Functioning Pipboy controller Looking for input:

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SSBMario

New Member
Self-Declaration:

Long time day dreamer, first time modeler.

I recently helped pull a V10 out and dumped it into a caddy and that was with no automotive experience beyond fuel goes here, unscrew oil filter and replace.

I have confidence now because of the above project.

They announced Fallout 4. They announced Pipboys for all (who pre-buy). They kinda hedged around its functionality. Apparently it's a big clam shell that bites onto your cell phone and then you use the touch screen to do all menu navigation.

I said many things not permitted in this forum (and still say them) about this.

I considered what I had learned from the general contractor who helped me put up a wall and run all new electrical circuits as well as the plugs that went with them. I considered the car experience. I decided it was not that far fetched to take an existing Xbox controller and with a lot of work turn it into a FULLY (armed and) OPERATIONAL Pipboy for use in game.

I am Determined.


Project concept:

By my count a Pipboy NEEDS the following:
Left and right triggers Scroll between the Stats / Items / Data menus
up and down scroll up and down the lists of the Stats / Items / Data
left and right scroll across the bottom trees (3 lighted Pipboy buttons)
A, X, Y buttons ARE needed

Maybe's:
B activates and deactivates Pipboy (menu button)
RB hot key (Mapping weapons and items to cross pad)
Right joystick for scrolling around map in fast travel mode

The generic look:

The concept is as simple as I can make it: Take two controllers, splice them together and make one look like a Pipboy.

My step-by-step plan is:

Buy two (more like four with probable errors) corded x-box controllers for use with my PC. Tear one open to get at the lovely electrical innards in true wasteland fashion. Carefully label and mark EVERYTHING so I know which wire goes to which button, etc.

Take careful measurements of my arm and the amount of room I'll need to build accommodate both my arm in the bracer and the technical doohickies and gizmos that make the controller control.

Using the above measurements plan out a bracer for my arm then build up from there and plan out overall button and switch placement. Find or construct the bracer and the bottom box that will be the core of the new Pipboy. Section off the areas that will accommodate the buttons/sticks of the XBOX controller that is being used for the Pipboy.

Mark all areas according to their use. "This area is corresponds to the left/right triggers and the 5 point switch on the Pipboy"

Gently take already labeled parts out of their original controller and fit them into place within the Pipboy box. Carefully insure they all fit correctly. Sketch out or create stencil for proper placement of all buttons and switches for the top/surface of the Pipboy.

Create the surface of the Pipboy and fit into place.

Fire up the controller and verify all buttons/triggers/sticks work as is.

Take apart Pipboy and paint the shell.

Reassemble Pipboy including painted top, fire it up again and re-chk.

Remove top of Pipboy and connect "Pipboy Troller" to actual handheld controller that will be used to PLAY Fallout 4.

This is where things get sketchy

Do I physically WIRE the controllers together so that xyab on the Pip-troller are physically wired to xyab on the Play-troller? This seems the simplest option for me since I'm not a programming wiz and wouldn't know how to make a wireless controller be read as the same input device to my PC as the Play-troller I'm using. If I go the wired route, however, how do I handle it?

Do I make a whole new cable with shrink wrap to connect the wires of each individual button from the Pip-troller to the corresponding buttons of the Play-troller? Literally making an old school electrical circuit?

Or do I try to create a splice between the two cables from each controller?

If I do go for the splice, how do I do that? Chop up another X-Box cord so I have the plugs it utilizes and simply solder the Pip-troller cord with a 1 foot cord length and at the end of it a new protection plug (think OEM plugs in a wiring harness) then add 1 new protection plug on the Play-troller cord so that the Play-troller has it's own cord but now there is a place to plug the Pip-troller into the same cord, potentially making it line up within the cord itself, and not having to go button to button (which protects from wires getting pulled out by accident).


Possible solution is that two wireless controllers CAN be made to read as the SAME controller to a PC whereas not so much with the Xbox itself. I wouldn't know how to do this but I'd prefer it, even at the cost of more rechargeable batteries. Especially since I could make the "Radiation" meter of the Pip-troller be the battery gauge. Could they be made to read as identical input at the wireless chip level on the PC? Maybe an app-like program that camouflages the two signals as one signal in between myself and the game? I'm not sure there.



Suggestions I've received so far from folks boil down to

Buy an older model display phone so that I will have the screen on the Pipboy and just leave a place to nestle that phone into the Pipboy.
 

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zookone

Well-Known Member
Adafruit has a wireless bluetooth controller that turns button presses into keyboard inputs. If building for PC this may be a more ideal solution. The pip-boy interface may need one more button. On some menus a keypress is needed to select an item you've scrolled onto. I thought the five position rotary switch with a press down was maybe good for this. You also need a button for the flashlight mode. In FO3 the character also has a dial on the back of his/her hand. This dial mabe changes between modes instead of orange buttons.
 

SSBMario

New Member
07/16/15
update on arduino vs raspberry vs just wires: the guy (at the electronics store) thinks the simplest way (not involving any programming) would be to simply wire two controllers together. He'd rather run with the arduino if I'm not also building a screen (using a cell phone). The raspberry would be if I wanted the full experience because then I can get a raspberry tiny screen and fit that into the pipboy.






Okay, so as I sat there thinking this over I realized a couple things: a lot of folks are pushing for a more thinking machine for their suggestions whereas I last programmed using BASIC on an Apple IIe 20+ years ago. Tad rusty with software manipulation.


Also more electricity = more power sapped = more heat generated


If I have to run a battery pack for the Pip-troller in any way shape or form I don't want it to go dry immediately. One of the comments that stuck with me from other Pip-boy builds (these were all costume purpose only) was “I hooked it up to play the GNR soundtrack but it sucked the battery dry in an (hour?) so I ended up walking around with this heavy dead weight on my arm all day.”


If I put a speaker/phone in this for the screen and music, I don't want that same issue.


For this reason, unless someone can come up with a much greater reason to start pulling out the Arduino 2560 or a Raspberry (especially since I'd have to re-learn programming) I'm probably leaning to a hack job that links the buttons and dials of the pip-troller to the play-troller.


Functionally this is no different a concept than the NES Powerglove of yesteryear, a much maligned and stupidly executed peripheral by all accounts.


The thing that keeps stumping me for a direct-wiring hack is how to wire the thumbsticks. If I can wire one, I can wire both, and, unfortunately, I MUST wire one. The left stick is paramount to menu operation.


Main problem for wiring:
Any ideas on emulating/hacking the thumbstick wiring?


Main problem for arduino/rasberry:
Any volunteers to program these?

****ATTN
***EDIT
In reviewing the requirements and double checking all inputs on the menus I do NOT need to re-create EITHER thumbstick! I can begin this project tomorrow. I'll see if I can find some cheap controllers and start tearing them apart.
 
Last edited:

Fishbowl

Well-Known Member
Sounds neat, but i'm confused about your intended use. You state:

I decided it was not that far fetched to take an existing Xbox controller and with a lot of work turn it into a FULLY (armed and) OPERATIONAL Pipboy for use in game.
In what manner are you going to use it in game? Are you planning on playing the game on the Pipboy? Obviously you're not going to be able to plug it in and have the PB UI displayed on your arm constantly while you play... :p
 

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SSBMario

New Member
The intent is to play the game on the pipboy in the same way as you see the pipboy used in game. Three or four controls to allow item use, list scrolling, and menu switching. The game itself (combat, walking, interaction with NPC's and in-game objects, doors, etc) will be handled entirely by the real controller or the "Play-troller". The "Pip-troller" will be used only for Pipboy specific usages, though obviously someone with this setup could do all the map-reading, item-equipping, stim-packing they need still using the play-troller. This is simply to take the next step up from the proposed new peripheral from Bethesda and simply make it truly function as Vault tech intended.
 

Fishbowl

Well-Known Member
The intent is to play the game on the pipboy in the same way as you see the pipboy used in game. Three or four controls to allow item use, list scrolling, and menu switching. The game itself (combat, walking, interaction with NPC's and in-game objects, doors, etc) will be handled entirely by the real controller or the "Play-troller". The "Pip-troller" will be used only for Pipboy specific usages, though obviously someone with this setup could do all the map-reading, item-equipping, stim-packing they need still using the play-troller. This is simply to take the next step up from the proposed new peripheral from Bethesda and simply make it truly function as Vault tech intended.
OK, re-read your last post and now I understand...sort of. The Pipboy from the collectors edition of Fallout 4 relies on second screen app running on a modern smart phone. You're suggesting in the posts above that you're going to hook your "pip-troller" up to the "play-troller", but I don't understand how you're solving the problem of interacting with the second screen app with the dials and buttons you're physically building into your pipboy (since the second screen app will be touch-dependant).

Basically, I don't understand how you're going to be able to select items/stims on your own pipboy, and have it applied in the actual game. Hopefully i'm not making this question confusing...
 

SSBMario

New Member
The screen has zero connection to the Pipboy design.

Because the Pipboy will be wired directly to the play-troller the buttons, switches, and dials on the Pipboy will be physically linked to their counterparts on the play-troller. The Pipboy "dial" in the above pictures would be wired to the up/down arrows of the control cross on the controller. When I push the dial upwards it will cause the computer to read "control cross pushed up" and it will cause the game cursor/select field to scroll up the menu list on the TV screen.

The screen-via-phone-app concept is nice and pretty but ultimately not necessary for my intended design's purposes. I can leave a space to slide a phone in so that I can utilize it as the "screen" for when I'm using my Pip-troller, but in those cases I wouldn't be using the touch screen except for fast travel (Fast travel requires using the thumbsticks which are not intended in this build).

Hope this helps clarify
 

Fishbowl

Well-Known Member
The screen has zero connection to the Pipboy design.

Because the Pipboy will be wired directly to the play-troller the buttons, switches, and dials on the Pipboy will be physically linked to their counterparts on the play-troller. The Pipboy "dial" in the above pictures would be wired to the up/down arrows of the control cross on the controller. When I push the dial upwards it will cause the computer to read "control cross pushed up" and it will cause the game cursor/select field to scroll up the menu list on the TV screen.

The screen-via-phone-app concept is nice and pretty but ultimately not necessary for my intended design's purposes. I can leave a space to slide a phone in so that I can utilize it as the "screen" for when I'm using my Pip-troller, but in those cases I wouldn't be using the touch screen except for fast travel (Fast travel requires using the thumbsticks which are not intended in this build).

Hope this helps clarify
Got it, thanks! Either way it's a cool idea, just couldn't get my head around how it was going to interact with the game, coming from a game development/peripheral design background :) Good luck with your project, i'm subscribed!
 

SSBMario

New Member
7/21/15 update
Purchased a soldering kit (this will be my second time ever holding a hot soldering iron so... w00t w00t) 4 buttons, 2 feet of 8(?) strand copper wire and a Gamestop "authorized" Xbox360 controller.

My intention for today is to solder the wires to the new buttons. I will open the controller, bottom up, and stabilize it,then plug it into comp in place of current troller.

Once done with that I'll press the wires from new buttons to the circruit board and attempt to utilize the new button, one at a time, to mimic the actual controller buttons WITHOUT SOLDERING TO THE MOTHERBOARD <--

Since I'm a complete noob to soldering it would be the height of stupidity or arrogance to assume I could solder to a working motherboard first time out. Soldering to the buttons is no sweat as it's two separate pins of metal far enough apart I can work and flub up as much as I need to learn finer soldering points. Also, by just finger pressing the wire to the circuit board I'm not damaging the board in anyway so if I decide I don't like these buttons, or need to change this, that or the other thing, I can.

If this works I've already found some old 1950's tech pieces to complete the look of the switches and dials on the Pipboy's face, but transforming those into rocker switch input should be difficult enough.

I'll chk back for replies before I begin soldering later on, maybe 2 hours or so. If you've got soldering tips, do it now :)
 

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SSBMario

New Member
How do you plan on actually playing the game?
If you read some of the above posts it explains it in further detail.

As for the soldering, I ruined a button and discovered the need for at least 2 clamping devices of some sort so I'll be purchasing those tomorrow. Sorry for being incommunicado but been w/o sleep and brain was too foggy to play with dangerous, hot, pokey, things.
 

SSBMario

New Member
Delayed Forums response is due to a failure for the pics to develop (or get sent to me). Also, coming down with something and had to troubleshoot some problems not associated with Pipboy project.


Here I am with the new MicroSoft authorized GameStop controller cracked open, upside down so the buttons don't fall out.




http://s8.photobucket.com/user/Shotty_Mario/media/pic%201.jpg.html][/URL]


Here's the next step:


http://s8.photobucket.com/user/Shotty_Mario/media/pic%202.jpg.html][/URL]


The rumble packs are both sitting off to the side, the only things with wires in the controller. What you see there is my incredibly sexy assistant (part time Lingerie model) Buffy holding the two wires against the RIGHT arrow of the crosspad's connection.


Each of the connection areas for the d-pad / control cross as well as the x,y,a,b buttons are all composed of those silver circles split in half down the middle. When the “button” is pressed in, it closing the contact between the two and while the connection is split on the circuit board the button connection doesn't appear to be split.


Unfortunately the circuit board is replete with circuitry which I must not damage or short when I solder these wires to their respective button connection sites. I must find a way to hold the wire to the board or within the controller so that there is no stress or tension that tugs at the soldered connection while at the same time putting together some sort of safety so that if the controller get's dropped away from the Pipboy the wiring doesn't take the tension or shock.


My idea here is to wrap all the wiring with a cord of shorter length so that the outer cord, just like with store bought electronics, absorbs the shock and tension, leaving the wire inside uninjured. Also, I think having a breakaway connector would be wise as well, so that the controller can be used without the Pipboy attached and so that the Pipboy can be worn (cosplay) without the controller dragging along. This breakaway connection would potentially solve both problems by insuring that a dropped controller doesn't tear out the soldering and allows for cosplay. Not that I cosplay. But who knows? IF I build this maybe some more working parts and voila, costume.
 

SSBMario

New Member
This thread is not dead, nor is this project, the electronics are still in place, just like before, but the other half of the project and team are still stumped on overall design for the Pipboy itself, both what the measurements will (finally) be as well as what it will be made out of. If you have any suggestions feel free to leave them here.
 

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SSBMario

New Member
How are you going to switch from your controller to the pip-boy while playing?
Sorry for the delayed response, RL stuff going on while I worked out finding some help for fabricating the pipboy facade/body.

There is no need to "switch". The pipboy will be nothing but an extension of the functioning controller. If you use it on an X-Box or a PC, the controller and Pipboy will always appear to the device as a single input channel That is why the Pipboy will have a wire connecting to the controller.

UPDATES and NEWS:
Found an epic little old man who just became a new neighbor of mine do to city construction. He lived in the world pre-3D printing where he did all the fabricating for plants, hotwheels cars, and board games by hand. Just an old engineer who seems to have specialized in creating things for different uses, tools, toys, signs, and the like. He gave the suggestion that I try a heat gun and plastic, then bend the plastic into position. I'll be showing him the pipboy spec's once he returns from his vacation and he'll likely have a good deal more input on the fabrication.
 

SSBMario

New Member
We've decided on the direction we're taking: we're going to use clay to create a new Pipboy model, cutting it and crafting it into shape. Then we'll use that to create a mold and then we can produce multiple Pipboys accordingly, with the electrical being done by hand afterwards. The top "box" of the Pipbody, the electronics area, etc, will all be separate than the arm bracer and will attach via a universal plate for the arm bracer, allowing for universal "boxes" AND accommodate different thickness arms. The arms will be done separate but will, once again, be prettied up and designed to look the same while being different sized for different people.

We'll be flipping the controls on the Pipboy around for Right handers (in research and in practice the Pipboy in game is actually a left handed Pipboy so it is mounted on the wrong arm, per the Dev's themselves) and adding a new 3 position switch between the geiger counter and the knob which will account for the left and right shoulder buttons which swap between STATS/ITEMS/DATA and the corresponding backlit buttons will now be the X, Y, A buttons that are used by the player to equip/use/select, drop, and repair while inside the menus.

See new pic below
 

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