Using an NES controller on an Android phone

[Sk3tch] rigged up a way to use an original NES controller with Android. He bought the controller and a breakout board for it at DEFCON. By combining the controller, an Arduino, and a blueSMIRF BlueTooth module the controller can be used as a keyboard on his Android device. In the video after the break he demonstrates pairing the devices and playing Super Mario Bros. 3 in an emulator.

He calls this Alpha quality but it certainly looks like it works well. In the beta version we’d love to see all of the extra electronics inside the controller case like those USB mods.

20 thoughts on “Using an NES controller on an Android phone

  1. This is really cool. Would be nice to find a way to make this a smaller blue tooth device that could fit in your pocket.

  2. There is one thing that absolutely baffles me when I see projects like this. The people doing them are obviously quite intelligent, but they can’t improvise a freakin tripod to show off their work? Sorry, but it just gets to me…

    Other than that, do want, muchly. I should swing by my moms place and pick up my old NES and have a night of nostalgia.

  3. A method that would be alot cheaper would be something along the lines of taking apart a usb keyboard and wiring it to some keys. Then connect it to a micro usb wire. Then all you would have to do is invoke host mode (for the droid http://www.tombom.co.uk/blog/?p=124) and the keyboard would automatically be recognized.

  4. NOICE!!

    I can’t get crap for emulators for my WinMo phone, which has more than the the cajones to run ‘em.
    (i920 Omnia 2)

    Thank GHOD this stuff is gonna be ripe and ready by the time I upgrade to Android.

    Well done sir!
    And yeah, nice juggling the controller and camera.

    Rock and roll!! :p

  5. @MrBishop

    I think his “SoftKeyboard” app gets around the fact that you have have access to the RFCOMM layer from userland in android.. you can’t install profiles etc without root access. If I’m guessing right, I’d have to have a look at his code to be sure, most bluetooth serial modules should work. For example this module on ebay — http://tiny.cc/7x0ia

    Strap a small AVR to it’s back and away you go ;).

  6. I have been planning to do this exact same thing for a while now, but other projects have taken precedence and somebody has obviously beat me to it :\

    I have an SNES controller (repros can be had cheap online) because it has more buttons (X Y shoulders) that would benefit snes/sega/psx emulators greatly. I was using an RN41 bluetooth module, figuring SPP was more than sufficient to emulate key presses. Then all it needs is an integrated controller (teensy would also give easy usb-plugin dual function) or just an AVR to handle the translation. Then a carefully sized lipo pack plus a small charger circuit… that could charge via usb. Would fit nicely tucked into the controller, just haven’t had the time to finish putting it together yet… seems business related projects tend to take over my time for fun things like this.

    to all of the droid owners who are eyeballing sk3tch’s contoller hack to finally relieve them from the crappy keyboard, check out the Game Gripper. As soon as I got mine in the mail, it sent the cumbersome bluetooth controller idea right out the window….

  7. Oh hell yeah. There seems to a substantial input delay. For example you’ll hear the click of a button, and somewhere around a few hundred milliseconds later the familiar “boing” jump sound is heard from the game. Maybe the controller, maybe the emulator?

    Also, a few weeks ago I put together a NES controller to PS2 keyboard interface for use with MAME. The characters you choose to represent buttons on the NES controller are eerily similar. S for start, E for select, etc eh?

  8. This is truly amazing, a retro controller on a modern phone, I have seen the Wiimote hack already , and am looking forward to the HD version of this video (maybe even filmed properly) lol

    In seriousness though… WELL DONE, very clever !

  9. CobaltController does this with Wiimotes and PS3 controllers on Windows Mobile. The author has plans to port it to Android.

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