A SNES Music Player You Can Control With A Browser

Listening to chiptunes on an emulator or software-based player is fine, but sometimes you just gotta have that real hardware charm. [Kazhuu] is one such enthusiast who feels this way, and set about building a hardware player for SNES chiptunes that can be controlled from a browser.

The build relies on an Arduino Micro to control the SNES Audio Processing Unit (APU), featuring the Nintendo S-SMP as produced by Sony and designed by Ken Kutaragi. Yes, the father of the PlayStation designed the capable wavetable synthesis chip in the Super Nintendo, and it’s that same hardware that [Kazhuu]’s project interfaces with modern hardware.

With the Arduino’s IO lines hooked up to the APU, song data can be piped out to the Arduino over a serial connection to a PC. This can be handled by a Python script, or more intuitively via a browser-based front-end. This uses WebUSB in order to take input from the browser and then send data out over the USB-serial connection to the Arduino.

It’s a neat demonstration of both working with vintage Nintendo sound hardware and how to code modern browser applications to work with embedded systems. If you’re a SEGA kid, though, you might prefer this build instead. Video after the break.

Continue reading “A SNES Music Player You Can Control With A Browser”

Nintendo Zapper Reborn As Home Automation Remote

Generally, using a gun to turn your lights off is dangerous and expensive, but for the [DuctTape Mechanic], it’s just how he does things. Video also after the break. To be fair, he uses a salvaged Nintendo Zapper, not a firearm, and replaces the guts with an RF transmitter. We are shocked that he chose a radio model instead of infrared seeing as how he is repurposing a light gun, but our scores in Duck Hunt suggest he made the right choice.

The transmitter comes from a keychain remote, so it all fits neatly inside the Zapper chassis. A couple of wires hijack the stock button and run to the stock trigger, so you keep that authentic feel. The receiver side is a bit trickier. When it senses a button press, it sends a pulse, as you would find in a garage door opener, but to keep a lamp on, there needs to be some latching and so there is an Arduino. The microcontroller keeps a tally and operates a 10 amp relay module, so it is mostly acting as the glue between hardware. All of the mains electrical components sit in a blue plastic box with a receptacle on the front.

We don’t see the Zappers used for their intended purposes much anymore because they rely on old technology, but that doesn’t keep people from repurposing the iconic peripheral.

Continue reading “Nintendo Zapper Reborn As Home Automation Remote”

Mega Man 4 Free of Charge ROM Hack Pexels Anete Lusina

Mega Man Hack Drops Charge Shot, Adds Classic Style

When it comes to the six original Mega Man games there is a clear dividing line between the first three and the last. Mega Man 4 introduced the charging shot mechanic that allowed players to hold down the fire button in order to power-up a single blast from Mega Man’s arm cannon. The aptly named, “Mega Man 4: Free of Charge” ROM hack by [Peter] seeks to bring cohesion with the first trilogy of Mega Man games by removing the charge shot mechanic completely. To compensate for the change, enemy health bars were also adjusted so that enemies aren’t as bullet-spongy.

The Mega Man 4: Free of Charge download comes as an IPS patch file. There are free utilities out there like Floating IPS that can apply the patch file to a clean dump of a NES cartridge. This ROM hack is playable on original Nintendo Entertainment System hardware via a flashcart device, or it can be played by any common NES emulator like FCEUX or Nestopia.

One of the most annoying parts of Mega Man 4 (minus the difficulty) was the constant whir of the charge shot drowning out the brilliant soundtrack. With a patch like [Peter]’s this is no longer a going concern, and players are able to give their thumbs a bit of a break by not needing to continually hold down fire throughout a run. All welcomed changes aside, it still won’t change the fact that the Japanese TV commercial for the game is cooler than the print ads in the US.

Continue reading “Mega Man Hack Drops Charge Shot, Adds Classic Style”

Retro League GX Homebrew on CRT

Rocket League Inspired Homebrew Reverses Onto Nintendo GameCube

Would it have been too obvious to call a game about soccer playing RC cars, Soc-Car? Well [Martin] thought so and opted to call his Nintendo GameCube homebrew game, Retro League GX. The game clearly takes inspiration from Rocket League developed by Psyonix, as it pits teams of cars on a pitch plus comes complete with boosts to boot. There are some impressive physics on display here, and according to Krista over at GBATemp everything is playable on original hardware. Though those without a GameCube can certainly get a match in via the Dolphin emulator.

There are a number of ways to boot homebrew on a Nintendo GameCube, however, the most essential piece of software would be Swiss. Swiss is a homebrew utility that interfaces with all the myriad of ways to load code onto a GameCube these days. Common ways loading homebrew include saving files onto an SD card then using a SDGecko device that plugs into the memory card ports, or a SD2SP2 device that plugs into one of the GameCube’s expansion ports located on the bottom of the console. Those who prefer ditching the disc drive entirely can load homebrew via a optical disc emulator device like the GC Loader.

Still on the roadmap Retro League GX are ports for 3DS, PSP, Wii, and Linux. LAN and Online multiplayer are in the works as well. So at least that way GameCube broadband adapter owners may get to branch out beyond Phantasy Star Online for once. Best of all, [Martin] stated that the code for Retro League GX will be open sourced sometime next year.

Continue reading “Rocket League Inspired Homebrew Reverses Onto Nintendo GameCube”

Fixing Joy-Con Drift With Recycle Bin Parts

Have you seen this yet? YouTuber [VK’s Channel] claims to have a permanent fix for Joy-Con drift — the tendency for Nintendo Switch controllers to behave as though they’re being moved around when they’re not even being touched. Like everyone else, [VK’s Channel] tried all the usual suspects: compressed air, isopropyl alcohol, contact cleaner, and even WD-40. But these are only temporary fixes, and the drift always comes back. None of the other fixes so far are permanent, either, like shimming the flat cable that connects the stick to the mobo, adding graphite to the worn pads inside, or trying to fix a possible bad antenna connection.

While calibrating a drifting Joy-Con, [VK’s Channel] noticed that applying pressure near the Y and B buttons corrected the issue immediately, so they got the idea to add a 1mm thick piece of card stock inside. [VK’s Channel] believes the issue is that there is no fastener connecting the plastic part of the joystick to the metal part on the bottom. Over time, using the joystick causes the bottom to sag, which makes the metal contacts inside lose their grip on the graphite pads. It’s been two months now and there is absolutely no drift in either of the Joy-Cons that [VK’s Channel] has shored up this way.

Nintendo is now fixing Joy-Cons for free. The problem is that they are replacing irreparable ones outright, so you have to agree that you will settle for a plain old gray, red, or blue instead of your special edition Zelda controllers or whatever you send them. Hopefully, this really is a permanent fix, and that Nintendo gives [VK’s Channel] a job.

You could forego the joysticks altogether and swap them out for touchpads. Suffering from XBOX drift instead? We have just the thing.

Continue reading “Fixing Joy-Con Drift With Recycle Bin Parts”

Understanding Custom Signal Protocols With Old Nintendos

For retro gaming, there’s really no substitute for original hardware. As it ages, though, a lot of us need to find something passable since antique hardware won’t last forever. If a console isn’t working properly an emulator can get us some of the way there, but using an original controller is still preferred even when using emulators. To that end, [All Parts Combined] shows us how to build custom interfaces between original Nintendo controllers and a PC.

The build starts by mapping out the controller behavior. Buttons on a SNES controller don’t correspond directly to pins, rather a clock latches all of the button presses at a particular moment all at once during each timing event and sends that information to the console. To implement this protocol an Adafruit Trinket is used, and a thorough explanation of the code is given in the video linked below. From there it was a simple matter of building the device itself, for which [All Parts Combined] scavenged controller ports from broken Super Nintendos and housed everything into a tidy box where it can be attached via USB to his PC.

While it might seem like a lot of work to get a custom Nintendo controller interface running just because he had lost his Mega Man cartridge, this build goes a long way to understanding a custom controller protocol. Plus, there’s a lot more utility here than just playing Mega Man; a method like this could easily be used to interface other controllers as well. We’ve even seen the reverse process where USB devices were made to work on a Nintendo 64.

Continue reading “Understanding Custom Signal Protocols With Old Nintendos”

Game Boy Color Gets A Rechargeable Battery

Nintendo’s classic Game Boy has long been the darling queen of the handheld scene. However, with many fans modifying their handhelds with power-sucking features like modern backlit LCDs, running on AA batteries can become a frustrating exercise as they rapidly run out. [esotericsean] gets around that by modifying his Game Boys with a USB rechargeable battery setup. (Video, embedded below.)

The hack is a simple one, but the execution is quite tidy. [esotericsean] starts by removing the original DC jack from the Game Boy motherboard, and hogs out the hole in the case to fit a micro USB port. The original battery housing is similarly carved out to suit a 2000 mAh lithium-polymer pouch cell. A single-cell charging board is used to manage the battery, with its original connector removed and replaced with a neater-looking panel mount micro USB port instead. The electronics is then wrapped up in Kapton tape and stuffed inside the shell as everything is put back together.

The result is a USB rechargeable Game Boy that lasts for ages. [esotericsean] reports playing the console for hours each day for a full week without running out of power. The hack could become popular with chiptuners who often knock AA cells out of their handhelds during the more enthusiastic parts of their sets. We’ve seen similar hacks for other Game Boy models, too. Continue reading “Game Boy Color Gets A Rechargeable Battery”