Arduino Project: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) Controller/Gamepad to Windows/Linux (RetroPie) USB

Posted: 17/07/2016 in Arduino

Improve your retro gaming emulation experience by using the systems original controller

This post provides instructions so you can bring back to life your old controller with native plug-and-play support for Microsoft Windows 7+ and Linux/RetroPie using an ATmega32u4 based Arduino.

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File 12-07-2016, 18 39 06

Ever since Arduino’s started to appear with the ATmega32u4 chip which allows the creation of USB devices I’ve wanted to create adapters to reuse my old game controllers on modern hardware. Unfortunately the official libraries didn’t support joystick/gamepads only keyboard and mouse. Thankfully Matthew Heironimus started a project to address this exact situation with his Arduino Joystick Library http://mheironimus.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/arduino-joystick-library.html.

Using Matthew’s library and the following sketch https://github.com/jfrmilner/Arduino-USBRetroGamingControllers/blob/master/SegaMasterSystem_GamePad_USB/SegaMasterSystem_GamePad_USB.ino you can easily create an adapter for your controller following these steps

1. Get a suitable connector. For this project you’ll need to search (eBay/Aliexpress) for a SNES Controller Extension. Cut into the cable and expose the wires, this is the one I used
Controller_SNES_Extension
2. Find the pinout for your controller. PINOUTS.RU is a good source, for example here is the one for the SNES Controller http://pinoutsguide.com/Game/snescontroller_pinout.shtml. Use a multimeters continuity test to quickly map the pins to wires.
3. Wire the connector to the Arduino. I’ve included the pin information in the Arduino sketch, so for example SNES proprietary connector Pin1 goes to Arduino +5v.
4. Install Matthew’s library from https://github.com/MHeironimus/ArduinoJoystickLibrary. See https://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/Libraries for more information.
5. Upload the Arduino Sketch and then connect your controller.
6. Test. Windows’s users should be able to see the controller appear as a gamepad which will be named after your Arduino board, for example.
Controller_DeviceAndPrinters
Windows provides a helpful test program on the properties page of the controller
Controller_DeviceAndPrinters_Properties
7. Play. For SNES Emulation I recommend Snes9x http://www.snes9x.com/.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other controller conversions.

Kind Regards, jfrmilner

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