Posterior Posture Videogame Controller


Normally we see some crazy mad science projects coming from [Ben Krasnow’s] laboratory. This week [Ben] changes gears a bit and hacks his Xbox controller to interface with his bathroom scale and function as a posture controlled input device. You may want to take a moment for that to tumble around in your noggin before we trying to explain. What this means is you sit catawampus on a bathroom scale and when you lean forward your game character moves forward, lean back your character backs up and lean side to side for strafe left and right.

A modern digital bathroom scale has four pressure point transducers — one in each corner — which are read by the central controller and summed to generate the weight of the object setting on the scale. To use the scale as a controller input [Ben] removed the central scale controller and created two amplified Wheatstone bridge differential circuits, one for each diagonal axis between load cells. After adding an offset potentiometer to fix the resting point at 0.8 volts, the amplified differential voltage signals are fed directly into an Xbox controller’s thumb stick input for game control.

Additionally, to add rotation to his new game controller he hacked a an old ball type mouse and added a bit of rubber tubing that contacted and tracked the base of a  Lazy Susan platter. The scale sits on the Lazy Susan and allows for the partial rotation of your torso to controlled game rotation. However, [Ben] still needed a regular mouse interfaced with the game for full 360° rotation control.

There is more after the break, plus the build and demonstration video.

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Thecontrollerproject’s first contest, with prizes


One of [Caleb]‘s side projects before he left us was TheControllerProject, a place for controller and console modders to hook up with gamers with disabilities. Things must be hopping over there, because [Caleb] just announced his first contest, with prizes, even.

The goal of this contest is to make the trigger buttons on XBox and PS3 controllers able to be controlled from the top of the controller. This is a huge problem for gamers with disabilities, and no open system currently exists to solve this problem. If you can make some sort of mechanical device to turn shoulder-mounted buttons into top-mounted actuators, just host it somewhere and win a prize.

The prizes are an iFixit toolkit and magnetic mat. The first five people to send in a solution to the shoulder mounted button problem get this prize. Originally, [Caleb] thought about tearing apart these controllers and soldering extra buttons, but a snap-on mechanical solution is much easier to install.

If you design a solution to this problem, send it in (but send it to [Caleb] first!) and we’ll probably feature it too.

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The Styharp, an instrument modeled after a pig sty

This is a first for us. We’ve never heard of an instrument modeled after a pig sty before. The Styharp, built by [Yann Seznec], for [Matthew Herbert] is meant to be a mix between performance and visual art. [Matthew]‘s followed a pig from birth to the plate and made an album from the sounds he recorded. The project is called “one pig”. This would explain the reason behind modeling an instrument after a sty.

[Yann] started with a Gametrak controller, basically a reel of line connected to a potentiometer. He ended up using 12 of these, which each have 3 outputs. This gave him plenty of ways change the sound during the performance. You can see a little bit of him demoing it after the break.

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Two DJ Hero controllers turned into a giant Etch A Sketch

[Ryan] sent in a little project he’s been working on. After he got his hands on a pair of DJ Hero controllers, he figured he needed to pull controller data off them.

After plugging in his two DJ Hero controllers to a breakout board, [Ryan] discovered the turntables communicate on an I2C bus. A Teensy was thrown into the mix, and work began on decoding the turntable output. [Ryan] figured out that by pulling 23 bytes from the turn table, he was left with the necessary data. Byte 20 is the state of the green, red, and blue buttons, byte 21 is the distance traveled, and byte 23 indicates clockwise or counter-clockwise. After [Ryan] figured out how to pull data off his DJ Hero controllers, the only thing left to do was build a giant Etch A Sketch on a 55 inch TV.

By the time the Etch A Sketch was completed, [Ryan] figured out that he had a gigantic rotary encoder – perfect for some classic MAME action. He started up MAME and loaded up Cameltry and Off The Wall. The DJ Hero controllers seem to work just fine, even if the hunched-over [Ryan] can’t beat the levels.

Wireless genesis controller for PC


[Jacob] wanted to play some sega games on his PC and felt like the experience just wasn’t complete while using the keyboard for input. He had an old MadCatz controller laying around, which could have probably been connected fairly simply, but he really wanted it to be wireless. A wireless keyboard was sacrificed, and the wireless genesis controller was born. To make it, he disassembled the keyboard to take the controller chip out. After tracing out and soldering switches to the leads, he installed it in his genesis controller.