Cube64 Puts The Good Controllers On The GoldenEye Console

The Nintendo 64 was lauded for bringing quality 3D graphics and analog stick controls to the console realm, way back in 1996. Unfortunately, those analog sticks were never very good; if you’ve ever played four player Mario Kart 64, you know how it feels to be stuck with that controller. For a superior experience, consider building an adapter and upgrading to the GameCube controller instead.

Cube64 is a project that allows GameCube controllers to work with the original Nintendo 64 hardware. Using a PIC18F14K22 in its DIY version, or a PIC18F24Q10 in the SMD version, it’s the product of much work by [scanlime] and [darthcloud] to reverse engineer the N64 and GC controller protocols. The GameCube’s many buttons and sticks allow for easy mapping to the N64’s original button layout, and the hardware provides plenty of calibration options and maps to get things working exactly the way you like for the game you’re playing.

Given that original N64 controllers are getting hard to come by, a GameCube upgrade is a great way to go. They’ll likely be in production for years yet, thanks to the commercial influence of Super Smash Bros. Of course, the two consoles have been fine friends for years, as evidenced by this mashup console we featured back in the distant, peaceful past of 2013.

Come On Baby Light My Fire Button

While the Nintendo GameCube stood deep in the shadows of the PS2 in its day, its controller remains a popular target for all sorts of modifications today — many of them involving LEDs, thanks to a translucent bottom and button option. As an avid player of the Super Smash Bros. series, [goomysmash] is of course an owner of the very same controller, which motivated him to write GoomWave, a “versatile and hackable LED library”. In an impressively detailed Instructable, he shows how to modify your own controller in two different ways to make use of the library for yourself.

Initially inspired by the Shinewave mod that lights up RGB LEDs in colors associated to pre-defined moves in Smash Bros, [goomysmash] aimed to improve on it and add more versatility from the very beginning. Its latest iteration comes in a simplified ABXY-buttons-only variety using an ATtiny85, and a full-blown all-button variety using an Arduino Nano. Both of them are powered straight from the controller board, and have different modes where they either react to controller interactions, or are just custom lights. A brief showcasing of all the different modes can be seen in the video after the break, and there a few more details also in an older version’s video, also embedded below.

Mesmerizing LED-blinking aside, we just have to admire the diligence and cleanliness [goomysmash] put into the wiring and fitting everything inside the controller. But in case light mods aren’t your thing or you’re looking for other GameCube controller modifications, how about adding Bluetooth?

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Slide Your Switch Into A Gamecube Controller

The Gamecube was certainly a divisive design when it was released back in 2001, but the fact that people are still happily hacking away at its controller nearly 20 years later proves that Nintendo must have gotten something right. The latest project from Nintendo wizard [Bill Paxton] turns the unique Gamecube controller into an even more unique mobile dock for the Switch.

To build this “Gamecube Grip”, [Bill] literally cut an original controller and its PCB in half so they could be relocated on either end of the 3D printed central frame. Internally, the controller PCB is wired up to a GC+ board, which is an open hardware project that uses a PIC18F25K22 microcontroller to bring enhanced features to the classic peripheral such as adjustable stick dead zones and rumble intensity. From there, it’s connected to the switch with a GBros adapter from 8bitdo.

The grip also includes an Anker PowerCore 20,100 mAh battery that should keep the system going for hours, and some components liberated from a third party Switch dock. Everything has been finished off with the attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from [Bill] and his projects, including the seemingly flawless glossy paint job that’s something of hallmark for his custom gaming creations.

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A Wii Playing The GameCube, Disguised As A Game Boy SP

It may be hard to believe, but thanks to the expert work of Nintendo aficionado [Bill Paxton], the Game Boy Advance SP and GameCube lovechild that you see before you started its life as a Wii. That means not only can it play commercial GameCube and Wii games, but also has access to the wide library of homebrew games and emulators available for those systems.

To create this marvel, [Bill] first had to expertly cut away extraneous components from the Wii’s motherboard. He then mated the “trimmed” PCB to a new board that holds the controls as well as some other ancillary components such as the audio amplifier and USB port. He even managed to squeeze a battery in there, as demonstrated in the video after the break.

Finally, he designed a 3D printed enclosure that incorporates GameCube-style controls (complete with printed buttons) into the classic clamshell Game Boy SP shape. Because of the complexity of the design, [Bill] decided to have it professionally printed at Shapeways rather than trying to run it off of his home printer, which he says helps sells the professional look. It did take him some trial and error before he got the hang of painting the printed material to his satisfaction, but we think the end result was certainly worth the effort.

It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to find that this isn’t the first time [Bill] has pulled off a stunt like this. A few years back he created a very similar “GameCube SP”, but by the looks of it, this revised attempt improves on the original version in every way possible.

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ESP32 Adds Bluetooth To GameCube Controllers

While it might not be the most traditional design, there’s no debating that Nintendo created something truly special when they unleashed the GameCube controller on an unsuspecting world back in 2001. Hardcore fans are still using the controller to this day with current-generation Nintendo consoles, and there’s considerable interest in adding modern conveniences like USB support to the nearly 20-year-old design.

One particularly promising project is the BlueCubeMod created by [Nathan Reeves]. He’s developed a small custom PCB that can be installed into an official GameCube controller to turn it into a Bluetooth device. You do have to sacrifice the original cord and force feedback for this mod, but we think many will see the ability to use this iconic controller with their computer or phone as a pretty fair trade.

The PCB holds an ESP32-PICO-D4 which is operating as a standard Bluetooth HID controller for maximum compatibility with modern systems. Control signals are pulled directly from the controller’s original PCB with just two wires, making the installation very simple. Wondering where the power comes from? As the rumble motor isn’t supported anyway, that gets tossed and in its places goes a 700 mAh battery which powers the controller for up to six hours. Overall it’s a very clean modification that [Nathan] believes even beginners will be capable of, and he ultimately plans to turn this design into a commercial kit.

Currently you still need a receiver if you want to use the BlueCubeMod with the Nintendo Switch, but [Nathan] says he’s working on a way to get around that requirement by potentially switching out the ESP32 for a STM32 with a CC256x radio. He says this will give him more direct control over the Bluetooth communications, which should allow him to take into tackle the intricacies of talking to the Switch directly.

Of course, the GameCube did have an official wireless controller back in the day. We’ve seen modifications to get the WaveBird to get it talking to modern systems as well, but there’s something to be said for slimmer form factor of the original edition.

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The Smallest GameCube Is Actually A Wii

Casemodding, or stuffing video game consoles into shapes they were never meant to be in, is the preserve of a special breed. Our favorites are when old consoles are stuffed into different versions of the same console. Remember that gigantic O.G. Brick Game Boy carrying case? Yes, you can turn that into a jumbo-scale Game Boy, and it’s sweet. Continuining this trend of consoles of a different size, [Madmorda] has stuffed a GameCube into a sugar cube. It’s small. It’s really small, and it’s some of the best casemodding we’ve seen.

First off, the enclosure. This is an officially licensed micro GameCube case that originally housed gummy candies crafted by gummy artisans who work exclusively in the medium of gummy. This case, incidentally, is the perfect scale to match [Madmorda]’s earlier work, a miniaturized GameCube controller. This controller was originally a keychain, but with a bit of fine soldering skills it can indeed become a functional GameCube controller.

With the candy container GameCube gutted, the only task remaining was to put a GameCube inside. This is a lot easier if you tear down a Wii, and after desoldering, resoldering, and generally cutting up the circuit board of a Wii, [Madmorda] had something very small.

The finished console is a complete GameCube, compatible with all games, and no emulation. There are four controller ports, two USB ports for memory card slots, and output is composite through a 3.5mm jack. It’s a great piece of work and looks exactly like a miniaturized GameCube.

Mods Keep The WaveBird Kicking In The Switch Era

Nintendo made some questionable decisions during the early 2000’s, but developing the WaveBird certainly wasn’t one of them. Years before wireless controllers were the standard on home game consoles, the WaveBird gave GameCube owners a glimpse into the future. It managed to deliver lag-free gaming without resorting to easily-blocked infrared, and had a battery life and range long enough that there was really no downside to cutting the cord aside from the lack of rumble support.

In fact, the WaveBird was such a good controller that some fans just can’t put the thing down even in 2019. [Bill Paxton] loves his so much that he decided to modify it so he could use it on Nintendo’s latest money printing machine, the Switch, without having to fiddle with any adapters. While he was at it, he decided to fix the only serious drawback of the controller and hack in some rumble motors; arguably making his re-imagined WaveBird superior in just about every way to the original.

It might be counter-intuitive, but the trick here is that [Bill] actually took the internals from a standard wired GameCube controller and fitted it all into the case for the WaveBird. That’s how he got the rumble support back, but where does the signature wireless capability come from?

For that, he took apart a “GBros. Wireless Adapter” from 8BitDo. This gadget is intended to let you use your existing GameCube controllers on the Switch wirelessly, so all he had to do was shove its PCB inside the controller and wire it directly to the pads on the controller’s board. Thankfully, the WaveBird was rather husky to begin with, so there’s enough space inside to add all the extra hardware without much fuss.

Between modifications like this and efforts to reverse engineer the controller’s wireless protocol, hackers aren’t about to let this revolutionary accessory go gently into that good night. You might see a GameCube slaughtered for a meme, but WaveBirds never die.

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