“Yell To Press B” Mod Makes N64 Controller Worse

There’s probably no reason anyone would actually desire a mod like this. Well, no good reason. But [William Osman] had been pondering what it would be like to play some classic games with inputs other than buttons, and decided to make an audio sensor responsible for pressing the B button on an old N64 controller. This “Yell To Press B” mod was also something unique to show his hosts when he visited the YouTube video game aficionados, [Game Grumps].

[William] acknowledges that the build is a bit of a hack job, but the project page does a good job of documenting his build process and covering the kinds of decisions involved in interfacing to a separate piece of hardware. After all, most budding hackers have sooner or later asked themselves “how do I make my gadget press a button on this other thing?” [William] ends up using a small relay to close the connection between the traces for the B button when triggered by a microphone module, but he points out that it should be possible to do a non-destructive version of the mod. Examples exist of reading the N64 controller’s state with an Arduino, which could form the basis of a man-in-the-middle approach of “Yell To Press B” (or anything else) instead of soldering to the button contacts. A video is embedded below, in which you can watch people struggle to cope with the bizarre mod.

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Reading An N64 Controller With A Microcontroller

We’ve seen NES, SNES, Sega, and just about every weird controller Atari put out connected to microcontrollers, but connecting the N64 controller to a project has remained one of those seldom-seen, rarely copied endeavors, not often tackled by makers around the globe. [Pieter-Jan] decided to throw his hat in the ring and give reading an N64 controller with a PIC a try, and we’re pleased to report he’s been completely successful.

One of the difficulties of reading an N64 controller is simply the speeds involved; with only three pins on the controller port, the N64 controller uses a serial protocol to send 32 bits of controller data at a fairly fast rate. Armed with a PIC18F ‘micro, [Pieter] realized that programming in C would be too slow, he needed to go all the way down to the bare metal and program his micro in assembly.

Every time the N64 controller data needs to be read, the console sends out a 9-bit polling request. The controller responds in turn with a 32-bit sequence informing the console of the status of all the buttons and joysticks. Once [Pieter] got his micro sending the correct polling response, it was only an issue of parsing the data returned from the controller.

Right now, [Pieter] has a small demo board rigged up that flashes a LED whenever the A, B, or Z buttons are pressed. This can be expanded to the remaining buttons and joystick, but for now we’ll just enjoy [Pieter]’s demo after the break.

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