What’s not to love about a project that tests your DIY skills, incorporates 3D printing, and utilizes a cool product from Adafruit? The project in question is one shared by Adafruit and Cults contributors “the Ruiz Brothers” (I’m not sure how many of them there are). Cults is the French web-based 3D printing service and community and Adafruit is the New York City-based electronics company founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. The Ruiz Brothers shared instructions, including a tutorial, photos, and files for building a DIY gamepad using Adafruit’s Bluefruit EZ-Key module and a 3D printed case.
Before you begin the project, you should know that it requires some wiring and some soldering. The Ruiz Brothers recommend that if you’re just getting started as a maker, you may want to get some assistance from a more experienced DIYer. At the least, you can expect this to be a learning experience. You’ll, of course, need a 3D printer or you can order the 3D printed case from an online service — check to see if Cults ships to your region. If you’re printing at home, expect the full 3D print job to take about 2 ½ or 3 hours.
The list of supplies for the project is fairly extensive and seemingly not cheap, but you’ll have your own gamepad in the end. Those at the top of the list can all be acquired from Adafruit, which is not to say you can’t purchase some of them elsewhere, but the two sites do provide Adafruit links, which should make your life a little easier.
Here’s the list of electronics for the gamepad project:
- Adafruit Perma-Proto half-size breadboard PCB: A breadboard is a base for prototyping electronics. This one is available in different sizes. The ½ sized Perma-Proto breadboard is about the size of a business card, so it’s the ideal size for fitting inside this game controller.
- Bluefruit EZ-Key HID keyboard controller: It’s a bluetooth breakout design for making DIY keyboards and gamepads; it doesn’t require programming and functions with most any button or trigger.
- Micro Lipo w/Micro USB
- 500mAh Lithium Polymer Battery
- 6mm Buttons
- 12mm Buttons
- Slide switch
You’ll also need to dig into your tool chest for some tools and supplies:
- Soldering iron and solder
- Wire cutters and strippers
- 30AWG Silicone Coated Wire
- PLA+Semiflex filament (3mm/1.75mm)
- Panavise Jr. plus Helping Hands/Third Hands
- Heat shrink pack
- Blue painter’s tape
The Ruiz Brothers were incredibly thorough, so you should avail yourself of the various guides they provide, including the one for the Bluefruit. On the Adafruit maker site, they’ve also included a circuit guide, wiring and soldering instructions, and, of course, notes on assembly. You’ll need to charge your freshly printed and, we hope, colorful gamepad by plugging in a micro USB cable to the LiPo charger. The charger on the device has an LED indicator that glows green when the battery is fully charged.
This is one of those projects I really love to see, where passionate DIYers team up to make something really cool that utilizes the latest technologies that are surprisingly accessible for most makers, even those lacking in know-how but definitely not short on enthusiasm. Thanks to the Ruiz Brothers’ exhaustive documentation of their project, it should be easy even for novices to tackle (maybe with a little help). We suggest you enlist a friend for help and make two gamepads.
What do you think about this game-inspired project? Let us know over in the 3D Printed Bluetooth Gamepads forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out more photos from the project below.[Source: Adafruit]