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sneak peak - my new cab... er...


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well this isn't exactly a cab - but it sports HyperSpin.

Ok here's my original concept:

crack open an NES controller, piggy back the NES PCB onto a USB keyboard and have a USB NES controller. Nothing new about that, been done before. BUT then Brian_Hoffman showed off his HyperCade and it got me thinking.

I knew I couldn't do an entire computer in the controller - but I could do the next best thing, that's where v2 comes in:


pretty fancy huh?

So I spent today at the store looking for the smallest usb hub I could find, as well as the smallest usb drive and the smallest keyboard PCB.

Here's some pictures of what I've got going:


I kid you not this drive is like the size of my thumb nail, so instead of hard wiring it to the rig I decided that I could leave a plug in and make it removable - incase I decide to switchout for an 8gb later.

the usb hub is a 4port with the wiring for 2 of the ports removed.


NES PCB with drawing of my traces - you can see that this particular nes controller - once the IC is removed allows for 1 ground - how nice!


so in theory this is how it should look - keyboard PCB and thumbdrive in the rear housing and the hub in the front.

Well I started out wiring up the keyboard to the controller PCB which was working well - I tore up an old IDE cable and got to soldering, - I had all of the wires on the NES pcb and wired it up to the keyboard. The 4 USB power cables were on the 'wrong' side of the pcb from teh rest of the wires - and they were connected by a 4-pin 90degree molex connector - which stuck up a few millimeters, so I got out the wick and decided to lift them and just run my own cables to the hub. Then this happened:


I went to try and heat of the resin on the 4 pins of the molex connector when *pop**pop* *pop* *pop* the traces sucked right up with the solder! You can see in the picture the 4 big brown spots. I tried to repair it for like 30 minutes before I got so pissed I decided "f**k it" and snapped the PCB. That felt good.

So I guess Monday I'll go to the store and get another keyboard - hopefully with an easier to work with PCB - and maybe smaller. And have another employee ask if he can help me - then look at me like a deer in the headlights when I ask him which KB has teh smallest PCB.

Has anyone used a stand-alone usb keypad? I'm thinking that that would have a pretty small PCB and would have enough keys to map the 8 NES buttons.


So I've already set up the software and created an autorun and tested it out before I started tearing everythign apart - auto-runs right into HyperSpin. Formatted in FAT32 b/c I'm gonna try to throw a Macintosh emulator on there too :P

I'll update this when I get a new keyboard ^_^;;

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well If I can get a good Keyboard PCB and throw this one together I was actually thinking of trying to make a small production run. The thing is - they're not gonna be cheap. I'm probably going to have to sell them @ ~60 bucks.

Of course I'd 'donate' one to HyperSpin (read: BadBoyBill) :P

Here's the breakdown:

NES Controller: free - b/c I had one but they go for about $8-10 on ebay

USB HUB: $15

Flash Drive: $20 (4gb) $35 (8gb)

usb keyboard: $10

so you can see my upfront costs are about $55. I know I could do it cheaper, if it didn't require the ABSOLUTE smallest components available.

BTW - anyone know a good NES emulator for the Macintosh?

ah here;s teh new pcb I think I'm gonna try out on Monday:






sad they seem to have the best selection (better than frys or newegg...)

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So basically its an all-in-one NES emulator. Everything is loaded on the controller and its just plug and play? Pretty cool! I haven't played NES on my Macs in awhile but when I did, I used Nestopia I believe.

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aww... I guess nothing's new. Mine has a cooler FE though :P

B_H: I was thinking of doing SNES next ^^ - as it's my favorite console, I just happened to have an NES controller sitting in the closet while I was cleaning out some crap, and I didn't wanna part with it.

I do have like 5 or 6 SNES controllers somewhere...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great idea, I read this post last night and went to tiget direct today to get the parts, just finished building it a few minutes ago. It works great! I have hyperspin on the 1GB flash drive I have in there with mednafen. It was a tight fit, I had to do a little cutting. I cant fit all the FLV's on the 1GB stick, will use a 2GB next time.

I used a keyboard pcb from a dell usb keyboard (free),

a tiny usb hub from Tiger Direct ($4.99)

a 1GB USB key from Tiger Direct ($4.99)

I already had the NES controller.


Total cost about $10.

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SophT, I may have to try something like this. That is a great idea! Running hyperspin in this. I wonder if I could use one of those USB SD card readers, and make an SD card slot on the side of an SNES controller. Hmmm. Oh, have you ever been to Ben Heckerdons website? That place is full of console hackers. Ben is the guy who has made all these portable consoles, including an Xbox 360 laptop.

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Wooo, I just got another idea! How about an Xbox controller, with an SD card reader. The xbox controller can already be used via USB, just put the drivers on the SD card, and wire in a USB hub. Not sure how well the Xbox controller works on a Mac though. I don't use Macs as a preference, and I know they work on XP, Vista and Ubuntu.

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How do read/write speeds compare between SD / USB? Obviously a USB SD reader will be bottlenecked by usb2.0 speeds - but can it reach that speed?

The thumbdrive in my pictures is litterally about 1/2 the side a of a standard SDHC card and is available up to 16gb capacity. A microsd card would be sweet but I think they only are commercially available up to 8gb currently.

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I haven't compared the speeds between them yet. I have a multi card reader, that seems just as fast as my two thumb drives. The Xbox controllers have huge holes in the top of them that were designed for the Xbox memory cards. I was thinking of using one of those as the slot for the SD card. Plenty of room in this controller.

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  • 2 months later...

I am also very interested in this. Great idea! I would like to build myself one with a SNES controller, but I would like to be able to run NES games as well. Does HyperSpin/emulators run directly from the controller? Plug n play on pretty much any system? Could mame run from it? Very neat concept if that's how it works. I would also like some more info if possible...

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One of these is a prize for the current MAME wheel contest. Submit some wheels everyone and you could win one!

On a side note. I used a keyboard encoder from a dell keyboard (the latest stock model). Its small and fits real nice. I found that if you use this keyboard for the encoder you need to find one without the ferrite core on it (the most recent ones seem to come with the ferrite core, thus the diff encoder), that one has a diff encoder that makes it tough to solder to.

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I think that any system is possible, the minimum factor is the disc space of the stick, because it's even nicer to have all artwork and videos on the stick.

In what kind of controller do you want to run MAME ?

Cool. Well I was thinking of running it on a SNES controller. Mame/NES/SNES/Sega Master system maybe, all running on Hyperpin. I would only have a few games on each emulator, so I could make room.

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Cool. Well I was thinking of running it on a SNES controller. Mame/NES/SNES/Sega Master system maybe, all running on Hyperpin. I would only have a few games on each emulator, so I could make room.

a snes controller would be nice, the NES was tight on room.. I would find a single line on the encoder matrix where you can connect all the grounds to one point on the encoder, then all you have to wire is 1 wire for each button/direction (less wire). You just need to find a line on the matrix that gives you enough different keys (not all combinations produce something). Map out the matrix of the encoder before you wire. I found that putting hotglue over the solder point and wire will prevent the wire from breaking off when putting all back together (helps keep it solid)

Plan out how everything will fit before you solder

Good luck


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yeah as to the question of how the interface works - you're basically soldering wire between the keyboard and the controller's PCB for each button +ground

so when you push the button (close circuit) it closes the circuit on the keyboard and sends a keypress.

Like jhabers said - using a single X or Y on the matrix is best because then you only need n+1 wires (+1 being ground) instead of nx2 (positive + ground for each).

That being said if you have room nx2 is actually better b/c then you can get the exact keys you want to be mapped:

For example- when i finished making mine - I was using a usb numpad instead of using a full keyboard; as a result I was able to map the numpad arrows to the dpad and the numpad 'enter' to 'start'. The benefit of this was that when 'autorun' popped up on VISTA - I could scroll through options and press 'start (i.e. Enter)' with the gamepad - no need to touch the keyboard after it was plugged it :D

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Okay, I understand... ( I've seen the pictures, too)

I understand it like this:

I have contacts on the "nes controller board" and I have to put a cable for each button to the "keyboard board" contacts. Therefore you used only a numberpad, because it's smaller and you don't need many buttons.

But how do I know on which contact I have to put the cable on the "keyboard boad" ???

And what's the "matrix" ???

;-) Maybe I have to do more wheels in order to win one ;-)

No, I'm really interested in buildin one on my own, because I think it's funny to have a couple of pads (NES,SNES,GENESIS,MEGA DRIVE, MAYBE NEO GEO) which you can plug in and then you can play. I think about a console (small computer) as a docking station, where you can plug in all kind of pads...

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