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 discusses the hardware which is the heart of his mod “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”An awkward, lumpy object made of plastic with functional mirrors and motorcycle handles. The original purpose of the object was to activate sounds and lights by pressing buttons. “I decided to mod it to play the arcade racer Super Hang-On.”
Tilley managed to get the toy open to reveal plenty of space for additional electronics. Tilley discovered a potentiometer to read the handlebar movement and a Raspberry Pi Pico programed as a USB joystick control. You don’t have to do anything to modify the Raspberry Pi Pico. The wires that connect to each button can simply be pulled from the Raspberry Pi Pico.
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.
You can find more information on the construction here on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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