[ Previous 5 Sites | Previous | Next | Next 5 Sites | Random Site | List Sites ]
About the Site
PSX Joystick Project
Playstation Joystick Page 1
Playstation Joystick Page 2
Playstation Joystick Page 3
Saturn Joystick Project
Saturn Joystick Page 1
PSX GunCon Pedal Project
GunCon Pedal Page 1
GunCon Pedal Page 2
Soldering (for all projects)
Which Controller to Buy
The Home Arcade Shop
You Don't Know Jack Game Show-Style Controls for your PC
YDKJ Project Page 1
YDKJ Project Page 2
YDKJ Project Page 3
Links & More
Cool Arcade Parts!
Sign My Guestbook
View My Guestbook
Feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, or information & photos on your own controls projects.
Building Game-Show Controllers for You Don't Know Jack
The goal of the project is to produce controls that you can use to play You Don't Know Jack with your friends in comfort and style. Instead of crowding around the computer keyboard, imagine sitting comfortably in a chair, a buzzer in your hand. You get the question, think you know the answer, buzz in, and then slap a button on a special game console to input your answer. If the answer requires typing, no sweat -- the keyboard still works!
A cheap keyboard is used as the brains for this project. Essentially, you open up the keyboard and figure out which 2 contacts you need to short to produce keypresses that are relevant to the game. Those keys are Q, B, P, S, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then you run wires out of the keyboard to controls you build with parts from an arcade supplier such as Happ Controls. The controls are easy to make -- they are just buttons. Run the correct 2 wires to a button, and it will simulate a keypress when you push it. Easy! The only part of the project that requires any electrical know-how is reverse-engineering the keyboard -- but I'll walk you through that.
In its final form, this project will consist of a few pieces.
- A modified keyboard. See the photos below for a brief explanation on how to modify a PC keyboard. I will post a complete walkthrough soon. The keyboard is used to type in answers that aren't multiple-choice (one or two per game of YDKJ). It is attached to item 2, the Console, with a cable. The keyboard will be fully-functional at all times.
- A game console. The console will have large, illuminated arcade pushbuttons for answers 1-4, as well as a "Screw" button. It's basically a box with holes in it for the buttons. I found Radio Shack has a good-sized console, but it's pricey at $17. I got it anyway. When the wiring is done, I'm going to paint it, perhaps with that wacky stuff that looks like granite. I suggest making your game console look as neat and professional as possible; it will make the whole affair look classier. The console has jacks for item 3, the buzzers.
- Hand buzzers. These small hand-held units have one button on them. OK, they don't actually buzz... There will be 3, one for letters B, P, and Q (players 1-3). Once you buzz in, you have 10 seconds to answer the question in YDKJ by hitting a button on the console or typing on the keyboard. Note: I am still looking for something that will make a good, simple, cheap, durable, classy-looking buzz-in controller. If you have any ideas, please let me know! Happ Controls let me down here for once... I ended up using PVC, but I am not happy with the way it looks.
The Cool Way to Play -- On Television!
If you are lucky enough to have a computer that can output a composite or S-VHS video signal, you can play YDKJ on your television. That's really what this project is all about... creating a party game. Ideally the computer will be within cable-reach of the TV, and you sit around with your closest friends, eat junk food, and play trivia. The shame of losing will be so much greater when the game is on a 32" television, don't you think?
A lot of PC video cards have TV-out built in, or available as an option. It should be easy to find if you want to try it.
The Mac Version
The same principles apply to the Mac version of the project. As soon as I can find a cheap Mac keyboard to experiment with, I will post detailed instructions and photos. If anyone wants to donate a keyboard to the cause, or knows where I can find a cheap one, please email me.The Mac version would be easier to make a passthrough version with, since ADB keyboards come with 2 ports.
- What the hell is You Don't Know Jack? It is a smart-ass trivia game. It's like a game show, really, not a stale Trivial Pursuit knockoff. It is a blast, and Mac and PC versions are available. Go download a demo and play it. Now imagine playing it with friends, in front of the monitor or even a TV, if your computer has a video-out port.
- Why are we sacrificing a keyboard? You can't just wire up switches to your PC's keyboard port. The keyboard has a tiny computer inside that translates your key presses into digital code; that code is sent to the PC. We have to use the circuitry in the keyboard too, at least if we want to keep this project easy! We are just changing where the buttons are.
- Where do the arcade buttons come from and how much are they? I suggest you mail order your arcade buttons from Happ Controls. Call them and order a catalog if you want to build something other than what I detail in these pages.
- No Mac version? Not yet. I can easily find a $10 PC keyboard to monkey with... but not a Mac one.
- Any other bright ideas? As a matter of fact, yes. I am investigating a more sophisticated option -- a pass-through box you plug in between your existing keyboard and your computer. Stay tuned.
- OK, how much are we talking total? How much this project will cost depends on how many parts you have laying around, and how nice you want it to look. If you are lucky, and have a lot of useful tools and junk in your garage, you may get out for about $30. If you want to build something flashy and illuminated, you will pay more.
A Really, Really Important Note About the Safety of Your PC!
Do not work on your controller while the contraption is plugged into the PC! Keep the keyboard and the PC apart until you are done and have tested all the connections! No one but yourself shall be held responsible for damage done to your computer, home, or local time-space continuum during the construction of the projects on this site.