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whiskthecat
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Wireless RF remote add ons

by whiskthecat Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:00 am

I've been working on various add on boards for all of my controllers to make them wireless. I've seen this done in the past by others but I ended up having to make my own from scratch as it seems no one offers a service or kit. Is this accurate or have I missed something? If that is the case do you guys think there would be a worthwhile demand to do a small run of boards? My goal here is to create boards that fit inside and solder directly on to the OEM pcb as a replacement to the original wiring coming from the cable. I've tried to keep any modification to the oem controller minimal beyond desoldering the wires to the cable. I'd like to be able to revert a controller back to stock and no one be able to tell the difference. This means no drilling of holes for charge port or switches. The controllers are powered on via holding the start button and go to sleep automatically. As opposed to making them rechargeable I've focused on making replaceable batteries last as long as possible (exceeding wavebird battery life using the smaller purple controller case) I would expect the cost of a kit to be around $20 to $30 depending on the controller.

Anyways here is what I have so far. NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, partially working Dreamcast and I plan to add PSX as well. Right now these are all running on primary lithium coin cells cr2032 and I've been able to achieve quite impressive battery life. NES is around 1000hrs playtime and 5yrs standby. Range is also well beyond adequate as I've tested it in a large office building to be beyond 100ft through walls. For the newer controllers I am leaning towards cr123a's in the wings. Response time is either indistinguishable or better than stock as I have polled the controller faster than the console. I had never been able to beat UN squadron until I used my own controller. I've also had very high level smash bros players blind test it and give it thumbs up.

I've been working on this for about a year on and off in my spare time and have yet to finish as I tend to get sidetracked thinking about adding features that are likely too complex and mostly novelties. That being said, now that I have a mostly working base, are there any features you guys would consider must haves (or close enough to it). Cross compatibility between controllers would be nice but I tend to view this as mostly novelty, going along that same route would be remappable buttons/turbo/macro. I suppose I am mostly just concerned with staying authentic but wireless. As a substitute to this I've been considering either adding usb support to the receiving end or making a standalone usb receiver, this way all controllers would be able to be used on pc emulators where all of this modification is built in if anyone desired it. Support for aftermarket controllers is high on my list as the oems begin to become rare/expensive . Some of these already exist in wireless form though, minus th oem feel of course. Not all of the aftermarket ones are terrible though.

Thoughts?

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Old prototype on an aftermarket NES board. Shown to give an idea of the add on nature of the project.

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Latest revision of NES aftermarket board. (Fits TTX model, a decent controller for $4)
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samsonlonghair
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by samsonlonghair Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:05 pm

What platform is this for? Windows / Mac? Android? iOS? Is there a receiver dongle that plugs into the NES console?

The key to economic feasibility is (I believe) small-scale manufacturing. I don't think it makes sense to manufacture ten thousand of these, right? If you can manufacture five hundred, and pre-sell three hundred and fifty of those you'll do alright.
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KalessinDB
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by KalessinDB Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:49 pm

Yeah it's not exactly clear to me if you're talking original controllers on original systems, or if this is intended for emulation.

If this is for the original system, shut up and take my money. If it's for a pc for emulation... Possibly interested but I dunno.
Gunning for a licensed NES NTSC-U set, follow the madness and poverty here!
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whiskthecat
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by whiskthecat Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:17 pm

The controller with no wires pictured above is wirelessly communicating with a NES. I didn't include a picture of the receiver as it's currently just a prototype mess-o-wires. It's intended for the original system. There is no emulation or PC involved currently.

You open an OEM controller, desolder the wires that run to the cable that plugs into the console (your controller now has no cable). Solder on my board, solder the wires from the loose cable to my receiver (so we can plug the receiver into the console) and that's it. Now you have an original controller that wirelessly communicates with the original console.

Obviously not suitable for mass production as most people don't even have these consoles anymore. More of a hobbyist/enthusiast project, but low run boards are affordable enough today that it might be worth it. The mention of USB was just an idea I had for making a receiver for PC. Right now I only have them made for the consoles themselves.

It's nice to be able to play my old consoles in my living room and not worry about the cable reaching the couch or the family dog tripping over them and sending the console to the ground. :lol: This was my original problem I set out to solve.

There is a guy on NFG forums that was working on a similar project but kind of branched off to redesigning the entire internals of the controller which I think might sort of defeat the point of using an original controller in the first place. Today I found out he is still actively developing this which I was not aware of. I don't believe he offers ready made PCBs or a service to install to controllers which is what I had in mind.
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KalessinDB
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by KalessinDB Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:13 pm

Shut up and take my money

I just got my hands on some Messiah NES controllers, but I would love original controllers that work wireless.

If this works out, I'm in for 2 of all of them, minimum. Possibly with you doing the install, possibly me, we'll see how bad it looks.

But yeah, following with extreme interest. Have seen a couple people propose this, but no one deliver a ready to buy product.

Edit: I'd be in for at least 8 boards to start (2x NES, 2x SNES, 4x N64 - I already have 4 Wavebirds so no need for GCN). Possibly more if you get PSX working or a fully functional Dreamcast.
Gunning for a licensed NES NTSC-U set, follow the madness and poverty here!
Cheat sheet of my collection, always looking to increase it. 405/677 licensed games, 46/"95" unlicensed
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whiskthecat
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by whiskthecat Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:11 am

Well, most everything I have right now is in prototype form. Meaning, chips and wires crammed every which way. The good news being that it all works, and quite well I might add. So this puts me at the stage of needing to do a few (hopefully not too many) PCB revisions and coming to terms with designing my way around and out of the possibility of future additional features :cry: . I've even considered implementing some system where the user can update the firmware on the controller but obviously things get complicated very quickly when going down that route. For now I'm focused on getting a completed package that "just works" and maybe later on I can do a 2.0 spin on all this.

Finished PCBs are on their way (ETA 10days) that fit the TTX aftermarket NES controller. I chose to make a PCB for this one first as opposed to the OEM since the TTX uses a standard pin header spacing which makes the board layout easier. Also it seems to be a decent clone of the original NES with a slightly different feel and they are quite available (dirt cheap).

I've found an enclosure for the receiver and so it's PCB is in the works now. I'd (optimistically) expect to have a completed setup by the end of October. Perhaps you (KalessinDB or whoever else) would be interested in doing some testing for me? Knowing the buttons work on the controller (transmitter) is easy, but on the console side each game can poll the controller differently so receiver compatibility was variable in my early versions of code (although I believe it to be bug free now, my NES/SNES/N64 library is limited so I can only test so much)

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KalessinDB
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by KalessinDB Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:35 am

I've got a pretty extensive NES collection, more modest SNES and N64, but I'll help however I can. PM coming your way.
Gunning for a licensed NES NTSC-U set, follow the madness and poverty here!
Cheat sheet of my collection, always looking to increase it. 405/677 licensed games, 46/"95" unlicensed
Chronically out of date BST thread
whiskthecat
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by whiskthecat Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:11 am

Receiver enclosures are on their way. I also ordered some high gain transceivers to try out. In theory if the console is capable of powering them I can get better range and possibly a reduction in transmit power and therefore extension of battery life on the transmitter in the controllers. :D I've heard that NES console can power 2x 50ma SNES mouses and that N64s can run 2 rumble packs from the controller port so I would imagine the high gain antennas will work fine.
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Anapan
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by Anapan Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:14 am

I want a bunch. I think they'll sell well. Then again I've bought a bunch of Ulao's early Bliss-Boxes, and was really sure his Kickstarter would easily make it's goal. I'm glad he took it in stride, used it as publicity, and found an investor to make continuing production runs.
I'm really enjoying my Cronusmax, and plan to combine it with my Bliss-Box. I'm sure there's some sort of Technological Singularity/Nexus thing that will happen if your RF boards were to combine with my controller cupboard. All of a sudden my extra/backup controllers have a great purpose!
I'd ask that you add in a dip switch on both receiving and sending board so multiples can have unique and easily set sending frequencies/encryption so there's no cross-talk between units.
This is really exciting! The other plans I read about were very iffy and probably beyond my capabilities even if they were mass-produced. These ones I can definitely do if the final production run models look anything like pictured. I would just send a box of boards and controller to a modder if not. I bet if you started an online store and had production units built by a hardware hoarder you'd easily make a decent profit off of commission...
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whiskthecat
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Re: Wireless RF remote add ons

by whiskthecat Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:34 am

Nice thinking on the dip switches anapan. All of my testing up to this point has been with one controller per console as the prototypes are very time consuming to build and pretty fragile once assembled. The problem with dip switches is they aren't free :lol: And they take up extremely valuable board space inside the controller. Even on the NES I have clearances that are fractions of a mm when the case gets closed.

I've just started considering solutions to this multiplayer problem. The simple way is to give each receiver/transmitter pair a unique ID so that they only work with each other. This has obvious disadvantages. A little bit more complex but better method would be to have the controllers pair up at boot on a first come first serve basis. I'm not sure of the specifics yet. Perhaps dip switches on the receiver only where space might be at less of a premium would be the way to go.
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