked to only have a vague influence over the reticle.

    I guess interfacing the proven technology of the Wii remote with an NES wouldn’t have been worthy of the project?

  6. WhiteGoblin says:

    Use to rock that game for hours! Still have my cart, box, and manual!

  7. bwmetz says:

    Looks like a good school project. Anyone know if Cabal originally supported the NES light gun though? Just wondering since the 3rd party wireless gun sold for the original NES would have solved half of their project.

    I’m surprised that an accelerometer was too inaccurate for the side to side motion. Perhaps more tweaking of the algorithm that converted measured acceleration to degree of movement on the screen? Or perhaps actually tracking body movement from side-to-side?

    Regarding reticle comment above…perhaps enhance by using Wiimote on the gun?

  8. eric says:

    @JohnnyD, If there is a spelling error or typo, you can be certain it’s an article by Mike Szczys.

  9. Evan says:

    Hey, it’s Evan here (the bearded guy :D) I have to give serious thanks to Kevin, he came up with the idea and really pushed us to make it awesome.

    To the people who’ve criticized the accuracy of the controller, you’re right to. It was a bit crazy, we didn’t have an integrating gyroscope, were required to use the Firefly, and didn’t have nearly enough time (or budget, to do it right :P) Still, as an awesome hack? Check. Tons of work put into it? Double check. Ridiculously awesome to watch people try to play? More checks than you can imagine :D

    So Kevin, if you ever check out these comments, I loved working with you all semester. Taking ESE 350 was definitely the right decision :)

    Oh, and to all the hackaday people who see a typo and feel the need to comment on that, thereby missing the sheer awesomeness of this project? NO ONE CARES XD *Hugs for all*

  10. Now a hack to let the Zapper work on a LCD TV and it would be something usefull =)

  11. strider_mt2k says:

    A prepaid wireless ad called: You guys can be in the next commercial.

  12. Kevin says:

    Hey all, this is Kevin (the non-bearded dude from the picture haha).

    I echo everything Evan mentioned about the accuracy of our system. For those who have asked why we didn’t use the Wiimote for this project, well that would involve hacking the actual game code of Cabal to support absolute positioning of the rifle’s crosshair. Otherwise, the best we would have been able to accomplish with the Wiimote is about what we ended up getting by creating our own controller system (moving Wiimote virtually “presses” corresponding direction on the dpad and stops when you stop moving the Wiimote). Plus, hacking Cabal’s game code wouldn’t let our system work with all games on the console.

    In response to bwmetz’s comment, unfortunately no, Cabal does not support the NES Zapper. That’s one of the reasons we pursued this project. It just seemed obvious to us that a great shooter game like Cabal should work with some sort of rifle controller.

    In response to Wouter Groenewold’s comment, at one point we actually talked about changing the project to finding a solution to getting the NES Zapper to work with newer televisions, but decided against it because of our time/resource constraints. :)

    And Evan, dude, thanks so much for taking ESE 350 with me. Working with you was so much fun, and I know there’s no way the project would have turned out so awesome if you hadn’t been my partner.

  13. Hey, Kevin.

    The firefly sensor system would be perfect for a project I’m starting.

    Are the specs (schematics and/or code) available anywhere, or can it be purchased anywhere?

  14. yeababy says:

    “The controllers send data to a laptop which then maps out the inputs to NES controller commands and sends them to an original NES console, no emulation here.”

    the controller presses are emulated :P

  15. bwmetz says:

    Kevin & Evan,
    Forgot to say good job in my first post…too busy thinking about digging my wireless NES gun out of storage and finding a use for my spare wiimote. Also, I thought I’d seen all the NES shooters but Cabal was new to me. Anyway, keep on hacking.

    B

  16. Kevin says:

    Thanks bwmetz! :)

    @Rajstennaj Barrabas: Source code and schematics for the Firefly are available at http://www.nanork.org/wiki/FireFly (click on datasheet), but they’re not being manufactured for the public right now. You can do everything the Firefly does with other platforms too, so it might not be the best choice for a new project.

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