modifying USB gamepad controllers

    Jun 08 2006 | 4:28 am
    I have heard here and there that there are some of you out there who've investigated opening up and modifying USB videogame controllers for your own purposes. While it has sounded interesting in general, the Max beginner's workshop in Chicago has moved me to ask the question here generally.
    Have you personally "bent" videogame controllers for use via the hi object to construct your own interfaces? While I'm generally curious about these, I'd be more interested in what online resources that describe this process you might be aware of. I suppose it's possible that Nic Collins may deal with this sort of thing in his new book "Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking", but my copy is, apparently, still on order with the publisher.
    I'll be happy to collect and format/forward this information, should I receive any. Please feel free to contact me directly via email.
    Thanks, gregory taylor

    • Jun 08 2006 | 8:46 am
      The guys at STEIM were doing this big-time when we were there a year or two ago, and they've probably made quite a bit of progress since then.
      -- N.
      nick rothwell -- composition, systems, performance -- http://
    • Jun 08 2006 | 9:08 am
      Gregory Taylor wrote: > Have you personally "bent" videogame controllers > for use via the hi object to construct your > own interfaces? While I'm generally curious > about these...
      I wouldn't call it "bend", but I used an airstick to track the position of my bass. I attached it without modification to the bottom of the bass and connected it directly to my powerbook. This was way more easy to achieve than attaching accelerometers connected to a Toaster interface, which I tried first...
      For buttons, I was never so much interested in game controlers, as keyboards (computer and Midi) usually have enough of those ergonomically designed. Some game controllers do have interesting alternative controls, and seem to incorporate them into a usable user interfaces. I do have a P5 glove, though didn't do too much with it yet...
      For bending a gamepad to create something like a faderbox, I was never encouraged, as I could get a used Pocketfader for 60 euros (that was really cheap...). It might be faster/cheaper to find a used Midicontroler than building your own out of a game pad which probably has only 2 to 4 continuous controls.... (This is only true if you incorporate this ancient format called "Midi" anyway)
      If you have a certain unusal sensor, then I guess this will be interesting to bend it into a hi controller. Maybe the question would be: which sensor would you like to use, and has somebody attached it successfully to a gamepad...
      -- Stefan Tiedje------------x------- --_____-----------|-------------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()------- -- _|_)----|-----()-------------- ----------()
    • Jun 08 2006 | 9:11 am
      click on sensor project in the menu
      the new release will be at the end of july (i hope)
      i made the project, but my friend did the electronic handwork
    • Jun 08 2006 | 3:00 pm
      When I need a wireless sensor interface, I take a wingman cordless gamepad by Logitech. It's really cheap, has 5 analog inputs (2 joysticks and 1 fader) and 10 switchs (10 buttons). AND it's wireless!!!
      Just replace all the controlers by a stereo 1/8 jack. Stereo because the analog inputs needs 3 wires, but the switches need only 2. I plug my sensors directly in the 1/8 jacks. Works only with resistive sensors, avoid active ones.
      email me privatly if you want to see pics of my bent gamepads. I sell them too if interested! But the "DoItYourself" way is easy.
      Issue possible: a gamepad goes to sleep mode if inactive after a while. THe analog sensors cannot wake it up, only the switches can do.
      Nic Collins' book has a chapter on gamepad hacks. It's a really nice book, giving up most of David Tudor's tricks, contact mic thingies and more!
      Have fun! pc
    • Jun 08 2006 | 4:59 pm
      I must have missed this earlier - what is the title of the book? A quick search of Nic Collins on Amazon doesn't bring up anything useful.
    • Jun 08 2006 | 8:21 pm
      Yeah, I've tweaked a few joysticks. This is and has been the cheapest way of connecting switches and potentiometers to a music program, although the old (at least, I haven't seen a new one for a while...) soundcards with a gameport were a way of connecting potentiometers directly.
      It is truly as easy as it sounds, just open the thing up, look at where the variable resistors and buttons are connected and solder your own onto them. You can place other variable resistors in series or parallel to yours to use as trimmers.
      ONE IMPORTANT ISSUE: Although the [HI] object spits out values between something like (I don't remember) 0 to 34000, it does so in steps. The cheap joysticks I bought with which to teach a course had twelve steps, which is not a very nice resolution. I never got around to testing if this was joystick-specific or interface-specific. Anyone know?
    • Jun 09 2006 | 6:10 am
      I think the title is Handmade Electronic Music the art of hardware hacking
    • Jun 21 2006 | 12:44 pm
      I just modified an xbox controller so i can use it as USB-Device and i can use all inputs. driver: Im going to write a patch to use the D-pad to control the OpenGL enviroment. The [hi] object doesn't work as well as it could because the controller can sense the presure sensitivity and [hi] only senses 0 or 128. The driver supports Raw-data output (00-FF) per channel, 20 channels and 2 channels for the ForceFeedback. Is there a way to use this data in Max?
    • Jun 21 2006 | 2:15 pm
      I don't know anything about xbox controlers, I'm not sure the meaning of the sentence "[hi] only sense 0 to 128" as well (my english's poor...), but I know [hi] can sense better than that (0 to 255 with a logitech wingman cordless). Most of gamepads use 3.5Volt to power their analog inputs, wich means if you're using a 5volt sensor circuit, you won't reach its best range. Did it reached its range before you hacked it?
      Hope this can help! pc