Atari 2600 Controller Now Controls CNC Plasma Cutter

When using any CNC machine the system has to understand where the part to be machined is physically located. This is most commonly done by jogging the tool to a position relative to the part and then indicating to the controller that the tool is indeed at that position. Hobby CNC enthusiasts [Jeremy] and [Yakob] wanted an easy, convenient (and even fun) way to zero their plasma cutter. They decided to make a wireless jog pendant capable of moving and zeroing their machine….. and it’s built into a retro game controller!

The housing is a wireless Atari 2600 controller. Most of the innards were taken out and replaced with a BlueFruit EZ-Key module that takes input signals from the stock joystick and button switches and, in turn, emulates a Bluetooth keyboard signal that is understood by a PC. Most PC-based CNC Control Software’s have keyboard shortcuts for certain functions. This project takes advantage by using those available keyboard shortcuts by mapping individual pin inputs to specific keyboard key presses.

The X and Y axes are controlled by pushing the joystick in the appropriate direction. Pressing the ‘fire’ button zeros the axis. Even though the remote is working now, these two guys want to add a rotary encoder so that they can make minor Z axis height adjustments on the fly since sometimes the metal they are plasma cutting isn’t completely flat.

If you’re interested in making CNC Pendants out of old tech, check out this once-was TV remote.

Announcing Adafruit’s Bluefruit

adafruit_2098

You always meet the most interesting people wandering around Maker Faire, but by far the most interesting was Hackaday’s founder, [Phil Torrone] and bubblegum-haired compatriot [Limor] from Adafruit. They were out in full force checking out the sights and gave us the scoop on a new piece of hardware they’re releasing called Bluefruit.

Bluefruit is a very tiny and very cheap Bluetooth module breakout board that allows anyone to take 12 digital inputs and turn them into a Bluetooth HID device. If you’re planning a portable battery-powered arcade controller, just plug in a Bluefruit, set up your keypresses in your software, and rock out.

On board the Blufruit are an FTDI programming connector, 12 input pins, a few power pins, a custom FCC and CE certified CSR Bluetooth module, and that’s about it. If you’re looking for a simple GPIO to Bluetooth adapter without an overwrought Arduino setup, this is the best solution we’ve seen by far. Adafruit is also rocking their own custom firmware for the device, so this will be extremely hacker-friendly.

The price will be $20 and should be available in the Adafruit store in a bit. If you’re looking for an easy way to put a Bluetooth HID controller in your next project, this is the one.

Pictures of the Bluefruit and Adafruit crew below.

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