Most computer hardware is completely outdated and mostly useless after a decade of being on the market. Two decades later and the hardware is usually considered obsolete... but not the original Gameboy. Some creative individuals are using the Gameboy to control drones.
Gizmodo did an article about the awesome way in which people are beginning to use the original Gameboy to control current day drones. Over on the Paparazzi UAV Blog, Gautier Hattenberger has a post about using his old Gameboy as a remote to control for a drone.
The process is a bit complicated, with Hattenberger explaining that the Paparazzi UAV software is utilized as a base for talking to the drone. The software is running on a Dell laptop while the laptop is communicating with the drone. The Game Boy is hooked up to a game link through a custom connector to an arduino board, which in turn is connected to an FTDI USB semiconductor for reading data from the Gameboy's inputs in the Paparazzi software. The FTDI is then plugged into the laptop to complete the process.
As complicated as it sounds, the most amazing thing about it is that it actually works. You can check out the video below from the Enac UAV Lab YouTube channel that shows the Gameboy actually controlling the drone.
The whole thing is completely impractical for common use. However, it is a cool little experiment to show that even some older hardware can be retrofitted with some cool new tech.
So if you haven't watched the video yet, it's explained that the 'A' and 'B' buttons on the Gameboy control the elevation of the drone, raising and lowering it with the press of a button. The left and right digital pad buttons control the yaw, with the forward and backward on the pad controlling forward and backward momentum.
The start and select buttons are also put to use, controlling the drones ability to rotate left and right while in mid-flight.
At times the controls seem to be a little slow in responding. It's tough to tell if some of the inputs may be suffering from latency delay due to all the cords Jerry-rigged between the Gameboy and the laptop, or if the software just has a tough time sending the signals from the laptop's wi-fi connection to the drone, but there are a few moments where I was worried the drone would veer right off the field and into the lamppost or a building. However, Hattenberger managed to reel it in and keep it stable for the purposes of the video demonstration.
Now hopefully we can see someone use a PS3's SixAxis to control a drone. That would be pretty cool to see. As for Hattenberger, he's one of the few people who can put on his resume that he managed to fly a remote drone using a Nintendo Gameboy.
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