Wireless controllers for all your retro systems

Remember those old wireless controllers made for the consoles of our youth like the NES and Super Nintendo? They didn’t work well, mostly owing to the fact they were built using the same infrared technology that is found in a remote control. Now that all the modern consoles are wireless, [micro] over at the nftgames forum decided to update his classic systems for wireless control.

The transmitters and receivers are built around an nRF24L01+ radio module that operates in the 2.4 GHz band. [micro] has the process of converting his controllers down to a science. He cuts the cord and wires the controller up to an AVR running at 16 MHz. The AVR sends this to the receiver where the button presses are sent through the original controller port. Basically, [micro] recreated a WaveBird controller for his NES, SNES, Saturn and N64.

The controllers are powered by internal lithium batteries, but the charging ICs are too expensive to put in each controller. To solve this problem, [micro] crafted a small external charging circuit that plugs into a 3.5mm jack on each controller. Check out [micro]’s controller demo after the break.

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Funtendo connects all your Nintendo controllers to a PC

For those of us who can’t be bothered to dig out or N64 whenever we want to play Ocarina of Time or our NES whenever we get the urge to play Battletoads, emulators are a godsend. There is a problem, though. A keyboard doesn’t provide the right experience as a the classic NES ‘brick’ or the N64 tritopus controllers. Enter the Funtendo, a breakout box that converts all your well-loved controllers to USB.

The Funtendo uses the Gadget Gangster Propeller Platform with a terminal block module. Putting together the electronics is fairly easy; just strip the ends of the controllers and screw them down to the terminal blocks. N64, NES and Wii Classic Controllers are supported by the Funtendo. Going for the Classic Controller over a Super Nintendo controller reduces the complexity of the build. The Classic Controller can play SNES games and uses an I2C bus, making it easier to wire.

For interfacing the controllers to the computer, the Parallax Propeller Tool, Parallax serial terminal, and PPJoy convert button mashing into readable buttons for the emulator. The build may take more time than pulling an NES out of the attic, but even with a large project box it takes up much less space.

Check out the demo of the Funtendo after the break.

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N64 controller input using an ATtiny85

[Larsim] worked out the timing necessary to read button and joystick data from an N64 controller using an ATtiny85 microcontroller. The project was spawned when he found this pair of controllers in the dumpster. We often intercept great stuff bound for the landfill, especially on Hippie Christmas when all the student switch apartments at the same time.

Instead of cracking the controllers open and patching directly to the buttons, [Larsim] looked up the pinout of the connector and patched into the serial data wire. In true hacker fashion, he used two 5V linear regulators and a diode in series to step his voltage source down to close to 3.6V, as he didn’t have a variable regulator on hand. It does sound like this causes noise which can result if false readings, but that can be fixed with the next parts order.

The controller waits for a polling signal before echoing back a response in which button data is embedded. This process is extremely quick, and without a crystal on hand, the chip needs to be configured to use its internal PLL to ramp the R/C oscillator up to 16Mhz. With the chip now running fast enough, an external interrupt reads the serial response from the controller, and the code reacts based on that input.

It seems the biggest reason these N64 controllers hit the trash can is because the analog joystick wears out. If you’ve got mad skills you can replace it with a different type.

A Professional Looking N64 Portable Build

Although Hack A Day is no stranger to console conversions, this portable N64 build is worthy of note. The article itself is in Spanish, but for those that don’t speak the language, the steps and components necessary are well documented in pictures. There’s even a video of the finished product after the break.

What is especially interesting about this project is the professional looking build quality of the finished product. One might think it’s a custom injection molding job or possibly 3D printed, but everything is done with only glue, filler, and paint. A controller and console is hacked up to provide the raw materials for this build. An expansion pack is even attached to this console for good measure.

Power is provided by a 6800mA battery, and the console features a generous 7 inch display. A good wiring schematic is also provided in this article, so maybe it will inspire other quality console hacking in the future. Continue reading “A Professional Looking N64 Portable Build”

Awesome portable N64 keeps your games in hand, out of sight


[David] recently wrote us to share the portable Nintendo 64 he constructed with the help of the friendly people over at the ModdedbyBacteria forums. We are no strangers to N64 portables, as you may have noticed, but this one was just too good to pass up.

Sheathed in a metallic blue case, this console is an instant standout among the other portable N64 mods we have seen. As you would expect, he trimmed down an N64 console board and some various controller bits in order to fit them into the case, finishing it off with a 5″ PSOne display panel. A small fan protrudes out of the back side of the device, which seemed out of place at first. However, it not only keeps the console cool, but it can serve as a bit of a “kickstand” as well, if the console is placed on a flat surface. [David] also added a dongle for the bottom of the console, which allows him to use an external N64 controller if he so desires.

To be honest, one of our favorite features is that the game cartridges do not stick up from the back of the case when inserted. He included just enough room to allow the game to be completely hidden while playing.  Nice job!

Continue reading to see a video build log and demonstration of his portable N64.

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Replace an N64’s worn out joystick

As gaming consoles age the controllers will inevitably show some wear, and sadly may give out all together. [Kyle] couldn’t bear to watch his Nintendo 64 controller bite the dust so he replaced the thumb stick with one from a PlayStation. This is a bigger job than you might imagine because the two parts are fundamentally different. The original N64 stick uses a rotary encoder to output data to the control chip, while the PlayStation stick is an analog device. [Kyle’s] solution was to read the analog values using a PIC, but lower in the thread you can read about another user who pulled off a similar hack using an AVR. Both convert the signals into the rotary encoder format that the N64 chip is listening for. From the looks of the clip embedded after the break, this couldn’t work any better!

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N64 Advance portable gaming system


Like many people [Kyle] loves the Nintendo 64 and decided he wanted a portable version of his beloved console so he could play games while on the move.  One year, two PSOne screens, and three N64 consoles later, his vision is complete.  A Game Boy Advance travel case was gutted and used to house the console, hence the “N64 Advance” moniker.  Like many others, his project uses a PSOne screen for the display, and a Li-Poly battery pack that provides up to 3.5 hours of playing time.  He made sure to include other members of the Nintendo family in his build by adding a pair DS Lite speakers to the mix.

This build also includes some nice “extras” such as having the N64 RAM expansion pack built-in, headphone and A/V out ports (with a screen kill-switch for TV use), and an external controller port that can be used by either the first or second player. Be sure to check out the video of his build after the jump.

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