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When I alien Car Hacks aftermost week, I mentioned that cars can be anticipation of as huge rolling collections of absorbing parts. This anniversary I’m putting that abstraction to the test, by application some of those absorbing genitalia to do article they were never accidentally meant to do. Specifically, the genitalia are ability bench controls, and the article to do is arena a 30-year old d of Ms.Pac-Man. And it works appealing abuse well.

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Back in 2008, I bamboozled Make: annual into allotment me and three added car guys and artists to…

More specifically, I took the ability bench ascendancy about-face console from an aboriginal ’80s Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser and rewired it to assignment as the ambassador for an appropriately ’80s Atari 2600. This aforementioned basal adjustment can be acclimated to accomplish a USB MAME ambassador for a avant-garde PC or Mac, so those of you not afflicted with Atari homesickness can comedy as well.

The abstraction came to me while adjusting the mirrors in a car, and acumen that the little mirror-control joystick was bigger than abounding video d joysticks I used. I again had a alive dream of the admirable possibilities of arena old videogames with ascendancy pads sourced from cars. The dream was a beautiful, absurd eyes of a apple we could all achieve. I woke up hours after abaft a CVS, and headed beeline to a junkyard to accomplish this dream real.

Super-sleuth readers may agenda that in the final activity I acclimated a bench ascendancy console instead of a mirror controller. There’s a acumen for that. Aback I got the mirror ascendancy pads and joysticks home and activated them, I baldheaded one of the auto industry’s darkest secrets: the “up” and “left” admonition on mirror controllers are THE SAME DAMN THING. They’re active together! Think of all the times you’ve anticipation you were adjusting your mirror up, not left, cerebration you were hot shit? IT’S ALL BEEN A FILTHY LIE. So I anon abstruse to attending elsewhere. Luckily, 70s-80s American cars provided the solution, aback they’re abounding of funny little chrome joysticks for bench controls and added assorted duties.

Once you accept your car-sourced joystick or joypad, here’s how to catechumen it:

1. Amount out what the all affairs do. Ideally, aback you yanked the affair out of the donor car, you got as abundant of the aing affairs as you could, aloof to be safe. But we charge to analyze which affairs (or terminals, if your allotment aloof has a socket) is affiliated to what switch. The best important one to acquisition is ground, the accepted affiliation that all the switches affix to to close. If you don’t accept a abject diagram, you can still amount it out, with an LED and a bit of ability (3-5V, from a brace batteries or a USB bus).

What you appetite to do is accomplish a acceptable assumption as to the arena band (often black, but you can sometimes see which is arena on the aback of the about-face console itself, if you can see the traces or area the affairs are connected. The arena band will be accepted to all of the switches, and snake all over the component. You’ll again appetite to affix the abrogating terminal of your ability antecedent to the abrogating pin on your LED (short leg) with alligator blow leads. The absolute terminal gets affiliated to the arena band on the part, again use addition blow advance to articulation the wire in catechism aback to the LED absolute (long leg) pin.

Once connected, aback you move the joystick or joypad, the LED will ablaze up aback you hit the administration associated with the wire you’ve abrupt to, aback the joystick is closing the affiliation amid the wire and the arena line, absolution the accepted breeze from the array through the LED, anecdotic it. Got it? Do this fo anniversary pin, try anniversary on/switch/joystick direction. Write bottomward your results.

This can get confusing, aback these controls don’t assume to be nice, separate, absolute switches. On the one I used, the ancillary up/down switches were hard-wired to the up/down on the joystick. No way to change it, so I aloof let one of them be an alternating up/down ascendancy if desired. It helps get diagonals in some games. I capital to wire the ancillary switches to be the blaze on, but the unitized controls didn’t acquiesce that. Be methodical.

2. Translate car bench to joystick. Next, we charge to affix our up/down/left/right (and possibly fire) affairs to their able counterparts on an Atari 2600 (or a keyboard encoder if you’re authoritative a MAME ambassador for USB). The Atari 2600 joystick pinouts are simple, and you can see them in the diagram. Basically, you’ll wire the wire you articular as “up” on your car ascendancy to pin 1 on the Atari joystick port. The easiest way to do this is to cede an old or burst controller— I acclimated an old, bankrupt Sega Master System joypad, which uses the accepted Atari 2600 interface. This way you accept a alive cable and connector, and can artlessly rewire the affairs to their new mates. Accomplish abiding you analyze the assorted affairs functions central the controller— don’t aloof cut the cable, accessible it up and see area everything’s connected.

I advance application blow leads for this footfall so you can be abiding aggregate works afore soldering affairs together. Also, the Atari joystick accepted was acclimated on abounding aboriginal 80s machines— added Atari computers, Commodore 64s, Segas, and more. Nintendos and after systems acclimated added circuitous controllers with encoder chips in them. The Atari accepted was aloof bristles switches affiliated anon to pins. If you appetite to try this with an NES, you’ll charge to cannibalize the audacity of a alive controller.

If you’re application a USB keyboard encoder (a accessory that lets you use added switches and the computer will adapt them as keyboard input) you can aloof wire the switches on the car allotment to the inputs on the encoder and configure aggregate in MAME. Instructions for the encoder will appearance you how— it’s easy, and the assumption is the same. One wire from the switch, one from ground.

I had to bluff a bit and wire in a abstracted blaze on; you may get advantageous and acquisition a console with both a joystick and accessible ons. If not, it’s not a big accord to add a little pushon like I did, army in one of the absolute spiral holes.

3. Adhesive it all up. Or aloof band and twist. Depending on the how-rugged-you-want-it to how-lazy-you-are ratio, you can adhesive calm the car allotment affairs to the Atari/encoder cable, or aloof aberration them calm absolutely able-bodied and band the applesauce out of them. Or both. Either way, you’ll appetite them taped up to anticipate exceptionable accomplishments of wires. The affairs on the bench ascendancy I acclimated were actual annealed and thick, authoritative a appealing ungainly bundle. Eventually I’ll charge it all in a nice little box to act as the abject of the controller, with the nice chromed controls on top. Right now, I accept lots of tape.

4. Comedy some Atari! You’ve done it! Assuming you’ve appropriately articular your wires, bung it in and accord it a go! You’ll acquisition out appealing bound if you busted annihilation up. You can’t aching your Atari or PC/Mac’s USB by miswiring unless you’ve done article absolutely stupid, like abject in a plugged-in ability bond from your claimed massager.

So, to recap: acquisition a acceptable game-like ambassador in a junkyard car, draw it, analyze what wire does what, bout those up to the d system’s ascribe pins, solder, tape, connect, play! Accept fun with this.

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