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Wireless retro controllers?


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21 replies to this topic

#1 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 16 November 2011 - 04:52 PM

I'm finally fed up with having like 20 controllers in variously working states (mostly N64 controllers with wobbly joysticks and Genesis controllers with sticky buttons). Some friends and I are considering building an adapter for all old game systems to let you play with a PS3 or Wii controller, starting with SNES and N64. We have a little running debate going about whether or not playing old games with modern controllers is an offense against both men and gods, or just a practical repurposing.

So, weigh in -- would playing NES, Sega, SNES, N64, etc. with a PS3 or Wii controller ruin the experience? Have you ever used the third-party wireless controllers that came out around those times? (I explicitly remember playing TMNT3 for the NES on Christmas with a crappy third-party wireless controller.)

We're going to build an adapter this weekend, then maybe turn it into an Instructables tutorial, so let me know if you might be interested in building your own.

#2 detectiveconan16

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 09:06 PM

Let me get this straight, you want to use a PS3 or Wii Controller on some old gaming systems? That sounds interesting. Good luck, you'd have to find the frequency of the controllers, and somehow convert them into inputs that those decade+ old systems can understand. I hope you have a bunch of controller extension cables ready, to spare cutting up those regular controllers.

This guy made one:

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#3 Chronis

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:20 AM

I'm going to go with offensive to men and gods. Part of the appeal of classic gaming is the simplicity of the controllers. As much as I love the Xbox S and Dualshock controllers, these is something magically about the SNES controller.

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#4 catabarez

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:16 AM

Dat video... I wonder if he could do that with a Dreamcast controller? Cuz that would be perfect.
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#5 detectiveconan16

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:50 AM

In fact I would like a tutorial on how build a SNES to USB or GameCube adapter using ONLY parts found at a Radioshack or siimilar hobby electronics store. I've looked this up and some parts are hard to find without an ebay search.

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#6 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 17 November 2011 - 07:26 PM

@detectiveconan16: Thanks for the video -- I hadn't seen that yet. Our plan is to build a universal receiver with a swappable per-system adapter. That is, take your receiver, and connect the NES adapter. When you want to play SNES, disconnect the NES adapter and plug in the SNES adapter. And so on. We wanted to start with modern Bluetooth controllers and an SNES just to limit the number of variables, but we think it would eventually be cool to manufacture custom Bluetooth controllers in the shape of old controllers and have adapters for every old system.

We found this tutorial on getting a PS3 controller working with an Arduino, and we're probably going to work from that as a first pass: http://www.circuitsa...t-shield-part-1

Unfortunately, Radio Shack went fairly mainstream a few years ago, but they're rediscovering some of their hobbyist roots. I've heard that they're started carrying the Arduino, but you'll probably have to look at someplace like Sparkfun for the more specialized parts.

@Chronis: I agree about the simplicity of the controller, and I think we'd love to build something there eventually, but first things first!

#7 catabarez

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:09 AM

If you ever get this working, I'll buy the first one built off of you :P
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#8 shipalicious

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:39 AM

@catabarez: We decided to put up a landing page just so we could have one place to collect email addresses and let people know. Sign up at www.awesomecontroller.com (nice domain, right?) if you want to get notified by email. Otherwise, I'll try to PM you here if we end up getting it solved. (We're doing a little hackathon competition this weekend, so that's why the page says we're launching on November 20th.)

Thanks for the vote of confidence, and we'll try not to disappoint!

#9 catabarez

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:34 PM

I just signed up! Hopefully you guys get it done soon :D
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#10 Strell

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 12:01 AM

1. shipalicious, I heartily endorse this endeavor, and look forward to products in action. Added my e-mail and can't wait to see the future.

2. A request: I've seen some videos of people on youtube modding controllers to be used with Android devices. How difficult would it be to get, saw, a Wii Classic Controller and stuff bluetooth guts in it so that I could use it for devices such as a Touchpad? I know it's certainly possible, but I don't know a thing about controller mods and so forth.


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#11 catabarez

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 10:20 AM

Is Dreamcast compatibility gonna happen? :P
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#12 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 21 November 2011 - 03:50 PM

Hey guys,

Thanks for signing up. I think you already got an email from us to try out some pricing.

@Strell: Stage 1 is making and selling the adapter. Stage 2 is having people send us their old controllers, modding them with Bluetooth, then selling them an adapter while we're at it. :) Doing the Wii Classic controller alone would be tough (I think), but using a Classic controller through the Wiimote is something we'll probably do in the next few weeks.

@catabarez: Because we only had one weekend, we focused on doing one simple thing: getting a PS3 controller working with an SNES. Once that happened via USB, we shifted to Wii + NES because the Bluetooth integration was easier.

Our long-term goal is to get any Bluetooth controller to work with any corded system. This involves writing some different code for each platform (the NES, for example, sends 8 clock pulses to record 7 buttons, while the SNES sends 16 clock pulses for 12 buttons). I own an NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Wii, 360, and PS3, so I plan to get all of those working at some point (except 360 and PS3 obviously, and Wii only for Gamecube games). I don't own a Saturn, but if you track one down in the Indianapolis area, I'd certainly take a look!


We'll probably write a tutorial at some point if you guys are interested in figuring out how we did it. Even if we don't end up making this product ourselves, we plan to release all of our source code and hardware configurations so that someone more adventurous can carry the torch.

Thanks for the support!

#13 Strell

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:57 PM

Sent an annoyingly long response to your e-mail just now. Feel free to digitally burn it out of rage!


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#14 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:37 PM

Just responded, believe it or not!

Regarding the Android/Wiimote controller mod you mentioned, we'd love to do some ongoing hacking like that. Our plan is to market ourselves as an open hardware company and provide tutorials and tips so that even if we don't deliver a particular product, we enable someone else to make it themselves. The controller modding scene seems relatively underground, so I'm not sure if it's possible to actually sell a modded product like that, but we'll certainly enable you to make it even if we can't sell it!

#15 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 21 November 2011 - 07:51 PM

Also, forgot to respond to @detectiveconan16 -- I hadn't thought of buying extension cables, but it turned out to be a brilliant idea. I bought a bunch of them and spared all of my SNES controllers. Thanks for the suggestion!

#16 Jon Bon

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 01:44 AM

Would it be possible to make bluetooth super nintendo controllers? I would love to have wireless super nintendo controllers for the original hardware :)

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#17 Jon Bon

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 02:13 AM

Ah, and I made you a banner incase you want something less blurry :)

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#18 catabarez

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:14 PM

Would it be possible to make bluetooth super nintendo controllers? I would love to have wireless super nintendo controllers for the original hardware :)


This. While the PS3 controller idea is phenomenal, nothing gets me like using the actual controllers to play some old school games. I like options :)
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#19 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 17 December 2011 - 07:13 PM

Sorry for the slow reply -- we've been working on the N64 the last couple weeks. It's a bit more difficult, but we're making progress. (We made a silly little video of us just sending the signal for the A button over and over: )

After we release our first batch, we'll probably start looking into controller modding. We have some of the parts already, so it probably wouldn't be too hard to make a prototype sometime. The hard part is going to be fitting the circuitry into those tight casings. I'd also love to have more choices -- SNES games were obviously designed for SNES controllers, so if I have a good, working SNES controller around, I'd prefer to use it. (But wirelessly!)

#20 detectiveconan16

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 10:34 PM

I'd prefer not to see those poor controllers taken apart, since you can get the same effect off of extension cables and adapters. But hey, great work.

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#21 shipalicious

shipalicious

Posted 18 December 2011 - 03:20 PM

We just thought it would be kind of silly to have a 6 foot cable with a wireless adapter on the end, but maybe there's a certain charm to that type of "wireless."

We promise not to break into your house, forcibly remove all of your old controllers, mod them, and return them without you noticing, if that gives you more peace of mind. :)

#22 Jon Bon

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:50 PM

I'd prefer not to see those poor controllers taken apart, since you can get the same effect off of extension cables and adapters. But hey, great work.


Extension cables are not the "same effect" as wireless. Not even close.

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