Support our Sponsors:

Go Back   Touch Arcade > Games and Apps > General Game Discussion and Questions

View Poll Results: How much would you be prepared to pay for a NES modding circuit board?
Not interested 0 0%
<15$ 1 100.00%
$15-20 0 0%
$20+ 0 0%
Voters: 1. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-14-2012, 11:08 AM
janekm janekm is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 17
Default NES & SNES controller modding circuit board (iCade-like)

Hey everyone,

with the recent news items on the front page it seems like it'd be a good time to talk about a weekend project I was working on last summer... a circuit board that can be used to mod a NES or SNES controller for use with an iPad.

Unlike the 8-bitty it uses a USB cable to connect to the iPad (using the camera connection kit, there are now cheap clones of that on ebay). This has the advantages of quick response time, easy connection (no pairing necessary), infinite battery life and lower cost (somewhat), with the obvious disadvantage of having a wire and not being supported on the iPhone.

(BTW for anyone thinking of taking the circuit board from the 8-bitty and using it for modding a NES controller I don't believe that will work for 2 reasons, one that the Bluetooth pairing requires 10+ buttons and the NES only has 8, the other that the chip in the NES controller requires 5V and the iCade bluetooth module is likely to only supply 3.3V or less. Modern knock-off SNES controllers do seem to work at 3.3V but the one I bought on eBay was pretty cruddy )
BTW it is very fun to play iPad games with a NES controller, I'm sure the same will be true with the 8-bitty and the price is hard to beat

Basically it involves opening up the original controller, cutting the ends of the connector cable, soldering them to my PCB, and soldering a USB cable to the other end of the PCB. The final assembly looks like this:


Everything is done using low-profile components (the reset button is particularly cute) so no modification to the plastic casing of the NES controller is required. Other boards than my design could be used (like one of the many USB-compatible Arduino variants) but those would either require cutting some of the plastic standoffs inside or an external case.



Soldering the wires onto it is obviously very easy, soldering the surface mount components probably isn't for everyone but the whole thing is pretty cheap to get manufactured in China (I've got factory quotes for that... practical from 100 units but gets a lot cheaper for 1000).

I'm thinking of releasing the design under an Open Hardware license (and the firmware), but am also considering getting some made if there is interest.

I'd be curiously if anyone would be interested in buying something like this to see whether a Kickstarter-like project (no Kickstarter in Europe but there are some alternatives...) would make sense. I also have a small number of original NES controllers I bought for modding and may be able to do that for anyone interested in a completed unit (if anyone at TA is interested in a review unit let me know ).
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-14-2012, 11:41 AM
drelbs drelbs is offline
👮 Spam Police 🚓
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 9,878
Default

Why Apple doesn't let someone make a decent controller is beyond me.

I can understand not wanting to support X/Y/Z USB device, but you think they'd pick one thing like an XBox controller and support that. My dream would be a reincarnation of the Hori Gamecube SNES controller for the iPhone/iPad.



As for the circuit board - I wouldn't be interested in a NES controller card because of the ergonomics. At the very least I'd want a dogbone controller - SNES would be better IMHO.

I'll be buying the new iCade controller because it works with my iPhone and is small. Otherwise, I would like something more comfortable. Have no qualms with DIY kit - in fact I might be gutting a new iCade controller and another Hori pad if I can find one to see if I can make that work.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-14-2012, 11:50 AM
janekm janekm is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 17
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post
Why Apple doesn't let someone make a decent controller is beyond me.

I can understand not wanting to support X/Y/Z USB device, but you think they'd pick one thing like an XBox controller and support that. My dream would be a reincarnation of the Hori Gamecube SNES controller for the iPhone/iPad.
I think the people in control at Apple still have some philosophical hangups regarding add-on human interface controls... But at least they did enable keyboards and hence by extension the strange workaround of game controllers that we got

Quote:
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post
As for the circuit board - I wouldn't be interested in a NES controller card because of the ergonomics. At the very least I'd want a dogbone controller - SNES would be better IMHO.

I'll be buying the new iCade controller because it works with my iPhone and is small. Otherwise, I would like something more comfortable. Have no qualms with DIY kit - in fact I might be gutting a new iCade controller and another Hori pad if I can find one to see if I can make that work.
The circuit board does work equally well with a SNES controller (well, it did with the shoddy copy of one I bought on eBay anyway, real SNES controllers are surprisingly hard to find), sorry I didn't make that clear enough
The wires are the same (maybe different colours) and the software on the microcontroller supports both. The additional buttons help with supporting more games too of course.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-15-2012, 03:25 PM
spinal spinal is offline
Member
iPad 2, iOS 5.x
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 49
Default

Does it work the same as the iCade? that is, two keypresses per button, one for button down, one for button up? If it works the same, with the same keypresses, it would be great to play all the iCade compatible games with a SNES pad.

iCade press,release
up: w,e
down: x,z
left: a,q
right: d,c
button o,g
button h,r
button l,v
button j,n
button u,f
button y,t
button k,p
button i,m
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-15-2012, 11:29 PM
earthclaw earthclaw is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Alienville
Posts: 229
Default

The Icade 8-bitty even out yet? Its not for sale at ThinkGeek.

Last edited by earthclaw; 03-15-2012 at 11:33 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-16-2012, 05:04 AM
spinal spinal is offline
Member
iPad 2, iOS 5.x
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 49
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post
I can understand not wanting to support X/Y/Z USB device, but you think they'd pick one thing like an XBox controller and support that.
Yeah, because Apple would officially support a controller made exclusively by and for their main competitor in the home computer market.

Anyone wanting a proper size controller for their iOS or Android should look at the iControlPad, I have one and am very happy with it. However, I would like a wired controller for situations where wireless would not be an option (iControlPad is bluetooth). This DIY option seems just right.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-26-2012, 02:02 AM
spinal spinal is offline
Member
iPad 2, iOS 5.x
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 49
Default

No comments from the OP after the first day? What was the point of mentioning this project if there was to be no follow up at all
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-26-2012, 08:38 AM
genaawky genaawky is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 4
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by spinal View Post
No comments from the OP after the first day? What was the point of mentioning this project if there was to be no follow up at all
What was the point of mentioning this project if there was to be no follow up at all
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-26-2012, 09:43 AM
janekm janekm is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 17
Default

Sorry everyone I haven't had a chance to reply lately... Busy week at work!

Quote:
Originally Posted by spinal View Post
Does it work the same as the iCade? that is, two keypresses per button, one for button down, one for button up? If it works the same, with the same keypresses, it would be great to play all the iCade compatible games with a SNES pad.

iCade press,release
up: w,e
down: x,z
left: a,q
right: d,c
button o,g
button h,r
button l,v
button j,n
button u,f
button y,t
button k,p
button i,m
Yes, I'm using the same key codes as the iCade (though of course a NES controller doesn't have all the buttons, but most games I've tried worked fine with the buttons available).

A quick update on the project... It doesn't look like there's enough interest to justify a Kickstarter-like project so the most sensible thing for me to do is to release it as an open hardware project so anyone can use it if interested. I do need to make a little change to the firmware to allow easy update of the firmware on the device. Unfortunately I can't realistically make any promises on how much time I can devote to this project so an open source approach makes the most sense to allow others to help out.

I have a small number of the PCBs and components on hand, as well as a few NES controllers, so if anyone is interested in participating in the project (keeping in mind the firmware isn't perfect yet) let me know. I'd have to ask for my components costs and shipping naturally.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-26-2012, 10:02 AM
spinal spinal is offline
Member
iPad 2, iOS 5.x
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 49
Default

How much would it cost for a ready assembled board without the controller? I doubt I could solder those components with my skill level, but the wires wouldn't be a problem, plus I already have a spare SNES controller sitting waiting for such a mod.
Reply With Quote

Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Copyright 2012, TouchArcade.com, LLC.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2008 - 2011, TouchArcade.com. Privacy Policy / DMCA Copyright Agent