How to make a wireless dreamcast controller?

I've been searching for roughly a week and have not found a wireless dreamcast controller besides a very old model that uses IR and was of very poor quality.  I found a MAKE: article on how to create a wireless receiver/transmitter set but every link is dead, and so therefore, I can't follow it.  I know I'd need a powersource for both the transmitter and controller, and various chips/components for it as well.  All of this I'm sure the controller has more than enough room for.  I'd also like it to have 4 channels like the wavebird controller for the gamecube.  Any help?

sort by: active | newest | oldest

hi there, I know it's a long shot seeing as its been 5 years since this was last commented on but did anybody come up with a solution to making a wireless controller?

I've searched the Internet for a while and found this is the closest anybody has come to sharing what would be involved.

I love to play my Dreamcast however the 55" tv is a bit overwhelming if I sit too close while playing with the wired control. I want to play from the comfort of my lazyboy recliner, yes I realize that sounds lazy of me. Lol.

jeff-o7 years ago
Check sparkfun for a wireless transceiver pair.  Hopefully, the dreamcast controller uses a serial communication protocol, to which you can simply connect the wireless devices to.  You'd cut the cable and replace it with the wireless cards.
stalledaction (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
The dreamcast is serial!  http://mc.pp.se/dc/controller.html  I found that site and it explains a lot about the controller itself.  Would it really be all that simple though?
stalledaction (author)  stalledaction7 years ago
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=151  Get a pair of those and just set them to the rate that the dreamcast sends/receives the data at correct?
Not so easy as that.  You need a microcontroller to set up the transceiver.  It's certainly possible, but there are a few things you need to find out first.  This will determine whether or not the cost and complexity outweighs the benefit:

1.  Does the controller require two-way communications to work with the dreamcast, or is one-way good enough?

2.  exactly what baud rate is fast enough for the controller?

Assuming the answer to 1. is "one way will work" and the answer to 2 is "4800bps is fast enough" then you should be able to do it for less than 20 bucks.  Since the Dreamcast is expecting a clock and data signal, you'll either need two transmitters at different frequencies, or you'll need a microcontroller to mux the two and demux at the receiver end.

At least, that's what I think based on the limited reading I've done so far.
stalledaction (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
It would have to be two way.  Otherwise VMU, rumble, and saving capabilities are nil.

So for one controller, I'd need two of these chips (one for controller, one for the node connected to the console) a micro controller for each node (since the wires keep switching places, and it would probably be more cost effective than having two transceiver units in one controller).  Plus various connect-y thingies (wire, solder, etc)

I'm having a hard time finding the baud rate.  I think it might be 9600 according to this site.  http://www.ele.uva.es/~jesus/dream/  But that previous link I gave may have the answer with further searching throughout its links.
I've never used a dreamcast, so forgive my ignorance.  Yeah, if the controller has a rumble feature and all that, then it definitely needs to be bi-directional.  So, I think the transceiver you linked to at sparkfun, combined with a microcontroller (say, a mega168) would do the trick.  Oh, and a battery for the controller.

The microcontroller would act as an interface between the controller and the transceiver, fooling it into thinking it's communicating directly with the dreamcast.  Same goes for the dreamcast side.

So, not an easy project - it's beyond me (the programming, at least!)
stalledaction (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
Yeah, same here.  I'd be willing to learn the programming, but dunno where to start.  You've been a big help though Jeff.

Past the microcontroller though, I'm wanting to have these controllers access several channels.  Whether they do this with; a wheel like the Wavebird (16 different channels), a tact switch to "shuffle" through channels, or dynamically create static channels (like an IP address), it doesn't matter to me, as long as I can have multiple wireless controllers in the same room without causing mixed interference.
Well, I think some of the wireless transceivers I looked at were multi-channel - that is, they operated at the same base frequency but did not interfere with each other.
stalledaction (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
I shot Marcus (the guy that runs that first site) a question on the baud rate of the controller and this is what he sent me back.

The Dreamcast controller use a synchronous signalization, meaning it
does not rely on a fixed baud rate.  Normally, bits are sent at a rate
of 2 Mbps, but this is not required because clocking is embedded in
the signal.

Anyway, you will not be able to send or receieve such a signal with a
normal asynchronous serial port (UART).  See
<http://mc.pp.se/dc/maplewire.html> for all the gory details.

If this is not a problem for you, the actual throughput needed for a
regular controller is just 22 bytes per poll, which would pan out to
about 10 kbps if you poll 60 times per second, so finding a wireless
link with sufficient capacity shouldn't be too difficult.

Aha, so you will indeed require a microcontroller to act as a Maplewire to UART converter.
stalledaction (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
But oh, where to start.
Excellent link.  It's a little trickier than I thought, though!  The dreamcast controller is apparently bi-directional, but does so with only two wires.  When transmitting, one of the wires acts as a clock and the other transmits data.  When receiving data, the wires trade places!  On top of all that, communication occurs at 2mbps, which is really quite high for something like this.

Now I'm not sure how to go about it without having to code a custom microcontroller to control things on both ends.  The clock/data swapping really throws a kink into things.
lemonie7 years ago
You may be best starting with the IR device, you've got the MOD-DEM in there. I don't know how easy it would be to replace the IR with radio - how much electronics experience do you have?

stalledaction (author)  lemonie7 years ago
I'm pretty good with a soldering iron, but I know very little about wireless signals.  Making a portable snes right now but this dreamcast thing is a separate project.
You need a wireless thingy - just soldering stuff is probably not going to be enough, but if you've got the IR already I've got some hope. Let's see what anyone else can come up with?

stalledaction (author)  lemonie7 years ago
I found a how-to to convert IR to RF.  So if I can't make this straight radio, I'll be able to follow that tutorial to make it so.  But I'd be worried about signal speed.
Can you give me the IR-RF link? I'm interested

stalledaction (author)  lemonie7 years ago
http://www.rentron.com/IR_TO_RF.htm  There ya go lemonie.  Looks like it was mainly used for tv remotes but I'm sure it is applicable for most IR devices.
Looks like you've got what you want there.
Don't use the IR receiver - use the IR output signal from the transmitter (eliminating the IR altogether). That is wire the controller-output to the IR LED to where the IR receiver is in the diagram the receiver circuit needs to out put to where the IR receiver is on the console.

I'm thinking of this as a one-way communication, if the controller is receiving also it's a bit more complicated...