Some careful measuring and a little extra effort can be all that separates what looks like a hack job from a slick end product, and that is apparent in [Eric Sorensen]’s classy retrogaming rig, complete with ports for original console controllers.
[Eric] likes his vintage gaming, and was terrifically pleased with MiSTer, an open-source project that recreates various classic computers, game consoles and arcade machines using modern FPGA-based hardware. Of course, what makes retro gaming even better is using a platform’s genuine original controllers, which just takes a little extra hardware and wiring.
But [Eric] found that all the required accessories and peripherals started to look awfully cluttered. He solved this issue by packing everything carefully into a specialty PC case called the Checkmate A1500 Plus, which gives off a strong 80s design vibe. As a bonus, the front panels are all removable and that’s where [Eric] decided to house the custom controller ports.
First [Eric] carefully measured each controller connector to create CAD models, then designed matching front panels to house the connectors and 3D printed them. Once that was done, post-processing the panels was a long process of apply Bondo, sand, paint, and repeat as needed. The results looks fantastic, and this project is a prime example of how aesthetics and finish can matter.
Find yourself in a similar situation? [Tom Nardi] has shown us all that 3D prints don’t have to look 3D-printed, and careful application of paint and primer can really put the ‘pro’ in prototyping.
33 thoughts on “Original Controller Ports In Custom Case Means Retro Gaming In Style”
I really wonder what is wrong with people sometimes that they have such nostalgia for awful to hold and use controllers…
Still its a great looking project, and Ideal if you do long to play hand cramps in 20 mins or less…
About the only thing that would make it better is if all the ports had the same plastic colours or at least a consistent palate. Which would be rather hard to manage – so I think I’d have been tempted to add a paint stripe, perhaps at a jaunty angle across the case colour matched to the ports so their ‘wrongness’ looks deliberate.
It’s almost like it’s a subjective. As if other people might have an entirely different experience with retro console controllers.
Oh I agree it is subjective, but while I have fond memories of older game systems, taking turns playing them at my mates etc the one bit I don’t miss at all are the controllers that have not even heard of ergonomics, designed to cause severe discomfort in 5 mins or less… N64 of all the older console is the only one I actually don’t actively find really really horrible to hold…
On the other hand, I have found that emulating older consoles and trying to play them on modern “good” controllers such as the xbox 360 or dual shock 3/4 controllers makes the game just not feel right. Sure, it works and you can play it just fine, but I find that my game play improves when the buttons feel correct for the system. Mario games for the NES and SNES for example just seems to me like timing jumps etc doesn’t really feel right unless it’s on an original (or good copy) controller. That’s my experience, yours may differ of course.
Muscle memory there most likely – which doesn’t greatly apply to me personally as most of the early console I played on were friends, I did eventually buy the old system off a friend when they upgraded. But the point being while I did spend more time on some consoles than others (like the one I bought was well frequented beforehand) but I never really had that level of muscle memory to any one platform and game. And did grow to loath many of the less ergonomic controllers (perhaps not helped as my hands are big, and were even fairly young)
I will say there are games that feel wrong to play keyboard and mouse even if they are styles most folks would choose keyboard and mouse (and I would have done before the steam controller). The early Halo games stand out as one we recently have gone back to that feels wrong on keyboard and mouse, unfortunately it doesn’t play well with the steam controller in my preferred FPS setup – its auto-aim gets really confused and intermittent it seems by having a ‘mouse’ for aim and gamepad navigation (which is way more annoying than always on or off). But it still feels wrong to have binary on/off movement over analogue there – however I don’t much care which controller it is (as long as I have some time to figure out which button is which on it).
That’s funny because out of all the older consoles the n64 controller is the one I hate the most. Give me a little nes brick anyday though, or a dreamcast controller.
You do realize that playstation and xbox controllers have not changed as much. You comment doesn’t make sense cramps in 20 mins? Dude then your not a true gamer and should seek medical attention.
There’s nothing “wrong” with people that want to play with original controllers, and I’ll explain why.
Firstly, original button mapping. Sure, some consoles, especially ones like nes, map well to a modern controller. 2 buttons and a dpad, easy. But some consoles dont map as well, like N64 and saturn, which can map very awkwardly to a 360 or sense controller.
Secondly is latency. Running a bluetooth controller through a bluetooth dongle through usb protocol through the button mapper into the game all add extra latency. Sure, some adapters and controllers and adapters help keep it low, but some are literally visibly slow and none of them can match og latency speeds.
Lastly, emotional feel. This is gonna be different for everyone, but as an example. I am a BEAST at sonic 2 for the genesis, i grew up playing it on og hardware, and ive played it on everything from gamecube, to playstation, to ds, to pc and even on android. Last year i dug out my old genesis for the first time in like 20 years. Hooked it up, sat down, and started playing it. Suddenly i was a child again! I was sitting in my old family living room from when i was 5, the sunlight through the windows, furniture, walls, decor, all of it. Hell, it even SMELLED the same. It was just me and sonic on a summer afternoon and i played. When i was done i wept. I cried for the nostalgia, i cried for my lost youth, i cried happy tears that for an hour i got to relive my childhood.
Sonic 2 on any other console with any other controller doesnt do that to me.
Thats why we like original controllers
Latency really doesn’t have to be an issue if you do it right – the old classic systems are so slow you can plug your wired controller in and have it converted to whatever the console of choice uses way way faster than the cycle time on the old system – the ‘controller’ is waiting on the system to read up to date data not the other way round… And for an emulator it is just mapped directly from whatever HID device you have so even faster still, so assuming your emulator machine is actually able to run the emulator properly, and this console has a good emulator…
Wouldn’t say the N64 is hard to map either – it basically is the pretty standard layout controllers end up taking on just spread over 3 lobes rather than two – but you still only ever hold 2 of them at once and most games were quite happy to treat the dpad and joystick as the same input.
Also the genesis happens to have heard of ergonomics when it was designed, at least a little – and I did specifically say ‘awful to hold and use’. The NES on the other hand – heck Nintendo in general have some very inconsistent and funny idea on the shapes that make for good controllers… NES all sharp corners, N64 strange shape but very comfortable to hold for tiny hands, and still good for adult hands, Gamecube better layout design but very very small, so actually less comfortable for many. Then eventually after some interesting and odd ideas on to the joycons, perhaps the only thing worse than a NES controller…
I have never once had hand cramps on any console ever. Sounds like you aren’t meant to play games…
I wonder what’s wrong with people sometimes who expect everyone to think the same and share the same experiences. I play each console with it’s controller. That’s part of the experience. The NES gamepad IS nostalgia for me. No other controller feels right for the NES, for example. Perhaps you are younger and didn’t grow up with these 8 and 16-bit consoles. If you started with something like a PS2 then I could understand your perspective.
I also have zero discomfort with retro controllers.
I also play them on a CRT TV. That’s how they were meant to be played. That elicits the magical nostalgic experience for me.
Hey you want to like the old uncomfortable stuff for nostalgia reasons I’m fine with that, I’d even briefly enjoy some of them again that way myself. But more as a reminder of how far we have come, and at times the backwards steps along the way. But for me its the gameplay that should really matter – the whole point of games is they should be drawing you in and immersive in their own right that the HID device isn’t important in itself.
Also the CRT makes a game designed for CRT actually look kinda good, where a modern screen really spoils it. So that I can get behind. Plus there are the duck hunt style light guns that actually just work on a CRT etc.
It’s not uncomfortable for anyone who grew up on the system and actually knows how to hold the original controller. The NES was the best controller around in the mid 80s, and the SNES controller still is a design masterpiece.
For two-button d-pad gaming the NES controller is king.
I don’t know why you can’t get ot through your head that the comfort factor is also subjective. I never grew up with anything older than an N64, and my friend and I set up a SNES and I beat Donkey Kong Country for my first time last month. I didn’t have one single issue with the controller and found it very comfortable, and I have very large hands.
When you want people to agree with you, stop acting like sometiing objectively subjective is objective. Ask people if they find it comfortable or not, don’t tell them it’s uncomfortable then come up with any reason to invalidate why the person finds it comfortable, that is so obnoxious.
Yes ergonomics have come a long way, but the pure fact I has zero trouble and never thought about that once while playing the SNES shows you’re really just trying to make a non-issue to most people an issue because you can’t bear the feeling sitting in a corner relatively alone with your opinion.
I agree, you guys can cling to your 2-button NES blocks and your measly 6-button Genesis pads while I embrace the future and with a simple printed button map insert I adapt everything to run on my Atari Jag Pro!
I’m often left wondering did no one else grow up with the NES Max controllers?
As I remember it the Max controller was what a kid wanted to actually use for gaming.
And the Advantage controller was for your parents who grew up with arcade machines with joysticks.
The actual sharp-cornered things that came with the NES were just there to let you play when you first got the console until you could save up enough allowance to buy the Max.
But all the retro projects I see today seem to forget that alternatives even existed back in the day.
O want this for Pc emulation
Nothing wrong with wanting to use original PSX (or Dual Shock 1) controllers to play PSX, or Sega 3 or 6 button controllers to play MegaDrive or Genesis games. They weren’t bad controllers, not even Sega Master System or SNES controllers were bad.
Don’t get me started on N64 or XBOX controllers…
Reminds me of a ps2
That’s an Amiga 3000 case. Pretty expensive choice for a project like this.
It is a Checkmate A1500 plus case (like the article clearly states.) A modern case that is modelled after an A3000 case.
Tell us you didn’t read the whole article, without telling us you didn’t read the whole article. https://www.checkmate1500plus.com/
Expensive is relative but after clicking your link I agree, pretty expensive case for a project like this!
It’s actually not an Amiga 3000 case, it’s designed to take an Amiga A500, A600, or A1200 motherboard and make it into a similar form factor as the Amiga 3000. I don’t think it will take an Amiga 3000 motherboard. There is a PC version though.
While I’ll freely admit this is incredibly polished; how do I wish there were SNES and PSX controller ports in black…. The front bezel is still pretty dang nice though :)
PS1 and PS2 controller ports were identical, so why not just use the black ports from a PS2?
Impressive work! I made a similar box a few years ago using an Arduino to read in nes, Atari and PC gameport controllers. My box looked awful though 🤣
Since I found out about BlueRetro I’ve been using a PS4 controller for all of my classic consoles and emulation system. Dunno why everyone wants to use old worn out game pads.
Gee, it’s almost like it’s a matter of personal taste or something.
Nah, everyone who grew up with these controllers know how to hold them right.
If you don’t like it, you ain’t holdin’ it right.
I also use a PS4 controller with most emulation, but there are still many games that are just better with their original controllers. There were many games that used specialty controllers or attachments that just have no equivalent. For instance, there are several Dreamcast games that make use of the VMU, or Wii games using the Fit board, which just isn’t the same in emulation.
Looks like an Amiga 3000… But black and full of ports.
The case used, a Checkmate A1500 Plus, was designed as a replacement case for all kinds of Amigas. It’s based on the A3000 case, but with a modular design so you can put anything from an original A500 to a brand new iTX system inside.
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