A computer scientist, self-described “computer scientist” “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 calls the hardware the heartbeat of his mod. “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”An awkward, lumpy object made of plastic with functional mirrors and motorcycle handles. Original purpose was to make sounds and light when buttons were pressed. “I decided to mod it to play the arcade racer Super Hang-On.”
Tilley discovered plenty of room for electronics in the toy when she opened it. Tilley used a Raspberry Pico program and a potentiometer for the handlebar movements. Importantly, the modification does not require any destruction: Each button’s wires can be taken out of the Raspberry Pi Pico to be reconnected to their original control board. The toy will regain its noise-making 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.
Additional information on the construction is available on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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