Robots With A Delicate Touch Assemble PlayStation 4

Sony’s video game division is gearing up for their upcoming PlayStation 5, pushing its predecessor PlayStation 4 off the spotlit pedestal. One effect of this change is Sony ever so slightly relaxing secrecy surrounding the PS4, allowing [Nikkei Asian Review] inside a PlayStation 4 final assembly line.

This article was written to support Sony and PlayStation branding for a general audience, thus technical details are few and far in between. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise given how details of mass production can be a competitive advantage and usually kept as trade secrets by people who knew to keep their mouths shut. Even so, we get a few interesting details accompanied by many quality pictures. Giving us a glimpse into an area that was formerly off-limits to many Sony employees never mind external cameras.

The quoted engineers are proud of their success coaxing robots to assemble soft and flexible objects, and rightly so. Generally speaking robots have a hard time handling non-rigid objects, but this team has found ways to let their robots handle the trickier parts of PS4 assembly. Pick up wiring bundles and flat ribbon cables, then plug them into circuit board connectors with appropriate force. Today’s automated process is the result of a lot of engineers continually evolving and refining the system. The assembly machines are covered with signs of those minds at work. From sharpie markers designating positive and negative travel directions for an axis, to reminders written on Post-It notes, to assembly jig parts showing the distinct layer lines of 3D printing.

We love seeing the result of all that hard work, but lament the many interesting stories still untold. We would have loved a video showing the robots in action. For that, the record holder is still Valve who provided an awesome look at the assembly of the Steam Controller that included a timelapse of the assembly line itself being assembled. If you missed that the first time, around, go watch it right now!

At least we know how to start with the foundations: everything we see on this PS4 assembly line is bolted to an aluminum extrusion big or small. These building blocks are useful whether we are building a personal project or a video console final assembly line, so we’ve looked into how they are made and how to combine them with 3D printing for ultimate versatility.

[via Adafruit]

Add Extra Storage To Your PS4 With Retro Flair

[Frank] came up with a clever way to extend the storage of his PS4. He’s managed to store his digital PS4 games inside of storage devices in the shape of classic NES cartridges. It’s a relatively simple hack on the technical side of things, but the result is a fun and interesting way to store your digital games.

He started out by designing his own 3D model of the NES cartridge. He then printed the cartridge on his Ultimaker 3D printer. The final print is a very good quality replica of the old style cartridge. The trick of this build is that each cartridge actually contains a 2.5″ hard drive. [Frank] can store each game on a separate drive, placing each one in a separate cartridge. He then prints his own 80’s style labels for these current generation games. You would have a hard time noticing that these games are not classic NES games at first glance.

Storing the game in cartridge form is one thing, but reading them into the PS4 is another. The trick is to use a SATA connector attached to the PS4’s motherboard. [Frank’s] project page makes it sound like he was able to plug the SATA cable in without opening the PS4, by attaching the connector to a Popsicle stick and then using that to reach in and plug the connector in place. The other end of the SATA cable goes into a custom 3D printed housing that fits the fake NES cartridges. This housing is attached to the side of the PS4 using machine screws.

Now [Frank] can just slide the cartridge of his choice into the slot and the PS4 instantly reads it. In an age where we try to cram more and more bits into smaller and smaller places, this may not be the most practical build. But sometimes hacking isn’t about being practical. Sometimes it’s simply about having fun. This project is a perfect example. Continue reading “Add Extra Storage To Your PS4 With Retro Flair”

UsbXlater For PS4 Keyboard And Mouse Action

USB

[Frank Zhao]—an awesome guy, an inadvertent Hackaday contributor, and an Adafrut fellow—has come up with a device to use a keyboard and mouse with Playstation 4 games. He calls it the UsbXlater, and even if [Frank] can’t get it working with his PS4, it’s still going to be an awesome tool.

On the board are two USB ports and an STM32F2 microcontroller. The micro provides a USB host interface and a USB device interface, enabling it to translate mouse movements and keystrokes into something a PS4 can understand.  While this project was originally designed to use a keyboard and mouse on [Frank]’s shiny new PS4, it’s not quite working just yet. He’s looking for a few gamer/dev folks to help him suss out the communication between a keyboard/mouse, the UsbXlater, and a PS4.

Of course, even if this device is never used for what it’s designed for, it’s still a very, very interesting tool. With two USB ports, the UsbXlater could act as a signal generator for USB devices and hosts, analyze USB traffic, or provide other applications that haven’t even been thought of yet.

[Frank] is hitting his head against the wall trying to figure out the PS4 protocol, so if you have some USB skills, feel free to hit him up for a blank PCB, though preference falls to people who will game with it and to those with a USB traffic analyzer. If you lack the skills for USB development, [Frank] is still looking for a better name for his device.