Despite a somewhat shaky start, it seems like everyone is finally embracing USB-C. Most gadgets have made the switch these days, and even Apple has (with some external persuasion) gotten on board. That’s great for new hardware, but it can lead to a frustrating experience when you reach for an older device and find a infuriatingly non-oval connector on the bottom.
If one of those devices happens to be Sony’s DualShock 4 controller, [DoganM95] has the fix for you. Sony wisely put the controller’s original micro USB connector on a separate PCB so it could be cheaply replaced without having to toss the main PCB — that same modularity also means it was relatively easy to develop a USB-C upgrade board.
That said, there was a bit of a catch. The USB board on the DualShock 4 also carries a LED module that illuminates the “Light Bar” on the rear of the controller. In this design, [DoganM95] has replaced the original component with a pair of side-firing LEDs. Combined with the extra pins in the flexible printed circuit (FPC) connector necessary to control them, and the pair of 0603 resistors required for USB-C to actually provide power, putting this board together might take a bit more fine-pitch soldering than you’d expect.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a wide array of devices receive DIY USB-C upgrades. In fact, this isn’t even the first time we’ve seen it done on the DualShock 4. But there’s something about hacking a modern port onto a legacy piece of hardware that we just can’t seem to get enough of.
Modern gaming console controllers aren’t without their annoyances — Joy-Con drift, anyone? The problems might stem from design deficiencies, but we suspect that user enthusiasm and the mechanical stress it can introduce might play a significant role as well. Either way, [Marius Heier] decided to take a look at what would be required to build a better joystick and came up with some interesting results.
The first video below lays the basic groundwork, with a bunch of experiments with 3-axis Hall effect sensors, specifically the Texas Instruments TMAG5273 and TMAG5170. They’re essentially the same sensor with different interfaces — SPI for the 5170 and I2C for the 5273. Using just one of these sensors, he was able to build a joystick with the usual X- and Y- axis control, but also with a rotary axis. What’s more, he built a motorized version using two NEMA 17 steppers to mechanically drive the stick back to center.
The joystick is bulky, but it looks like he’s got plans for a much smaller one with [Carl Bugeja]-style PCB motors that should fit into a PS4 controller. That’s the subject of the second video below, which uses a different Hall sensor — an Allegro A1304 — and is mainly concerned with getting the output of a non-motorized but considerably miniaturized joystick stick talking the language that the controller expects. It’s not a simple process, but it seems to be coming along nicely, and we’ll be watching progress closely.
Continue reading “Exploring The Hall Effect For Haptic Feedback PS4 Joysticks”
Mecanum wheels are popular choices for everything from robots to baggage handling equipment in airports. Depending on their direction of rotation, they can generate forces in any planar direction, providing for great maneuverability. [ATOM] set about building just such a robot chassis, and learned plenty in the process.
The design is similar to those we’ve seen in the past. The robot has four mecanum wheels, each driven by its own motor. Depending on the direction of rotation of the various wheels, the robot can move forward, backwards, and even strafe left and right. Plus, it can effectively tank turn without excessive slippage thanks to the rollers on each wheel. An ESP32 serves as the brains of the ‘bot, allowing it to be readily remote controlled via a PS4 gamepad over Bluetooth.
If you’re looking to build a small robot chassis that’s great at moving about in tight, small spaces, this could be a great project to learn with. All the necessary parts are relatively easily available, and the PCB files can be had on GitHub.
If you like the idea of mecanum wheels but need something bigger, consider starting with a set of hoverboard wheel motors. Continue reading “Mecanum-Wheeled Robot Chassis Takes Commands From PS4 Controller”
Micro USB was once the connector of choice for applications where USB-A was too big, but now USB-C has come to dominate all. It’s becoming standard across the board for many peripherals, and [Ian] recently decided that he wanted to upgrade his PS4 controller to the newer standard. Hacking ensued.
The hack consists of a small breakout board that enables a USB-C connector to be fitted into the PS4 controller in place of the original micro USB port. [Ian] explains what needs to be done to complete the mod, which first involves disassembling the controller carefully to avoid damage. The original microUSB breakout board can then be removed, and fitted with one of a selection of replacement boards available on Github to suit various revisions of PS4 controller. A little filing is then required to allow the new connector to fit in the controller case, and [Ian] notes that using an 0.8mm thick PCB is key to enabling the new breakout board to fit inside the shell.
It’s a neat hack that makes charging PS4 controllers way easier in the modern environment without having to keep legacy micro USB cables around. We’ve actually seen similar hacks done to iPhones, too, among other hardware. Video after the break.
Continue reading “PlayStation 4 Controller Gets A USB-C Upgrade”
When the PlayStation 3 first launched, one of its most lauded features was its ability to officially run full Linux distributions. This was of course famously and permanently borked by Sony with a software update after a few years, presumably since the console was priced too low to make a profit and Sony didn’t want to indirectly fund server farms made out of relatively inexpensive hardware. Of course a decision like this to keep Linux off a computer system is only going to embolden Linux users to put it on those same systems, and in that same vein this project turns a more modern Playstation 4 into a Kubernetes cluster with the help of the infamous OS.
The Playstation 4’s hardware is a little dated by modern desktop standards but it is still quite capable as a general-purpose computer provided you know the unofficial, unsupported methods of installing Psxitarch Linux on one. This is a distribution based on Arch and built specifically for the PS4, but to get it to run the docker images that [Zhekun Hu] wanted to use some tinkering with the kernel needed to be done. With some help from the Gentoo community a custom kernel was eventually compiled, and after spending some time in what [Zhekun Hu] describes as “Linux Kernel Options Hell” eventually a working configuration was found.
The current cluster is composed of two PS4s running this custom software and runs a number of services including Nginx, Calico, Prometheus, and Grafana. For those with unused PlayStation 4s laying around this might be an option to put them back to work, but it should also be a cautionary tale about the hassles of configuring a Linux kernel from scratch. It can still be done on almost any machine, though, as we saw recently using a 386 and a floppy disk.
Getting retro hardware up and running again is sometimes a feat, and the amount of effort needed tends to go up exponentially with increased hardware age. Getting an IDE hard drive running again is one thing, but things like peripherals on truly “retro” computers like Commodores and Amigas is another beast altogether if you even have a 30-year-old mouse still lying around. That’s why adapters like Project mouSTer are here to help you connect modern USB hardware to truly ancient computers.
This piece of equipment was built for the Atari ST (hence the name), a
8-bit computer from the mid-80s. It mates a DB9 plug with USB via a small microcontroller which does the translating. The firmware can be flashed over the USB connection so there’s planned support for other machines of this vintage. The chip supports all the features the original mouse did, too, including PS4 pad support and support for joysticks, and comes in an impressively tiny package once assembled which blends in seamlessly.
The project is a great step to getting retro computers working again, even if you can’t find exact OEM replacements anymore. That’s a common problem, and we’ve seen this solved in other ways for other old Ataris. It’s not uncommon to put modern power supplies in retro computers, either, as long as they power up and work after everything’s wired together.
Video games are a great way to have some fun or blow off a little steam when real life becomes laughable. But stock controllers and other inputs are hardly one size fits all. Even if you have no physical issues, they can be too big, too small, or just plain uncomfortable to hold.
[kefcom] wrote in to give us a heads up about a modular, adaptive system he designed for anyone who is unable to operate a PS3, PS4, or PC with a standard controller. The project was inspired by Microsoft’s adaptive XBOX controller and works pretty much the same way — broken-out buttons, joysticks, and other inputs all connect to a hub that unifies them into a controller the console or computer can communicate with. The major difference is that this project is open source and can be realized much more cheaply.
If you want to give this a try, [kefcom]’s project repo has step-by-step instructions for disassembling two types of wireless controllers and converting them into hubs for modular controls. He’s looking for help with design, documentation, and finding reliable suppliers for all the parts, so let him know if you can assist.
Some players need something more accessible than just broken-out buttons and full-size joysticks. Here’s an adaptive controller that uses ridged foam rollers to actuate buttons.