Finally, A Real Set Of Gamecube Joycons

The Gamecube may not have sold as many units as its competitors in its day, but it maintains a cult fanbase to this day. Due largely to the Smash Bros. community, its controllers are still highly sought after. After the release of the Nintendo Switch, with plenty of fan renders around the place [Shank Mods] figured someone would create a set of Joycons with Gamecube controls. After waiting almost four years, he decided instead to do it himself.

The build begins with a Wavebird controller shell, chosen for its larger body, which is coincidentally the same height as the Switch. The shell was cut down the middle, and 3D printed components were created to attach Joycon mounting rails to the two halves of the controller. The large controller also has plenty of space inside, making it easy to fit all the Joycon components inside. Compatibility was a key aim of this build, so much attention was paid to make the Gamecube Joycons function properly with all Switch features. Extra buttons were added where necessary, and the formerly analog triggers were modified with plugs to match the solely digital operation of the Switch components.

It’s a project that had to overcome many hurdles, from mechanical redesigns to make everything fit, to figuring out the arcane electrical design of the Joycon hardware. The hard work paid off however, and [Shank Mods], along with a couple of talented community members, was able to create a beautiful piece of hardware. We’ve seen Gamecube-themed Joycons before, but this build really does take the cake. If you’ve instead modified the original Xbox controller to work with the Switch, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.

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Farming Items With RasPi-Modified Joycons

The Pokémon games have delighted legions of Nintendo gamers over the years, and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Despite its popularity, there are certain aspects of the games that are unarguably about simply grinding your way to success. For [Mori Bellamy], this simply wouldn’t do – yet their thirst for gold bottlecaps was insatiable. What to do? Automate it, of course.

The first step was to hack the Joycons from the Nintendo Switch. A DG333A analog switch IC was hooked up to the buttons inside, and controlled by the GPIO pins of a Raspberry PI. The joystick was then controlled with an MCP4725 DAC, allowing the system to fully emulate control inputs to the console.

With the console now under control by the Raspberry Pi, the next step was to add intelligence. Google’s Tesseract OCR platform was combined with a helping of Python code. This allows the script to read dialog boxes from the game, and use this data to determine which buttons to press to farm items.

[Mori] has provided the code on GitHub for others to use, noting that it should be generalizable to other games with a little work. Fundamentally, the underlying hardware could readily be repurposed to other controllers, too. There’s plenty of other ways to automate the drudgery of gaming, even if you have to use a touch screen. Video after the break.

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Reverse Engineering The Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons

The Switch is Nintendo’s latest effort in the console world. One of its unique features is the Joy-Cons, a pair of controllers that can either attach directly to the console’s screen or be removed and used individually. But how do they work? [dekuNukem] decided to find out.

The reverse engineering efforts begin with disassembly. Surprisingly, there is no silkscreen present on the board to highlight test points or part numbers. This is likely to conflate intended to stymie community efforts to work with the hardware, as different teams may create their own designations for components. Conversely, the chips inside still have their identifying markings present, which does ease identification somewhat.

There are some interesting choices made – the majority of the buttons are scanned in a matrix configuration by the on-board microcontroller, making it harder to spoof button presses. The controllers communicate over Bluetooth, switching to a physical serial connection when attached directly to the screen. This runs at a blistering 3,125,000 BPS after the initial handshake is completed.

Overall it’s a fairly comprehensive reverse engineering effort, and [dekuNukem] has provided excellent detail in the writeup for anyone else looking to get involved. There’s still some work left to do, like investigating the rumble messages, but it’s an excellent start and very comprehensive.

Perhaps you’re more interested in older Nintendo hardware? Check out this comprehensive effort to figure out NES console-to-cartridge security methods.