Veronica Gets A Pair Of Gamepads And A Bugged Chip

veronica

[Quinn Dunki]’s awesome 6502-based computer is coming right along, and she decided it’s time to add one of the most important features found in the 80s microcomputers she’s inspired by – gamepads.

There were two ways of implementing gamepads back in the 80s. The Apple II analog joysticks used a potentiometer for each joystick axis along with a 556 timer chip to convert the resistance of a pot into a digital value. Analog controls are awesome, but a lot of hardware is required. The other option is the Atari/Commodore joystick that uses buttons for each direction. Surprisingly, these joysticks are inordinately expensive on the vintage market but a similar hardware setup – NES gamepads – are common, dirt cheap, and extremely well documented.

[Quinn] wrote a few bits of 6502 assembly to read these Nintendo controllers with Veronica’s 6522 VIA with the help of an ATMega168, and then everything went to crap.

In testing her setup, she found that sometimes the data line from the controller would be out of sync with the clock line. For four months, [Quinn] struggled with this problem and came up with one of two possible problems: either her circuit was bad, or the 6522 chip in Veronica was bad. You can guess which option is correct, but you’ll probably be wrong.

The problem turned out to be the 6522. It turns out this chip has a bug when it’s used with an external clock. In 40 years of production this hasn’t been fixed, but luckily 6502 wizard [Garth Wilson] has a solution for this problem: just add a flip-flop and everything’s kosher. If only this bug were mentioned in the current datasheets…

Now Veronica has two NES controller inputs and the requisite circuitry to make everything work. Video evidence below.

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Turning a Game Boy into an Android gamepad

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[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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Nokia N900 control pad is perfect for gaming on the go

nokia-n900-gamepad

[Andrzej] loves his Nokia N900, noting that it makes a great portable gaming device. Since it supports a wide array of emulators, it’s perfect for indulging his gaming nostalgia on the go. He says that the one downside to the N900 is that its keyboard doesn’t make gaming easy, nor comfortable.

To make gaming a big more fun, he built himself an add-on gamepad that fits perfectly over the phone’s keyboard. Connected via the phone’s USB port, it features 8 push buttons along with a PSP joystick. He used an ATmega8A as the brains of the controller, communicating with the phone as a USB keyboard. He says that this sort of configuration makes it extremely easy to do all sorts of custom button mapping on a per-game basis.

As you can see in the picture above the controller is currently lacking a case, but we think that with a bit of clever packaging, it could look as nice as a retail add-on.

Check out the short video below to see his gamepad in action.

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SNES gamepad coversion to USB

[Kekszumquadrat] wanted to use a classic controller to play emulator games on his Android tablet so he set out to convert an SNES gamepad to connect via USB. He found an old USB keyboard at a yard sale for about 3 Euros. He knew that the emulator he prefers has the option of remapping all the inputs to keyboard keys which means a USB keyboard has all of the electronics he would need to pull this off.

Once he had separated the keyboard circuitry from the case [Kekszumquadrat] plugged it into his Linux box and used Xev to establish how the keyboard matrix is set up. Xev is a common package that opens up an active window on the X desktop. When run from command line, any events that happen to the window will be echoed along with verbose data about that event. When it comes to keypresses, you’ll get the keycode you need. He simply shorted columns and rows until he found the desired mapping, then it was on to soldering.

The SNES controllers are very simple devices. As we’ve seen with previous projects, they use a serial-to-parallel shift register to gather button data and send it to the console. [Kekszumquadrat] simply soldered between button traces and keyboard matrix contacts. Once he finished, the keyboard parts were tucked inside of the controller case and he’s left with a USB controller that appears to be unaltered.

Hackaday Links: Monday, May 30th

Huge, fully functional NES game pad replica

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Students at Dutch TU Delft university recently built a huge replica of the original NES controller (Google Translation), which is fully functional and can be used to play games on a large display screen they also installed. How big is it, you ask? It’s about 6 meters wide – over 30 times the size of the original NES game pad and requires participants to jump on the buttons to play.


Convert any image to G-code

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Members of [Forskningsavdelningen], a Swedish hackerspace, are working on software that will allow users to vectorize bitmap images in order to convert them to G-code files for CNC milling. A good portion of the project is complete, but there is still a bit of work to do, so you won’t see it in action for a while. When it’s ready, we’ll be sure to let you know.


Convert your lame Dead Space plasma cutter into a bonafide laser weapon

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If you forked out big bucks for the special edition of Dead Space 2, you know how lame the included plasma cutter replica is. Check out this video, that shows you how to convert your LED toy to a dual laser, fire starting, laser pistol. The process is pretty simple, so what are you waiting for?


Synchronized, LED-lit juggling balls

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[Jonathan] wrote in to share a project he and some friends have just finished. He’s not sharing a ton of details at the moment, but he has put up a video showing off their wireless LED juggling balls. All we know is that they use bright RGB LEDS, Zigbees for communication, and that they are awesome. We can’t wait to hear more about them!


Water cooled PS3 Laptop

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[Pirate] recently unveiled his latest work, a water-cooled Playstation 3 laptop. It looks pretty sharp, and can undoubtedly rival some of Ben Heck’s work, even if it does have an external PSU. Obviously having a separate power component isn’t necessarily ideal, but when you are cramming all of that water cooling goodness into such a small package, something has to give!

NES game pad wireless light commander

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Annoyed that the new lights he bought for his apartment lacked power switches, Instructables user [p.arry.drew] decided to install a pair of wireless light switches. Not content to use the remotes separately, he decided to see if he could cram them both into an old NES controller, making for a nice all-in-one wireless light commander.

He disassembled the light switch remotes, cutting off a bit of the battery contacts to ensure they fit in the game pad. He then pulled apart his NES controller, removing the cord and adding some foam padding to ensure that the buttons fully contacted the wireless switches when pressed. A few bits of wooden dowel were added to keep everything in place, then the controller was reassembled.

His creation makes for a very convenient method of controlling several light switches from once source, plus the packaging is pretty handsome as well. These remote light switching solutions seem to be all the rage lately, so keep them coming!

Read on for a quick video of his remote light switches in action.

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Talking joystick mouse

Instructibles user [Shadowwynd] shows us a great way to build a joystick/mouse device for people with special accessibility needs. When faced with a case that involved a man with very limited mobility as well as a limited budget, [shadowwynd] set out to find a cost effective solution to computer navigation. They found that his client could use a commercial joystick mouse, but the cost was quite high at over $400. So instead of just purchasing that, they bought a USB game pad and built their own version. They managed to reduce the cost to roughly $45.  While extending the buttons and joystick from a gamepad might not be groundbreaking, we feel that this project is the epitome of hacking. Great job [Shadowwynd] keep up the good work.