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 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 was capable of opening the toy to reveal plenty of space for more electronics. Tilley discovered a potentiometer to read the handlebar movement and a Raspberry Pi Pico programed as a USB joystick control. The modification is not dangerous: The wires connecting each button can be removed and reconnected to their original control board 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 is available about the build on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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