What’s more fun than playing video games? Designing your own video game hardware, of course! If you’ve followed these pages long enough you’ll have seen dozens of great examples of homebrew hardware, and perhaps been inspired to try such a project yourself. This often starts with assembling the basic bits onto a solderless breadboard, which is fine for programming but not so great for testing: squeezing pushbuttons into your breadboard works for basic debugging, but is not very user-friendly or reliable. A better solution can be found in [Dimitar]’s GameBug: a set of breadboard-compatible joypad-like controllers.
The GameBug’s design excels in its simplicity: a miniature analog joystick, four buttons arranged in a diamond pattern, a shoulder button and two sliding switches are sitting on a neat purple PCB. On the bottom are two rows of pin headers to ensure a snug fit on your solderless breadboard. There’s even a little vibrating motor for haptic feedback.
Interfacing with the GameBug is simplified by the integrated readout electronics. A Schmitt trigger-based debounce circuit ensures clean signals from all the pushbuttons, while a motor driver chip provides stable current to the haptic feedback system. An RGB LED can be used as yet another user feedback device, or simply for decorative lighting.
All design files are available on [Dimitar]’s GitHub page, along with an Arduino sketch to help you try out the GameBug’s functionality. Having a proper gamepad might come in handy with breadboard-based game systems like Tiny Duck Hunt or this impressive mess of wires that makes up a Colecovision.