Intro: DDR Mat Breakout Port
Some time ago I came into possession of a DDR mat for the original XBOX (a friend didn't need it anymore or something, can't quite remember). I don't have an XBOX, but I kept it around with the idea that I could convert it to use for StepMania (essentially the PC version of DDR). I finally decided to do this, but instead of just a straight-to-USB conversion I thought I'd make it universally adaptable so I can use it on other consoles as well. Hence the reason for a "breakout port".
The idea is basically:
1) Add a port to the DDR mat that has easily attainable cables
2) Get controllers for different consoles (including PC), and turn them into adapters
In this instructable I'll be going into part (1), stay tuned for part (2)'s to be made as I acquire other controllers
Step 1: Preparations
A few simple parts and tools are needed.
- DDR mat (obviously)
- A port. In this case I used a female VGA port since VGA cables are very easy to come by
- Can be found at any radio shack-like store or harvested off of any old computer motherboard or video card
- Small lengths of wire (15 for a VGA port), probably about 4-5 inches each to be safe
- Solder and soldering iron
- Hot glue and hot glue gun
- Wire stripper (or just pliers if you're careful)
- Third hand with alligator clips (optional, useful for holding wires in place and soldering)
Step 2: Preparing the Port
I chose a VGA port because it has more than enough pins to satisfy the number of wires needed to breakout the DDR mat. I doubt DDR mats are terribly variable, so I think it's safe to say they will probably all have fewer than 15 buttons. In my case there were 11 wires that needed to be connected to the VGA port. These corresponded to: Up, Down, Left, Right, A, B, X, Y, Start, Back, and 5V.
Just start by soldering each of the short lengths of wire to each pin on the back of the VGA port. Make sure no pins, solder, or wires are touching and cover the back with hot glue to insulate it and make sure none of the wires or pins move around.
Step 3: Open Mat Surgery
Open up that mat! There are a handful of screws on the bottom of the black plastic box that the cable comes out of.
Once that's open, check for any markings or indications of what wires correspond to what. Most of these old DDR mats look the same so my guess is that they are all just manufactured somewhere and re-branded depending on what retailer is selling them, so I think it's a safe bet that the wiring will be at least very similar among different mats.
In my case, each wire was nicely labeled with its corresponding function. I drew up a wiring diagram to help myself remember what goes where and where I wanted things to connect during the next step; turned out to be very useful.
Note: I dedicated 5 of the wires to 5V because there just happened to be 10 buttons and I had 5 wires left over. You can just as easily solder 11 wires to the vga port and use 1 of them for each contact.
Step 4: Soldering
I held each wire in place with a third hand, but really any clip with some weight to it would do. Solder carefully and make sure to not connect any globs together. Once everything is wired up and you've made sure no contacts or solder are connected to anything they shouldn't be, slather some hot glue on it to hold everything in place.
Step 5: Mounting the Port
These mats all seem to have a large face panel in front of the black box which is perfect for mounting the VGA port. Just choose a spot, trace or measure it out, and drill out a hole. In my case, since it was originally an XBOX mat, there were already 2 holes for XBOX memory cards. So what I did is I just removed one of the memory card ports, cut a line (by tearing it with needle nose pliers; not very elegant hah) along the bottom of the bit of plastic that held the ports, and stuck the VGA port into it. Made for a nice, neat looking mounting (the carved line is on the bottom and mostly internal so It won't be visible for the most part).
Step 6: Reassembly
Nice and easy reassembly, just a few things to watch out for.
- When screwing the circuit boards back into the plastic box, make sure not to over bend or pinch any of the VGA port's wires.
- When screwing the box back together, make sure you don't accidentally tear/puncture the flat plastic circuit of the mat itself. Everything internal should still line up to the visible screw holes in the rubber bottom of the mat so it should be easy enough (unless the mat was moved around a lot during the construction.
As an added bonus, I used my wire clippers and an exacto knife to carve the old memory card cap to fit over the new VGA port. Not a perfect fit, but looks pretty nice!
Step 7: Final Thoughts and Future Plans
So the DDR mat is all reassembled and ready to be tested. Only problem is, there's nothing to plug it into!
Next steps are to acquire some game console controllers and a pc gamepad and convert them into adapters for your new adaptable mat.
I will add this and those future instructables to a collection so they will be easy to find!