The Google Stadia game streaming service relied on a proprietary controller. It was a pretty neat piece of hardware that unfortunately looked destined for landfills when Google announced that Stadia would discontinue. Thankfully it’s possible to use them as normal gamepads, and related to that, [Thomas Steiner] has a developer blog post about how to talk to the Stadia controller via WebHID. Continue reading “Stadia Controller’s Two Extra Buttons Get Seen With WebHID”
Pedal Your Way Through Games With This USB Exercise Bike
If you’re into cycling, there’s nothing better than heading out on the open road and feeling the wind in your hair. Unfortunately, climatic conditions make this uncomfortable or impossible at certain times of year, so you might be tempted to stay inside and play video games instead. Luckily, you can now get your gaming fix and still get in shape thanks to [Patrick]’s exercise bike game controller.
[Patrick] got himself a second-hand exercise bike and discovered that the speed sensor inside it was based on a magnet and reed relay, just like a regular bike computer. Reading out the sensor was therefore as simple as counting pulses using an Arduino Leonardo, and the USB HID protocol made it easy to turn the cycling mechanism into a one-dimensional game controller.
He then completed the setup by adding two 3D-printed handlebar-mounted gamepads with a few buttons and a thumbstick on each side. The total system now works as an ordinary gamepad, but with the option of using the bike as a forward/backward control.
We can imagine that this system will stay interesting for far longer than any off-the-shelf internet-connected exercise bike, because you can interface it with basically any game. [Patrick] demos his rig using first-person shooters like Doom and Team Fortress 2, but the possibilities are endless: how about turning FIFA games into bike polo? Or Mirror’s Edge into a bicycle courier adventure? After all, we’ve already seen how a similar game controller can turn Grand Theft Auto into something more like Grand Theft Bicycle.
Continue reading “Pedal Your Way Through Games With This USB Exercise Bike”
Alpakka: A Creative Commons Game Controller
Input Labs’ mission is to produce
open-source Creative Commons hardware and software for creating gaming controllers that can be adapted to anyone. Alpakka is their current take on a generic controller, looking similar to a modern Xbox or PlayStation controller but with quite a few differences. The 3D printed casing has a low-poly count, angular feel to it, but if you don’t like that you can tweak that in blender to just how you want it. Alpakka emulates a standard USB-attached keyboard, mouse, and Xinput gamepad in parallel so should just work out of the box for both Linux and Windows PC platforms. The firmware includes some built-in game profiles, which can be selected on the controller.
The dual D-pads, augmented with an analog stick, is not an unusual arrangement, but what is a bit special is the inventive dual-gyro sensor arrangement –which when used in conjunction with a touch-sensitive pad — emulates a mouse input. Rest your thumb on the right-hand directional pad and the mouse moves, or else it stays fixed, kind of like lifting a mouse off the pad to re-center it.
The wired-only controller is based around a Raspberry Pi Pico, which has plenty of resources for this type of application giving a fast 250 Hz update rate. But to handle no fewer than nineteen button inputs, as well as a scroll wheel, directional switch, and that analog stick, the Pico doesn’t have enough I/O, needing a pair of NXP PCAL6416A I2C IO expanders to deal with it.
The PCB design is done with KiCAD, using a simple 3D printed stand to hold the PCB flat and the through-hole components in place while soldering. Other than a few QFN packages which might be a problem for some people, there is nothing tricky about hand-soldering this design.
We’ve been seeing custom game controllers as long as we’ve been hacking, here’s an interesting take on the mouse-integration theme. If you’re comfortable rolling the hardware side of things, but the firmware is a sticking point, then perhaps look no further than this neat RP2040 firmware project.
Continue reading “Alpakka: A Creative Commons Game Controller”
Turning A Toy Gamepad Into A Real One, With Bluetooth
It’s important to instill healthy habits in your children when they’re still young. Preferences for sports, snacks and dinosaurs are typically formed in early childhood, as is loyalty to a specific gaming platform. [RetrogradeScene] apparently wished to steer his young daughter towards the Nintendo camp, but wasn’t looking forward to having her grubby hands touch his prized controllers. So he built her her own kid-friendly controller out of a Fisher-Price toy.
The toy in question is an imitation game controller that just makes funny sounds when you press the buttons. Converting it into a real, working game controller was a matter of soldering some wires onto the existing PCB and hooking them up to a microcontroller board, in this case a DFRobot FireBeetle. After loading the ESP32-BLE-Gamepad library and assigning the correct pin-button combinations in software [RetrogradeScene] ended up with a big, brightly-coloured gamepad that actually functioned as one.
Unfortunately, the FireBeetle took up space where the original AAA batteries were sitting, so the hacked gamepad needed a new power source. Classic batteries are heavy and inconvenient anyway, so [RetrogradeScene] installed a modern lithium battery plus a USB-C port for charging. Of course, no Bluetooth gadget is complete without an accompanying smartphone app either: [RetrogradeScene] wrote one for his iPhone that enables him to quickly change the button layout between the Nintendo and Xbox styles.
This might be a rare example of someone making a gamepad from, well, a gamepad. We’ve seen a few more unusual things being converted into game controllers, ranging from a handful of LEGO bricks to entire cars.
Continue reading “Turning A Toy Gamepad Into A Real One, With Bluetooth”
Playing Super Hang-On With Hacked Controller Gives Reason For Paws
There’s a thing that happens when you’re shopping at a second hand store. You know how it goes: You see an item that strikes your fancy, your mind immediately locks in, and the item just has to be yours. [Tom Tilley] experienced this when he saw a Paw Patrol kids toy at a local thrift store, and you can see the results of his holiday hacking sessions in the video below the break.
How did [Tom] put the Paw Patrol game to use? Looking like a motorcycle cockpit left him with few choices. Before long he’d flipped the game over over, pulled the innards, and hacked together what just might be the most perfect toy based interface we’ve seen lately.
Using a Raspberry Pi Pico controller and some careful surgery, [Tom] turned the Paw Patrol game into a controller for the 1987 Sega motorcycle race arcade game Super Hang-On. Watching [Tom] play is a blast, but just in case the whole thing is a losing prospect, it’s completely reversible as well!
Of course we were a little disappointed that Super Hang-On couldn’t make use of the paws button.
On the other end of the spectrum, here’s an actual car turned into a game controller. Got a hot controller hack to share? Be sure to let the Tip Line know!
Continue reading “Playing Super Hang-On With Hacked Controller Gives Reason For Paws”
Giving A Console Controller Mouse-Like Precision Aim
Controller vs keyboard and mouse is one of the never-ending battles in the world of gaming, with diehard proponents on both sides of the fence. [Tech Yesterday] has been working to create a controller that’s the best of both worlds. His latest Mouse Pro Controller V5 features an inverted mouse riding on ball bearings.
Mouse Pro Controller V1-3‘s main focus was to create the largest possible moving surface for an optical thumb mouse for precision aiming. However, [Tech Yesterday] found that one’s thumb doesn’t work well for traversing a large flat surface, but works better with a concave surface. On V4 he flipped the optical sensor around, embedding it in the controller, with a small circular “mouse pad” attached to his thumb. The concave surface was made from the diffuser of a large LED light bulb. It had slightly too much friction for [Tech Yesterday]’s liking, so he embedded an array of small ball bearings in the surface using magnets.
While this “thumb mouse” has excellent precision, it can be a bit slow when you need to make large movements, like when performing 360° no scopes for the clips. For these situations, [Tech Yesterday] embedded a thumb stick on the back of the controller to allow for fast sideways movements using his middle fingers.
[Tech Yesterday] is already working on V6, but feels close to the limit of his skills. If you are interested in working with him, be sure to get in touch! Modding controllers for fun and performance are great, but for gamers with prosthetic fingers it’s a requirement.
Continue reading “Giving A Console Controller Mouse-Like Precision Aim”
There’s Only One Way To Play A Star Wars Game
Most computer and console games have a variety of different control schemes depending on the controller peripheral the player has to hand. For Star Wars games the fight scenes may be playable with a gamepad, but perhaps that leaves a little to desired in the realism department. In that case, [Leonardo Moreno] has the solution, in the form of a motion sensing light sabre for gaming via gesture control.
The first part of any light sabre project is the sabre itself, and for this he uses soft transparent PVC tubing. This might seem an insubstantial choice, but makes sense when the possibility of hitting an expensive television or gamers monitor with it is considered. Up the pipe goes a piece of LED strip, and onto it a hilt containing an Arduino and an MPU6050 gyroscope sensor. The physical controls come courtesy of a small analogue joystick and a trigger fashioned from a wooden clothes pin. The result may be a little rough and ready, but it’s undeniably a light sabre. Full instructions and software can be found at the link.
Light sabres have been a perennial build, but few have captured the original better than this laser based one.