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Controller Interface Board Discussion


Orab Games
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To the hardware folks out there, would it be possible and how much would it cost (approximately) to design and make some controller interface boards with the proper electronics and chips on them to make your own controllers. What I am envisioning is a one-size-fits all board that could be used to design any controller you want, say for instance an arcade stick. The arcade community has many options like this, such at the PAC boards. https://www.ultimarc.com/control-interfaces/

It could be fun to have these to make fun tech demos or build controllers that are not available on the system, such as a trackball. What would REALLY be cool is if two designs could be made, one for a standard NES controller (1 shift register chip) and another for the Power Pad (2 shift register chips). Sure, i could always sacrifice damaged controllers to mess with (and I have a few), but the idea of a board that I could purchase and avoid soldering sounds much more appealing. 馃檪

Any thoughts? Any other interest from other devs in something like this?

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I was going to build an NES arcade controller several years ago, but had not gotten around to doing it.聽 I have a drawing of the circuit (attached) but I have not done the board layout.聽 This has 10 wire inputs for the microswitches, 8 NES buttons + 2 grounds.聽 Every button needs a signal wire + ground, and you would daisy-chain the grounds together when assembling the control panel.聽 This design optionally can use two NES controller sockets (J2, J4 in the drawing).聽 One connector is for a light gun, and the other a normal NES controller.聽 The pins are all combined at the output to NES (J3), so you can use them all at the same time.聽 There is an AND gate that combines the shift register outputs from 2 controllers, and the Zapper simply uses different pins, as usual.聽 There is a select jumper on that board that would let it ignore the arcade button inputs, instead of a Zapper it can also combine 2 normal NES controllers.

A real trackball interface (not PS/2 or USB thing) needs a quadrature decoder.聽 I haven't built one yet, it doesn't look hard but I'd say it's non-trivial at least.聽 AFAIK there isn't an off-the-shelf chip you can readily buy for that, so it probably will need to be made from a bunch of discrete parts, programmable logic, or a microcontroller.聽 Not anything expensive, just takes some design time.

Should I finish this board?聽 It could do more than 8 inputs, just need to add more shift registers and input wires into the design.

arcade nes controller.png

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Oh wow! It does not surprise me that you already have design! Custom built peripherals is sort of my goal here. I have a power pad board that I wanted to solder wires to and make a "cornhole" board with actual holes for Tailgate Party for a fun way to play the game at expos. If a board was available, build plans could be posted online with a link to the board to purchase. I think it would be very important to design it with screw style terminal blocks for ease of use.

I know the light gun uses a different wire and the power pad reads different bits, would it be difficult to implement those as well? Not sure the light gun would be useful but you never know.

I would definitely purchase a couple for tinkering. I don't have plans for releasing a controller, but I would enjoy sharing build plans with others if I made anything.

Thanks for chiming in on the subject. I learned a bit about trackballs. I had no idea that it was different.

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57 minutes ago, neodolphino said:

I think something like this would be great to tinker with - that and the possibilities for new peripherals would be more in the hands of hobbyists.

Funny you say this. The original title of this post was 'Generic Controller Hobby Board'. But, I changed it after I looked up the PAC boards to see what those were called. I didn't want to sound like an idiot. 馃ぃ

Edited by Orab Games
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4 hours ago, gauauu said:

This reminds me of my dream to create an 8-player version of the 4-score.

(of course, then you have to figure out how to get 8 people willing to sit down and play Nintendo at the same time)

i would argue that the latter here is the hardest part of such project.

you make a 8-score and then what? good luck finding 8 people to test it with lol.

I wonder if I've ever seen such a thing happen. maybe at some convention there has been a passing glimpse of a gathering of 8 people who were all interested of the same nintendo :P

speaking of controllers though, this is slightly off the topic, but is it possible to fully replicate a normal controller using off-the-shelf parts ?

i've always wanted to design a custom pcb and make a few to use in alternate controller shells (ps1 controller or so) but i never wanted to destroy real controllers for that.

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5 minutes ago, Mugi said:

speaking of controllers though, this is slightly off the topic, but is it possible to fully replicate a normal controller using off-the-shelf parts ?

i've always wanted to design a custom pcb and make a few to use in alternate controller shells (ps1 controller or so) but i never wanted to destroy real controllers for that.

You mean like this?
https://www.retrousb.com/product_info.php?cPath=36&products_id=154

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something of the sort.

My original idea was really just desolder all the components of a original pad and mount them on a custom form-factor pcb that would sit nicely in a ps1 controller shell, but I never

actually looked into it further. This thread just reminded me of that, so if the entire controller is replicable with off-the-shelf parts, maybe I'll finally look into making one, heh.

i really dont care about turbo buttons or wireless or anything else, just Dpad, start, select and A/B 馃槢

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18 minutes ago, Mugi said:

something of the sort.

My original idea was really just desolder all the components of a original pad and mount them on a custom form-factor pcb that would sit nicely in a ps1 controller shell, but I never

actually looked into it further. This thread just reminded me of that, so if the entire controller is replicable with off-the-shelf parts, maybe I'll finally look into making one, heh.

i really dont care about turbo buttons or wireless or anything else, just Dpad, start, select and A/B 馃槢

Here is the shift register chip that the NES controller uses. I don't know if these can still be purchased of if you have to use an equivalent. Then all you need are the caps, resistors, and diodes that are shown in @Memblers diagram. I'm not very good at reading those diagrams or doing board design, but it seems like it would be pretty simple for a hardware guru.

Edit: Forgot to post the link. 馃う鈥嶁檪锔
http://www.learningaboutelectronics.com/Articles/74HC165-register-circuit.php

Edited by Orab Games
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Oops, looks like there are a couple other pieces. There is the 74HC03 semiconductor that connects to D0 on the controller port and whatever the semi-circles are connected between pin 9 on the shift register chip and the semiconductor.

https://www.alldatasheet.com/datasheet-pdf/pdf/15524/PHILIPS/74HC08.html

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4 minutes ago, Mugi said:

Thanks , I'll definitely take a poke at that.

Im not a master of hardware by any strech either, but i've done a few simple pcb designs in the past... something as "simple" as a nes controller pcb shouldn't kill me (propably :P)

Maybe this is a simpler diagram, assuming it is correct. I just Google Image Searched "NES Controller Pinout" and found this.

nes-controller-schematic.png

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That is pretty much the basic design I was asking for but with the buttons replaces with screw down terminals so it can be reused without soldering and desoldering. What Memblers posted is awesome! I would really like it to be compatible with Power Pad games though since I wrote Tailgate Party for the Power Pad.

The goal is to replace the Power Pad with a piece of plywood with a 12 holes. Each hole is rigged in such a way that when a bag enters, a switch is toggled and tells the NES when a target was hit.聽

Other ideas include a putting game where you aim for targets to score. Games using NERF guns aiming for targets. Custom arcade stick. The possibilities are endless! It would be fun to take these to Expos for people to try out or just release it on the Internet as a rom and the schematics to build your controller for the game. As @neodolphino stated, it would be more for hobbyists than actual game releases on a cart.

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1 hour ago, Orab Games said:

That is pretty much the basic design I was asking for but with the buttons replaces with screw down terminals so it can be reused without soldering and desoldering. What Memblers posted is awesome! I would really like it to be compatible with Power Pad games though since I wrote Tailgate Party for the Power Pad.

The goal is to replace the Power Pad with a piece of plywood with a 12 holes. Each hole is rigged in such a way that when a bag enters, a switch is toggled and tells the NES when a target was hit.聽

Other ideas include a putting game where you aim for targets to score. Games using NERF guns aiming for targets. Custom arcade stick. The possibilities are endless! It would be fun to take these to Expos for people to try out or just release it on the Internet as a rom and the schematics to build your controller for the game. As @neodolphino stated, it would be more for hobbyists than actual game releases on a cart.

im not big into party games personally, but having proprietary controllers like that for conventions and stuff sounds like a really neat idea. makes the experience more engaging.

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It looks like the Power Pad outputs to the same pins as the Zapper, so it would be easy to make a "dumb" Y-adapter that combines controller+power pad.聽 The Power Pad could connect to J2 on my drawing for Pad+controller.

With some changes it would be possible to combine signals from two Power Pads.聽 Like combining the controllers, the game wouldn't be able to distinguish the two and you could press a button on either one of them.聽 Is that useful?聽 I could add that feature pretty much for free since that 74HC08 has AND gates left over.

And yeah, the IC in the NES controller is the standard CD4021 which is easy to buy. 74HC165 I used isn't pin-compatible but it does the same thing (looks like I'm going to change to 74LV165 though, since it has schmitt-trigger inputs and that will help with button de-bouncing).

So I figure what I'll do to keep it solder-free, is if we need some alternate configs maybe I'll put DIP switches on there to select them.聽 And then use screw terminal blocks for the wire inputs.

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2 hours ago, Memblers said:

And yeah, the IC in the NES controller is the standard CD4021 which is easy to buy. 74HC165 I used isn't pin-compatible but it does the same thing (looks like I'm going to change to 74LV165 though, since it has schmitt-trigger inputs and that will help with button de-bouncing).

Thanks. I think what im gonna do next it draw up a PCB that will sit snuggly into a ps1 pad and have me some more ergonomic nes pads 馃槢 best case scenario im going to try and design this so that it's a drop-in replacement, and to get your ps1 pad back, you just take the new pcb off and put the old one back in. (X/O for B/A respectively)

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3 hours ago, Deadeye said:

聽does this help at all?

That's pretty cool. Seems overkill for what I want to do. I don't think it needs to cost $60 either. I have feeling that these boards can be made at a much lower cost.

X-Arcade offers something similar with their arcade sticks, but nothing that has the compatibility of that Retro Board. https://shop.xgaming.com/collections/adapters

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Homebrew TeamPosted

One other option.聽 Benj Edward's was making hand built arcade sticks for NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari, and some computers.聽 I know he made his own controller board for the SNES one.聽 When I get home I'll take a pic.聽 You made be able to order just the boards from him.

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