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Monday, October 03, 2005

The Rumble Mouse

So, I was sitting around with an old N64 rumble pack and I began thinking, "Where could I put a rumble pack where it obviously doesn't belong?" A few ideas immediately came to mind: a remote control? - meh, I did a remote project last time; a cellphone? - they already have rumble packs; a mouse? - hmmm.....you click on it and it vibrates. Great for FPS games, terribly annoying for anything else....I like it, I like it alot.

The following is a fairly detailed explanation of the making of the rumble mouse. In this explanation I assume that the reader has some understanding of basic circuits and soldering. If you just want to see the final product in video form you can go ahead and skip to the bottom, I don't mind.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any damage that occurs to your mouse, computer, home or limbs. Modding electronics can sometimes be dangerous.

Step 1: Take everything apart. Ah, my favorite part of any project - the destruction of a perfectly good electronic device. I started with the rumble pack which surprisingly only contained a motor with a weight on it. Next, I took apart a cheap roller ball mouse that you can get anywhere. Take a good look at how everything works and is connected before proceeding.

Part B: The Plan. Now, its been awhile since I studied circuits, but here is my rudimentary plan: wire up a circuit that provides current to the motor whenever the left-click button is pushed. This should give the rumbling sensation we want when playing our shooting games. (yes, i'm aware that real rumble packs are activated through software, but I don't want to spend that long on this project so I wired it to the left-click button on the mouse...any problems? I didn't think so.) In order to do this, I drew up the basic circuit above. The motor is wired in series with a variable resistor to a 9v battery and the collector of an NPN transistor. Also, to protect the transistor and the rest of the mouse circuitry I placed a diode in parrallel to the motor (this is not shown in the schematic, but I trust you can figure out where to put it). I next connected this circuit to the mouse circuit board. The base of the transistor was connected to the positive side of the left-click button shown below. If you are new to electronics and don't understand anything I'm talking about, you can research circuits online. Here are a few sites that helped me out:
Electronics Tutorial
Using Transistors as Switches

Above, you can see the underside of the mouse circuit board and the connections that need to be made to implement our functionality. The two solder-poionts on the top right of the board correspond to the left-click button. When the button is pressed a connection is made between those two points. This is where we want to connect our transistor, so that our motor will rumble whenever the button is clicked, got it? The connection on the top right portion of the board is where I connected the transistor to the left-click button. You will need to make sure which node is ground and which node is the positive connection. This can be easily found with a multimeter (a modder's best friend). The connection on the top left side of the board is the ground connection for the mouse which MUST be connected to my homebrew circuit as well (not having common ground between components is the most sure-fire way to fry your cicuitry, computer, or house).

III: The Test. Above you can see where I wired up the whole circuit with a solderless breadboard for testing. This is an immensly important part of any circuitry project. You can't just jump to soldering your components before you know that they will work, geez - who do you think you are? Well, I tested it and it worked - Hoorah. Let's move on.

Four: Enough planning, lets put it all together. One of the first things I had to do for this step was clear a little room in the original mouse. There were some plastic standoffs that I had to clip off inorder for the motor to fit at all. After making the needed adjustments, I put the motor in place with a little piece of that thick mounting tape.

Then I began soldering all the components together onto a piece of breadboard. Apparently, I'm still no good at soldering...

Here is my small circuit board that I placed into the mouse. Again, I used that mounting tape stuff to hold it in place.

Above is the innerds of the mouse all put into place and connected properly. She's a beaut ain't she?

Finally, I snapped the casing back on only to find that the motor didn't have room to spin. So, I took my dremel tool and sawed the bottom portion of the mouse off to allow for full motor spinnage. Yes, I know it looks like a piece of junk, and yes that is a 9v battery hanging off the side of the mouse, but when I'm using it it really feels comfortable. Maybe I'll make Rumble Mouse 2.0 in the future that has a casing that covers the entire mouse and possibly a more elegant solution to the battery positioning, but until then this will have to do.
Video - In Action

The intensity of the rumble is adjustable with the variable resistor that I wired in the circuit. However, if you want to disable the rumbling altogether you can just unplug the battery and it will work like normal. Now to the real test - gaming. I tested it out with Unreal Tournament 2004 and it was AWESOME! Definately, the most fun I've ever had with that game. The mouse was just going crazy with the minigun - it was great.

Overall, I'd say the project was a success. It may be ugly, cheap, and ugly but it will definately rumble your hand off. For any queries, comments or help email me at leadingzero@gmail.com


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

NES Controller TV Remote - a somewhat thorough walkthrough

Ever wanted to control your TV with an old school Nintendo controller? No? Well, I have and now I do. A few weeks ago the I picked up an old school Nintendo controller from eBay and began thinking of a project for it - then it hit me! Controlling the basic functions of my TV through a NES pad would not only be awesome, but it would make me one step closer to that darned Captain-N.

When I decided to do this project, I initially wanted to use a universal remote that I could use with any TV I will have. However, after I made a trip to BestBuy, bought the smallest remote I could find and took it apart, I saw that the circuitry was much too complicated. Also, it would be rather hard to program a universal remote for each individual TV with only 8 buttons. So, I took the original remote for my own TV and used it for my guinea pig-like project.

The first step was to remove the innerds of both the NES pad and the TV remote. I then took my dremel tool and began sanding down the inside of the NES to allow space for my remote. Next, I removed the printed circuit board from the remote and began studying it. I looked at where I needed to make my connections in order to bypass the needed controls (channels, volume, etc) to the NES circuitry. Then I began the fun part.

Above, you can see my first step of the make. Obviously, the remote as it was was too big to fit in the NES pad. So I had to cut a portion of the circuitry out and rewire the connections to the diode by hand. This included scraping off some of the green solder mask and soldering wires to it to complete the connection. This allowed the remote circuitry to fit in the NES controller and allowed me to bend the diode to the cable/cord hole of the original NES case.

I then cut up portions of the original NES pad circuitry to fit with my remote. Here in the picture I scratched off the covers of the leads I needed and labeled which lead would be tied to what. I then began to solder the bypassed connections from the remote to the cut up pieces of the NES pad.

Above is a glimpse of this ugly process. Here I have only soldered power connections to the battery and the channel up button - still several more buttons to go.

Here is the layout I had to use in order to fit all the components in the case. Pictured is the backside of the remote, the directional pad (for channels up/down) and the diode panel. This process was continued until all the buttons from the TV remote were connected to corresponding NES buttons.

Finally, here is all the NES pad buttons soldered to the remote control functions I want them to control. Amazingly, it all fit perfectly. The last thing I needed to do was to attach a battery. The remote used two AAA batteries and those obviously wouldn't fit in my casing, so I had to make an adjustment. One AAA battery produced 1.6 volts, so somehow I had to provide about 3.2 volts and cram it inside the space left in my case. I looked around and found that a few types of coin sized watch batteries actually produced 3 volts. So, on a limb I bought a cheap watch that contained one of the 3 volt batteries, took it apart and used the battery and the battery casing from the watch and placed them in the NES case.

Here you can see that the battery casing just fit within the NES pad. Even more surprising is that when the battery was placed in and conected to my power and ground wires, the remote actually functioned!

All I had left to do was reapply the rubber pads for the buttons, stick on the plastic button covers (pictured above) and then replace the other half of the NES pad case. BAM, there you have it a completely functioning NES Pad TV remote control. If you have the time, check out the 20 second video of the remote in action.


Friday, July 29, 2005

The MegaGear - 76,000 NES Games in 1

Inspired by Ladyada's infamous GameGrrl, I recently became determined to make my own portable NES out of the MegaJoy (one of those knockoff Nintendo systems that can be found in malls) and the recently discontinued HIP Gear Screen pad. However, for my project I wanted to do something slightly different. I wanted to give mine a more unique feel, so when I recently found my old Sega GameGear I instantly knew that it was destined for this project.
The Plan: Completely gut the GameGear and use it as casing for... the MegaGear - 76,000 NES games in 1.
The Parts:
The MegaJoyIII
Hip Gear Screen Pad
Sega GameGear case

The Tools:

Soldering Iron
Wire Cutters
Electrical Tape
Assorted Screwdrivers
and its always good to have a rotary tool - for any necessary cutting.

Step One: Take everything apart. Pictured above is the HIP Gear controller, where my screen came from. Some of these components can be discarded, but carefully study the circuitry before cutting any wires. The circuit board located on top in the picture is the controller for the LCD screen, so be carefull not to damage it. Follow these same methods for the MegaJoy; disassemble the casing, study the circuitry, and salvage the needed components.

Step Two: I then began to solder the two components together. I connected the LCD (pictured on the left) to the MegaJoy processor and controller (pictured on the right). For the correct pin-out connections I followed Ladyada's expert notes. The first thing I did was to test both the MegaJoy and the LCD together. I powered them with a 9V battery and crossed my fingers for some screen output.

Pictured above you can see the list of games on the screen, meaning that both the LCD and MegaJoy worked together. At this point, I released a HUGE sigh of relief, and continued to piece my gaming system together.

Step Three: Since my screen and processor work together, I then began to focus on connecting the controller. I took the original controller from the MegaJoy and cut it in half to fit the GameGear case. Once I had the pieces sized proportionally, I began the daunting task of soldering all the connections from the controller chip (cleverly disguised as a black glob of epoxy) to the MegaJoy processor as seen above. Again, if you wish to know the correct pin-outs, check Ladyada's brilliant site.

Step Four: Once all of my components were connected together I placed it all inside the GameGear case and began screwing stuff down. Pictured above is what the inside of my MegaGear looked like. Notice the high class electrical tape that was used to temporarily hold the button panels in place. When everything has been screwed/taped in place, I tested the circuits again, and placed the other half of the GameGear case on.

Finally, I connected the 9V back up and the MegaGear was good to go. I now have a 76,000 game console system, or as I commonly refer to it, my portable Contra player.Ø

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Zen Micro Car Mount

A Zerosign original project: Make your own Zen Micro car mount.
The Plan: Create a durable and stylish, yet cheap, car mount for the Zen with easy to find items.
The Parts: Two full-size Altoids tins, One big-size plastic paper clamp thing, One can of spray paint, some velcro strips.

Step One: Cut out an area for the audio out connection. For this I used a cutting rotary tool - don't worry, the sparks won't hurt you.

Step Two: I solder welded one of the clamp arms to the lid of one of the Altoid lids. Its really ugly, but it's ok, I'll cover it up later.

Step Three: I then cut the lid from the other Altoids tin in half and placed it over the soldered lid to cover up the ugliness. Once I was satisfied of where it was sitting I then solder welded the second lid onto the first to hold it in place. In the picture above the second lid was already painted black.

Step Four: I then taped the other arm of the paper clamp to the back of one of the lidless Altoids cases (not shown) and spray painted the whole thing black. After the paint dried, I glued small peices of a mouse pad inside the tin to provide cushioning and protection to the Zen.

Here is a side view to show how the whole mount is put together around the arms of the paper clamp.

Finally, stick the soft side of the velcro strips and the console and stick the hard side to the bottom of the mount. This provides more than enough support for the mount and allows absolutely no slipping around. Insert the Zen snuggly into the holder and enjoy. In the picture you can see the finished project. Not bad for my first attempt, though if someone desired to put more than five bucks into it, I'm sure it could be improved upon. All in all though, I must say the project was a success. I have a customized Zen Micro car mount that definately looks better than simply placing the zen in a cup holder, and it was cheap as dirt to make. Ø

Found something Geeky? Want your link posted here? Send it to me at leadingzero@gmail.com


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