Andy Goetz

Complex Shapes in KiCad

The board design for the SNES wireless controller project is proceeding nicely. I recently finished the main controller schematic, after running into multiple difficulties about how exactly to implement its electronics. Next up: laying out the circuit board. This presented its own set of challenges, which eventually led to me developing a powerful tool for simplifying the layout of complicated circuit boards. Capturing the PCB dimensions Below is a scan I made of the back of the Official Nintendo SNES Controller PCB: Read more...

Picking a PCB Shape

One of the problems we faced when designing the schematic for the wireless SNES controller, is whether to leave the original PCB in, or fabricate a complete replacement. Implementing the controller on a smaller circuit board would make it cheaper to manufacure: most PCB prototyping companies bill by the square inch. However, using a smaller board would result in an extremely cramped layout, and might require physical modification of the plastic supports on the inside of the circuit board. Read more...

A Wireless SNES Controller

Many classic arcade and console video games can be played with a D-pad. While one can use modern controllers with these programs, they lack the elegance of the older designs. However, if one uses one of these older controllers with a USB adapter, one is forced to be tethered to the computer. Wireless SNES controllers have been done before. However, they usually don’t pay close attention to power usage, and none support multiple controllers using a single interface. Read more...

Retro Joystick Control

Suppose you have an old joystick that you want to use to control your latest micro-controller project. These joysticks use a DB-15 connector with a readily available pinout. A Game Port style joystick consists of digital buttons, and analog axes. In this post, I will go over how to optimally interface the axes of these types of joysticks with your microcontroller. Inside of the joystick, mounted at right angles are potentiometers, one for each axis: Read more...

A Bare Metal ARM Environment

I recently took a class on Embedded systems design at PSU. In this class, we covered designing memory systems, serial busses, as well as sensors, transducers, and outputs. The labs for this class used an ARM development board based on the (then Intel) PXA270 microprocessor. Students were supposed to develop software in ARM assembly to demonstrate what was learned in class. I decided to implement my solutions in C to provide more of a challenge. Read more...

A Bare Metal Example

Recently I took a class on Embedded Systems at Portand State University, and was required to program a bare metal ARM development board. This is a continuation of my notes on how to program the board. You can read the first part here. In order for this development environment to work, we need to implement the syscalls that newlib will use for the C standard library. Most of the required syscalls are necessary in order to access abstractions that wont make sense on the development board. Read more...

A NES Rumble Pak

Recently, I participated in Oregon State University’s Engineering Expo. Every year, freshmen are encouraged to enter innovative designs based on the TekBot learning platform used in the ECE program. A friend and I decided that we would try to implement a macro system for the robot: by using an NES controller, we could have the robot record button combinations and sequences, then play them back later. Boy did we learn a lesson about procrastination. Read more...

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