Computer scientist and self-described “hardware hacker” Dr. Tom Tilley has turned a kid’s toy into a fully-functional arcade controller for classic arcade games like Sega’s Super Hang-On — thanks to a non-destructive modification involving a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller.
“I found a Paw Patrol driving toy at a thrift/op shop,”Tilley explains how the hardware is at his mod’s heart: “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”A lumpy, plastic-looking object that has motorcycle handles and functional mirrors. It was originally intended to trigger sounds or lights when the buttons were pressed. “I decided to mod it to play the arcade racer Super Hang-On.”
Tilley was capable of opening the toy to reveal plenty of room for more electronics. Tilley was able to find a potentiometer which could read the handlebar movement, as well as a Raspberry pi Pico that was programmed as an USB joystick controller. Importantly, the modification does not cause damage: Each button wire can be removed from the Raspberry Pi Pico. The original control board can then be reconnected to restore noise functionality.
With the Raspberry Pi Pico fitted, Tilley’s toy can be used as a controller on any device that accepts a USB joystick — including, to keep the theme running, a low-cost Raspberry Pi Zero single-board computer, which is powerful enough to emulate Sega’s Super Hang-On motorbike racing title.
More information on the build is available on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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