Multicopters and their MultiWii Beginnings

With more than five years down the road in this successful hack, [Alexinparis] and his pioneering Nintendo controller hack have been taking eager enthusiasts to the skies with homebrew multicopters armed with MultiWii firmware.

The MultiWii firmware, like most other glorious moments that gloss these pages, was as a hack, and a darn good one. By harvesting the (I²C-based) accel-gyro sensor package in a Nintendo Wii MotionPlus, [Alexinparis] developed control firmware for an Arduino Pro Mini, and, thus: the MultiWii Controller Board was born. With a successful WiiMotion Plus pcb extraction, an Arduino Pro Mini, and some help from the forums, the dedicated hobbyist could build their own flying platform with customizable firmware enabling bi, tri, quad, hex, octo, Y6, and Y4 propeller configurations.

With a working flight controller, [Alexinparis] sent his firmware skyward in a tricopter built from scratch. For a light-but-sturdy shell, he opted for a lost-foam cast hull made from fiberglass and carbon fiber tow. This hull houses most of the electronics safely inside the hollow shell while maintaining the strength to sustain heavy blows from crashes. (The version shown above features additional carbon fiber reinforcement in the center.)

multiwiiLostFoammultiwiiLostFoamHousingmultiwiiDone

More than five years later, MultiWii is a mature open-source project with firmware and wiki under constant update. If you’ve ever considered getting started with multicopters, this project stands as a tested-and-tried road to success. In fact, even RC vendor HobbyKing offers low-cost Multiwii PCBs compatible with the firmware. For more details on the project’s humble beginnings, head on over to the RC Groups thread and followup documentation thread.

We’ve seen MultiWii countless times in the past as the firmware in numerous multicopter builds. It’s about time we give [Alexinparis] some well-deserved credit for paving the way.

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Turning A Classic NES Controller Into a Bluetooth Controller

[Pietronet] is like many of us in that he enjoys playing some classic console video games from time to time. He usually plays them on his PC using a Wiimote as a controller. The Wiimote has most of the classic buttons in a comfortable configuration. Plus, it’s got Bluetooth built-in, which makes it easy to pair up to your PC. [Pietronet] decided to take it a step further, though. He managed to cram all of the guts from a Wiimote inside of the original NES controller for a more authentic feel.

The first step was to crack open the Wiimote and locate pads for each button. Once they were located, [Pietronet] used a Dremel to cut the board into a smaller size. He cut off part of the circuit board that contained the directional pad as well as the connector for the nunchuck. Next he had to solder very thin wires to each of the button pads he located earlier.

The original NES controller has a very limited number of buttons, and [Pietronet] wanted to modify the original controller as little as possible. Therefore, he attached a magnetic reed switch to the Wiimote’s sync button. This way if he ever needs to sync the Wiimote to a new console, he can do it by holding a magnet in the right place. This is a function that isn’t often used, so the inconvenience should be negligible.

The next step was to connect the buttons from the original NES controller up to the wires that were added to the Wiimote. [Pietronet] left the original circuit board mostly intact. He did have to cut a small chunk of it away in order to make room for two AAA batteries, but this didn’t affect the functionality of the controller.

The inside of the NES controller had to be cleaned out of various standoffs and plastic bits to make room for all of the extra components. The Wiimote has an LED to indicate that the controller is connected properly. [Pietronet] soldered a red SMD LED in its place on the end of two thin wires. This LED was then placed on the bottom left side of the directional pad. It’s visible through a translucent filter. This allows [Pietronet] to see when the NES controller is synced up properly.

The case fits back together and everything is held in place. The result is what looks and feels like a classic NES controller, only this one has Bluetooth connectivity and a vibration motor. Check out the video demonstration below to get an idea of what it looks like in use. Continue reading “Turning A Classic NES Controller Into a Bluetooth Controller”

Using The Wii U Controller With Everything

It’s been just a bit over a year since the Wii U was released along with the extremely impressive Wii U controller. With a D-pad, analog sticks, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, camera and 6.2 inch touchscreen, this controller is ripe for a million and one projects ranging from FPV quadcopters and robots to things we can’t even think of yet. At this year’s Chaos Communication Congress, [booto], [delroth], and [shuffle2] demonstrated how they cracked open the Wii U controller’s encryption allowing for Wii U controller ’emulation’ and giving us full documentation on how the whole thing works.

The guys started on their reverse engineering journey by dumping all the flash chips found on the controller’s board. In those binary blobs, they found Nintendo used a truly ingenious way of obfuscating the WiFi keys used to connect the controller to the Wii: rotate left by three. To be fair to Nintendo engineers, it was secure until someone figured it out.

Connecting the controller to a PC over WiFi is only half the battle, though. Initial information from the Wii U launch suggested Nintendo used Miracast for all the I/O between the controller and the console. This isn’t the case; instead the video, audio, camera, and button input are non-standard but very simple protocols. The hardest to break into was the video display for the touchscreen, but the guys discovered it’s pretty much H.264. After getting around some Nintendo weirdness, it’s possible to display video on the controller.

The guys have put together a small, extremely alpha library that comes with all the demos, documentation, and reverse engineering information. There’s a large wish list of what this library should include, but now that the information is public, it might be the time to pick up a Wii U.

Video of the talk below, here’s the presentation slides, and a demo of emulating a Wii U game pad on a PC.

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Wiimote Controlled RPi Robot

Wiimote RPi Robot

[Brian] has brought together a powerful collection of hardware to build a robot. The end goal is to have a robot that’s controlled by a Wiimote.

The Wiimote communicates over Bluetooth with a Raspberry Pi, which is running a Python script. This script uses the CWiid Python module to communicate with the controller, and [Brian] has detailed instructions on getting the Wiimote working with a RPi. The RPi controls an ATmega based development board over SPI, which drives an h-bridge to control the two DC motors that move the robot.

[Brian]’s code for this could be helpful for anyone looking to control their RPi with a Wiimote. Since Wiimotes and Bluetooth dongles are fairly cheap nowadays, this is a great way to drop in wireless control to any RPi project, or even to control your media center from the couch.

After the break, check out a video of the build in action

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Turning a Game Boy into an Android gamepad

gameboy

[Chad] has been messing around with emulators on his phone, but as anyone with a smart phone knows, even the most advanced touchscreen controls are terrible. Wanting something that pays tribute to the classic systems he was emulating, he decided to turn a classic old school brick Game Boy into an Android gamepad.

After gutting an old DMG-01, [Chad] set to work turning the D-pad and buttons in the Game Boy into something his Galaxy Nexus could understand. He chose a Bluetooth connection to provide input for his emulators, with the hardware generously donated from a Nintendo Wiimote.

The Game Boy PCB was cut up and a few leads attached to the Wiimote PCB. After modifying the case to include space for the Wiimote and a cell phone mount, [Chad] had a functional game pad, perfect for his adventures in emulation.

You can see [Chad]’s demo of his game pad after the break,

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One console to rule them all

[Bacteria] retro console modder extraordinaire, is back at it with a rather massive project. “Unity”(originally Dubbed Alpha Omega), this will be a single unit that can play games from 20 different console systems. It will run from one power supply, have one video output, and strangely enough, one controller.

[Chris Downing] was nice enough to tip us off to a video of the Unity controller in action.  The controller isn’t quite as bulky as we would have assumed with the extensive list of consoles it has to support, but that could be, in part, due to the fact that you actually swap out the brains for the controller for each system’s compatibility.

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Hide your repeater and gain a radio

[Bradley]’s workplace was recently put into a position where they needed to install a WIFI network to operate some wireless barcode scanners, which was left open for anyone to connect to. Management thought that the people in the shop, who didn’t really need internet, would get less work done if they had access to it. So they just simply stuck the access point as far away as they could. Problem with that theory is that the signal still reaches a little bit where they don’t want it, and people in the shop really want access, so a repeater is needed.

Of course this repeater cant be just sitting out in the open. so [Bradley] decided to hide the it inside of an old radio. Searching around he finally settled on a 10$ ebay radio from the 1980’s, which is large enough to hold the guts of a WRT54G. The routers AC adapter was popped open and wired into the AC input of the radio, the main board and antennas were epoxied to the back. Once everything is buttoned back up you’re left with a hidden repeater, and a fully functional radio.

Now hopefully none of his bosses read his blog!