Monday, October 8, 2012

Makey Makey Controller and My Adventure in Emulation


The Makey Makey lets you turn anything into an arrow key, space bar, or a click at its most simple configuration.




I built a simple keyboard with cardboard, paper, paperclips and hot glue. I used it to play the piano!

My latest project was to build a couple game controllers. Specifically, I was thinking of my ColecoVision and an old Coleco emulator, ColEm. Sure, I have a ColecoVision and an old TV to hook it up via an RF modulator, but I liked the challenge of building a controller reminiscent in shape of the classic ColecoVision controller.

ColEm is a Classic application, so I had to set up a working SheepShaver environment. I downloaded SheepShaver from MacUpdate. I found good directions for setting it up. I used an OS 8.6 disc for my System build on a 500 MB hard drive. I tracked down my backed up copy of ColEm that I used to run on my PowerMac 8600/200. I had a collection of ROMs that corresponded to my real collection.


Once I had SheepShaver running I designed a prototype hand controller to see if it would work. Cardboard is great prototype material because it is easy to shape and to put holes through. I started with aluminum foil buttons but they quickly wore out with the intensity of my play and left exposed sharp wires. I switched to metal screws and they worked well.



The cardboard did not have enough heft in the hand. It had good button layout and I liked being able to run the wires on the bottom of the controller.

The second iteration used a piece of furring strip and wood screws. It also has two fire buttons, one on each side. The wiring is on the front of the controller as well as the back and is held in place by the screw buttons and hot glue.



The third make is a bespoke controller with the buttons places where my thumb reaches the four directions. All the wiring is on the front of the controller.


Each model is unique. I think the second build would be good for younger people to use because they would naturally hold the controller with two hands and can control left/right and up/down with two hands.



I enjoyed playing BurgerTime, but I feel like I play that game better on the original ColecoVision. Q*Bert was also fun, and I learned that a friend's uncle designed that game!

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