External pinball controls for an Android tablet


This hack, which adds external flipper controls to Android pinball, is a great way to cut your teeth at Android hardware hacking.

[Ruben] decided to go with the TI Launchpad for this project. The MSP430 dev board offers serial communications via a USB connection, but it’s not quite as easy as just finding the right cable. His tablet does support USB On the Go (OTG), but the board identifies itself as an ACM device which needs to be handled differently. In order to get the tablet talking to the Launchpad he compiled a CDC_ACM module for the Linux underpinnings that make up every Android OS. In this case the module is tailored for the Allwinner A10 chip inside his model of tablet, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt his guide for other processors.

Of course you could go a different route and use Bluetooth for connectivity. We’ve seen several gaming peripherals that use this technique with Android devices.


  1. James Arnett says:

    How difficult is this to accomplish? I am an aspiring Software Engineer, meaning I am in the beginning stages of school, I am just curious?

  2. mike says:

    As a veteran in this industry for 30 years, follow vonskippy’s advice. Start with something that works, understand how it works, improve/customize it, then make your own. It’s challeging at first, but easier as time goes on and you can create amazing stuff.

  3. supershwa says:

    I’m with vonskippy and mike — if you dive in head first, make sure you dive into other folks’ functional projects (software OR hardware related) and learn to understand the work. Also, hang out in forums (I still like IRC for stuff like this) and ask the veterans questions…most will help unless/until you frustrate them!

  4. marcus says:

    very nice hack!

    can I have your modified pinball source?
    i also want to have a try.


  5. cantido says:

    >he compiled a CDC_ACM module for the Linux underpinnings
    >that make up every Android OS.

    This isn’t needed for any device that has usb host (and the android build isn’t broken..)


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