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SNES + Teensy = USB/PS3 Gamepad

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Picture of SNES + Teensy = USB/PS3 Gamepad
The Super Nintendo controller is one of the best gamepads ever made. This tutorial will show how you can breathe life into your old SNES controller so you can use it with your PC and your PS3.

You will need the following items:

SNES Controller 
Teensy 2.0 USB Board (http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/ )
USB Cable (http://www.pjrc.com/store/cable_usb_mini_b.html )
Soldering Iron
Solder and Flux
Wire Stripper
Slip Joint Pliers
Needle Nose Pliers
Diagonal Pliers
Knife or Blade
Philips Precision Screwdriver
 
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Step 1: The SNES Controller

Picture of The SNES Controller
Remove the 5 screws from the back of the SNES controller and pull the back of the controller off. We can see the back of the PCB and the wire harness connector. Remove the wire harness. We are going to use the wire harness to attach the Teensy, so be careful when removing it.

Step 2: The Teensy USB Board

Picture of The Teensy USB Board
Think of the Teensy as a tiny computer we are going to program to behave like a USB/PS3 gamepad. All we have to do is hook up the SNES wires to it.

First, we need to put our program onto the Teensy. Download the Teensy loader application at:

http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/loader.html
.

Next, download our USB/PS3 program for SNES from:

https://github.com/johnburkert/YeOldeJoystick/blob/master/hex/ps3_gamepad_snes.hex


This file is the program we are going to run on the Teensy. It tells the Teensy to behave like a PS3 controller. If you are a programmer, feel free to grab the source code and make your own modifications. I also have a hex file that tells the Teensy to treat the SNES gamepad like a USB Keyboard, which is useful for some Android tablets that have USB input, but don't support gamepads.

Now that we have the loader application and the hex file, we need to put the hex file on the Teensy.

Step 1: Connect the Teensy to your PC
Step 2: Press the reset button on the Teensy
Step 3: Select the hex file you downloaded above with the loader application.
Step 4: Press 'Program'
Step 5: Wait a few seconds...
Step 6: Press 'Reboot'
Step 7: Wait a few seconds...
Step 8: You are done programming the Teensy!

Additional instructions for connecting and programming the Teensy can be found at http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/first_use.html

Step 3: Stripping the wire harness

Picture of Stripping the wire harness
Strip the wire harness so it looks like the picture. When stripping the wires, note that they have threading inside that will need to be clipped away. You only need to expose a small tip of each wire, we are going to solder that into the Teensy.

Step 4: Soldering the wire harness to the Teensy

Picture of Soldering the wire harness to the Teensy
Solder each wire into the Teensy as follows:

White Cable (VCC)         -> Teensy VCC
Yellow Cable (CLOCK)  -> Teensy PB0
Orange Cable (LATCH) -> Teensy PB1
Red Cable (DATA)          -> Teensy PB2
Brown Cable (GND)       -> Teensy GND

Teensy pinout is at:

http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/pinout.html  (Teensy 2.0 Pin Assignments, Using C Language)

Step 5: Making room for the Teensy

Picture of Making room for the Teensy
We need to modify the back of the SNES controller case to make room for the Teensy. The picture shows the 2 spots that need removed. First clip the plastic, then use the needle pliers to peel the plastic away from the base. When you are finished, it should like the bottom-right picture. The free space we just created is where we are going to put the Teensy.

Step 6: Put the USB cable on a diet

Picture of Put the USB cable on a diet
The head of a USB cable is fat. We need it slim so it will fit inside the SNES controller case. We are going to cut away the rubber housing around the connector. Put the connector on it's side and hold it with pliers. Follow the edge and cut gently with a blade for each side. WARNING!!! DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS NEAR THE BLADE!!! When you are done it should look like the right side of the picture. Wrap the wire we just exposed with some electrical tape.

Step 7: Putting it all together

Picture of Putting it all together
Connect the wire harness to the connector on the PCB. Wrap the USB cable around the notches that lead out of the casing. Now, VERY GENTLY, put the controller back together. Watch out for pinched cables and pinched Teensies! Take your time with this, it takes me a couple minutes to get everything situated just right. Put the 5 screws back in and bask in the glory of your hard work. You now have a USB/PS3/KEYBOARD gamepad that can be reprogrammed to be whatever you want it to be!

Step 8: Button Mappings

Picture of Button Mappings
Button Mappings:

A -> Circle
B -> Cross
X -> Triangle
Y -> Square
L1 -> L1
R1 -> R1
Up -> Up
Down -> Down
Left -> Left
Right -> Right
Start -> Start
Select -> Select

Virtual Button Mappings:

Select + Start -> PS Home
Select + L1 -> L2
Select + R1 -> R2
Select + Start + L1 + R1 -> Reboot (for when you want to load a new program with the Teensy loader application)

You can test your new gamepad in Windows 7 by running "joy.cpl". Highlight the controller and select 'Properties'.

Step 9: Credits

For awesome instructions on reading data from the NES pins (SNES is similiar):

http://www.artlum.com/gameduino/nes.html

For amazing details on SNES/NES pinouts:

http://pinouts.ru/Game/snescontroller_pinout.shtml

For blowing my mind with PS3 Home button support (This code is the basis for what we are using here):

http://www.slashdev.ca/2010/05/25/ps3-gamepad-with-home-button/

For developing a kick-ass, affordable and easy-to-use USB board:

http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/index.html



JoePerkins8 months ago
I've tried now and it works :)
JoePerkins8 months ago
This is great, I've been waiting to do this for ages. Would this work with a PAL gamepad? If not, what changes should I make?

Thanks! :D
Can this work for the Teensy 3.0?
Macflame1 year ago
Could I use a ATMEGA32L-8AU MCU AVR Development Board for this?
e.g. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ATMEL-Minimum-Development-Board-Core-System-Shield-Board-for-Atmega32-Mega32-AVR-/281012534396?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item416da6fc7c
Tomdf1 year ago
Cool! I hadn't heard of these Teeny things, thanks for the intro :D
Abby_Santi1 year ago
this is really cool but im guessing using different codes can this be done with an NES controller also? have you ever tired it?if so would you be willing to post the codes for us to use?

Thank you
quadcrunk2 years ago
does this work with Teensy++
johnburkert (author)  quadcrunk2 years ago
yes, but you will need to make changes to the makefile for the different processor and the pin locations are different on the Teensy++.
Ok thanks, I was wondering if you can modify the make file and compile for me because I'm not familiar at all on how to modify the files.
mdgrover2 years ago
Excellent instructable! I'm trying a different approach - using the exact same circuit and code, but keeping the Teensy outside of the controller. I created an SNES controller "jack" by cutting a cheap controller extension cable in half, and connecting the corresponding wires to the Teensy. This allows you to plug the SNES controller into the circuit instead of modding the actual controller. The downside of course is that you have to create some kind of housing for the Teensy, SNES jack and the USB. I'll let you know if it turns out as expected.
johnburkert (author)  mdgrover2 years ago
Very cool. I have a famicom project I am working on with an external teensy and I was going to use one of these:

http://www.hammondmfg.com/dwg9.htm

My local Fry's carries them. Good Luck!
johnburkert (author) 2 years ago
I posted a follow-up tutorial using this same hack with a joystick. http://www.instructables.com/id/SNES-Super-Advantage-Teensy-USBPS3-Gamepad/
pfred22 years ago
So your project is the first half of this?

http://ladyada.net/make/usbgamepad/
johnburkert (author)  pfred22 years ago
We go about it differently. They solder directly to the pcb. I read the output and convert. I like my solution better.
Do you know why they did it their way as opposed to how you did it?
johnburkert (author)  pfred22 years ago
Their way takes a lot more time and effort. The only reason to do it that way is if the controller's chip is dead. They are bypassing the chip when they solder directly to the pcb. The advantage of my way is it works with any snes controller (even the super advantage joystick) and it takes less time. But if your controller is busted, then soldering to the pcb is the only way to do it.
Thanks for the explanation, that would make sense. Though it seems to me that their way would work with any, where as your way would only work with a functional controller.
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Awesome retro hack!
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