• Controller Finished!!!

    sjm430610/08/2018 at 14:47 0 comments

    Just a quick progress update and some lessons learned. I finally got some time to button up the SNES controller (get it? ... buttons ... nevermind ... ). Watch it in action here. Here you can see the controller happily charging.  Dont worry I ended up plugging that controller wire hole with a 3d printed plug in a slightly darker gray that looks quite nice.

    And on the front the multifunction RGB indicator does a great job of notifying status at a glance. I had originally wanted to put a 5mm led in the cable hole at the top but quickly realized it wouldn't be very useful or visible. The RGB indicator flashes purple when in the unpaired/pairing state, and when paired will light up in a solid color to signify the battery level (pwm driven). For instance blue means battery level is high, green is mid, orange is low, and red is very low. I currently just have it on solid and have used it for half an hour with only 0.2-0.3V drop from 4.2V full charge so I expect even burning current on having it constantly lit wont be too detrimental for me. If you want to squeeze more battery life though it would be easy to periodically briefly blink the color as I have updating the led color programmed as a task which is triggered by a counter and flag. The coolest part I think is that both the rgb and charging indicator use light pipes ... but not commercially available ones. I ended up using transparent 1.75mm pla filament. I cut off a stub, lightly heated it with a lighter to allow me to press it to a flat surface to flatten and widen it so it holds itself in place inside the hole and finally sanded the other end smooth so it diffuses the light. Then all that is necessary is to drill a 1/16th hole and dab a tiny bit of glue and you are done.  

    Another issue I had as there is hardly any space between the shoulder button and the dpad inside the shell and I didn't have any 0603 rgb leds on hand so I ended up soldering tiny 0603 individual red, green, and blue leds in common cathode configuration to fit in the space I had as seen here attached right above the up button on the board.


    And here are the tiny boards that are the heart of the transmitter and receiver soldered up and ready to install. Really impressed with how fine the silkscreen in, great job JLCPCB and thanks for them sponsoring a video for this project! Check them out here: $2 PCBs (in 48hours): https://jlcpcb.com

    So now that I am done the SNES controller (I may build an accompanying NES version in the future) I just need to pretty up the receiver dongle in the next part of this series.

    Update: Ran an extended battery test yesterday for a good 6 hours to check that the RGB indicator works as intended and everything is operating correctly.

    Pairing (Purple blinks alternate with measured battery life)

    High (Blue) : 4.2>=Vbatt>3.9V

    Mid (Green) : 3.9V>=Vbatt>3.6V

    Low (Orange/Yellow, looks white in pic I assure you it is not irl) : 3.6V>=Vbatt>3.4V

    Very Low (Red) : 3.4V>=Vbatt

  • The Beginning: Prototyping the Controller HW and SW

    sjm430610/08/2018 at 13:48 0 comments

    So to start this project off thank you bbtinkerer for your original classic joystick project which inspired and started off this project by providing base code for the protocol (https://hackaday.com/2017/05/19/a-diy-nes-advantage-controller-for-the-nes-classic/).

    I also made a quick video demoing the prototype controller here and some talk about the prototype board and latency

    So a little info, I am using the HC-5/6, as the bluetooth serial communication link which connects the receiver (dongle that plugs into the classic console) and transmitter (controller). Here you can see I hardwired the HC-05 module (after setting up the AT mode to allow master mode and autoconnecting to any other slave module).

    Next up, the software runs on an ATMEGA328P with each the transmitter and receiver having their own controller on tiny little general purpose boards I designed and ordered through my sponsor JLCPCB (thanks a bunch!!!). Check them out here: $2 PCBs (in 48hours): https://jlcpcb.com


    The transmitter connects to the original SNES controller board's SPI serial shift register and polls it just like the console would. Once the button states are captured, then they encoded into a 2 byte packet to be sent over the bluetooth UART serial. Here's the transmitter circuit. The HC-05 bluetooth module is on the front and the discrete RGB leds right above the up button.
    The battery (a 330mAh 3.7V cell) and charging circuit with micro usb are on the back left hand side. The atmega328p and 3.3V LDO regulator are on the right here.

    On the receiver side I use the same board I designed and attach it to the bluetooth module over serial and also to the classic console plug over i2c (see bbtinkerer's page for info about the protocol and connections for i2c). The software just receives packets, picks out the button states, and finally send it to bbtinkerer's function which assembles the i2c packet and sends it over i2c to the classic console.

    I'll have to take pics of the receiver once I have finished designing a 3d printed case for it. As of right now, it is fully functional but a mess of wires and boards just dangling in free air.

    As a final note, latency was a concern as I am limited by how fast I poll button states and the overhead of the bluetooth stack implemented in the HC-05 modules I am using, so I toggled some I/O on both the transmitter and the receiver so I can see when a packet is sent, and when it is received. I used my pocket oscilloscope to then capture this timing.

    We can see that delta T is just under 30mS which equates to:

    Less than 2 frames of latency assuming NTSC 60 frames a second (or equivalently 1 frame for 30 fps). So definitely good enough for me and the majority of the types of games I play (although this might pose problems for games like punchout that require frame perfect button inputs).


    In the next part I will add some finishing touches to the controller and button it all up. Then I will finish the receiver and maybe make versions that are compatible with original consoles and usb.