Bluepad32 support for Arduino and CircuitPython

It is now possible to use Bluetooth gamepads both in Arduino and CircuitPython projects.

This means that you can use your PlayStation (PS3, PS4, PS5), Nintendo (Wii, Wii U, Switch) and Xbox One S gamepads in your electronics project: control a robot, home-automation, video games, etc… everything controlled from your favorite gamepad.

The catch is that not every Arduino or CircuitPython boards are supported. In fact, only a few of them are supported.

For Arduino, the boards that have the NINA-W10x (ESP32) co-processor are supported, like:

And similar for CircuitPython, the boards that have the AirLift (ESP32) co-processor are supported, like:

With the additional benefit that you can use any CircuitPython board by attaching the stand-alone AirLift module:

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Building Quico: improved sound, gamepad, and more (part III)

This is the third blog-post regarding “building a video-game console for (my) kids”. See Part II: chiptune, and Part I: gamepad.


We have name: Quico. From now on, I’ll refer to this project as “Quico”:

  • Quico (/ˈkiko/), short for Kids Console (or Kids Computer)
  • Also, one of the main characters of El Chavo del Ocho

Sound Shield

I converted the breadboard into “shield” for the MatrixPortal M4.

Shield for the MatrixPortal M4

“Shield” features:

  • Output:
    • Headphones: Audio jack
    • or Speaker: 5V/GND/AudioOut pins
  • Fits perfectly on top of the MatrixPortal M4
  • Sturdy connection: 8 pins + 2 screws
  • Easy to solder: All components are through-hole, except audio-jack (SMD) but it is as easy to solder as the rest.
  • Open source / open hardware (docs, schematics, layout)
Shield + MatrixPortal M4 + LED matrix
Continue reading “Building Quico: improved sound, gamepad, and more (part III)”

Designing a modern retro console for (my) kids: Adding chiptune music

The ideal modern-retro video game console

My goal is to build a video game console for (my) kids. I want to teach them programming in a fun way: fun for them… and also fun for me. The video-game console features are:

  • Modern components, with a retro “spirit”.
  • Easy to program, a must.
  • Gamepad support: Multiple gamepads at the same time (multiplayer is a must).
  • “Retro” sound:
    • Chosen: SN76489 (more info down below)
  • “Retro” screen:
    • Chosen: 64×32 LED matrix. Let’s see what we can do in this extremely low-resolution screen.
  • A powerful enough micro-controller:
    • Chosen: Matrix Portal M4, mostly for convenience since it comes with an ARM Cortex M4, ESP32, “expansion port” + header to connect to the matrix LED. It already supports CircuitPython. As a bonus it has an accelerometer.
  • Portability: It should be portable, no need to use an external power supply.

In other words, I’m building a Nintendo Switch killer. What will happen next is that Nintendo will run out of business. If this happens, my 7-year-old kid will kill me, since his dream is to be a video game designer at Nintendo… so probably I shouldn’t be that aggressive in my marketing campaign.

Continue reading “Designing a modern retro console for (my) kids: Adding chiptune music”

Bluepad32: Gamepad support for ESP32

I’m happy to announce the release of Bluepad32: gamepad support for the ESP32.

Bluepad32 is a firmware that runs in the ESP32 microcontroller. It supports all the modern Bluetooth gamepads like Sony (PS5, PS4, PS3), Microsoft (Xbox One S) and Nintendo (Switch, Wii) gamepads.

Who is this for?

This is for:

  • …tinkers / makers / electronic hobbyist
  • …that want to add gamepad support into their projects
  • …in a maintainable and easy way

For further info, read: Adding new platforms.

Real world examples

Just add an ESP32 to your project, and control it with a gamepad!

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Unijoysticle 2: Nintendo controllers and more!

Unijoysticle 2 Christmas 2019 update, with support for:

  • Nintendo Wii Remote
  • Nintendo Wii U Pro Controller
  • Nintendo Wii Remote + Nunchuk extension
  • Nintendo Wii Remote + Classic Controller extension
  • Nintendo Switch Pro controller
  • 8BitDo family: all modes supported (Switch, Windows, Mac, Android).
  • iCade 8-bitty

It also supports:

  • Amiga / Atari-St 3-buttons joystick

And it is self-powered!

For further info see:

Commando disassembled – fully commented code


In order to create Commando 2084, I had to disassemble Commando. My original intention was to patch what was only needed and stop there. But I got carried away and I ended up analyzing and commenting the entire Commando code.

The commented code (that can be recompiled to generate the exact original binary) is here:

Continue reading “Commando disassembled – fully commented code”

Commando 2084 – a game for the Commodore 64

Commando 2084

Commando 2084 is the mix between Commando and Robotron 2084: it is like the original Commando game, but using the Robotron 2084 controls.

You play it using the two joysticks at the same time:

  • Joy #2 controls the hero direction
  • Joy #1 controls the bullets direction

But better if you play it with a Unijoysticle 2 with a Dualshok4 gamepad (or similar).


Continue reading “Commando 2084 – a game for the Commodore 64”

Unijoysticle 2: modern bluetooth gamepads for retro computers

Announcing Unijoysticle 2:

Use modern Bluetooth controllers (gamepads, mice, smart TV remote controllers) in retro computers like the Commodore 64/128, Atari ST, Amiga and more.

For further info go here:


Atari ST: First impressions

A few months ago I got an Atari 1040 STF. I knew nothing about it when I got it, except that it was a similar to the Amiga.

Atari 1040 STF

The Atari ST, the Amiga and the Macintosh were computers released in the mid 80’s, all of them based on the Motorola 68k, and all of them came with a windows-based GUI.  This was a revolutionary step compared to the 8-bit machines which were CLI text-driven.

The base “ST” model includes:

  • 8 Mhz Motorola 68000 CPU
  • Yamaha YM2149 3-voice square-wave plus 1-voice white noise (mono)
  • 512Kb or 1Mb RAM (520 vs 1040 models)
  • 3 video modes:
    • 320 x 200 x 16 colors (from a 512 color palette).
    • 640 x 200 x 4 colors (from a 512 color palette)
    • 640 x 400 x 2 colors (I believe this is only B/W)
  • Midi In / Out: Apparently a killer feature for musicians.

Compared with the 8-bit home computers like the C64/C128, the Atari ST is a good improvement. From only 64K/128K RAM to 512K (or 1024K) RAM, an 8 Mhz CPU (vs. 1 or 2 Mhz) and Midi. But there are no hardware sprites (no blitter), and the music is chiptune, like in the C64. The C64 SID chip might be even better. The video modes are OKish. Having a 320×200 @ 16 colors from a palette of 512 is nice, but not that impressive. It is worth noting that the Atari ST (like the Amiga and the Macintosh) don’t have “text video modes”, they only have “graphic” ones.

Continue reading “Atari ST: First impressions”