Handy board plays music with an NES controller

[Alex Busman] has been working with an old microcontroller board called the Handy Board. Recently, he figured out how to interface an NES controller to play music. With 8 buttons on an NES controller, [Alex] has control over an entire musical scale, so he demonstrates this in his video by covering the Dr. Mario Theme.

The Handy Board is a microcontroller board originally designed in 1995 for LEGO robots. With a 68HC11 μC running at 2MHz and 32KB of RAM, the Handy Board has been superseded by the LEGO Mindstorms NTX NXT, the Handy Board is thankfully still being supported, and is still a great platform to learn embedded design.

It’s great to see a build on relatively obsolete hardware, especially considering this would be a trivial build with an Arduino. We think it’s great [Alex] is learning the ins and outs of ‘difficult’ hardware – it’s a great way to learn something. Check out the walk though of [Alex]‘s build after the break.


  1. Rob says:

    I learned to program on the Handy Board. It is nice to see one again!

  2. goldscott says:

    Holy shit! I have a couple Handyboards floating around from my college days.

    The Handyboard was not superseded by LEGO Mindstorms, it was developed at MIT to teach first year students. They used LEGOs just because it was easy to construct modular chassis.

  3. Eli says:

    I also learned on the Handy Board.

  4. Ian says:

    OMG. A Handyboard! Oh the memories of 6.270 days.

    I recognized it instantly. Is there an updated version?

  5. Ian says:

    Duh… the LEGO NTX

  6. dcroy says:

    i just repaired about twenty handyboards that are still used in a robotics class

  7. Peter says:

    I hate the handyboard so much. Piece of crap operating system that makes it difficult to write anything for an ISR :(

  8. jbot says:

    Ahem. “NXT”, not “NTX”. Proofing for the lose.

  9. Foiled again! Thank you jbot.

  10. aEx155 says:

    By the way, Lego Mindstorms had a controller before the NXT came out: The Lego RCX.

  11. PJ Allen says:

    Hey, wow, never miss an opportunity to plug “the arduino” even when the project doesn’t use “the arduino” – that’s bold, pure awesomeness!

  12. mschaffer says:

    Wow! I haven’t seen a handyboard in such a long time. It was a good dev. board for quickly hacking 68hc11 stuff.

  13. Stevie says:

    I agree with PJ. What’s the point in the mention of the arduino? It would also have been just as trivial to build it around other hardware. So why specifically and randomly mention the arduino?

  14. pahosler says:

    they get .05 cents every time someone writes arduino in the comments section… duh!

  15. Boricua says:

    Lets write *rduino from now on. LOL

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