A home-made wireless game controller

ColecoVision Barn Find Gets Wireless Makeover

Few things are more satisfying than finding an old, forgotten piece of technology somewhere and bringing it back to life. And while it’s great to see a rare sports car or an Apollo Flight Computer being restored, even not-very-successful game consoles from the 1980s can make for some great repair stories. Just look at how [Discreet Mayor] describes his restoration and modification efforts on a ColecoVision that he literally found in a barn.

Given that the ColecoVision was on the market between 1982 and 1985, we can assume that [Discreet Mayor]’s console had been sitting on a shelf for at least three decades, and the machine was definitely showing its age. Several components had failed due to corrosion, including the clock crystal, a 7400 series logic chip and a capacitor in the power supply, but since these are all standard components it was rather straightforward to replace them.

The controllers however were sadly beyond repair. Replacing them with standard joysticks wasn’t really an option because the ColecoVision controllers included a numeric keypad, which was mainly used to select game options. Making something completely new was the way to go, and [Discreet Mayor] decided to go for a wireless system while he was at it. After all, he had already developed a modular wireless IoT system based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, which turned out to be a perfect fit for this system.

The splash screen of ColecoVision's Venture[Discreet Mayor] built a simple joystick-plus-fire-button setup on a piece of MDF and equipped it with his IoT transmitter. Instead of adding a replacement numeric keypad he decided to use the joystick to simulate the most commonly-used buttons: “right” for “1”, “down” for “2” and so on. The receiver module uses digital switches to mimic keypresses to the console’s input port. The end result might look a bit hacky, but the console is fully functional again and runs its games just like it did over thirty years ago.

We’ve seen several projects that add wireless controllers to a variety of classic consoles. If you’ve got a ColecoVision that turns out to be beyond salvaging, you can always just build your own from scratch.

(Re)Making A ColecoVision

[Leaded Solder] found some ColecoVision game cartridges at a flea market, and like most of us would, thought, “I’ll build a ColecoVision console from scratch to play them!” Well, maybe most of us would think of that, but not actually do it. He did and you can read about the results in great detail since he wrote up two posts, one covering the design and one covering the construction.

The ColecoVision was a game console that famously could be expanded into a nice — for its day — personal computer. It even had a daisy wheel printer in that configuration. However, in either configuration, the game console was the brains of the operation. According to [Leaded Solder] the price of a unit in working order is high even though over 2 million were made because of several design problems that make them less likely to survive the decades. Rather than repair and modify an original unit, it was cheaper and much more educational to build new.

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Coleco In Spat With ColecoVision Community

If you were a child of the late 1970s or early 1980s, the chances are that your number one desire was to own a games console. The one to have was the Atari 2600, notwithstanding that dreadful E.T. game.

Of course, there were other consoles during that era. One of these also-ran products came from Coleco, a company that had started in the leather business but by the mid 1970s had diversified into handheld single-game consoles. Their ColecoVision console of 1982 sold well initially, but suffered badly in the video game crash of 1983. By 1985 it was gone, and though Coleco went on to have further success, by the end of the decade they too had faded away.

The Coleco story was not over though, because in 2005 the brand was relaunched by a successor company. Initially it appeared on an all-in-one retro console, and then on an abortive attempt to crowdfund a new console, the Coleco Chameleon. This campaign came to a halt after the Chameleon┬áprototypes were shown to be not quite what they seemed by eagle-eyed onlookers. Continue reading “Coleco In Spat With ColecoVision Community”

Breadboard Colecovision

The Colecovision was a state-of-the-art game console back in 1983. Based around the Z-80, it was almost a personal computer (and, with the Adam add-on, it could serve that function, complete with a daisy wheel printer for output). [Kernelcrash] set out to recreate the Colecovision on a breadboard and kept notes of the process.

His earlier project was building a Funvision (a rebranded VTech Creativision) on a breadboard, so he started with the parts he had from that project. He did make some design changes (for example, generating separate clocks instead of using the original design’s method for producing the different frequencies needed).

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