DreamConn Wireless Dreamcast Controller

Discussion in 'Sega Dreamcast Development and Research' started by Marmotta, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Hi Link.
    Thank you very much! It's really nice to receive kind words and thoughts from people who are actively in the scene.
    Great work with your projects as well, especially the region free bios!

    First off, your thought is correct. I only require the Maple Bus, so a dongle is possible (and much easier to produce). But you will end up with the original controller with all of its cable running to the dongle (which will have to be somewhat larger than the base unit in order to fit all of the circuitry). So, maybe it will be a bit 'ugly' design. Furthermore, at the moment only the controller would work. I haven't added support for any other peripheral. But it is something that can be done in the future.

    The answer to this is no. Bluetooth may be the 'medium' but you would also need a way to emulate the base unit's firmware into the PC.
    Like a driver. Also, DualShock's could be supported without loosing the VMU or Jumper Pack support!

    Finally, truth is that at the moment I'm working on a re-design of the DreamConn in order to make it better. I was considering to switch to a bi-color LED (green indicates power-on and normal battery level, red indicates power-on but low battery). Also, changing the power switch to be a black push-button (haven't decided its position yet) and the micro-usb to a standard 3.5mm power jack at the bottom of the controller.
     
  2. -=FamilyGuy=-

    -=FamilyGuy=- Site Supporter 2049

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    Might I suggest that the controller sleeps when untouched for a while and that any buttons, or the power button, wakes it up?

    If you could get the "emitter" dongle small enoughto fit into the vmu slot(s), one could simply tie/wrap the wire behind the controller, or replace it with a shorter one.

    Anyways, good job and it's nice to hear you want to keep improving it!
     
  3. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Yes, 'sleep' is something that I was thinking too. But this would require that part of the circuit (especial the CPU) should be powered-on all the time. This will eventually lead to consume battery even if the controller is left unused. That's why I went with a mechanical switch - for total isolation of the battery from the whole circuit.
     
  4. -=FamilyGuy=-

    -=FamilyGuy=- Site Supporter 2049

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    Maybe it could be an auto turn off then. As long as it powers up fast enought when you press the power button it'd be just as useful. It'd probably require a small PIC and minimal battery?

    Edit: @chrisvcpp
    Got me thinking on soft switch, and found this, it might be of use. Uses a few standard transistors, and a toggle switch acts as an on/off button. Your microcontroller/cpu could handle the turn off after a bit of inactivity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  5. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Thank you very much! I'll consider it. But thing is that here in Greece you can't find easily various components + the cost/complexity of the PCB would increase + you'll need extra relays in order for the CPU to control which components will power-on etc.

    Anyway, thanks again! I much appreciate your help!
     
  6. Zoel

    Zoel Active Member

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    Hello Chris, would you have any estimate on when you're making your next batch of Wireless Controllers?
     
  7. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Hi. Depending on when I'll have the needed components, it may take up to 2 weeks.
     
  8. Fogamer Six

    Fogamer Six Active Member

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    I've wanted to get a set of four Dreamconn but don't care for the drilling of my clear shells. When I asked on eBay you didn't seem like you wanted to let me install on my own. If I bought them in whites, I would just end up moving the parts over myself. I don't mine having the done in my clear shells, but as the LED shows through, there is no reason to drill anything. It could simply be bent or left off. Still interested, if you have them and can work with me. I know language may be a barrier. If someone can explain it better than I can.
     
  9. Marmotta

    Marmotta Dauntless Member

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    The power LED is simply soldered (to the controller PCB, I think, but I don't have it in front of me), so you can move it around or remove it pretty easily. All of the hardware is pretty basic (and cheap) off-the-shelf stuff, the software is basically what you're paying for. I was planning on doing a few mods to mine, which I've had to put off as I'm currently travelling, including removing the power LED (and just using the VMU as a power indicator), removing the power switch and replacing it with a latching circuit connected to the Start button and reworking a DC controller lead to charge it instead of using micro USB.
     
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  10. Fogamer Six

    Fogamer Six Active Member

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    He insists that he has to drill the controller to mount the led, and doesn't seem to understand I'd rather leave it off. Anyway you bring up a great thought. Save a DIY kit, It would be nice if we could just pay him for the software like the Neo Geo unibios people and others have done.
     
  11. Marmotta

    Marmotta Dauntless Member

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    A DIY kit would be a good idea, especially since it should be fairly easy to install and he's now requesting for controllers to be sent to be modified, so it would cut down on postage costs. It would require designing a custom PCB I think (although I do have a fairly early version, so he may have changed it), which would reduce the bill of materials, but would take longer to assemble without a production run, which I'm not sure the number of units sold would justify.
     
  12. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Fogamer Six : I never insisted into drilling the controller. You just asked for a DIY kit, and I said that I don't offer a DIY since there is a lot to be done(including drilling). IF you had asked me to do a custom mod, and exclude anything you wouldn't like, then I wouldn't have any problem. I always accept custom orders after all.

    Anyway, I'm always welcome into comments and thoughts and all will be answered into the upcoming Version 5.

    Following major hardware/firmware changes and even more refinements, most probably there will also be:

    1. Removal of the internal/virtual VMUs and instead, full support of the real connected VMUs for saving/loading.
    2. PC VMU Utility will now be upgraded, to backup/restore any connected VMU - while keeping backwards compatibility with backup/restore of virtual VMUs from previous version.
    3. Also, looking for future support for using the controller not only with the Dreamcast, but with a Windows PC as well.
     
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  13. darcagn

    darcagn Site Supporter 2013, Site Supporter 2014

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    Is there much of a reason to continue to Version 5, with the new release of the official Sega/Retrobit bluetooth Dreamcast controllers coming soon?
     
  14. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Yes of course : We actually know nothing for them at the moment. Only some boxes.
    While Retro-bit showcased some actual hardware for the Saturn & Genesis controllers, they did not show anything for the Dreamcast.

    So, most probably, they don't have them ready yet - and we don't know whether & when will they be ready.
    We don't know nothing about their appearance, quality, support features, etc.

    Maybe someone may think that they will easily be just the same as the original one, being able to use any peripheral, etc.
    The Dreamcast controller is one tough guy, which is quite difficult to make wireless with also support to peripherals.
    Much R&D and cost is involved and we don't know how far Retro-bit wants to go.
    Unfortunately, usually it is "low-cost : no quality/features", or "high-quality/rich features : high cost".

    Another reason, is that the DreamConn is actually made from new/boxed original controllers.
    It is a mod/upgrade of the original, not a new product.
     
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  15. Marmotta

    Marmotta Dauntless Member

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    Interesting to read your thoughts on the Retro-Bit announcement. I agree completely that despite all the furore from the various Youtubers, all Retro-Bit have shown from the Dreamcast is some boxes and a Sega VGA adapter.

    I also agree that there's always going to be a market for people who want the original versions of the controllers, which is why I use versions of micro's controller for the SNES and NES, instead of the perfectly decent 8bitdo alternatives. However, they are also relatively cheap to build, which has always been the main issue with the DreamConn. I understand being in Greece is part of the issue (having experienced problems ordering widely available parts when I was in Italy) and of course new official controllers are at least £25-30 these days, but if Retro-Bit were to introduce a good quality controller with VMU and rumble support for around the £40-50 mark, what would your reaction be?
     
  16. chrisvcpp

    chrisvcpp Member

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    Thanks for your understanding. Also, please note that another major reason for the Dreamconn's cost, is that the components needed are more expensive (in compare with the SNES) due to the features it supports (i.e. virtual VMUs) and also it utilizes 2 powerful cpus in order to comply with the quite demanding Maple Bus.

    Well....if Retro-Bit is to provide a controller with the same quality of the original and also with the same features of the DreamConn, for £40-50 then...I would gladly buy it myself! Don't forget that I'm not a company making this for a profit - I'm not even doing it for a living.
    I'm just a fellow Dreamcast fan, and DreamConn was initially created just for myself. I only decided to give it to the rest of the world and doing the mods in my spare time (and is admittedly quite difficult & tiresome).

    I would love to see a 3rd party company (or even Sega) to give to the retro systems, the attention they deserve.
    All these are of course just my personal opinion.
     
  17. -=FamilyGuy=-

    -=FamilyGuy=- Site Supporter 2049

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    Would you be open to make your design open-source in the event that such a commercial device renders the dreamconn unprofitable to manufacture/sell?
     
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  18. darcagn

    darcagn Site Supporter 2013, Site Supporter 2014

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    Well that makes sense. Didn't realize absolutely nothing was shown other than the box.
    I just heard the announcement a few days ago and immediately thought about the DreamConn's fate.
     

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