It used to be that to play a console game, you just had to plug in a cartridge or put a CD/DVD in the optical drive. But these days, with modern titles ballooning up to as much as 100 GB, you’ve got no choice but to store them on the system’s internal hard disk drive. While that can lead to some uncomfortable data management decisions, at least it means you don’t have to get up off the couch to switch games anymore.
Which is precisely why the MC2SIO project for the PlayStation 2 is so exciting. As [Tito] explains in his latest Macho Nacho Productions video, this simple adapter lets you connect an SD card up to the console’s Memory Card slots and use that to hold ISOs of your favorite games. With the appropriate homebrew software loaded up, your PS2 becomes a veritable jukebox of classic games.
The first thing we notice about this portable PS2 is that the plastic looks like a consumer-grade shell, not a 3D printed case. It comes from [GingerOfOz], who has lots of portable conversions under his belt, so we are not surprised this looks like a genuine Sony device. When you are as experienced as he, details like plastic texture, and button selection, are solved problems, but shouldn’t be taken for granted by us mortals.
Of course, this isn’t just pretty, and if it weren’t functional, we wouldn’t be talking about it. The system plays nearly all PS2 titles from USB memory. The notable exceptions are the ones that refuse to load without a Dualshock controller. Rude. If you’re wondering if it plays games at full speed, yes. It achieves authentic speed because it uses a PS2 slim motherboard which gets cut down by a Dremel. Custom PCBs provide the rest of the hardware, like volume buttons and battery charging. There is no optical drive since they are power hogs, so your cinematic cut scenes may lag, and load times are a little longer.
Once a popular craze, most of the public has sold or stashed away their plastic video game instruments and forgotten the likes of Guitar Hero and Rockband. Having never been quite satisfied with his scores, [Nick O’Hara] set out to create a robot that could play a Guitar Hero controller. It would be easy enough to use transistors to actuate the buttons or even just a Teensy to emulate a controller and have it play the perfect game, but [Nick] wanted to replicate what it was really like to play. So after burning out a fair number of solenoids (driving them over spec) and learning on his feet, [Nick] slowly began to dial in his robot, Jon Bot Jovi.
The brains of the bot are a Raspberry Pi running some OpenCV-based code that identifies blobs of different colors. The video feed comes from a PS2 via an HDMI capture card. Solenoids are driven via an 8 channel driver board, controlled by the Pi. While it missed a few notes here and there, we loved seeing the strumming solenoid whammy rapidly on the strummer. All in all, it’s a great project, and we love the design of the robot. Whether played by a robot, turned into a synthesizer, or recreated from toy pianos and mechanical keyboards, Guitar Hero controllers offer many hacking opportunities.
Never doubt the value of a good teacher. Even if you know — or think you know — the material being presented, a good teacher can open your eyes to new ways of looking at things that will pay dividends you never expected.
That’s the feeling we got while watching [Ben Eater]’s latest video on building a keyboard interface (embedded below) for his breadboard 6502 computer. On the face of it, getting a keyboard to talk to a computer should be a simple job. [Ben] had previously looked at the serial protocol used by the old PS/2 keyboard and even built a wildly complex circuit out of discrete shift register chips to visualize the data being sent by the keyboard. The video below continues that work, this time concentrating on using the keyboard with his 6502 breadboard computer.
After some instructive preliminaries on interrupt programming, [Ben] dives into the logic-level details of teasing useful signals from the keyboard. His signal processing starts with some inverters and an RC network to turn multiple clock pulses into one logic level transition. Walking through this circuit step by step was the really interesting bit; even if you know that the answer is eventually going to be “Schmitt trigger,” getting to that point was really instructive.
Of course, what [Ben]’s videos mainly accomplish is making us want to follow along with him and build a breadboard computer of our own. From a low-rez VGA card to a reliable UART, following along with his discrete chip builds is always educational.
It might be difficult to imagine in our modern HDMI Utopia, but there was a time when game consoles required proprietary cables to connect up to your TV. We’re not just talking about early machines like the NES either, turn of the millennium consoles like the PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and the original Xbox all had weirdo A/V ports on the back that were useless without the proper adapter.
But thanks to the efforts of [Taylor Burley], you can now upgrade your Slim PS2 with integrated HDMI capability. It’s not even a terribly difficult modification, as these things go. Sure there’s a lot of soldering involved to run from the console’s A/V connector to the commercially-made HDMI dongle he’s hidden inside the case, but at least it’s straightforward work.
As [Taylor] shows in the video after the break, all you have to do is remove the proprietary connector from the HDMI adapter dongle, and wire it directly into the console’s A/V port with a bit of ribbon cable. There are only 8 pins in the connector that you need to worry about, and the spacing is generous enough that there’s no problem getting in there with your iron and some standard jumper wires. You’ve also got to pull 5 V from the board to power the adapter, but that’s easy enough thanks to the system’s nearby USB ports.
There’s a perfect spot to mount the adapter board next to the console’s Ethernet connector, and once that’s tacked down with a bit of adhesive, the only thing left to do is cut a hole in the back of the enclosure for the HDMI port and snip away a bit of the metal RF shield. Presumably the same modification could be done on the original “fat” PS2, though you’ll be on your own for finding a suitable place to mount the board.
Home games consoles have occupied a special space in the marketplace over the last 3 decades. The crowning jewels of their respective companies, they inspired legions of diehard fans and bitter enmities against followers of alternative hardware. For some, a mere handheld is a watered down experience that simply won’t do. Nay, the console itself must become portable!
It’s this line of thinking that may have inspired [Darkwing Mod] to produce this elegant portable PlayStation 2. Started at the end of 2013, it’s the product of six years of on-and-off work, a situation familiar to many a hacker. It packs an original PS2 motherboard inside a slick black-and-blue case, expertly crafted with plastic and putty for a smooth finish. A Raspberry Pi 2 also lives inside, serving up games over a Samba share. This method was chosen for its short load times and robustness for the portable form factor, versus trying to squeeze a full DVD drive inside. It’s used in combination with Free MCBoot to load the games.
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Java has a pretty impressive track record in terms of supported platforms. Available on everything from flip phones to DVD players, not to mention computers, Oracle once famously claimed that Java runs on three billion devices. An estimate that, in truth, is probably on the low side at this point. Especially when [Michael Kohn] keeps figuring out how to run it on increasingly esoteric devices.
[Michael] writes in to tell us that he’s added support for the PlayStation 2 console to Java Grinder, his software for taking Java code and turning it into a native binary for a variety of unexpected platforms. His previous conquests have included the TRS-80 and Atari 2600, so by comparison the PS2 is an almost tame addition to the list.
Let’s be honest, you probably don’t have any desire to run a Java program on Sony’s nearly two decade old game system. But that’s OK. The documentation [Michael] has written up is fascinating anyway, covering specifics of the PS2’s rather unique hardware and quirks he ran into when developing on an emulator and deploying on real hardware. Even if you’ll never put the findings to practical use, it’s absolutely worth a read.
In the video after the break you can see the demo [Michael] came up with booting on a real PS2 to prove the software works. To really put his mark on it, he mentions he wrote and performed the demo’s songs and even drew some of the artwork on paper and scanned it into his computer.