Open Gaming To Everyone With A Controller Meant To Be Hacked

Gaming controllers have come a long way from an Atari 2600’s single button and digital joystick. As games grew more sophisticated, so did the controllers. This development had a dark side – controllers’ growing complexity have made it increasingly difficult for different-abled bodies to join in the fun. Microsoft has extended an invitation to this audience with their upcoming Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Creative minds have been working on this problem for a while, building an ecosystem of controller hacks to get more people into gaming. These projects require solving problems in two broad categories: the first is to interface with input devices that match a specific user’s needs, the second is then integration into target game device’s control infrastructure.

The value of XAC is eliminating the second category of work and making it reliable: it takes care of all the housekeeping overhead of creating a custom Xbox controller, from power management to wireless communication. As for input device interface, every control needed to play on a Xbox is individually mapped to a standard 3.5 mm jack. Some are pure digital ports, others can transfer an analog value. A 3.5mm plug is a proven consumer-friendly interface that’s easy to work on by anyone who wants to pick up a soldering iron, making this array of jacks a wide-open gateway to limitless possibilities. The 3.5 mm jacks make it easy to build specific configurations, and make it easy for less-technical people to reconfigure for a different player or different game.

We love to see our hacker creativeness applied to help people live normal lives. Making it easy to hack up a custom gaming controller may not be earth shattering, but don’t underestimate the importance of letting people feel included. It does transform lives, one at a time. Plus, it looks like fun to play with.

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Rube Goldberg PC/Console Game Hack

There’s no holy war holier than establishing whether PC games are superior to console games (they are). But even so, there’s no denying that there are some good console titles out there. What if you’d still like to play them using a mouse and keyboard? If you’re [Agent86], you’d build up the most ridiculous chain of fun electronics to get the job done.

Now there is an overpriced off-the-shelf solution for this problem, and a pre-existing open-source project that’ll get the same job done for only a few bucks in parts. But there’s nothing like the fun in solving a problem your own way, with your own tangle of wires, darn it all! The details of the build span four (4!) pages in [Agent86]’s blog, so settle down with a warm cup of coffee.

Here’s the summary: an Xbox 360 controller is taken apart and turned into an Xbox controller. The buttons and joysticks are put under computer control via a Teensy microcontroller. GPIOs press the controller’s buttons, and digipots replace the analog sticks. Software on the Teensy drives the digipots and presses the buttons, interpreting a custom protocol sent over USB from the computer, which also gets some custom software to send the signals.

So if you’re keeping score: a button press on a keyboard is converted to USB, sent to a PC, converted to a custom serial protocol, sent to a Teensy which emulates a human for a controller that then coverts the signals back into the Xbox’s USB protocol. Pshwew!

Along the way, there’s learning at every stage, which is really the point of an exercise like this. And [Agent86] says that it mostly works, with some glitches in the mouse-to-joystick mapping. But if you’re interested in any part of this crazy chain, you’ve now got a model for each of them.

 

A Lego Game Controller; Just for the Hack of It

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[StrangeMeadowlark] decided one day to create this badass Arduino-based gaming controller. Not for any particular reason, other than, why the heck not?!

It looks like a tiny Lego spaceship that has flown in from a nearby planet, zooming directly into the hands of an eager Earthling gamer. With buttons of silver, this device can play Portal 1 and 2, Garry’s Mod, Minecraft, and VisualBoy Advance. Although more work is still needed, the controller does the job; especially when playing Pokemon. It feels like a Gameboy interface, with a customizable outer frame.

Sticky, blue-tack holds a few wires in place. And, most of the materials are items that were found around the house. Like the gamepad buttons on top; they are ordinary tactile switches that can be extracted from simple electronics. And the Legos, which provide an easy way to build out the body console, rather than having to track down a 3D printer and learning AutoCAD.

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EmuDroid 4: Completed!

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[Tony Huang] is checking in with his EmuDroid 4 gaming controller. After tons of redesigns — it is now finished!

We first started following this project back in November, when it was in an early prototype stage. What he has done is crammed a 4″ Android tablet, the guts of a USB SNES controller, a USB OTG adapter and inductive charging unit into a custom designed 3D printed housing.

What we really like about this project is the level of documentation [Tony] has gone into during his many… many… many iterations of the 3D printed housing. For those of you who aren’t engineers or designers, it’s a great insight into what goes into prototyping a product before release. Now just imagine what it was like when we didn’t have 3D printers! Continue reading “EmuDroid 4: Completed!”