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.

12 thoughts on “Two DJ Hero Controllers Turned Into A Giant Etch A Sketch

  1. Thank you for covering my hack!

    AbsoluteZero, it should be pretty straightforward, let me know if you end up needing a hand.

    For what it’s worth, as soon as I have a working PC again (Windows died this morning, but I have everything backed up) I’m hoping to see if I can treat the deck as an absolute positioning device, too. Since it’s possible to poll the turntable at around 500Hz, more than enough to avoid delta wrap-around, the hope is that it’ll be possible to just add together all incoming deltas and have a “Zero Set” button.

    If anyone has any suggestions or questions, feel free!

    1. thanks, if I’m able to find a used one for cheap, I’ll pick it up.

      I found that some of the older guitar hero controllers have a very nice modular setup on the interior. Since practically each part is on its own breakout board with headers/ribbon cables, it makes it very easy to pop out an individual section (say the tremolo bar or the fret board section) for usage in other projects. This particular one was missing the console end of the wireless module, so it only cost me $2 at the consignment store. When I opened it up and saw the clean interior, I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face.

  2. By the way, since we’ve received quite a few venomous, hate-filled comments on the video and e-mails to our website since this project has been posted up from people who prefer to call our engineers “losers” and spread outright false information such as the DJ Hero turntable controller being usefully readable via the X360 wireless adapter rather than engage in productive discussion, we’ve had to disable comments.

    Really, Hack-A-Day? This is the way your community acts? Because the people who comment on the hacks that get posted here now get moderated for their misogynistic and/or prejudiced comments, they’ve taken to being sadists to -everyone- instead? Kind of making me regret even submitting this to the website here.

    1. I just trashed two completely unproductive comments in this thread. Sorry you had to disable comments on the video.

      Actually, I’ve been seeing a rise in the bile-spewing comments on HaD lately. I’m guessing I’ll have to amp up the eternal vigilance here. The internet is full of these people.

  3. Hi – couple of questions on the setup.

    a) What are you using to connect the DJHero controller to the breadboard? Is that a USB to serial breakout?

    b) Could you provide more details of the hardware setup? Would be interesting to see :)


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