Playing emulated games on an iPad or iPhone is a lot of fun, but one thing missing from the equation is a proper joystick. To fix this dire situation, you can take an original Atari 2600 joystick and turn it into a wireless controller capable of working with any iCade standard game! 

The Feather nRF52 Bluefruit Bluetooth LE microcontroller is perfect for the task. It's fast, has robust Bluetooth, and is tiny enough to fit inside the joystick's case, along with a LiPo battery for power. 

You won't even need to modify the case, just remove the original cable and you're ready to create a whole new, modern controller inside of the body of a classic!

You can watch the full build from John Park's Workshop LIVE here:

Parts & Matrials

The star of the show is an Atari CX-40 joystick from the venerable Atari 2600 Video Computer System. Check your basement or attic for one, but if you don't luck out, these are available inexpensively -- usually $10 to $15 -- on eBay or at your local thrift shop.

Be sure to get an authentic, vintage, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Atari joystick made between 1978 to 1986. There are modern joysticks and all-in-one game systems built to look like a CX40, but their internals will vary greatly from the original.

1 x USB Micro-B Breakout Board
extend the USB port
1 x Slide Switch
Breadboard-friendly SPDT
1 x Heat Shrink Tubing
Size and color variety pack

You'll also need a Philips screwdriver, soldering iron and solder, wire cutters/strippers, and a small bit of double stick foam tape to secure things.

This guide was first published on Dec 04, 2017. It was last updated on Jul 23, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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