Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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:

IMG_20170720_185230131

IMG_20170720_185245010

IMG_20170720_185252130

IMG_20170720_185259714

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

Share

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.

Share

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
NES_Alpha_Logo
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 :)

Share

Happy Back to the Future Day!

Unsurprisingly, I am a huge fan of the Back to the Future films. When my first book was published, I immediately thought of the ending of the first film. And as I wrote the sequel, Quantum Coin, I kept thinking about Back to the Future II and what I enjoyed about it and time travel stories, how it raised the stakes and advanced the characters’ lives and maybe enriched your enjoyment of the first movie. And other BTTF fans can see its influence in my book.

Quantum Coin opens with Ephraim thinking his life is great now until Zoe shows up and says, “You have to come back with me — everything is messed up!” And like Marty, he makes the mistake of bringing his girlfriend along for the ride, which only complicates things further. They travel to possible futures (some of them very dark), even using a car for part of the journey, which definitely hits 88mph. They meet multiple versions of themselves, one of whom is Dr. Jena Kim, who the others sometimes call simply “Doc.” There are probably other little references that I’m forgetting.

Anyway, this is an important day for geeks like me, because it’s the day Marty travels to in the future! But it’s also a big deal because it’s my son’s first birthday! Happy birthday, Spud! So to commemorate this once in a lifetime occasion, we had a special photo shoot:

BTTFD

How did you celebrate Back to the Future Day?

Share

New COIN Book!

Sometimes readers ask me if there’ll ever be a sequel to Fair Coin and Quantum Coin. While I’m not going to rule it out, I’m excited to share that a new SF imprint, Pur Books, has asked me to write a parallel novel to the series. They threw a lot of money at me to make this happen, and I’m pleased to report that you can look for Ephraim’s next adventure, Fur Coin, in bookstores in Fall 2016! Be careful what you wish for…FurCoin

Share