Hack Your Keyboard

Book Excerpt: Your keyboard can be the gateway for all sorts of weird input devices-including arcade-style buttons, joysticks and other exotica. Our hands-on article gives you everything you need to customize your input device.

Editors Note: This story is actually Chapter 8 of our latest ExtremeTech book, Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine. If youre jonesing for the arcade machines you grew up with but dont want to spend thousands on a single Namco or Williams box, we can help. Read this chapter and if you want to know more, pick up a copy of the book today!

Chapter 8: Using the Keyboard Connector for Arcade Controls

You are more likely to connect your arcade controls to your computer through the keyboard port than any other way. Everyone who has a computer has a keyboard, but not everyone has a joystick or gamepad. Software developers know this, so almost every game made for the computer includes the ability to control it with a keyboard. Even my favorite driving game, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, can be played with a keyboard. I dont recommend it though.

Taking advantage of what you learned in the previous chapter, this chapter will show you how to use the keyboard port to interface your arcade controls. Ill start by introducing you to the various methods and products available. At that point, youll know everything you need to know to be able to select an interface method and start connecting wires! If youre following along and building the Project Arcade machine instead of your own design, Ill fill you in on the method chosen for the machine at the end of the chapter. Youve come a long way, but so far ,all youve got is something to look at. After this chapter, your mad-scientist creation will actually be able to do something!

In this chapter:

  • Multiple Keyboard Connections