The Pi Pico replacement board in question, assembled, held diagonally in some type of holder

ProPico For Your Pro Pico Needs

Ever feel like the Pi Pico board could be doing way more given its footprint? Does it bother you that the RP2040’s ADC quality is even further decreased because of the noisy onboard switching regulator? Miffed about decisions like the MicroUSB socket, the 2MB flash, or lack of the reset button? [Dmytro] brings us an open-source Pi Pico design, sporting the same RP2040 and a fully compatible footprint, but adding a number of improvements to its surroundings.

There’s a good few additions, all of them hacker-friendly – [Dmytro] adds comfortably-spaced reset and boot buttons, a USB-C socket, a dedicated low-noise voltage reference for the ADC, one more LED, and an I2C EEPROM footprint socket that is compatible with FRAM chips. Everything worth preserving is preserved – the pinout stays the same, including the SWD connector, which now sports an extra RESET pin. The bottom side USB testpoints remain, with only the four testpoints changed for more useful signals. Last but not least, the switching regulator is replaced by the venerable 1117 – you lose the ability to power your Pico from two AAs, and the capacitor series resistor requirement isn’t great, but you can easily put one of the drop-in 1117 replacement regulators on there.

What’s great is that the design is fully open-source, with KiCad files available. Want to design your own Pi Pico footprint board, improve upon this one even further, or maybe make a more tailored one? Treat yourself to the GitHub repository! There’s also a pinout diagram and a KiCanvas schematic for all your tinkering needs. We’ve covered drop-in replacements for classic drawer-inhabiting parts like the Pi Zero, for the 7805 (twice!), the 6502 CPU, and even for the DE9 serial port connector. No matter the purpose, they’re always a joy to see.

The controller after the rebuild, looking just like the stock controller but with an external antenna attached

An Extensive Walkthrough On Building Your Own KSP Controller

Having a game-tailored controller is a level-up in more ways than one, letting you perform in-game actions quickly and intuitively, instead of trying to map your actions to a clunky combination of keyboard and mouse movements. [abzman] took the Pelco KBD300A, a DVR-intended camera controller panel with a joystick, reverse-engineered it, and then rebuilt it into a Kerbal Space Program controller. What’s more, he documented every detail along the way!

The write-up is so extensive, it’s four separate posts — all of them worth reading without a doubt. In the first post, he describes the original hardware, the process of reverse-engineering it, and a few tips for your own RE journeys. Next, he covers about making his own board, showing all the small decisions he’s had to make, with plenty of KiCad screenshots. If you are on the lookout for designing such a board, there’s plenty to learn!

The original hardware didn’t go down without a fight — the third post talks about taming the seven-segment displays, the onboard joystick, and fighting with the key matrix wired in exactly the way you wouldn’t want. In the end, he shows us how you could tie a controller easily into Kerbal Space Program.

One more piece of hardware liberated, one more win for the hacker world. Whether it’s a Macintosh SE, a classic ThinkPad,¬†or even a generic rotary tool, these upgrades are always a joy to see. If you wanted to learn to do such an upgrade yourself, here’s us showing how you can pull this off with a classic Sony Vaio!