An arcade controller for the original PlayStation

I love it when you hit those switches

[Kevin] just finished a project for someone who lives in his apartment complex. This resident loves the game Pop ‘n Music – a Guitar Hero sort of game for the original Playstation and PS2 that uses nine colored buttons instead of five buttons along a fingerboard. His original idea was to wire up a few arcade buttons to a Playstation controller but this plan fell through, forcing [Kevin] to figure out the PSX bus all by his lonesome.

The initial code began with simply bit-banging the PSX controller interface with an AVR. This had a few problems, namely speed, forcing [Kevin] to move onto assembly programming to squeeze every last bit of performance out of a microcontroller.

The assembly route failed as well, dropping some transactions  Looking at the problem again, [Kevin] realized the PSX controller bus looked a little like an SPI bus. There were a few changes required – reversing the order of the bits, and using the MISO line to drive a transistor – but this method worked almost perfectly on the first try.

Now, [Kevin]’s building mate has a custom Playstation controller for his favorite game. Of course all the code is up on github for all your PSX controller emulation needs, but be sure to check out this completely unrelated Pop ‘N Music video from someone who desperately needs a piano.

Nyan Cat: the PlayStation game

We’d bet you didn’t know there was a Nyan Cat game for the original PlayStation. Well, there wasn’t one until very recently. This isn’t a title that has been licensed by Sony, and we bet you won’t spend hours playing such a thing. But the concept has let [Haunted] hone his development skills.

We’re not certain how he’s getting around the copy protection for PSX games, but we know there are a few different exploits out there. If you happen to have your own method playing homebrew games you can even download the bin/cue files to try this out for yourself.

After the break you can watch a demo clip of the game. It boots like normal until you hit a black screen with white text which displays a loading percentage. This is followed closely by the rainbow spewing feline pastry. The sound takes a minute to play but you can be sure it’s there. Currently there’s no scoring system but that’s in the works for a future revision.

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Short and squat balancing bot is extremely stable

[Lauszus] really put together an impressive self balancing robot platform. It is virtually motionless when balancing in place, and that stability is never lost even when motoring across the room.

Part of the success behind this build is the use of quality components. He’s got a really nice set of motors with built-in encoders which give feedback to the balancing system. They work in conjunction with a gyroscopic sensor and PID code to keep the two-wheeled platform upright. An mbed board running 96 MHz provides plenty of computing power for the balancing system. But an Arduino can also be found on board. This was included to facilitate Bluetooth connectivity with the remote control as [Lauszus] didn’t want to port the code he had already written.

The fourteen minute video after the break shares the details behind how the PID controller is tuned and how [Lauszus] implements target angle and a few other factors. Of course he talks about the hardware choices, and demonstrates functionality by driving the bot around using a wireless PS3 controller.

The construction method which uses masonite strips and threaded rod does a good job of protecting the hardware mounted on it. We’re always a bit worried about these bots falling over and some of the projects we see offer little or no protection. Once thing that helps protect against a spill is a piezo buzzer which sounds when the battery is getting low.

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Using classic game controllers with a wii

[Bruno]’s Wii RetroPad Adapter was sent into the tip line, and we’re loving the possibility of using Playstation 2, Genesis, NES and SNES controllers with our Wii.

While there are commercial solutions that connect an NES or SNES controller to a Wii, everything connects to the GameCube port and there is no adapter for Sega or Playstation controllers. For his build, [Bruno] used an ATmega168 to read data from the classic controllers and translate that to the Wiimote I2C bus. Think of it as a new classic controller with the same form factor your 8-year-old self knew and loved.

The schematic for the build is very simple and [Bruno] has all the software out in the open. Even the PCB is single sided and looks like it would be a great candidate for a homebrew PCB. There’s no indication [Bruno] is trying to monetize his creation, so he’s either doing right, or so very wrong. Check out the Dualshock 2/Mario 3 demo of this board after the break.

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Automating Rock Band vocals


When it comes to Rock Band, our friends suck at singing. No, really.

We’re cool with them beating on the drum set completely off-time, but the sound of them trying to sing “Tom Sawyer” makes us want to cut out our eardrums.

We’re willing to bet that Cornell students [Gautam Kamath and Dominick Grochowina] have friends like ours. Their Electrical and Computer Engineering final project aims to remove the tone deaf from in front of the microphone, allowing a computer to sing vocals instead.

Since Rock Band simply listens for the proper frequency to be sung, the pair figured it would be easy enough to monitor the game’s output and feed computer-generated signals back into the microphone. Once the game’s vocal bar is isolated via a series of filters, an ATMega644 is used to interpret the notes and generate the corresponding tone via a speaker.

While automating Rock Band gameplay is nothing new, we don’t recall seeing anyone try to cut the singer from the band. We think it’s a pretty cool concept – rock on!

Edit: Updated with video

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Playstation Network breached, no end to downtime in sight


If you are not a gamer, or simply a casual player, you may not have heard about the recent breach of Sony’s Playstation Network. In short, the network was infiltrated on April 17th, and the service was completely shut down on the 19th as a precautionary measure. Now, more than a week later services have yet to be restored, but Sony is finally starting to talk a bit more about what happened.

At this point, nobody knows the total extent of the data stolen, but stories are emerging that indicate just about everything that could be accessed was accessed. Sony admits that information such as names, addresses, passwords, and security questions have all been accessed by an unauthorized third party. They have also not completely ruled out the possibility that credit card data has been stolen as well.

It seems the situation has turned from a mere inconvenience to PSN users into a full-blown security and PR nightmare. After a breach like this with so many questions left unanswered, and the gaming network rendered completely useless, we have to ask:

When everything is “fixed” and back to normal, what could Sony possibly do to regain your trust?

Geohot case settlement

It looks like Sony and [George Hotz] have reached an out-of-court settlement in the case brought against the hacker who is more well-known as [Geohot].

This is the end (we think) of an ongoing saga that originally drew our ire when Sony remove OtherOS support as a sledge-hammer-type fix for holes that [Geohot] found in the security system used by PlayStation 3 hardware. Our beef with that move is that it punished people who bought a PS3 knowing that it could run Linux natively, only to have that rug retroactively pulled out from under them. [Geohot] then went on to publish details that allow those with the proper skills to leave a smoldering pile of slag where Sony’s hardware security used to reside.

They slapped him with a lawsuit for publishing those details. This settlement doesn’t have him admitting any wrongdoing. We’re not going to editorialize on the morals or ethics of [George’s] actions, but we do still think that Sony greatly overreacted at several points along this unfortunate string of events.

[Thanks Buggs187]