PetRockBlock https://blog.petrockblock.com Fun Stuff for Technics Enthusiasts Sat, 21 Oct 2017 07:43:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 GamepadBlock – Universal Game Controller USB Interface https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/13/gamepadblock-game-controller-usb-interface/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/13/gamepadblock-game-controller-usb-interface/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:25:25 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=124483 Retro-Gaming is popular. And a lot of people are building their own arcade machines or gaming consoles as personal projects. Part of these projects is to decide which hardware to use for accessing the arcade controls or gamepads. If original gamepads should be used this decision becomes even harder. And what if you want to …

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Retro-Gaming is popular. And a lot of people are building their own arcade machines or gaming consoles as personal projects. Part of these projects is to decide which hardware to use for accessing the arcade controls or gamepads. If original gamepads should be used this decision becomes even harder. And what if you want to connect various types of game controllers? What about a multi-platform, universal game controller USB interface for that purpose?

What is special about the GamepadBlock?

There already exist USB interfaces that allow you to connect arcade controls. And there are also other USB interfaces that allow you to connect one type of original game controllers or another type of controllers. In some cases these interfaces also only allow to connect a controller for one player. The key feature of the GamepadBlock is that it supports a whole range of controller types at the same time. It, therefore, combines several of the individually available adapters within one device. And since the GamepadBlock is USB HID-compliant, it can be used on Windows, MacOS, and Linux including system-on-chip platforms like the Raspberry Pi™ or Odroid. For all gaming consoles that are supported two gamepads can be connected. And you can even switch between the controller types via a virtual COM port.

Starting with a Game Controller Interface for the Raspberry Pi

So far we have released the ControlBlock, which is an add-on board only for the Raspberry Pi. It provides ways for easily connecting arcade and original controllers to the Raspberry Pi™ (besides a power switch on-off functionality). However, people also asked for a game controller hardware interface like the ControlBlock that could be used on additional platforms other than the Raspberry Pi. Windows, MacOS, and, of course, other Linux-based systems.

Get Ready for the GamepadBlock

Today we are presenting the GamepadBlock: It is a Game Controller USB Interface for arcade and original game controllers.

GamepadBlock: A Universal Game Controller USB Interface
GamepadBlock: A Universal Game Controller USB Interface

It is a USB HID compatible device that works with Windows, MacOS, and Linux such that no drivers need to be installed. Besides arcade joystick and button controls also NES, SNES, Megadrive/Genesis, Master System, and Atari controllers are currently supported. In addition the GamepadBlock allows firmware updates via USB. Therefore, it is ready for future updates that, for example, extend the list of supported gamepads! And if you want to dynamically switch between various controller types on your gaming machine, it is even possible to do so via a virtual USB COM port.

More  Infos

Are you interested in more details about the development? We are preparing a development blog post, feel free to comment for any suggestions or questions!

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Tutorial: GamepadBlock with Debian / Ubuntu https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/10/tutorial-gamepadblock-debian-ubuntu/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/10/tutorial-gamepadblock-debian-ubuntu/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:14:24 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=124464 This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the GamepadBlock. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the GamepadBlock with Debian or Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu. Preparation If you have not already done it, we need to download the Raspbian image first. You get the image on …

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This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the GamepadBlock. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the GamepadBlock with Debian or Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu.

Preparation

If you have not already done it, we need to download the Raspbian image first. You get the image on the official Raspberry Pi downloads site. When you have downloaded the image you need to load it on your SD card. You can follow the Raspberry Pi Software guide for that, if you are unsure how to do that.

Setting the Controller Mode

The Controller Mode determines how the GamepadBlock polls the controllers that are attached to it. You find a detailed description for all modes on the Getting Started Page.

Attaching the GamepadBlock

Using the GamepadBlock with the Raspberry Pi is very easy: You connect the GamepadBlock to your computer with a micro USB cable just like any other USB device. You can use any free USB connector. Also, you can use multiple GamepadBlocks if you need want to have more players.

Installing USB HID Quirks for the GamepadBlock

Until the GamepadBlock patch for the Linux kernel is merged, the following description is important for you if you want to use the two-player functionality of the GamepadBlock on a Linux computer. When you connect the GamepadBlock to your Linux computer only one gamepad is listed under /dev/inputs/. For Linux-based computers we need to configure a so-called USB HID quirk for the GamepadBlock. We provide a Bash script that automates this at Github. You execute the script with the following command:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/GamepadBlockScripts/master/gamepadblockDebian.sh | sudo bash

That command will download the script and start it. The scripts checks if the file /etc/modprobe.d/usbhid.conf exists and creates it, if it does not already exist. Then it checks if the quirks have already been configured for the GamepadBlock. If these are not configured, the script adds the necessary command to the file and reloads the usbhid module.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with the GamepadBlock involves very few steps. We hope you enjoy your GamepadBlock and wish you good luck with your project!

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Tutorial: GamepadBlock with Raspbian https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/10/tutorial-gamepadblock-raspbian/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/10/10/tutorial-gamepadblock-raspbian/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:13:33 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=124455 This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the GamepadBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the GamepadBlock with Raspbian, the most common operating system for the Raspberry. Preparation If you have not already done it, we need …

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This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the GamepadBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the GamepadBlock with Raspbian, the most common operating system for the Raspberry.

Preparation

If you have not already done it, we need to download the Raspbian image first. You get the image on the official Raspberry Pi downloads site. When you have downloaded the image you need to load it on your SD card. You can follow the Raspberry Pi Software guide for that, if you are unsure how to do that.

Setting the Controller Mode

The Controller Mode determines how the GamepadBlock polls the controllers that are attached to it. You find a detailed description for all modes on the Getting Started Page.

Attaching the GamepadBlock

Using the GamepadBlock with the Raspberry Pi is very easy: You connect the GamepadBlock to the Raspberry Pi with a micro USB cable just like any other USB device. You can use any free USB connector.

GamepadBlock attached to Raspberry Pi
GamepadBlock attached to Raspberry Pi

Installing USB HID Quirks for the GamepadBlock

Until the GamepadBlock patch for the Linux kernel is merged, the following description is important for you if you want to use the two-player functionality of the GamepadBlock on a Linux computer. When you connect the GamepadBlock to your Linux computer, for example the Raspberry Pi, only one gamepad is listed under /dev/inputs/. For Linux-based computers we need to configure a so-called USB HID quirk for the GamepadBlock. We provide a Bash script that automates this at Github. You execute the script with the following command:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/GamepadBlockScripts/master/gamepadblockRaspbian.sh | sudo bash

That command will download the script and start it. The scripts checks the file /boot/cmdline.txt if the quirks have already been configured. If these are not configured, the script adds the necessary command to the file.

Note that the Raspberry needs to be restarted, in order to take the changes into effect.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with the GamepadBlock involves very few steps. We hope you enjoy your GamepadBlock and wish you good luck with your project!

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Tutorial: PowerBlock with OSMC https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/22/tutorial-powerblock-with-osmc/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/22/tutorial-powerblock-with-osmc/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:46:31 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123293 Introduction This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with OSMC, a free and open source media center. Preparation If you have not already done it, we need …

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Introduction

This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with OSMC, a free and open source media center.

Preparation

OSMC website

If you have not already done it, we need to download the OSMC image first. You get the image on the official OSMC download site. When you have downloaded the image you need to load it on your SD card. You can follow the Raspberry Pi Software guide for that, if you are unsure how to do that.

Installing the PowerBlock Hardware

Make sure that the Raspberry Pi is switched off before you do any hardware work on it. Attach the PowerBlock with its 2×6 female header to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi as shown on the following image:

PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch
PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch

Attach your power switch to the two pins that are marked with “Switch”. Again, the above image shows that exemplarily.

Attach the micro USB connector of your power supply to the micro USB connector of the PowerBlock:

PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
It is important that you connect your switch to the PowerBlock before you connect the micro USB cable of your power supply. Otherwise the Raspberry Pi will start with an endless loop of booting and shutting down.

Initial Setup of OSMC

When you start OSMC for the first time, you will see that OSMC runs through some initialisation steps that lead to a startup assistant afterwards. During that assistant make sure that SSH is enabled! When the assistant is finished you need to get the IP address of the OSMC instance from within Menu “Settings” – “System Information” in OSMC. Then you can connect to OSMC from another PC via SSH. The username and password are both “osmc”.

Installing the PowerBlock Service

We install the PowerBlock driver from the console via SSH. In order to install the PowerBlock driver and service we can follow the quick installation instructions as given on the driver Github site. To install the driver and the service you just need to call this one command:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/PowerBlock/master/install.sh | sudo bash

That command will download the installation script of the PowerBlock service and start the script. It will compile and install the driver as well as install and start the service.

When the script is finished, you get a success or failure message in the console. In case of a success, you can also see that the optional status LED stopped to flash and, instead, is permanently switched on.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with the PowerBlock involves very few steps. We hope you enjoy your PowerBlock and wish you good luck with your project!

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Tutorial: PowerBlock with RetroPie https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/17/tutorial-powerblock-retropie/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/17/tutorial-powerblock-retropie/#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:59:44 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123299 This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with RetroPie, a very popular distribution for retro gaming. Preparation If you have not already done it, we need to …

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This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with RetroPie, a very popular distribution for retro gaming.

Preparation

If you have not already done it, we need to download the RetroPie image first. You get the image on the official RetroPie downloads site. When you have downloaded the image you need to load it on your SD card. You can follow the Raspberry Pi Software guide for that, if you are unsure how to do that.

Installing the PowerBlock Hardware

Make sure that the Raspberry Pi is switched off before you do any hardware work on it. Attach the PowerBlock with its 2×6 female header to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi as shown on the following image:

PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch
PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch

Attach your power switch to the two pins that are marked with “Switch”. Again, the above image shows that exemplarily.

Attach the micro USB connector of your power supply to the micro USB connector of the PowerBlock:

PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
It is important that you connect your switch to the PowerBlock before you connect the micro USB cable of your power supply. Otherwise the Raspberry Pi will start with an endless loop of booting and shutting down.

Installing the PowerBlock Service

We need to go to the console in order to install the PowerBlock driver. If we are in EmulationStation (the graphical front-end of RetroPie) we can exit it by pressing F4.

In order to install the PowerBlock driver and service we can follow the quick installation instructions as given on the driver Github site. To install the driver and the service you just need to call this one command:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/PowerBlock/master/install.sh | sudo bash

That command will download the installation script of the PowerBlock service and start the script. It will compile and install the driver as well as install and start the service.

When the script is finished, you get a success or failure message in the console. In case of a success, you can also see that the optional status LED stopped to flash and, instead, is permanently switched on.

Video Demonstration

This video shows how to get started with the PowerBlock and RetroPie.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with the PowerBlock involves very few steps. We hope you enjoy your PowerBlock and wish you good luck with your project!

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Our New Website Design and Shop https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/16/website-design-and-shop/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/08/16/website-design-and-shop/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:56:13 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123603 Just a short post here: As some of you might already have seen we have a new website design and shop on our site. Why and What Changes? The previous design existed since 2012 and we felt that it was time to modernise and adapt the site. First of all, we got a new logo, …

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Just a short post here: As some of you might already have seen we have a new website design and shop on our site.

Why and What Changes?

The previous design existed since 2012 and we felt that it was time to modernise and adapt the site.

First of all, we got a new logo, fresh and minimalistic logo.Petrockblock Logo

Regarding the menu, we now have a dedicated blog category that is also shown on the starting page. Besides that our gadgets ControlBlock and PowerBlock got their own top categories on this site: Descriptions, order information, as well as support links are easily accessible now. The RetroPie menu also got finally cleaned up.

And what else?

Another bigger change is the movement of our shop from a third-party service to our site. This has several advantages: On the one hand, the customers do not have to pay any third-party fees and, therefore, can get their gadgets a bit cheaper. On the other hand we had repeatedly the situation were we did not have the features at hand that we wanted to have with the third-party services. With the new shop this is not the case anymore.

We hope you enjoy the new design and shop as we do. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to tell us!

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Tutorial: PowerBlock with Raspbian https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/06/30/tutorial-powerblock-raspbian/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/06/30/tutorial-powerblock-raspbian/#respond Fri, 30 Jun 2017 07:48:40 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123304 This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with Raspbian, the most common operating system for the Raspberry. Preparation If you have not already done it, we need …

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This is a post as part of a tutorial series about getting to start with the PowerBlock with various images for the Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we will learn how to use the PowerBlock with Raspbian, the most common operating system for the Raspberry.

Preparation

If you have not already done it, we need to download the Raspbian image first. You get the image on the official Raspberry Pi downloads site. When you have downloaded the image you need to load it on your SD card. You can follow the Raspberry Pi Software guide for that, if you are unsure how to do that.

Installing the PowerBlock Hardware

Make sure that the Raspberry Pi is switched off before you do any hardware work on it. Attach the PowerBlock with its 2×6 female header to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi as shown on the following image:

PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch
PowerBlock with Attached Power Switch

Attach your power switch to the two pins that are marked with “Switch”. Again, the above image shows that exemplarily.

Attach the micro USB connector of your power supply to the micro USB connector of the PowerBlock:

PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
PowerBlock with attached micro USB cable
It is important that you connect your switch to the PowerBlock before you connect the micro USB cable of your power supply. Otherwise the Raspberry Pi will start with an endless loop of booting and shutting down.

Installing the PowerBlock Service

In order to install the PowerBlock driver and service we can follow the quick installation instructions as given on the driver Github site. To install the driver and the service you just need to call this one command:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/PowerBlock/master/install.sh | sudo bash

That command will download the installation script of the PowerBlock service and start the script. It will compile and install the driver as well as install and start the service.

When the script is finished, you get a success or failure message in the console. In case of a success, you can also see that the optional status LED stopped to flash and, instead, is permanently switched on.

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with the PowerBlock involves very few steps. We hope you enjoy your PowerBlock and wish you good luck with your project!

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Quick Installation Script for the PowerBlock https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/06/29/quick-install-script-powerblock/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/06/29/quick-install-script-powerblock/#respond Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:25:58 +0000 https://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123345 Making the PowerBlock ready to go becomes even easier! The installation of the PowerBlock driver is now a one-liner. We summarised the installation steps that are needed for installing the PowerBlock driver and the service and put all that as an installation script into the driver repository. That means, to install the driver and service …

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Making the PowerBlock ready to go becomes even easier!

The installation of the PowerBlock driver is now a one-liner. We summarised the installation steps that are needed for installing the PowerBlock driver and the service and put all that as an installation script into the driver repository.

That means, to install the driver and service for the PowerBlock you need to call this line on the console:

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrockblog/PowerBlock/master/install.sh | sudo bash

And that’s it! To uninstall the PowerBlock service you just need to call

sudo ./uninstall.sh

You can also find all these information in the README within the PowerBlock repository

We hope you find that helpful and wish you good luck with your project!

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Quick Installation Script for the ControlBlock https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/05/21/quick-installation-script-for-the-controlblock/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/05/21/quick-installation-script-for-the-controlblock/#respond Sun, 21 May 2017 20:12:06 +0000 http://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123041 We realized that the installation of the ControlBlock driver could be simplified. Therefore, we created an installation script that does all the needed steps for compiling, installing the binary, and configuring the ControlBlock service for you! To install the driver and service for the ControlBlock, this is now all that ou have to do: Also, …

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We realized that the installation of the ControlBlock driver could be simplified. Therefore, we created an installation script that does all the needed steps for compiling, installing the binary, and configuring the ControlBlock service for you!

To install the driver and service for the ControlBlock, this is now all that ou have to do:

git clone git://github.com/petrockblog/ControlBlockService2
cd ControlBlockService2
sudo ./install.sh

Also, there is a Youtube video that shows you a typical run of that quick installation script:

You can also find all these information in the README within the ControlBlock repository.

We hope you find that helpful and wish you good luck with your project!

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Update for the ControlBlock Driver with Many New Features https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/02/19/update-controlblock-driver/ https://blog.petrockblock.com/2017/02/19/update-controlblock-driver/#comments Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:02:19 +0000 http://blog.petrockblock.com/?p=123028 We just released an update for the driver of the ControlBlock! What does this mean for you? More functionalities! More specifically, the updates contain: 4-player support Multiple ControlBlocks can be stacked on top of each other. With this functionality you can now create your 4-player arcade machine with two ControlBlocks. Each ControlBlock can be configured …

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We just released an update for the driver of the ControlBlock! What does this mean for you? More functionalities!

More specifically, the updates contain:

  1. 4-player support
    Multiple ControlBlocks can be stacked on top of each other. With this functionality you can now create your 4-player arcade machine with two ControlBlocks. Each ControlBlock can be configured with its own controller type. That means for example that you could provide two full sets of arcade controllers and two, say, SNES controllers – you can choose!

  2. Genesis/Megadrive, Atari controller support
    The driver now support Genesis / Megadrive and Atari controllers. Both types, the three as well as the six button Genesis controllers, are supported. To use Genesis controllers with the ControlBlock simply set “genesis” as gamepad type in the driver config file.
    Sega Genesis / Megadrive (TM) Controllers are now supported by the ControlBlock

  3. Custom shutdown script
    We got several requests from users who want to execute their own scripts when the power switch is switched to “off”. The whole shutdown actions are now defined in the file /etc/controlblockswitchoff.sh You can add anything you want to be executed on switch off to that script now.

  4. Reset button for SNES gamepad mode
    SNES mode now also provides a reset button functionality. If you want to build your personal retro-gaming machine within a SNES or NES case you can now also connect the reset button to the ControlBlock. The reset button is mapped to the ESC key, which in turn exits for example a running emulator.

ControlBlock with attached SNES Reset Button ControlBlock attached to original SNES Hardware

The reset button must be connected to GND and Player 1, Input B. All configuration settings and detailed information about the other functions are described at the Github site of the driver.

Besides updates of the ControlBlock driver there are now driver modules for the ControlBlock (and the PowerBlock as well) in RetroPie. That makes it even easier for you to install the PowerBlock or ControlBlock driver for your RetroPie project. You find the drivers in the RetroPie-Setup menu at “Manage packages” → “Manage driver packages” → “controlblock”. From there, you can easily install or remove the driver from within the RetroPie Setup.

We hope you enjoy these new features!

If you are missing any functionality or support for different controllers feel free to comment below.

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