RetroUSB Wireless Gamepad for NES and AVS Consoles

I’ve committed another video review — this time for a new wireless controller just released by RetroUSB.IMG_20170720_185051205

Designed by Brian “Bunnyboy” Parker, who also designed the RetroUSB AVS, a console that clones Nintendo Entertainment System hardware via a field programmable gate array (FPGA) for maximum accuracy and authenticity, the RetroUSB Wireless Gamepad (RET-GP) controller has been in the works for a while. It was worth the wait. Some of its highlights:

  • Retails for $65, available now for immediate shipping at www.retrousb.com
  • Wireless over RF, rather than Bluetooth, for minimum input lag
  • Microswitch/tactile buttons vs. traditional rubber membranes in OEM controllers
  • Rechargeable battery that lasts 100 hours
  • Instant on — no need to sync with the wireless receiver
  • Receivers can be assigned to up to four controllers for simultaneous play

I go into a lot of detail and test the controller out in my video review. Check it out if you’re wondering how those buttons sound!

IMG_20170720_185106572In the video, I noted that the casing was slightly separated below the lefthand grip. After I opened it up (see the teardown pics below) and reassembled it, the separation was less noticeable. It seems this isn’t a common occurrence, but it doesn’t bother me too much now.

Some other observations about the controller that didn’t make it into the video:

  • Although I never noticed lag using the 8Bitdo NES30 on my RetroN 5, when I used the RET-GP on the RetroN 5, I suddenly noticed a lack of lag. In other words, it seems ever so slightly more responsive than the NES30; the start of 2-1 in Ninja Gaiden III was a bit easier than it usually is. I’ll have to test more with this controller on my HDTV and a CRT, and I may do record a short video comparing its response times with the NES3o.
  • When using the turbo buttons, the red LED flashes to show you what speed setting you’re on. I’m just so impressed with the whole implementation of turbo on this controller, even if I rarely, if ever, use it.
  • When recharging the controller, you have to press a button to turn it on while it’s plugged in. The red LED will flash slowly to show that it’s recharging, and will glow steady when it is fully charged. I don’t know if it will charge while off, but I assume it will.
  • There’s no manual on/off switch for the controller. As soon as you press a button, it’s on — pretty much instantaneously. It powers off if it doesn’t receive any inputs for a while. I actually found this was really nice because I didn’t have to hold down a button combination for a few seconds like I do with the NES30 on my RetroN 5 (for Bluetooth pairing). I sometimes have trouble pairing the NES30 to the receiver on my NES Classic, and I wonder if people with NES30 receivers on their original console have the same problem. I’m considering getting an adapter to use original controllers on the NES Classic, so I can test whether the RET-GP works with it too.

Apparently you can transplant the guts of the RET-GP into an original NES controller, after modifying the shell. I don’t think I’ll bother with that, because I like the retro design and form factor of the RET-GP more, but here’s what’s inside for the curious:

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So what do you think? Will you pick one of these up?

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Hyperkin Cadet NES Controller Video Review and Teardown

I’ve branched out a little from my weekly NES live streams and posted my first product review for the Hyperkin Cadet controller for the Nintendo Entertainment System and NES Classic Edition. (They also have USB versions, which I failed to mention in the video.)

I mainly did this because although I’d heard great things about the controller from many reviewers (and only one exception), I didn’t see anyone actually test one out for the things that usually are terrible in third-party NES controllers, particularly the D-pad, which often triggers diagonals accidentally. So I decided I needed to try it for myself. I’ve also been interested in what it looks like inside, since most knockoffs are pretty cheap, but I was pleasantly surprised. This controller looks very well made, with an actual chip like the original NES controller, rather than your typical “globtop”:

No black glob here! Just a real chip and a pretty clean looking PCB.

No black glob here! Just a real chip and a pretty clean looking PCB.

Here's the back. Not much to see here.

Here’s the back. Not much to see here.

The rubber membranes seem very similar to replacement parts for NES controllers.

The rubber membranes seem very similar to replacement parts for NES controllers.

Unfortunately, there's a screw hidden under that Hyperkin label.

Unfortunately, there’s a screw hidden under that Hyperkin label.

I doubt I’ll do too many of these, but I’m very interested in, and picky about, controllers and I thought these details might be helpful to anyone else who is curious or on the fence about these controllers. I’m already planning to review the just released RetroUSB wireless controller as well, which is about six times more expensive than this one.

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Anthology Kickstarters

I have two stories coming out next year in anthologies which are currently on Kickstarter: “Grimoire Girls” for Schoolbooks & Sorcery, “an anthology of queer-inclusive YA urban fantasy short stories intended to increase representation and diversity in teen fiction,” edited by Michael M. Jones, and a currently untitled (and mostly written) story for Mother of Invention, “a speculative fiction anthology of diverse, challenging stories about gender and artificial intelligence,” edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael. These are both great collections and causes, which is why I’m proud to contribute to them.

Happily, both of these worthy projects have now funded, but there’s still time to pre-order and get some great rewards to support our stretch goals. There’s less than a few days left on both Kickstarters, so don’t delay–and please spread the word! Thanks for your support. I’m excited to share my stories with everyone and to read all the other stories in the anthologies.

Here’s an excerpt from “Grimoire Girls” in Schoolbooks & Sorcery.

Read more about them:

S&S

MOI

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buy 1985 today!

My new book, 1985: STORI3S FROM SØS, is out today! This slim edition collects three stories related to The Silence of Six series: “SOS”, which features Evan (R.I.P.); “DoubleThink”, which tells Penny’s story between The Silence of Six and Against All Silence; and 1985, a brand-new novella featuring Max’s parents as teenagers at Columbia University in New York City. You can buy it now only at Barnes & Noble. I’m immensely grateful that my publisher Adaptive allowed me to write these stories, and I’m very proud of them, so I hope you’ll check out the collection. If you enjoy them, or even if you didn’t, reviews are always appreciated.

To celebrate my book launch in true 1985 style, you’re invited to watch me play Gyromite for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), just like Brad and his friend Nick in 1985. Check out my YouTube Channel tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern, where I’ll be playing the game (on an original console and tube TV!) and answering viewers’ questions live. Please consider subscribing for a reminder and if you like watching that sort of thing, because I play NES games just about every week.

WeeklyStream_Gyromite_SOS_Socialv2

 

Reference list for SOS

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Homeland by Cory Doctorow

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

The PERSEF0NE series by Michelle Gagnon

This Machine Kills Secrets: How Wikileakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information by Andy Greenberg

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World by David Kirpatrick

The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin D. Mitnick

The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin D. Mitnick

The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers by Kevin D. Mitnick

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter

 

The Fifth Estate (2013), directed by Brian Condon

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014), directed by Brian Knappenberger

Citizenfour (2014), directed by Laura Poitras

Hacker Wars (2014), directed by Vivien Lesnik Weisman

Deep Web (2015), directed by Alex Winter

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still alive

Hello? Is this thing still on?

OK, for a while there, I guess I forgot I had a blog in favor of Twittering and Instagramming. Not sure anyone else misses blogs really, but I’ve been caught up in hanging out with a very interesting toddler, playing old-school Nintendo games, and writing on occasion. But I’m back, and I have updates for you!

1985-SOSNew Book!
Next Monday, May 15, you can walk into just about any Barnes & Noble store and pick up a shiny new paperback called 1985: STORI3S FROM SØS. This slim edition collects three stories related to The Silence of Six series: “SOS” (previously published as an eBook); “DoubleThink” (previously available exclusively on Wattpad); and 1985, a brand-new novella featuring Max’s parents as teenagers in New York City, 1985. I’m pretty excited that people will get to read that, because I put a lot of personal, geeky stuff in it.

 

Appearances
I haven’t been able to do many in-person events of late (see mention of toddler above, plus day job), but I have some great ones lined up:

Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th St, NYC
7 p.m.

Reading & Signing: 1985: Stories from SOS
Wednesday, May 25, 2017
B&N Downtown, Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut St, Philadelphia
7 p.m.

 

Videos
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As I mentioned, I’ve rekindled my interest in 8-bit Nintendo video games, and now you can watch me play through my collection of nearly 300 NES cartridges! I’m running a series called “NES Alphanumeric!” over on YouTube, which involves weekly, hourlong live streams of me playing a game while providing commentary and chatting with viewers–basically a weekly AMA + video games. I’m usually streaming on WedNESdays, but obviously on alternative days when I have events (see above). Here’s my latest episode, a game called Air Fortress.

NES BLACK BOX Template_gimp_author2I’m planning a special live stream on Tuesday, May 16 at 9 p.m. Eastern to promote the new story collection. See, the Nintendo Entertainment System launched in New York City in October 1985, which just so happens to be the time and place in which my story 1985 is set, and my characters are geeky technophiles, so… Of course the NES makes an appearance! I thought I’d celebrate by playing the game they play in the story, Gyromite. (With perhaps a bonus round of Duck Hunt). Stay tuned for more details, but in the meantime, subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Twitter @ecmyers for updates and reminders.

That was a lot of updates all at once. I also have some short stories coming out in various anthologies in the fall, but I’ll save those for another blog post–and I’ll try to come back here a little more often :)

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