An XBMC controller built for Grandma

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Is your grandmother cool enough to use XBMC? Maybe it’s a testament to the functionality of the wildly popular home entertainment suite rather than the hipness of your elders. But indeed, [Brian's] grandmother is an XBMC user who needed a controller with larger buttons to accommodate her. This is what he built. He sent us a set of photos and a description of the build, both of which you can see below. He was inspired to get in touch after reading about the custom controller which [Caleb] has been working on for [Thomas].

[Brian] didn’t get bogged down with electronics. He went with the simple, cheap, and popular solution of gutting a wireless keyboard. After tracing out the keys he needed he got rid of everything except the PCB. A wiring harness was crafted by soldering jumper wires to the PCB traces and terminating them with crimping slide connectors. The arcade buttons he used have terminals for the connectors which will make it simple to mate the electronics with the mechanics.

The enclosure is a little wooden hobby box. It originally had a lid with a mirror. [Brian] broke open the lid’s frame to replace it with a thin piece of plywood which hosts the buttons. Inside you’ll find a battery power source. These keyboards last a long time on one set of batteries so he just needs to remember to preemptively replace them from time to time. The finishing touch was to add decals so that granny can figure out what each button does.

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Life sized Katamari Damacy ball controls game but isn’t sticky

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If you haven’t ever heard of Katamari Damacy we highly recommend you unite a copy of the game with that PlayStation 2 console that’s been collecting dust and then kiss the rest of your summer goodbye. The quirky game, driven by remarkably catchy background music (Na Naaaaah na na…), revolves around a ball that attracts objects of every kind to it. As you accumulate more stuff the ball goes from the size of a mouse to that of a house and then some. Perhaps the biggest appeal of the game is playing it with groups of people and that’s where this hack hits the mark. It brings the game outdoors to a festival in London with video projected on a wall and this life-sized ball as the controller.

The project uses the same electronics laid out by the original work coming out of NYC Resistor back in 2009. That project originally wanted to use a 36″ yoga ball but they couldn’t quite hit the mark. This attempt did make it happen. The ball was decorated in the style of the game (also note the presenters are in costume). Guts from an optical mouse detect the motion. This is processed by an Arduino board which then uses a digital potentiometer to mimic the joystick movements on a PS2 controller.

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Build a waterproof music controller on the cheap

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[Aaron] wrote in to show off the waterproof music controller (translated) he just finished building. He uses it in the shower — which makes us wonder how long he’s spending in there. We could also see it being useful by the pool, on the beach, or anywhere else that you need a cheap and easy control system.

His computer plays tunes while he’s getting ready for the day. This means he was able to use an inexpensive wireless keyboard for control. The donor keyboard has dedicated music control keys which he carefully traced to the PCB before removing the flexible sheets that detect key presses. Next he found a water tight food container and sized his protoboard to fit. You can see his button layout above. Holes were cut in the lid of the container, with a plastic membrane glued on the underside. This will keep the water out while still allowing him to actuate the momentary push switches.

Most mobile devices will work with wireless keyboards. If your car is nearby just hook your phone to the stereo and control it with this rather than building a dedicated beach stereo system.

One game controller connects to many consoles

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[Dave Nunez] wanted arcade quality controls when gaming at home. The problem was he couldn’t decide on just one console to target with his build, so he targeted them all. What you see above is a single controller that connects to many different gaming rigs.

He took a simple-is-best approach, keeping the main goal of high-quality inputs at the forefront. To start, he built the face plate out of thick MDF to ensure it wouldn’t flex or bounce as he mashed the buttons. To keep the electronics as simple as possible he soldered connections to actual controller PCBs (well, reproductions of controllers), breaking each out to a separate DB9 connector on the back of the case. These connectors interface with one of the three adapter cables seen to the right. This lets the controller work with NES, SNES, and an Atari 2600 system.

To pull the enclosure together [Dave] designed the rounded corner pieces and cut them out with a CNC mill. These connect with flat MDF to make up the sides. To give it that professional look he filled the joints with Bondo and sanded them smooth before painting.

Karma Controller makes Reddit a game

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[Will] likes Reddit so much he built this dedicated controller that lets him play the social website like a video game.

He calls it he Karma Controller. In this case, ‘Karma’ refers to ability to accumulate a large number of net up-votes on a Reddit post. The device features seven buttons which are all it takes to up and down vote, navigate up and down on the Reddit listings, toggle images, as well as open and close new tabs for the comments section. We’re wondering if it allows you to follow a link to the post source too?

One of the reasons that we’re featuring this is that it’s only [Will's] second electronics project. If you’re still reluctant to get your hands dirty we hope this acts as inspiration. He started by building the first version on a hunk of protoboard. The Digispark microcontroller seen at the top reads from his button network and communicates with the computer via USB. Once the design was proven he had some help etching this circuit board which is version 2. He shows it off in the clip after the jump.

If you just want some buttons for voting you should take a look at this project which includes a 3D printed enclosure and button covers.

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Atari Combo Controller has what you need for any cartridge

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Retro gaming enthusiasts take note: this joystick is what you need to play any Atari game on the original console. It plugs right into the original console hardware and removes the need to choose the joystick, paddle, or keypad controller separately. You just leave this puppy hooked up and move your hands to the set of controls used on each game.

[x2Jiggy] built the thing from scratch. The enclosure is a wooden box from the craft store. He holds it closed with a couple of magnetic latches like you might find on old fashioned kitchen cabinets. The buttons of the keypad are mounted on a chunk of protoboard but he did take the time to give it a coat of matching paint so that it doesn’t look out of place. Inside you’ll find some more protoboard and point-to-point soldering to complete the rest of the connections.

You can see a fast motion video of the build process after the break. This reminds us of the universal controller built for Project Unity.

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Sega controller houses auto-launch emulator

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[Joe's] wife grew up playing Sega games and he wanted to help her unwind by reliving the experience. Since the work computer she uses when travelling isn’t a good place to install emulators he built this plug-and-play emulator inside of a Sega controller.

We’ve seen this type of thing a few times before (even with XBMC in a SNES controller) but there is one thing we hadn’t thought of lately. Newer versions of Windows have auto-launch disabled for USB drives. But [Joe] knew that there were still some USB sticks that manage to auto-launch anyway so he researched how those work. It turns out that they have two partitions, one is formatted as a CDFS which looks like a CD-ROM to Windows and allows auto-launch. He used this method of partitioning a USB stick, storing the ROMs on the mass storage partition and the emulator and the CDFS partition. To finish the hack he cracked open the controller and found room for a USB hub and the PCB from the thumb drive.

If you still have cartridges lying around you can pull the ROMs off of them over USB.