Arduino Learns The Martial Arts With Nunchucks Input Device

There is a boring part of every computer introduction class that shows how a computer is made up of input, output, and processing. Maybe it wouldn’t be so boring if the input device was a nunchuck. [Brian Lough] thinks so and he belligerently asserts that nunchucks are the best input device ever. With a simple connection to a Wii controller and an associated library, you get access to an analog joystick, two buttons, and an accelerometer.

The nunchuck is meant to plug into a Wii controller and the connection is I2C, so that’s trivial to interface to an Arduino or other small microcontroller. The only issue is making the connection. We might have just snipped the wires, but [Brian] prefers to use a small breakout board that plugs into the stock connector and provides solder points for your own cable. There are options for the breakout boards, and [Brian] has his own design that you can get from OSHPark for about a buck for three boards. You can also just jam wire into the connector, but that’s not always robust.

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WiiBoy Color Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

Anyone can go out and buy a handheld console, and if you want to be the cool kid on the school bus, you can always ask your parents to take you out to get one. But if you want real street cred that lasts through your adult years, you’ve gotta put something together yourself. [GingerOfMods] has done just that with the Wiiboy Color. 

Yes, it’s another home-console-turned-portable, and it’s perfomed with exquisite execution. The Wii motherboard is cut and sliced to the absolute bare minimum, as the aim was to build the entire system to the rough form factor of the original Game Boy Color. Custom PCBs were then used to link the chopped ‘board to peripherals, such as the USB drive used to load games and the circuitry from a Gamecube controller. The screen is a beautiful looking 3.5″ IPS LCD, running at 480p and originally intended for use as an automotive backup camera. Battery life is around 2-3 hours, with a USB-C port included for easy charging. More details are included on the forum build log.

It’s a tidy build, and the 3D printed case, Switch joysticks and DS Lite buttons give it a near-production quality finish. [GingerOfMods] intends to build more for commissions, though expect a hefty price tag given the labor and custom work involved. We’ve seen other portable Wiis before too, like this tightly-packed Kapton-heavy build. Video after the break.

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Custom Bluetooth Joystick In A Nunchuk Shell

With the Wii’s unique controller, Nintendo not only provided new gaming experiences to players, but gave hardware hackers a platform for experimentation that’s still going strong. Case in point, this modification of a third party Wii “Nunchuk” by [Giliam de Carpentier] that turns the accessory into a stand-alone wireless controller powered by a ATtiny44A.

Milling a new home for the AVR

It turns out there’s a considerable amount of free space inside the Nunchuk case, so [Giliam] found adding in the new hardware wasn’t nearly as difficult as you might expect. Of course, it helps that the diminutive SMD ATtiny44A and its support hardware are housed on a very neatly milled PCB that attaches to the back of the original board.

Most of the other hardware comes in the form of modular components, like the  Bluetooth transmitter and TP4056 charge controller for the 300 mAh battery. A micro USB charging port is mounted where the original Nunchuk cable entered the case, making the whole thing look very professional.

Even if you aren’t interested in making your own controller, [Giliam] covers many interesting topics in this write-up such as handling different methods of Bluetooth connectivity and various power management techniques to eke out as much life from the relatively small battery as possible. It’s not only a fascinating read, but a great example of what thorough project documentation should look like.

In the past we’ve seen Bluetooth conversions for the Wii Nunchuck, but traditionally they left the original electronics in place. On the other side of the spectrum, we’ve also seen the internals get replaced with something as powerful as the Raspberry Pi Zero.

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Guitar Hero Controller Gets A New Musical Life

Guitar Hero was a big deal, right up until it wasn’t. The best efforts of the video game industry couldn’t resurrect the once-off rush of enthusiasm for rhythm gaming, and thrift stores around the globe are now littered with little plastic instruments. [Analog Sketchbook] decided to give one of these guitars for the Wii a new life, repurposing it as a synth controller.

The build is a straightforward one, thanks to the prevalence of modern maker solutions to electronic problems. Hooking up to the guitar is a solved problem, with an Adafruit Nunchucky breakout board allowing the Guitar Hero controller to be connected via jumper wires to the Raspberry Pi’s IO pins.

Communication is via I2C, and is easy to work with in Pure Data, running on the Pi. [Analog Sketchbook] created a patch that runs a synthesizer, controlled by the buttons and controls on the guitar itself. With this setup, you could create any number of different routines to allow the guitar to be played differently. We’d love to see a chiptune-esque arpeggio patch, or something that plays fat FM synth tones a la the Genesis, but that’s just our opinion. The sky really is the limit here, with plenty of grunt on the Pi for various forms of synthesis.

It’s a fun build that gives new life to an otherwise forgotten gaming accessory. We’ve seen them repurposed before too, as far back as 2010. Video after the break.

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Defeating The Wii Mini As The Internet Watches Over Your Shoulder

Working under the pressure of being watched on a live feed, [DeadlyFoez] pits himself against the so-called unhackable Wii Mini and shows unprecedented results all while recording hours of footage of his process for others to follow along. We dug through that content to find the gems of the process, the links below include timestamps to those moments.

The Wii Mini is a cost-reduced version of Nintendo’s best-selling console, sold near the end of its life with a few features removed such as GameCube backwards compatibility and SD card support. Along with that, in an effort to thwart the jailbreaking that had plagued its big sister Nintendo made it so the NAND memory (where the system is stored) is encrypted and keyed to each device’s Hollywood GPU chip. This defeats methods which modified the storage in order to gain access to the hardware.

That did not stop [DeadlyFoez] from trying anyway, planning out the steps he needed to achieve a hacked Mini unit with the help of a regular Wii donor, already hacked. After dumping both systems’ NANDs and exploring the Wii Mini hardware further, he found a few pleasant surprises. There are test points on the board which allow GameCube controllers to be used with it. There are also SD card connections physically present on the board, but the support was removed from the Mini’s system software.

The most interesting parts come later on however: by simultaneously swapping NAND and GPU chips between original Wii and Wii Mini, [DeadlyFoez] manages to put together two distinct systems. The first is an original Wii board with the Mini’s chips claimed to be “the first Wii Mini running homebrew software”. The second, filling the opposite side of the equation, with both hardware and software to add SD card and GameCube controller ports to a Wii Mini.

This process of BGA rework in order to mod Nintendo hardware into unorthodox versions of themselves has actually been done before a few years ago, when someone made an unofficial US region non-XL new 3DS by piecing together parts from two separate consoles. Continue reading “Defeating The Wii Mini As The Internet Watches Over Your Shoulder”

A Wii Playing The GameCube, Disguised As A Game Boy SP

It may be hard to believe, but thanks to the expert work of Nintendo aficionado [Bill Paxton], the Game Boy Advance SP and GameCube lovechild that you see before you started its life as a Wii. That means not only can it play commercial GameCube and Wii games, but also has access to the wide library of homebrew games and emulators available for those systems.

To create this marvel, [Bill] first had to expertly cut away extraneous components from the Wii’s motherboard. He then mated the “trimmed” PCB to a new board that holds the controls as well as some other ancillary components such as the audio amplifier and USB port. He even managed to squeeze a battery in there, as demonstrated in the video after the break.

Finally, he designed a 3D printed enclosure that incorporates GameCube-style controls (complete with printed buttons) into the classic clamshell Game Boy SP shape. Because of the complexity of the design, [Bill] decided to have it professionally printed at Shapeways rather than trying to run it off of his home printer, which he says helps sells the professional look. It did take him some trial and error before he got the hang of painting the printed material to his satisfaction, but we think the end result was certainly worth the effort.

It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to find that this isn’t the first time [Bill] has pulled off a stunt like this. A few years back he created a very similar “GameCube SP”, but by the looks of it, this revised attempt improves on the original version in every way possible.

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Wii Nunchuk Gets A Built-in Raspberry Pi Zero

The Wii controller will likely go down in history as the hacker’s favorite repurposed input device, and there’s no question that the Raspberry Pi is the community’s top pick in terms of Linux single board computers. So it should come as little surprise that somebody has finally given us the cross-over episode that the hacking community deserves: the PiChuk, a Pi Zero inside of Nintendo’s motion-sensing “nunchuk”.

Veterans of Wii Sports might be wondering how the hero of our story, a hacker by the name of [keycaps], managed to pull off such a feat. The Pi Zero is small, but it’s not that small. The trick is that the case of the nunchuk has been extended by way of a new 3D printed bottom half.

There’s more than just a Pi Zero along for the ride, as well. [keycaps] has manged to sneak in a 750 mAh LiPo and an Adafruit Powerboost, making the device a completely self-contained system. Interestingly, the original nunchuk PCB remains more or less untouched, with just a couple of wires connected to the Pi’s GPIO ports so it can read the button and stick states over I2C.

We know you’re wondering why [keycaps] went through the trouble of breaking out the HDMI port on the bottom. It turns out, the PiChuk is being used to drive a Vufine wearable display; think Google Glass, but without the built-in computing power. The analog stick and motion sensing capabilities of the controller should make for a very natural input scheme, as far as wearable computers go.

So not only could the PiChuk make for an awesome wireless input device for your next project, it’s actually a pretty strong entry into the long line of wearable computing devices based on the Pi. Usually these have included a DIY version of the distinctive Google Glass display, but offloading that onto a commercially available version is certainly a lot easier.