Computer scientist and self-described “computer scientist” “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 refers to the hardware as the heartbeat of his mod. “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”A lumpy, plastic object with motorcycle handles. 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 found plenty of space to add electronics when he opened the toy. Tilley had a Raspberry Pico program and a potentiometer for reading the handlebar movement. 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. This will allow the toy’s noisy functionality to be restored.
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 is available on the build on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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