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.

The Smallest GameCube Is Actually A Wii

Casemodding, or stuffing video game consoles into shapes they were never meant to be in, is the preserve of a special breed. Our favorites are when old consoles are stuffed into different versions of the same console. Remember that gigantic O.G. Brick Game Boy carrying case? Yes, you can turn that into a jumbo-scale Game Boy, and it’s sweet. Continuining this trend of consoles of a different size, [Madmorda] has stuffed a GameCube into a sugar cube. It’s small. It’s really small, and it’s some of the best casemodding we’ve seen.

First off, the enclosure. This is an officially licensed micro GameCube case that originally housed gummy candies crafted by gummy artisans who work exclusively in the medium of gummy. This case, incidentally, is the perfect scale to match [Madmorda]’s earlier work, a miniaturized GameCube controller. This controller was originally a keychain, but with a bit of fine soldering skills it can indeed become a functional GameCube controller.

With the candy container GameCube gutted, the only task remaining was to put a GameCube inside. This is a lot easier if you tear down a Wii, and after desoldering, resoldering, and generally cutting up the circuit board of a Wii, [Madmorda] had something very small.

The finished console is a complete GameCube, compatible with all games, and no emulation. There are four controller ports, two USB ports for memory card slots, and output is composite through a 3.5mm jack. It’s a great piece of work and looks exactly like a miniaturized GameCube.

A Practical Portable Wii Emerges From The Memes

A few months ago, [Shank] built what will almost certainly go down in history as the world’s smallest portable Nintendo Wii. As it turns out, the Wii motherboard is home to a lot of unnecessary hardware, and with a careful hand and an eye for detail, it’s possible to physically cut it down to a much smaller unit; allowing this particularly tenacious hacker to put an actual Wii, along with everything else required to make it portable, into an Altoids tin.

As you might expect, between the cramped controls, comically short battery life, and the fact that the whole thing got hot to the touch during use, it was a miserable excuse for a portable console. But the incredible response the project received inspired [Shank] to dust off an earlier project: a far more practical portable Wii that he calls PiiWii. This time around the handheld is a more reasonable size, a useful battery life, and proper controls. It even has an integrated “Sensor Bar” so you can use real Wii Remotes with it. It might not be the prettiest portable console conversion we’ve ever seen, but it certainly ranks up there as one of the most complete.

[Shank] actually “finished” the PiiWii some time ago, but in his rush to complete the project he got a little overzealous with the hot glue and ended up with a device that was difficult to diagnose and fix when things started to go wrong. He shelved the project and moved on to his Altoids tin build, which helped him refine his Wii shrinking skills. With a clearer head and some more practical experience under his belt, the PiiWii was revamped and is clearly all the better for it.

Unlike previous Wii portables we’ve seen, there’s no attempt at adding GameCube controller ports or video out capability. It’s built to be a purely handheld system, and that focus has delivered a system that’s roughly the size of the original Game Boy Advance. Beyond the cleverly sliced Wii motherboard, the inside of the PiiWii features a 3.5 inch display, a custom designed audio amplifier PCB, four 3400 mAh cells which deliver a run time of around four hours, a 3DS “slider” analog stick, and a generous helping of Kapton tape in place of hot glue.

If there’s any criticism of the PiiWii, it’s likely going to be about the system’s boxy exterior. But as [Shank] explains, there’s an excellent reason for that: it’s literally built into a project box. He simply took a commercially available ABS project box, the Polycase SL 57, and made all his openings on the front with a laser cutter. Other than the fact taking a laser to ABS releases hydrogen cyanide, he found it a good way to quickly knock out a custom enclosure.

Last year we took a look his ridiculously small Altoids tin Wii, and while that was an impressive project to be sure, we’re glad he revisited the PiiWii and showed that a portable Wii can be more than just a novelty. Compared to other systems, the Wii doesn’t seem to get the portable treatment that often, so we’re always glad to see somebody come in and do the concept justice.

Continue reading “A Practical Portable Wii Emerges From The Memes”

Prototype Proves Wii Was Two Gamecubes Taped Together All Along

Say what you will about Nintendo’s little purple lunchbox, the Gamecube, but it was home to many delightful experiences from Super Smash Bros. Melee to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. We now know it was also home to one of the very first Nintendo Wii remotes as well thanks to the recent listing from [Kuriaisu1122] on Yahoo Auctions.

The prototype Wii remote is a wired design and features a proprietary Gamecube controller cable. Notable differences include the two buttons toward the bottom are labeled ‘B’ and ‘A’ respectively. This shows that Nintendo always intended to have players hold the remote sideways in order to play Virtual console games. The large white button next to the directional pad is unlabeled, and along the middle are the traditional ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ labels on either side of ‘Home’. However, these all would go through multiple revisions on the way to the final design. Interestingly there is an Ethernet jack at the base used to connect accessories. That connector would eventually become the often maligned “Nunchuk interface”, but what modder wouldn’t have loved it if that Ethernet port had carried on to the final design?

Much like the “invaluable” Mario Party 6 microphone, the prototype’s IR sensor bar communicates via the Gamecube memory card port. The auction listing featured a photo size comparison of the prototype sensor bar is around four inches wider than the final design. Missing from the prototype Wii remote is the small tinny speaker, but that always seemed like an after thought anyway.

Credence as to the controller’s validity was given in a tweet from WayForward’s James Montagna who said on Twitter, “Wow, it’s the prototype Wii Remote & Nunchuk! I remember seeing these back when it was still known as the Nintendo Revolution!”. Montagna would go on to post photos of the Wii remote from E3 2006 that featured ‘Back’ and ‘Pause’ buttons where the plus and minus buttons would ultimately reside on the final design. These photos of the missing links in the evolution of the Wii remote help fill in the design process at Nintendo. They also further the idea that Nintendo always wanted players to measure each of their new consoles’ processing power in “X number of Gamecubes duct taped together”.

[via Nintendo Life]

For more on the console formerly known as the Nintendo Revolution, check out this incredible Wii console mod in an Altoids tin featured on Hackaday.