Sony’s Playstation 5 console and its DualSense controllers aren’t exactly new, but the triggers of the controllers have a genuinely interesting design that is worth examining. The analog triggers on the PS5 controllers are generally described as having “variable resistance”, but it turns out that’s not the whole story. Not only is the trigger capable of variable resistance when being pressed, but it can also push back in variable ways and with varying amounts of force. How it works is pretty clever.
The feedback for the trigger assembly is handled by a lever, a geared wheel, and a worm gear on an electric motor. Under normal circumstances, nothing interferes with the trigger at all and it works like a normal analog trigger. But when the motor moves the lever into place, trigger movement now has to overcome the added interference with a mechanical disadvantage. The amount of resistance felt can be increased a surprising amount by having the motor actively apply additional force to counter the trigger’s movement.
That’s not all, either. The motor can also actively move the lever into (or out of) position, which means that pulling the trigger not only has the ability to feel smooth, mushy, or stiff in different places, but it can also actively push back. This feedback can be introduced (or removed) at any arbitrary point along the trigger’s range of motion. A trigger pull can therefore feel like it has a sharp breakpoint, a rough travel, a hard stop, an active recoil, or any combination of those at any time.
It’s a little hard to describe, but you can get a better idea of it all works in practice by watching part of this teardown by [TronicsFix] (video cued to about 9:17 where the trigger teardown begins.) It’s also embedded below, so give it a peek.
After an initial design was sketched out, rectangular tube steel was cut to size and welded together with a MIG welder. A central shaft linked to some secured bearings made the central pivot point. A few pistons offered the resistance needed for leaning into the curves. To the central shaft, a seat and an old bicycle fork were attached. A clever linkage from the handlebars to the base causes the bike to tilt when turning the handlebars and vice versa.
The bike was ready for prime time after some grinding, orange paint, a license plate, and some lights and grips. [The Q] just needed to get the angle of the bike into the simulation of their choice. While we expected a teensy or other microcontroller emulating a controller, [The Q] went for a somewhat simpler approach, and 3D printed a cradle to hold a PlayStation controller. Little levers pull strings to articulate the joystick, and a cable from the throttle grip pulls back the trigger on the controller. All in all, the experience looks pretty decent, particularly when you’re comparing it to a motocross arcade machine. What it really needs are some fans blowing for the effect of the air stream coming at you.
The first thing we notice about this portable PS2 is that the plastic looks like a consumer-grade shell, not a 3D printed case. It comes from [GingerOfOz], who has lots of portable conversions under his belt, so we are not surprised this looks like a genuine Sony device. When you are as experienced as he, details like plastic texture, and button selection, are solved problems, but shouldn’t be taken for granted by us mortals.
Of course, this isn’t just pretty, and if it weren’t functional, we wouldn’t be talking about it. The system plays nearly all PS2 titles from USB memory. The notable exceptions are the ones that refuse to load without a Dualshock controller. Rude. If you’re wondering if it plays games at full speed, yes. It achieves authentic speed because it uses a PS2 slim motherboard which gets cut down by a Dremel. Custom PCBs provide the rest of the hardware, like volume buttons and battery charging. There is no optical drive since they are power hogs, so your cinematic cut scenes may lag, and load times are a little longer.
The exploit is considerably more complex this time around, but [Bradlin] does an excellent job of breaking it down for those who want the gritty details. The short version is that missing boundary checks in the PlayStation’s built-in memory card handling routines mean a carefully formatted “block” on the memory card can get the console to execute a small 128 byte payload. That’s not a lot of room to work with, but it ends up being just enough to load up additional code stored elsewhere on the memory card and really kick things off.
Unlike tonyhax, which was designed specifically to allow the user to swap their retail Tony Hawk disc with a game burned to a CD-R, [Bradlin]’s FreePSXBoot is presented as more of a generic loader. As of right now, it doesn’t allow you to actually play burned games, although its inevitable that somebody will connect those last few dots soon.
If you want to check out the progress so far, all you need is wire a PlayStation memory card up to an Arduino, write the provided image to it, and stick it in the slot. [Bradlin] says the exploit doesn’t work 100% of the time (something else that will surely be addressed in future releases), but it shouldn’t take too many attempts before you’re greeted with the flashing screen that proves Sony’s 27 year old console has now truly been bested.
Modern consoles bring joy to televisions around the globe, but they’re fundamentally mass-produced totems to gaming excellence. That wasn’t good enough for [Matt], who decided that his PlayStation 5 needed a total case makeover. (Video, embedded below.)
The material of choice is brass. Capable of being polished to a mirror-like shine while being readily workable and available, it’s perfect for making a PlayStation 5 look just a little more deluxe. While [Matt] has worked with brass before, replicating the PS5’s case in the metal pushed him to learn new skills. The main center divider was easy enough, with paper used to create a cutting template to match the form which bends through 90 degrees. The real challenge, however, was the side panels. With complex curves across several axes, manually bending metal plates to match the shape proved impossible. Instead, a custom wooden and plaster jig was made, onto which brass plates could be clamped to match the curves. A blowtorch was then used to release the plate’s internal stresses in a process called normalisation.
[Matt] does a great job of making the whole thing look easy. With that said, the final results are stunning enough that we’re sure it would be difficult to replicate without a lot of experience and attention to detail. In particular, the deft way the side panel clips were dealt with had us nodding in sage approval. The final console makes a great companion for the brass-housed monitor [Matt] created for his [DIY Perks] channel quite recently. Video after the break.
While the PlayStation 3 and Gamecube come from opposing sides of the aisle, and in fact aren’t even from the same generation of hardware, this DIY adapter built by [Jeannot] allows Nintendo’s console to use Sony’s Bluetooth controllers with surprisingly little fuss. This might seem unnecessary given the fact that Nintendo put out an official wireless controller for the system, but given how expensive they are on the second-hand market, you’d need to have pretty deep pockets for an untethered four-player session. Plus, there’s plenty of people who simply prefer the more traditional control layout offered by Sony’s pad.
The internals of the 3D printed adapter are actually quite straightforward, consisting of nothing more than an Arduino Nano wired to a MAX3421E USB host shield. A common USB Bluetooth adapter is plugged into the shield, and the enclosure has an opening so it can be swapped out easily; which is important since that’s what the PS3 controller is actually paired to.
A Gamecube controller extension cable must be sacrificed to source the male connector, though if you wanted to fully commit to using Bluetooth controllers, it seems like you could turn this into an internal modification fairly easily. That would let you solder right to the controller port’s pads on the PCB, cutting the bill of materials down ever further.
[Jeannot] says the firmware is the product of combining a few existing libraries with a fair amount of experimentation, but as demonstrated in the video below, it works well enough to navigate the console’s built-in menu system. Future enhancements include getting the stick sensitivity closer to the values for the Gamecube’s standard controller, and adapting the code to work with newer PS4 controllers.
Aptly named tonyhax, this exploit uses a classic buffer overflow found in the “Create Skater” mode in Tony Hawk 2, 3, and 4. When the game sees a custom character saved on the memory card it will automatically load the name field to show it on the screen, but it turns out the developers didn’t think to check the length of the name before loading it. Thanks to this oversight, a long and carefully crafted name can be used to load an executable payload into the console’s memory.
That payload could be anything, such as a homebrew game, but in this case [Marcos] went all in and developed a simple tool that unlocks the console’s optical drive so it will play games burned to CD-Rs. Once the tonyhax exploit has been loaded, you simply swap the authentic Tony Hawk disc for whatever burned title you want to play. So far every game tested has worked, even those that span across multiple discs.
[Marcos] is providing not only the save files ready to load on your PlayStation memory card (either through a PC tool, or with the help of a hacked PS2), as well as the complete source code for tonyhax. This opens the door to the exploit being used to load other tools, emulators, and indie games, but as the PlayStation homebrew scene is relatively limited when compared to newer consoles, the demand might be limited.
Compared to the traditional physical modifications used to play copied games on the PlayStation, this new software approach is far more accessible. Expect to see memory cards with this exploit preinstalled hit your favorite import site in the very near future.