Connect retro controllers to this open source device to enjoy plug-and-play gaming across a number of old-school systems.
Many may argue that today’s video games with their realistic graphics are far superior than those of a much blockier, 8-bit era. However, any gamer born in the ‘80s may beg to differ. Let’s face it, there was just something about pulling out that cartridge, blowing into it, slipping it back in, and then powering up the system for a night of Mario Bros. Pair that with those unforgettable chiptunes and the clickety-clack of a controller, and you’re brought right back to your childhood.
Well, for those wishing to spark up some nostalgia, the KADE miniConsole+ is for you. Developed by the Maker trio of Jon Wilson, Kevin Mackett and Bruno Freitas, the versatile device was created to connect old-school gamepads and controllers to a wide variety of computers and consoles through plug-and-play detection. miniConsole+ is not only easy to use, but works right out of the box — in other words, no programming necessary. Just insert a controller of your choosing into one end of its shiny black aluminum case and the gaming system into the other, and you’re good to go.
The miniConsole+ lets users take a trip down memory lane by playing all of their favorite games as they were designed to be played and with their original controllers, ranging from Nintendo NES to Sega Genesis to Atari 2600 — through an optional add-on board. Meanwhile, users can connect non-USB systems like the PS1 and PS2 via RJ45, or wirelessly pair a Wiimote controller for Wii and Wii U games.
“We supply all of the adapter cables you need to connect up your favourite controllers and consoles to the miniConsole+ and we’ll also provide instruction and open source DIY options for the makers out there,” the team notes. “All gamepad (input) cables connect via the DB15 port. System (output) cables connect to either USB (type B) port or the RJ45 port.”
“The Playstation 2 is the best selling console of all time. In our extensive testing, the KADE team has finetuned the Playstation (PSX) output on miniConsole+ so that it works with popular converter cables. This allows you to connect the miniConsole+ device to the Xbox 360, Dreamcast and many other consoles.”
What’s more, its creators reveal that the miniConsole+ was designed with three distinct user types in mind. First, there’s the right-out-of-the-box-ready sort of person, who can get started without any programming knowledge required. Next, there’s the tinkerer who is able to plug their gadget into a Mac or Linux computer, reconfigure, update and add controls through a simple UI. Finally, there’s the die-hard Maker, who can tear it all apart and retrofit the unit into any project, whether that’s an arcade console or even a fight stick for those wishing to spark up some Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter nostalgia.
In addition, miniConsole+ comes with open source software that permits those wishing to modify their gamepads to do so with what the team calls “The Mapper.” This program gives a tinkerer the ability to manage their configurations all in one place, (rather than having to customize each and every emulator that they are running) and then verify updated mappings using the built-in gamepad tester.
If KADE sounds familiar, that’s because the team had first launched a Kickstarter campaign for its miniArcade back in 2013. At the time, the open source arcade interface was based on a Minimus AVR (AT90USB162) and aspired to make it super simple for users to connect arcade controls to their consoles and PCs of yesteryear. Following the tremendous success of its debut, the Makers went back to the drawing board, where after a number or revisions, redesigns and prototypes, now have a ready-for-market miniConsole+. Once again, the latest iteration is built around on Atmel AVR MCU, this time an ATmega32U4.
What’s nice is that the miniConsole+ can be extended with a choice of digital and analog expansion boards, making it easy for a user to wire up to their own custom arcade controls. Take for instance, team member Kevin Mackett, who devised a slick fight stick that could be connected to any supported system via its RJ45 and USB outputs. Then, there’s a Maker who whipped up a classic NES themed bar top, equipped with a pair of controller ports and its accompanying gamepads. As you can tell, the possibilities are endless.
Sound like something you’d love to own? We figured. Head over to the project’s official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking £2,345.