Picture of Power Glove 20th Anniversary Edition
I'm a video game programmer by day, and I love playing with custom input peripherals. I decided to mod a Nintendo Power Glove to work with some of the games I've worked on. It replaces the original Power Glove's ultrasonic sensors with an accelerometer, the microcontroller with an open-source Arduino, and the wired connection with Bluetooth. I'll show you how to mod your own Power Glove, so you can make it into something more than just a crappy controller for your NES!

Make the future you remember from your childhood, and recycle that glove that was just gathering dust!

I encourage you to do three things before starting:
1) Download the schematic, Arduino code, and sample reader code.
2) Download (or have on hand) the video I've made to go along with this Instructable. I explain some steps in more detail and there are additional visuals that complement the pictures here.
3) Watch the entire video and read this entire Instructable before starting! If there's conflicting information, this guide takes precedence.

For all download links to the video, code, etc, check my website.

Step 1: Design and Parts

I'll start with the goals I had in mind when designing the project and picking parts:
1) Retain as much functionality from the original glove as possible. Sure, you could just plug in the guts from a wiimote, but those bend sensors are so fun!
2) Fit everything in the existing housings. Part of the Power Glove's awesomeness is its ludicrous, sleek, retro-futuristic look. I didn't want to spoil that with wires and gubbins sticking all out.
3) Make it wireless, and robust. No one wants to fake-punch if they're afraid of ripping their computer off their desk or breaking the device.
4) Reduce power consumption as much as possible. I hate wasting and/or constantly recharging batteries, so I picked components (like the accelerometer) that advertised low power consumption.
5) Reduce cost as much as possible, while retaining ease of creation. I've opted to use components sold with breakout boards instead of making a custom board, and I've cannibalized parts from either the original Power Glove or commonplace items (like old computers) where I can.

Here's the full list of parts I used to mod my Power Glove:

Original Nintendo Power Glove -- $40 (ebay)
Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V (8MHz) -- $18.95 (Sparkfun)
ADXL330 3-axis accelerometer with breakout board -- $34.95 (Sparkfun)
CD74HC4067 Analog/Digital MUX with breakout board -- $4.95 (Sparkfun)
BlueSMiRF Silver Bluetooth communications module -- $49.95 (Sparkfun)

Battery clip and battery. I used a rechargeable 3.7V 1100mAh battery (Sparkfun), but anything over 3.3V should work. 2x AA is insufficient.
100k ohm resistor (Brown-Black-Yellow-Gold)
Old computer ribbon cables (optional) for creating your own custom ribbon cables
Berg-style connectors (optional) for making removable sensor connectors (cannibalize these from an old PC)
Right-angle pin headers (optional) for making removable sensor connectors

You'll also need the following tools:

Soldering iron
Utility knife
Wire strippers
Jeweler's saw (or any other tool capable of making precision circuit board cuts)
Prototyping breadboard
Programming interface for the Arduino Pro Mini (such as Sparkfun's USB to Serial Breakout Board)
Dremel rotary tool (optional, but very useful)
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jgoings7 months ago
How possible would it be to mod one for general computer use? As a user of Photoshop and Lightroom (likely more to come), I'd like the ability to map its controls. With no experience in programming, I may have to lean on some friends of mine.

I'm curious as to what resistance ratings you got from your flex sensors. I am doing a similar project and am having trouble determining what resistor to use for each flex sensor.

Would this be a hard program for someone with no background in programming?
biphenyl (author)  avergara lopez1 year ago
The most difficult part of the programming was probably understanding the data stream itself – how the sensor information is packed into a few bytes and transmitted, and then how the host computer unpacks those bytes and translates them back into useful values. If you've done other arduino programming, those parts will be advanced but not impossible to understand, and I've provided source code so you can use it as a reference.

But there's also the question of what you do with the sensor information once you decide the data on the computer. This version of the glove doesn't work just like a normal joystick. So you'd either need to write a joystick driver (definitely not easy) or just hard-wire it into something you are already making (which is what I did). That part will definitely be hard without programming background.
LiveWire152 years ago
Is there any way I can tap into the finger data from the glove without butchering it? I'd like to use the glove as an Arduino input but still and be able to play PunchOut when I want to.
biphenyl (author)  LiveWire152 years ago
You could certainly make (or buy) a converter dongle to translate the NES datastream to USB (for example, USB NES RetroPort here http://www.retrousb.com/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=9f97f8759941ee5256ea3e83d1b88da8).
The only hard part would be decoding the proprietary datastream that the Power Glove is sending over the wire. It's a complex peripheral with many sensors. As I understand it, it sends 12-byte packets with the format:
1: A0 [header byte]
2: X position
3: Y position
4: Z position
5: Rotation
6: Finger status
7: Button status
8: 00 [End data stream byte]
9-12: 00 3F FF FF [Unsure? Timing?]

I do not know how individual buttons/fingers are masked in bytes 6 and 7, but this info is probably buried in a forum somewhere, or you could pretty easily figure out, by printing the byte as a bitmask and looking at how it changes as you press things or move the fingers. FYI, I got the info about the datastream structure from these two sources:
biphenyl (author)  biphenyl2 years ago
Or even, since you want to use it with Arduino, just break out the NES port leads into the Arduino inputs.
builderkidj4 years ago
I love the power glove-avgn
a wise man once said:
I love the power glove! it is SO BAD.
TechDante4 years ago
brillinat rather than a standard gaming controller could this be used as a mouse in a minority report sort of way
Dude that was really awesome. You must have the coolest job. BTW Flashbang and specifically Blurst rocks. Love what you guys are doing in Unity.
technoguy945 years ago
Could you program it so Windows could read it as a standard game controller?
biphenyl (author)  technoguy945 years ago
 Absolutely -- while I have no idea of the details (haven't done Windows OS-specific programming in ~4 years), it should be as simple as writing a serial-joystick driver that decodes the bluetooth serial stream and translates it into joystick axes/buttons.
It would be great if you did, since then it could be used with pre-exisiting games that are compatible with standard gaming controllers.
ironsmiter6 years ago
That has got to be the most awesomest butchering of classic hardware I've ever seen! I DESPISE you for killing a working powerglove. i ADORE what you made from the carcass. I'm so conflicted. this sucks/is great! Keep up the good work!
i agree fully, he made it look like it isn't hacked up (too much), but then again, he destroyed a good PowerGlove.
Mine was for Sega. So I gutted the thing. I am still saying up for a wireless mouse to hook up to it. and I also have an NES zapper that I am going to attach a gyromouse to it to play in actual games.
 or you could use a reproduction zapper, and not destroy an old one.
It isn't necessarily 'destroyed'; all you need is another microcontroller and bluetooth module, and you can build yourself an adapter to plug into your NES, giving you back all the 'joy' and 'wonder' of the original powerglove functionality, but wireless to boot!
roychook5 years ago
is there any code example for the arduino and how do u get angle information from the accelerometers
Ward_Nox6 years ago
why why for the love of god hasen't Nintendo made a wii powerglove it would be the best selling peripheral yet
Well, they have, in a way. It is basically a pair of boxing gloves with sleeves on the back to hold the Wiimote and Nunchuck. Don't buy it. Just duct tape the controllers to real boxing gloves.
it's "duct" tape
actually it goes both ways. duct tape and duck tape. wow late reply, lol.
There is Duck brand duct tape. Duck tape is my duct tape of choice.
i prefer gorilla
the old power glove felt nasty so they need to think of a better version of the glove but it not be a good idea on the sweaty smelly side
use seat shirt material and attach the tech via Velcro and snaps you'd probably have to cannibalize a wiimote so you can make the buttons accessible
I should have read below me
CarpetGnome6 years ago
Yeah, well, uh, just keep your Power Gloves off her, pal, huh? Kidding, great project, looking good sporting the 'glove.
super cool to the homeless?
but....it's so bad....
jakebaldwin6 years ago
Holy cruddish you use Unity3D? Awesome! Have you joined the forums? and have I seen that boxing game????????? Post this on the Unity forums man, it's awesome!
biphenyl (author)  jakebaldwin6 years ago
Yeah I'm on the Unity forums. User biphenyl. We've been using Unity exclusively at Flashbang for a year and a half or so. The boxing game is Touch KO for the iPhone, developed by my brother Adam and I. It's not done yet, but we're shooting for a June release.
Zootch6 years ago
What the hell am I going to do with my R.O.B.?
biphenyl (author)  Zootch6 years ago
I was musing that the other day. He certainly ranks up there among useless peripherals!
Zootch biphenyl6 years ago
Certainly to get it to do anything you would need to get some better servos among other things. He'll have to be gutted considerably...
endolith6 years ago
And you can solder multi-filament ones so that they stick in the protoboard better
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