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NES Controller iPod Remote

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Picture of NES Controller iPod Remote
By embedding a PIC microcontroller into an NES controller, it can be converted into a replacement for Apple's iPod remote.
(Only 3rd and 4th Generation iPods have this, it is a the small oval port next to the headphone jack).

Update (8/26/2011):
It's been quite some time since iPods have used this iPod remote connector, but the dock connector (the one used on all iPods except the shuffle, iPad, and iPhone) has the same Rx/Tx pins, as well as a 3.3V out.  A simple breakout board can replace the hacked connector at the end, and you can get this to work with any recent Apple products.  You can buy breakout boards at: http://www.kineteka.com/PodBreakout-v1.aspx
(The mini one is pretty nice, and they also have pinout information).

 
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Step 1: Parts

Microcontroller- dsPIC30F2011 These can be sampled from Microchip's sample site

Programmer- the drawback to using a dsPIC is the complicated programming procedure. The easiest way to program it is to use a Microchip ICD2, however these run fairly expensive. I have not tried this, but apparently the utilities found at http://homerreid.ath.cx/misc/dspicprg/ can be used with a homemade JDM Programmer.

IC sockets- I used 2 8-pin DIP sockets(a single 18 pin or 16 pin would have also worked). These are necessary for removing and replacing the IC for programming and debugging.

NES Controller

Dremel with a cutting bit

Sharp knife

Soldering iron and small gauge electrical solder

Desoldering pump

Flush cutters, or wire cutters

Needlenose pliers

Standard Ethernet (CAT-5) cabling

A good amount of small gauge wire- I used the innards of extra CAT-5 cable.

3G or 4G iPod.

A plug for the remote jack on the iPod. This is the most difficult to acquire. Several suggestions are made at iPod Linux's site.
I used a small piece of a shattered old memory module that perfectly fit the remote plug, but any of the other solutions also work.
This is a very cool project. I am trying to build this on my own. I hope to use the ridax dock connector instead.
I wondered how you went with this given my recent comment. I'm planning to have a go with a breakout board and a reduced number of buttons :-)
jmorris301 year ago
Thank you very much for the detail you've put into this.

I bought a Burton Snowboard jacket which comes with a SoftSwitch interface, basically buttons on the sleeve, leading to a control unit which is obsolete for todays hardware. 5 buttons are in the sleeve with a 6 wire ribbon cables coming to the pocket. I've identified the wires, 1 to 6. the old control unit is pretty much serviceable now, and was designed to work with the control interface you've used on your project.

I was planning on getting an Ipod breakout board and attempting to apply your project to that, while using the buttons from my jacket.

I'd be grateful of some support or any updates on subsiquent projects you might have undertaken with a breakout and other buttons?

Regardless, great work! james
NE patsrock2 years ago
where does everybody get thoes little game pads i c them everyehere iinstructabless where can i get oone
Beduk3 years ago
can i use it for my itouch(2nd gen)?Can i use my ps1 controller instead of the nes?please give me details.
No, you can't do this with your Ipod Touch. The author says that only the 3rd and 4th generation ipods have the oval port next to the headphone jack. I'm pretty sure this mod can be done with a PS1 controller instead of an NES controller however
gabrielG23 years ago
Could anyone convert the C code to a PIC16F628? I guess its UART can also be used to conform to the specs of the Apple Acessory Protocol. Running it on 5v would probably need a resistor network on iPod's RX pin. Thanks in advance. Greetings from Brazil.
  will this hack work for the ipod nano 3G?
Mr. Squishy5 years ago
I have a newer iPod Nano 4g and it doesent have that connector on the top. But I have an iPod radio remote instead. If I put the chip inside that, will it work?
i think you could do that if you ripped apart the radio remote, and basically reran the wiring from those buttons to the buttons of the NES controller... it wouldn't involve any programming of ic's or anything like that... it'd actually be a pretty cool project...
 Ok. Thanks!
FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS FOR A PSP, GET TO IT, NOW.
my theory is that (don't quote me on this) the psp remote has one pin with current going out, and five waiting for current (there are only five buttons on the remote). when one gets current, it tells the psp what to do. so in other words, just wire power into the controller and make the different buttons do different things. I just thought of something! what if you had two psps, one with pikey installed, and one with irshell, you would be able to control one with the other (just use the keyboard to be used with pikey and teach irshell the keystrokes used for the different buttons, then use that one the other psp).
mman is right, other that that, its the same
just open the controller and wire the buttons to the nes controller and STOP THE CAPS!
i dident have a sodering gun so i used a lighter. big no no :[
lolcat3605 years ago
?
cboy2us5 years ago
I hope you used the stranded core cat5 cable. It would be hard to use the remote with a stiff cable. Good Instructable
lopagof6 years ago
I am doing a similar mod with the ipod nano (1st gen) and I was wondering if It uses the same protocol (only through the dock connector). Any help is well appreciated!
Senator Penguin (author)  lopagof6 years ago
It does use the same protocol, a long as you connect to the right pins. If you can solder to the tiny pins in the dock connector (they sell some over at SparkFun) it's definitely possible. It would certainly be a better connection than my kludged together RAM-chunk connector.
gbosbiker6 years ago
old school meets new school. love it
spikerbond6 years ago
what microcontroller? there are four different ones with 18 leads
Senator Penguin (author)  spikerbond6 years ago
I used the dsPIC30F2011, but with minor changes to the code (pin numbers and speed of the chips are the only relevant differences that come to mind), almost any other dsPIC30 microcontrollers could be substituted. If you are more comfortable with other platforms, the hardest part of the process is understanding the Apple Accessory Protocol, the rest is pretty straightforward.
aquaman336 years ago
dude thats nice I really dig in i made it wireless by using imuffs i just broke open receiver and soldered maybe ill post it
joly aquaman336 years ago
post it! I would make it for sure!!!!
Morte_Moya6 years ago
Hella NICE!!! I love the fact that you used an NES remote. LOL Nice job!!!
Senator Penguin (author)  Morte_Moya6 years ago
Maybe we should work together and convert an NES into an ultimate iPod dock; just push the iPod into the cartridge slot, controllers act as remotes, and the NES has a complete integrated amp. Between the two of there are probably enough mangled Nintendo parts to make something spectacular.
that would be sick to see. tell me how it goes. I might try it.
Deus6 years ago
I have seen a video of a ipod dock in a NESC and that was used as a game controller for doom II with iPodLinux
Senator Penguin (author)  Deus6 years ago
That was the inspiration for this mod, but I tried to do it without cutting a hole in my iPod and soldering the NES buttons directly to the iPod buttons.
JankY6 years ago
Hi there Senator Penquin,
I like the way you used the original board. I want to build an mp3 player in a NESC. Do you think there is extra space for a mp3 player board inside the NESC? this one It's a real small one.

thx
Senator Penguin (author)  JankY6 years ago
Absolutely. Ignoring the fact that I'm unsure if that counterfeit iPod even works, it is very possible. I suggest you use some of the techniques from this instructable, but replacing the buttons entirely with the buttons of the NES board. Much more would have to be cut away, but you likely wouldn't need the printed resistors on the NES board. Play around with a voltmeter and some test leads to see what you would have to do electronically. It is definitely possible.
Neodudeman6 years ago
I like how you used the controller's original board. That was nice.
Ward_Nox6 years ago
you know after being on this site for a month i can't help but think Nintendo could make a mint selling NES controllers again (or at least the shells)
awesome instructable. the only downside is that the nes controller is about as big as the ipod.
xsmurf6 years ago
Very nice. I like the fact that you programmed your own uC instead of reusing an old apple remote. However, maybe you could add a proper schematic? A+ :)
Senator Penguin (author)  xsmurf6 years ago
Got it, added a new schematic step. I was unsure if it would be beneficial, considering a good deal of the wiring is pre-printed and only one component needed to added, but as I drew it up, it definitely looked clearer.
I'd say it helps getting the big bigger. It's much easier to read a (nice :) Eagle schematic than it is to read a proto with traces and wires going everywhere. On another note, I might try something similar. I may go the lazy way as I already have a remote with a dead plug. But really, I'd rather have a good plug with a dead remote, much more fun and nicer finished product. Now that I think of it, it's nothing a piece of old pcb, the proper 3 prongs (+neg) jack and a lot of hot glue can't deal with!
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