Moore’s law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This rapid advancement is certainly great for computing power and the advent of better technology but it does have one drawback; otherwise great working hardware becomes outdated and unusable. [Dave] likes his flight simulators and his old flight sim equipment. The only problem is that his new-fangled computer doesn’t have DA15 or DE9 inputs to interface with his controllers. Not being one to let something like this get him down, [Dave] set out to build his own microcontroller-based interface module. He calls it the Multijoy_Retro.
The plan was to make it possible for multiple controllers with DA15 and DE9 connectors to interface with a modern PC via USB. After comparing the available Arduino-compatible boards, the Teensy++ 2.0 was chosen due to the fact it can be easily configured as a USB Human Input Device. Other benefits are its small size and substantial quantity of input pins. The project’s custom firmware sketch reads the inputs from the connected controllers and then sends the converted commands to the PC as an emulated USB controller.
Four hundred solder points were required to support all of the desired functionality. Each function was tested as its hardware counterpart was completed. Problems were troubleshot at that time, then labels added to the wires. This method was necessary to keep everything neat and manageable. This whole process took several days to complete.
The enclosure is mostly 3D printed. Clear acrylic was used for the front panel which was made to look similar to controls you would expect to find in cockpits of old military aircraft. To ensure accurate and uniform connector-shaped holes a CNC Router was used to cut out the front panel. Labels were printed on a regular printer, cut out and attached to the back side of the clear acrylic.
Overall, this is a great build. The project covers many aspects; reverse engineering, electronics, programming, 3D printing and CNC machining. Not only does it solve a problem, it also looks good while doing it!
Filed under: peripherals hacks