Computer scientist and self-described “computer scientist” “computer scientist” “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 calls the hardware the heart of his mod. “Pups To The Rescue Driver,”A lumpy, plastic object with motorcycle handles. 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 opened the toy, and found plenty of room for more electronics. Tilley had a Raspberry Pico program and a potentiometer for reading the handlebar movement. Importantly, the modification does not require any destruction: Each button’s wires can be taken out of the Raspberry Pi Pico to be reconnected to their original control board. This will allow you to regain the toys’s noise-making 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 about the build is available on Tilley’s Twitter thread.
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