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flickertail

BT/USB Adapter for ColecoVision

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Posted (edited)

I've posted around about this through the different forums and on my blog, but my posts have been a little bit confusing.

 

My friend David and I have developed a Bluetooth and USB adapter for retro consoles (MrBoehm), primarily targeting Atari consoles, but with potential for other consoles as well, such as the ColecoVision. Here is a video of it in action with a couple of 2600, 5200, & 7800 carts:

 

This week we'll be sending the Gerber and BOM files to the PCB factory to have the development board manufactured. Attached is a rendering of the development board.

 

The purpose of the BT/USB Adapter is to add modern BT/USB game controller (and keyboard/mosue) support to classic game consoles, but it can also be used to make controller mashups.

 

I don't know anything about ColecoVision development, so I'm looking for people with ColecoVision controller and/or homebrew development experience who would be interested in being a part of MrBoehm testing/development. If so, PM me for access to one of two development boards I'm setting aside for the ColecoVision.

 

Based on my understanding of the ColecoVision controller schematic, the adapter can support two CV controllers. Because of the complexity of the CV controller, I believe it will require two MrBoehm ports (with conversion cables) to support one CV controller. The CV controller diodes would go inside the conversion cables.

 

However, the adapter board also has a 16-pin expansion header for 1) the addition of up to 4 more controller ports or 2) a custom I2C chip PCB for those interested in console modding.

PCB.PNG

Edited by flickertail
Added a statement on diodes in the CV conversion cables.

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So to understand you correctly...this board would allow the use of "modern" Bluetooth, and/or USB controllers to be used with the ColecoVision?  Is there an existing Bluetooth/USB controller that has a 12 button keypad (in addition to the 8-way directional control, plus 2 independent fire buttons) that are required for full functionality with the ColecoVision?  Where would this board get its power from?

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Yes, it would allow modern BT/USB device connections. This will be provided through a RPi Zero WH setup as an appliance with a static file system. The adapter board connects to the Pi through GPIO, and gets it's power from it too.

 

The emulation and mapping is handled through Python code running on the Pi.

 

I don't know if there is a modern BT/USB controller for that, but it is possible to map a 5200 stick, buttons, and keypad to a single modern controller if the directional hat on a modern controller is used to select between keypad rows.

 

The 8-way directional control can be emulated through the software conversion of the modern controller's analog stick direction. At lest that is my plan for ColecoVision support.

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9 minutes ago, flickertail said:

Yes, it would allow modern BT/USB device connections. This will be provided through a RPi Zero WH setup as an appliance with a static file system. The adapter board connects to the Pi through GPIO, and gets it's power from it too.

 

The emulation and mapping is handled through Python code running on the Pi.

 

I don't know if there is a modern BT/USB controller for that, but it is possible to map a 5200 stick, buttons, and keypad to a single modern controller if the directional hat on a modern controller is used to select between keypad rows.

 

The 8-way directional control can be emulated through the software conversion of the modern controller's analog stick direction. At lest that is my plan for ColecoVision support.

You lost me on most this unfortunately...but I'm an old man (43) who doesn't work with, or deal with, any of the Pi/Arduino products, and about the only thing I know about either of them is their names, and of their existence.  I have seen where there has been some work done for the 5200 using some sort of mapping concept...where when you press and hold "this button" on say a Genesis controller, then these buttons represent these 5200 buttons, but when you press and hold "this other button", then those buttons now represent these other 5200 buttons...and so on, and so on, for functionality purposes to get "all of the buttons" with a controller that has significantly less physical buttons.  While this "concept/theory" can work, I guess...its nothing I would settle for (personal opinion).  If the controller needs to have a joystick, 2 buttons, and 12 keypad buttons...then it better have them...on that controller.  Not mapped as alternates, and certainly not on a separate box/dongle plugged in, in series or tandem, on an adapter separately wired 5' away from me.  Again, just my opinion...but I'm sure there are plenty of others who don't share this opinion...this is obviously the case with the 5200 fan base, where the idea of using an $8 3rd-party, Chinese-made, Genesis pad clone, with a $15 exposed PCB adapter, and requiring a "S/P/R & keypad functioning CX-52," all used in concert is the greatest thing since sliced bread, for maximum 5200 game-play enjoyment.  There are, and will always be, those looking for lower cost alternatives/solutions (no matter of the aesthetics, or "function" caveats), those that want the best of the best, and those in the middle.  If it's something that can be made...and that can "work" (definition of "work" to be supplied by those who accept the final result) then there will be a market for it.  Again, all 1 opinion of an old man!

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

Again, all 1 opinion of an old man!

Well... I'm an old man too... I'm 49 LOL :D

 

Totally understand. If there are better/easier options for ColecoVision, there are better options.

 

The end-user though, wouldn't need to know all that pi stuff.

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If the BT/USB controller being used is an SNES controller, for example, then there are a few extra buttons on it, and you can map them out to the commonly needed keypad buttons.

 

Granted not every keypad button would be available, so this would remove some games from the playlist, but it is also possible to use a DB9 y-adapter so you can have a real colecovision controller connected at the same time as this adapter, so that can be used for your occasionally needed keypad input.

 

People playing in emulation using thirdparty controllers are use to these limitations, but now they can use the same controller on real hardware.

 

It's all for fun.

 

image.png.bbcf6eaf80e188cae5f2a9d3244c24a1.png

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33 minutes ago, fdr4prez said:

If the BT/USB controller being used is an SNES controller, for example, then there are a few extra buttons on it, and you can map them out to the commonly needed keypad buttons.

 

Granted not every keypad button would be available, so this would remove some games from the playlist, but it is also possible to use a DB9 y-adapter so you can have a real colecovision controller connected at the same time as this adapter, so that can be used for your occasionally needed keypad input.

 

People playing in emulation using thirdparty controllers are use to these limitations, but now they can use the same controller on real hardware.

 

It's all for fun.

Actually, implementing a pass through cable for a controller keypad would simplify the emulation of the controller pad, as one the port would only need to handle directional and fire button input from the modern controller. The specialization for each console type is done in the conversion cable.

 

You could have different versions of conversion cables.

  • A partial conversion cable with a controller keypad pass through would allow you to use something like use the new modern Atari VCS "classic" joystick (sorry everyone, didn't mean to curse or be blasphemous) with an actual ColecoVision keypad.
  • Another conversion cable could allow you to map the stick, the fire buttons, and some (or all) keypad buttons to a modern game controller.

That's the beauty of the mashup piece of this.

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I had hoped that this xbox add-on keyboard would have shown up as a bluetooth keyboard, but alas it didn't. If it had, it would have been super easy to map the 5200/INTV/ColecoVision controller to it.

 

However, this other BT keyboard does work with the MrBoehm. Matching it up with the modern Atari classic design, and you magically have a the appropriate controller for these classic systems.

xbox.jpg

keyboard.jpg

dims.jpg

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