Here at Hackaday HQ we’re no strangers to vintage game emulation. New versions of old consoles and arcade cabinets frequently make excellent fodder for clever hacks to cram as much functionality as possible into tiny modern microcontrollers. We’ve covered [rossumur]’s hacks before, but the ESP_8-bit is a milestone in comprehensive capability. This time, he’s topped himself.
There isn’t much the ESP 8-bit won’t do. It can emulate three popular consoles, complete with ROM selection menus (with menu bloops). Don’t worry about building a controller, just connect any old (HID compliant) Bluetooth Classic keyboard or WiiMote you have at hand. Or if that doesn’t do it, a selection of IR devices ranging from joysticks from the Atari Flashback 4 to Apple TV remotes are compatible. Connect analog audio and composite video and the device is ready to go.
The system provides this impressive capability with an absolute minimum of components. Often a schematic is too complex to fit into a short post, but we’ll reproduce this one here to give you a sense for what we’re talking about. Come back when you’ve refreshed your Art of Electronics and have a complete understanding of the hardware at work. We never cease to be amazed at the amount of capability available in modern “hobbyist” components. With such a short BOM this thing can be put together by anyone with an ESP-32-anything.
There’s one more hack worth noting; the clever way [rossumur] gets full color NTSC composite video from a very busy microcontroller. They note that NTSC can be finicky and requires an extremely stable high speed reference clock as a foundation. [rossumur] discovered that the ESP-32 includes a PLL designed for audio work (the “APLL”) which conveniently supports fractional components, allowing it to be trimmed to within an inch of the desired frequency. The full description is included in the GitHub page for the project and includes detailed background of various efforts to get color NTSC video (including the names of a couple hackers you might recognize from these pages).
[Joshua Nobel] and the team at undef came up with a receipt printer game for the OFFF 2011 festival in Barcelona.
The game is a small openFrameworks app that prints a maze on a thermal printer. A ‘car’ is guided through the maze with input taken from a DualShock 3 controller. The game is limited to a maximum distance of 50 meters, the length of the roll of paper. We wondered about the waste of paper this would be until undef pointed out, “ecologically it’s pretty much a disaster, just like any real car.”
The undef team tried to use the printer for the entire visual representation of the game but that didn’t quite work out until [Joshua Noble] came up with a ‘beamer’ to project the car and score onto the paper. We’re not quite sure what the ‘beamer’ is, but everything syncs up and the resulting game is quite nice.
The game itself reminds us of a certain flash game, but that can’t be where the original idea came from. Check out the Receipt Racer gameplay video after the break.
Nothing says Christmas like Nintendo 64 and benheck forum member [SifuF] has a treat for you. His Nintendo Sixtyfree Lite-R stuffs all the guts of at Nintendo 64 into a compact handheld package. It features dual joysticks and triggers. The display is a PSone screen with all of the extra board trimmed away. The part that really makes this project shine is the case. It’s vacuum-formed 2mm sheets of polystyrene. Another nice touch was the volume and screen brightness. They’re adjusted by holding down start and then using the other buttons. It doesn’t have internal batteries, but can run off of a 7.2V Infolithium.
[Ben Heck] posted an interesting one-off project he built many months ago. Video game developer Infinity Ward approached him to build a large display that indicated what buttons on a controller were being pressed. They were planning on using it during player testing by recording the board and the monitor at the same time. They could then compare the two to see if there was any disconnect between the players input and the onscreen action. Infinity Ward is the developer behind games like Call of Duty 4.
[Ben] piggy-backed the switch connections and added an external port. He used a pair of octal buffer ICs to replicate the signals and activate the LEDs. The whole board is powered by the same 3.3V line that’s used by accessories like the chat pad. The triggers have three LEDs each and are lit using a resistor ladder. [Ben] comments that since this is a newer Xbox 360 controller, the active-low button scheme makes it fairly easy to work with. There is a video of the board embedded below. Continue reading “Controller Button Marquee”→
The latest version of the Nintendo DS, the DSi, has officially launched in Japan. It features larger dual touchscreens, dual cameras, and an SD card slot. The members of GBAtemp.net have decided to tackle the most important question: will it run homebrew? Current DS systems just need a purpose built flash cartridge to load homebrew software (usually stored on MicroSD). Forum members have tested at least 10 different flash carts, and none of them worked. While not completely exhaustive it’s proof enough to us that current generation carts will not work. We hope this is something that can patched with a new firmware. Most carts load their firmware off the flash, so upgrades are easy. The blocking of homebrew maybe a side-effect of Nintendo’s announced region-locking on the DSi.
We hope this gets sorted out soon. Maybe we’ll see hackers figure out how to take advantage of the SD slot instead. If you’ve got a Nintendo DS, there’s no excuse not to be playing with homebrew. It’s as easy as copying files to a card. We’ve had success with the DSTT, which you can find on DealExtreme for just $10.
[Ben Heckendorn]’s Access Controller is now shipping. The controller is designed to be used with just one hand. It has six openings that the five control modules can be placed in. It’s easy to reconfigure depending on the player or game. While the prototype was built using Xbox 360 controller parts, this newly released unit is available for the PS2, PS3, and PCs. The Xbox 360 version is still being reviewed for final production. [Ben] says that in the coming weeks he’ll post a how-to for building your own modules. There’s always one empty slot and the bus like design should make this fairly simple.
[Perry’s] awesome AcceLED Pong project gives new life to a classic game by adding acceleration-based control. The pong paddles are moved by tilting the circuit left or right. Motion is measured by an ADXL203 dual axis accelerometer, and an ATMEGA32 microcontroller converts acceleration into ball and paddle movement. The game display is a three-color SparkFun 8×8 LED matrix with serial interface.