USB dongle for unmodified NES controllers

This USB dongle will let you use your unmodified NES controllers on a computer. That’s because it includes the same socket you’d find on the classic console.

The image above shows the prototype. Instead of etching the copper clad board, each trace was milled by hand (presumably with a rotary tool). To the left the black square is made of several layers of electrical tape that builds the substrate up enough to fit snugly in a USB port.

An ATtiny45 running the V-USB stack has no problem reading the controller data and formatting it for use as a USB device. This is actually the second iteration of the project. The first attempt used an ATtiny44 and a free-formed circuit housed inside the controller. It worked quite well, but required alterations to the circuit board, and you needed to replace the stock connector with a USB plug. This dongle allows the controller to go unaltered so it can be used with an NES console again in the future.

Those USB TV tuners used for SDR can also grab GPS data

Talk about versatile hardware. These inexpensive TV tuner dongles can also grab GPS data. You may remember seeing this same hardware used as a $20 option for software defined radio. But [Michele Bavaro] decided to see what other tricks they could pull off.

Would it surprise you that he can get location data accurate to about 20 centimeters? That figure doesn’t tell the whole story, as readings were taken while the dongle was stationary for three hours, then averaged to achieve that type of accuracy. But depending on what you need the data for this might not be a problem. And [Michele] does plan to implement real-time GPS data in his next iteration of the project. He plans to use an SDR acquisition algorithm to measure doppler shift in accounting for the slow clock speed of the dongles compared to standard GPS receivers. We can understand how that would work, but we’re glad he has the skills to actually make it happen because we’re at a loss on how the concept could be implemented.

[via Reddit]

PS3 IR dongle tamed for use with a Linux box

So a man walks into a Radio Shack and the clerk says “Why the long face?”. No, that’s not it. [Ms3fgx] walks into a Radio Shack and says “holy crap, that PS3 IR dongle is only two bucks”. He’s been looking for an IR remote receiver to use with a Linux machine and decided to bend this PS3 dongle to his will. It’s a lot less expensive that the parts to build the simplest IR receivers like this FTDI cable version, or a microcontroller based receiver.

He plugged it in and was delighted to find that it enumerates. The kernel has PlayStation 3 controller support built-in and has no problem picking up this device. When he uses ‘cat’ to display the incoming data all he gets is repetitive garbage. This is because the dongle only supports Sony remote control codes. But after a bit of universal remote setup, he’s got unique commands for each button. The last piece of the puzzle is to map the controller commands to keyboard keys. This is done with the QJoyPad package, but there are a myriad of ways to remap these buttons so go with what you know.

Build your own USB to Serial dongle

[Johan von Konow] found that he was using an FTDI USB-to-Serial chip in a lot of his projects and wanted to have an easy prototyping component on hand to facilitate this. What he came up with is the extremely small USB to serial dongle seen above. The copper fingers are designed to plug into your USB port. And if you’ve got an unused thumb drive (we’ve got a 128mb version that’s been collecting dust for years) it would make a perfect enclosure for the device.

He’s using an FT232BL chip in a LQFP-32 package. That’s got 0.8mm pitch so make sure you’ve got a steady hand, a fine tipped soldering iron, and some solder wick on hand. The 0603 passives might also give you a bit of a run-around during soldering, but all-in-all we think everyone will be able to successfully assemble this with a little bit of practice. The chip is the most expensive component at just under $6. But the good news is that the board is single sided and only needs one jumper wire making for very little drilling and easy home fabrication.

If you’re putting in a parts order, we’d recommend getting doubling the amount of resistors and capacitors. Chances are you’ll drop a few and nary will they be seen again. We also highly recommend looking into [Gerrit’s] surface mount component clamp.

This dongle makes any screen an Android device

Want that 70″ LCD television in your living room to be an Android device? This little guy can make it happen. With an HDMI port on one end, and a USB plug on the other for power, just plug in FXI Technologies’ Cotton Candy dongle to create a 1080p Android television.

The price isn’t set for the device, but it’s expected to be available at less than $200. Considering what’s inside that’s pretty reasonable. There’s a dual-core 1.2 GHz ARM processor, 1 gig of RAM, 64 gigs of storage, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a microSD card slot. Wow!

So is it hackable? Absolutely. Well, kind of? The company doesn’t intend to bring Cotton Candy to the retail market. Instead, they will sell the device to developers who may do what they wish. From there, said developers have the option to license the technology for their own products. This begs the question, will the development kit come in under $200? Hard to say.

Check out the video after the break to hear an interview with the company’s CEO. It certainly sounds fascinating, and like the Chumby NeTV, we can’t wait to see what comes of this. Continue reading “This dongle makes any screen an Android device”

Very clean Android headphone controller project

Here’s an Android headphone add-on so clean that most people won’t know you built it yourself. [Will Robertson] was unsatisfied with the stock headphones that came with his HTC phone, but didn’t want to lose the control interface when upgrading. He built this add-on that lets him control the Android music player.

He was inspired to do this after reading about the control interface in one of our previous features. That hack detailed how to add control based on the 4-conductor headphone jack, but didn’t see us through to a clean finished product. [Will] picked up where it left off by designing a sleek surface mount board that hosts a headphone jack and three tactile switches. A patch cable is soldered opposite the jack, making this work as a pass-through device. The icing on the cake is the shrink tubing that masks the fact that this is a diy dongle.

If you want to follow his lead, [Will] posted his EagleCAD design files and footprints for the components he used in the post linked at the top.

PS3 controller spoofing advancing with leaps and bounds

Development has been progessing quite nicely on [Matlo’s] PlayStation 3 controller spoofing project. This is a package that allows you to identify a PC as a PS3 controller. We know what you’re thinking: why would you want to do that? When we originally looked in on the project about a year ago we mentioned that this allows you to use any Linux-friendly peripheral as a PS3 controller. In the clip embedded below you’ll see that nothing beats a good keyboard and gaming mouse when it comes to first-person shooters. [Matlo’s] solution not only allows you to use alternative control hardware, but there’s almost unlimited configurability.

And speaking of configuration, he’s done a ton of work on the GUI. After the initial package installation no terminal typing needs to be done to get the system configured. Once in place, you can set the MAC address of a Bluetooth dongle to spoof the address of your SixAxis controller. From there you can set up the button mapping, calibrate mouse hardware and the like, and even program macros (fantastic). Now go out and pwn everyone at deathmatch now that the PlayStation Network is back up and running.

Continue reading “PS3 controller spoofing advancing with leaps and bounds”