Ben Heck shows how to make a smartphone gamepad

Ben Heck is known to many tech blog readers as the guy who has turned pretty much every game console in existence into a portable unit. Last year he got his own internet show courtesy of and Revision3, and has since been cranking out everything from pinball machine to 3D printers every other week. The latest episode of his show has him turning his attention towards consumer electronics, specifically game controllers for iOS devices. In the episode, he buys and tears down an iCade arcade cabinet for the iPad and turns it into a snap-on game controller for the iPhone. The method he uses isn’t exclusive to iOS either, so anyone can mimick it for other devices that support Bluetooth and games with programmable button input.

A few years ago I turned an NES controller into an MP3 player, so my first thought when seeing the size of the PCB he extracts from the iCade was to do something similar with it and a SNES controller. While Ben Heck has access to such things as 3D printers and laser cutters in his workshop, it’s actually a pretty simple and straight forward soldering job to get the internal components working, leaving only the casing as the main issue for those of us who don’t have such tools. Even if you have no interest in doing this yourself, the episode is interesting in its own right. Ironically, iCade just announced an iPhone controller product that is very similar to what Ben created.


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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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