07/21/2017 ecmyers

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:





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

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I'm a YA author who spends too much time on the internet.

Comments (3)

  1. ecmyers

    Update: In RetroRGB’s thorough review of the RetroUSB wireless controller (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzcY4oWd9vE&t=2s), he noticed a problem with pressing Right on the D-pad. I hadn’t previously had that issue, but tonight I had a similar experience pressing Up on my controller while playing Ninja Gaiden III. I tested it by navigating up and down on the menu on the RetroN 5, and it was definitely skipping inputs–sometimes I could even jam on Up repeatedly without it registering any inputs at all!

    So I took the controller apart again to investigate, and when I pressed the Up microswitch directly on the PCB there was no problem. I placed the plastic crossbar of the D-pad directly on the PCB and again, no problem pressing Up, so I figured something was happening when I actually assembled the controller, and I think it has to do with the tightness of the screws. If I tighten the screws until they’re snug, it messes with the D-pad inputs, but by loosening the screws slightly, I was able to make it fully responsive again.

    Interestingly, there is one tiny washer in the controller which I believe was placed on the screw above the D-pad–perhaps to help alleviate the pressure there? When I did my teardown in this video, I neglected to replace the washer, which is probably why my D-pad ended up so unresponsive, but it’s back in place now, and the controller is again functioning the way I expect it to. Odd that it would be so sensitive to getting the screws in just the right amount, but I hope this information is helpful to anyone who has a similar problem with the D-pad.

  2. Silius

    Hi there. Thanks for the review. I also got one of these controllers and I took it apart to see whether I can dampen the clicky noise. I tried with felt and stuffing material but it didn’t help… However, I also noticed the tiny metal washer and I wasn’t sure if it was there on purpose or not. You are right – without the washer the dpad sometimes doesn’t trigger. So it needs to be there (above dpad). I also noticed another tiny plastic washer but I don’t know where it was installed. Did you see that as well? Cheers, Silius

    • ecmyers

      Hey, Silius–thanks for the info, and sorry I missed your comment until now! I did not see the plastic washer, and I don’t see one in my photos above. Do you recall what color it is? I’m pretty sure nothing else fell out when I disassembled the controller, but I could have missed something. Hopefully it wasn’t too important…

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