Computer scientist and self-described “hardware hacker” Dr. Tom Tilley has turned a kid’s toy into a fully-functional arcade controller for classic arcade games like Sega’s Super Hang-On — thanks to a non-destructive modification involving a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller.
“I found a Paw Patrol driving toy at a thrift/op shop,”Tilley explains what hardware is at the heart of his mod: “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”A lumpy, plastic-looking object that has motorcycle handles and functional mirrors. It was originally designed to trigger sounds and lights by pressing the buttons. “I decided to mod it to play the arcade racer Super Hang-On.”
Tilley was able open the toy and found plenty of space for additional electronics. Tilley was able to find a potentiometer which could read the handlebar movements and a Raspberry pi Pico that could be programmed as an USB joystick controller. Importantly, the modification doesn’t cause any damage. The wires connecting each button can be removed and reconnected from the original control board to restore the noise functionality.
With the Raspberry Pi Pico fitted, Tilley’s toy can be used as a controller on any device that accepts a USB joystick — including, to keep the theme running, a low-cost Raspberry Pi Zero single-board computer, which is powerful enough to emulate Sega’s Super Hang-On motorbike racing title.
More information is available about the build on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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