NES controller uses capacitive touch instead of buttons

Here’s one way to really keep the component count low. [David] developed an NES controller that doesn’t use any buttons. The copper clad has been milled to provide a pad which registers a button push based on capacitance. The board has a SIL header at the top, making it easy to plug into the Arduino board that reads the inputs.

[David] had trouble getting the Arduino pin read functions to respond fast enough for he NES console’s expectations. He ended up using commands to access the ATmega’s peripherals directly in order to achieve the target timing. Speaking of, he did his own sniffing of the communication scheme using a logic analyzer. The results of that work, as well as the board files and code are available at the site linked above. And there’s a demo of the controller used to play Super Mario Bros. in the clip after the break.

This is actually a tangential project using a PCB mill which he’s developing through Kickstarter. This certainly shows that the mills works as designed.  [Read more...]

Ball-in-maze game shows creativity and classic 8-bit sound

[M. Eric Carr] built this a long time ago as his Senior Project for EET480. It’s an electronic version of the ball-in-maze game. We’ve embedded this video after the break for your convenience.

The game has just one input; an accelerometer. If you’re having trouble visualizing the game, it works the same as this Android-based version, but replaces the physical maze and marble with a virtual maze on the graphic LCD screen. This has huge implications. Instead of just recreating the maze on the screen, [Eric] designed a multi-screen world, complete with warp blocks, which adds difficulty to  finding a solution. It also means that multiple different mazes can be played if you get tired of playing the same level.

This game also features music. A separate PIC microcontroller uses PWM to push out the 8-bit sound heard in the video. From the YouTube comments we learned that [Eric] didn’t write the music himself, but we still appreciate the playback quality he achieves with his hardware.

[Read more...]

Complete guide to compiling OpenWRT

Regular reader [MS3FGX] recently wrote a guide to compiling OpenWRT from source. You may be wondering why directions for compiling an open source program warrant this kind of attention. The size and scope of the package make it difficult to traverse the options available to you at each point in the process, but [MS3FGX] adds clarity by discussion as much as possible along the way.

OpenWRT is an open source alternative firmware package that runs on may routers. It started as a way to unlock the potential of the Linksys WRT54G. But the versatility of the user interface, and the accessibility of the Linux kernel made it a must-have for any router. This is part of what has complicated the build process. There are many different architectures supported and you’ve got to configure the package to build for your specific hardware (or risk a bad firmware flash!).

You’ll need some hefty hardware to ease the processing time. The source package is about 300 MB but after compilation the disk usage will reach into the Gigabyte range. [MS3FGX] used a 6-core processor for compilation and it still took over 20 minutes for a bare-bones distribution. No wonder pre-built binaries are the only thing we’ve ever tried. But this is a good way to introduce yourself to the inner workings of the package and might make for a frustrating fun weekend project.

NES controller cannibalized for MP3 player enclosure

We know some folks are very upset by the scrapping on vintage hardware, so let’s all observe a moment of silence for this NES controller.

Now that that’s behind us we can live vicariously through [Burger King Diamond's] project. He polished up the NES controller and repurposed it as an enclosure for a portable MP3 player.

His first step was to remove some of the yellowing of the plastic using Retr0brite. He admits it wasn’t bad to start with but now it’s sparkling like new. Next, he started planning how everything would fit in the case. Luckily the MP3 player operates with one AAA battery which leaves plenty of room.

Just above the A and B buttons you can make out an opening that he cut in the case for the MP3 player’s LCD screen. The bezel from the original case works well for cleaning the rough cut opening. The buttons on the controller have been patched into the controls on the MP3 board, and the opening for the controller’s cable now holds the headphone jack. There’s also a USB port mounted next to it for easy file transfers.

The one thing we would like to see is a rechargeable battery so you don’t need to open the case to top off the power. But all in all this is a fantastic build!

Fix broken buttons on your ASUS computer monitors

One of the perks of writing for Hackaday is that we often find hacks that we’ve been meaning to do ourselves. Here’s one that will let us fix our borked ASUS computer monitor buttons. [Silviu] has the same monitor we do, an ASUS VW202, and had the same problem of stuck buttons. We already cracked ours open and realized that the buttons are not easily replaced (you’ve got to source the right one). We just unstuck the offender and vowed not to press that button again, but [Silviu] actually figured out how to disassemble and repair the PCB mount switches.

As with most consumer electronics these days the worst part of the process is getting the monitor’s case apart. The plastic bezel has little spring tabs all around it that must be gently pried apart. Once the PCB which hosts the buttons was removed, he took the metal housing off of the broken switch. Inside he found that a bit of metal particulate (leftovers from manufacturing?) were causing the problem. A quick cleaning with a cotton swab removed the debris and got the tactile switch working again.

Adding digital game indicators to a Neo Geo arcade cabinet

neogeo

[George] is a Neo Geo aficionado, and among his collection of paraphernalia, he has a MVS-Mini game console. His mini “Multi Video System” is a 2-slot model, meaning that it can hold two game cartridges at a time, which are indicated by plastic cards inserted in the cabinet’s face plate. Instead of swapping those cards out each time he changed cartridges, he thought it would be far cooler to install digital displays instead.

He scoured just about every retail store he could before finding a handful of small 5” digital picture frames that looked to fit the bill. After some careful cabinet modifications he had them wired up and ready for display. The frames don’t hold a ton of pictures, but they do support the use of SD cards. [George] says that he’ll likely just buy a ton of small SD cards, swapping them out whenever he changes games, though over time that might become as tedious as swapping out the plastic cards.

We would love to see [George] take his new digital display up a level, so be sure to share your ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can persuade him to automate things a bit.

Controlling a cute Ikea night light with Android on the cheap

When [trandi]‘s wife saw a cute night light at Ikea, she had to have it. She actually bought several of these for when her husband would inevitably crack one open and start tinkering with the microcontroller inside. The inevitable hack is pretty cool, and also gives us some ideas for interfacing with Android on the cheap.

The build started as an Ikea Spoka night light, an adorable anthropomorphized night light with a squishy silicone skin. Inside the Spoka are a dozen tri-color LEDs that [trandi] can cycle through with the push of a button. After deciding to control the lights inside the Spoka with an Android phone he reached for an IOIO Android breakout board. Fate intervened and [trandi] ended up with a ridiculously cheap Bluetooth modules that provides a simple serial connection to other Bluetooth devices.

The build reuses the blue, red, orange LEDs in the night light but replaces the no-name 8-pin micro with an ATtiny2313. [Trandi] wrote a small Android app to control the color over a Bluetooth serial connection. Check out his demo after the break.

[Read more...]

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