Square Controller Squarepants: The Capacitive Touch-Sensing NES Controller
By Jacob Siegal
Whether you know it or not, you probably use a capacitive touch screen every day. Smartphones utilize the capacitive touch-sensing technology to interact with human skin by even slightest touch, and one gamer wanted to apply the same tech to a game controller.
Its creator from Treehouse Projects was kind enough to explain how the human body, the skin, and the Arduino microcontroller function as a capacitor, as the project ended up being as much of a learning experience as it was a tech experiment:
“A capacitor consists of two conductive ‘plates’ with a dielectric insulator in the middle and it’s used in everything from power supplies to radios. [T]he negatively charged plate is our body (ground), the positively charged one is the connection we have with the Arduino, and the dielectric insulator is our skin! Cool, eh?”
And cool it is! Six aluminum contacts placed in the up, down, left, right, A, and B positions of the controller charge the capacitor, translating to on-screen movement in the (also homemade) Spongebob Squarepants game. Check it out in action:
If you are interested in creating your own capacitive device, Treehouse Projects has detailed the entire procedure, from parts to process, and even outlined the coding of the fantastically silly jellyfish-netting Spongebob game. Making your own controller has never been so easy!
Jacob Siegal spends a vast majority of his time surrounded with and invested in technology and media, so he decided he may as well start writing about them. You can find more of his writing at Game Rant and his topical tweets @JacobSiegal.