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Keyboard Spoofs 4 NES Controllers for Chiptune Goodness

NES-keyboard

This toy keyboard is being used to play music on an NES. As you probably already know, the hardware inside those original controllers was dead simple. They’re just a parallel to serial shift register that reads from all of the keys. To get this keyboard up and running [heavyw8bit] simply mounted eight chips inside the gutted toy, connecting two of them to the keyboard keys, and the rest to the array of push buttons he added to the right.

So what’s the point of using this as a quadruple game controller? Are you expecting to see what a full speed-run of Contra looks like using this as the controls? That’s not the point at all. This becomes a musician-friendly frontend for the NES synthesizer ROM called NESK-1. [heavyw8bit] wrote the game/program in order to allow you to use the original console hardware to play all of the sounds you know and love. Our favorite is the arpeggio example heard at about 2:35 into the clip after the break.

Comments

  1. BiOzZ says:

    I love me some chiptunes!
    nice little hack!

  2. potatoman412 says:

    Interesting read and doable project for this winter. Nice work, heavyw8bit :) Love some chiptunes and arpeggiator is always wonderful on these old boxen. Kudos!!!

  3. OMFG…drooling…

  4. Nice work.

  5. andarb says:

    Reminds me of a cheapo plastic laser sword toy I had as a kid, had some very similar sounds, I think the same soundboard was used in a variety of laser zappers and other toys from the time. I didn’t actually play that much NES outside of Mario Bros/Duck Hunt.

  6. valin says:

    I got a chip maestro through their kickstarter. It is a midi synth cartridge so you can play your NES with a keyboard. It seems like this has a similar effect.

  7. Galane says:

    The four octave switches could be connected to keys on a longer keyboard so that they wouldn’t need to be manually switched. The other functions could be controlled by foot pedals.

    Sounds like a project for an old and unloved single keyboard electronic organ, or use a pair of Nintendos to connect up to a dual keyboard organ. Hello, retrogamer themed Las Vegas wedding chapel…

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