In a previous blog article, I showed how you can make 2 and 4 port USB adapters to use with retro Atari Joysitcks. While that was really awesome, I recently made improvements leading to this next generation adapter that I will cover in this article. The top improvements are:
- Wireless Bluetooth support
- Paddle support in addition to joysticks
- Additional buttons you can use without having to open up your joysticks
Here is a video that shows the result if you dont feel like reading.
Wireless Bluetooth Support
Atari and retro joystick wires are typically just 5 feet long. The main idea for wireless bluetooth support was to be able to sit back away from the TV while you played your classic games. So this is now possible with my new Bluetooth retro adapter! My PC will pair to the adapter with Bluetooth and I just plug my joysticks and paddles to the adapter and I am golden!
In my last blog, I showed a preview to this original prototype I made to prove it would work:
I used an ESP32 micro controller because it has built-in Bluetooth capabilities. By using a chargeable lipo battery (you can see it on the bottom), the right code, and the right wiring, the unit can be paired to your computer or phone via Bluetooth.
Joystick and Paddle Support
With the 2 game controller ports, you can connect 2 joysticks or even 2 paddles and a joystick at same time!
Getting paddles turned out to not be very simple because Atari paddles use mega ohm potentiometers and getting them to be jitter free needed a really decent analog to digital converter or use or an RC circuit for better precision. It was kind of fun playing old paddle games like Breakout.
I decided to get a bit more fancy and added additional buttons on the device that could be mapped to simulate additional buttons on the joysticks. This is great because having the extra buttons will be useful to map to things like Start, Select, Reset, etc..
I also added a small screen to see immediate feedback of the Joysticks, paddle, and the buttons on the device! In the photo above I have connected a dual paddle controller to the port on the right and the screen shows 2 half circles for that port. As I move the paddles the dials move on the screen. Real-time information is sent to the PC with built-in bluetooth and my PC sees the joysticks and paddles as game controllers.
I designed a nice case with Fusion 360 and added a charging circuit for the battery and with a few sleepless nights getting the code to work, finally had success.
Buy one here
You can buy one here on sale and proceeds go to charity since I just do this for fun.