Laptop touchpad as a standalone peripheral

[Viktor] is working on salvaging parts from a dead laptop. In his eyes the biggest gem to be had is the touchpad, so he set out to see if he could make the touchpad a standalone device. You might be envisioning the many hells of interfacing this with a microcontroller and writing firmware to measure and translate the input to HID compatible commands. The good news is it’s quite a bit simpler than that, with just one gotcha.

He looked around to see what he could find about the chip that drives the touchpad. He couldn’t locate an exact match, but a datasheet from a similar family of controllers make him think that there should be a PS/2 data and clock output from the chip. After probing the test points on the board he found them, as well as the voltage and ground rails. Above you can see he soldered an old mouse cable to the board and it works when plugged in.

But we did mention the gotcha. There doesn’t seem to be any support for the right and left buttons. Those were housed on a flexible PCB which attached to the white connector seen above. That PCB also connected to the computer so we don’t know if they will work with this hack or not.

Universal 20 channel project controller from a Ps2 controller

So you’ve got a really cool project that requires a wireless controller and a ton of different channels. What are you going to do? Are you going to go pick up an expensive RC controller? Nah, you’re going to build your own. This project makes a generic 20 channel controller for your projects by stuffing an SMDuino and an XBee module inside a ps2 controller.  Unfortunately you lose the force feedback since you have to remove the motors to make space for the extra components and batteries. You do end up with a decently ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing controller though.

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Trumpet Hero

[Evilsigntist] combined an old cornet with an old PS2 guitar hero controller to produce the Trumpet Hero. The fragile looking conglomeration really brings a smile to our faces. Just make sure the instrument has already seen the end of its days before drilling holes to mount the various parts.

In the image above you can see that the three valve buttons have been painted to correspond to frets on the original guitar controller. The orange and blue frets are positioned for the left hand to operate. There seems to be a couple of different version because there is a diagram showing a mute in the bell that can be twisted for whammy bar input, but that’s not shown here. Strumming is accomplished by blowing through the mouthpiece, but as you can see in the video after the break, no buzzing is necessary.

Using actual instruments as game inputs is a lot of fun. We always think back to the flute and drum set controllers for Rock Band.

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[Alex] shows us what happens when Dance Dance Revolution meets Simon


[Alex] was digging through his closet and came upon an old PS2 game pad for Dance Dance Revolution. He hated the idea of throwing it out just slightly more than the idea of playing DDR again, so he decided to find a way to reuse it.

He was a big fan of the game Simon (aka Genius) as a kid and thought that the DDR pad would make a novel interface for the classic game. Using the PS2XLib by [Bill Porter], which allows an Arduino to easily communicate with a PS2 controller, [Alex] put his Simon replica together in no time flat.

He painted an empty ice cream container with the classic Simon colors, installing a small LED under each quadrant, then wrote the game’s code.

As you can see in the video below, his version of the game works nicely, and forces you to actually get up and move a bit, which we like.

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USB and PS/2 key loggers and mess with your grammar

[Irongeek] is up to his old tricks once again with this new key logger prototype. It’s in the early stages, as attested by the breadboard built circuit, but [Adrian] still gives us a demo video after the break showing where he’s at right now. It comes in two flavors, the USB pass through seen above, or another that still connects to the computer via USB but functions with a PS/2 keyboard.

Aside from the obvious issue of a key logger stealing everything you type, there’s some prank value in this device too. The Teensy has more than enough processing power to watch what you typing and make changes as it goes. He shows off blatant rewrites, like changing “has” to “haz” or “you” to “U”. We think it would be better to change things like “they’re” to “their” or “it’s” to “its”. These would be very difficult to see happening and if you added randomness to how often the replacements occur, your victim would sooner come to the conclusion that they’re going crazy than that they’re the target of a little hazing. In fact, that’s probably the reason for our own grammar errors though the years; blast!

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Interfacing with a PS/2 mouse

[David] sent in his implementation of reading a PS/2 mouse with a PIC microcontroller and some LED displays. Of course, this follows hot on the heels of using a PIC with a PS/2 keyboard so now might be the time to start digging out your old peripherals out of your junk pile.

[David] began his project trying to figure out how to connect a mouse to his breadboard. After hacking the plastic off a PS/2 mouse extension cord, he wired everything up according to the pinout. Programming the PIC to understand PS/2 commands was a little strange. [David] is used to having his microcontrollers provide the clock signal. The PS/2 protocol is a bit strange as the peripheral sets the clock. Since PS/2 is a bidirectional protocol, the mouse also accepts commands. The host – [David]’s PIC – must send the mouse a command to start sending movement data.

Because USB keyboards and mice are backwards compatible with PS/2 ports, [David] tried out a few USB mice with a USB to PS/2 adapter. Every attempt at using a USB mouse failed. Strangely, when a Bluetooth mouse was tried (via Bluetooth to USB to PS/2), everything worked perfectly. Check out [David]’s PIC mouse demo after the break.

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Interfacing with a PS/2 Keyboard

Anyone reading this post has undoubtedly used a keyboard. How they work, however, is a bit more complicated than “one button, one input.”  [PyroElectro] has a great tutorial about building a PS/2 keyboard interface with a 7-segment LED display (video after the break). The tutorial also includes quite a bit of theory behind it.

The system displayed below uses a PIC controller to display the letter or number pressed. A schematic of the whole project is given here as well as a detailed bill of materials.

As for how the PS/2 keyboard works, each keystroke is encoded into a binary number or “scan code”. Most of these codes are 8-bit, but some special symbols use a longer code. Although the article doesn’t fully address it, a very similar method can be used to send data back to the keyboard for such purposes as tuning on a “capslock” or “numlock” key. Although turning on a light is fun, we could see this being used as an expedient method to control a relay for automation purposes.

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