Few things are more satisfying than finding an old, forgotten piece of technology somewhere and bringing it back to life. And while it’s great to see a rare sports car or an Apollo Flight Computer being restored, even not-very-successful game consoles from the 1980s can make for some great repair stories. Just look at how [Discreet Mayor] describes his restoration and modification efforts on a ColecoVision that he literally found in a barn.
Given that the ColecoVision was on the market between 1982 and 1985, we can assume that [Discreet Mayor]’s console had been sitting on a shelf for at least three decades, and the machine was definitely showing its age. Several components had failed due to corrosion, including the clock crystal, a 7400 series logic chip and a capacitor in the power supply, but since these are all standard components it was rather straightforward to replace them.
The controllers however were sadly beyond repair. Replacing them with standard joysticks wasn’t really an option because the ColecoVision controllers included a numeric keypad, which was mainly used to select game options. Making something completely new was the way to go, and [Discreet Mayor] decided to go for a wireless system while he was at it. After all, he had already developed a modular wireless IoT system based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, which turned out to be a perfect fit for this system.
[Discreet Mayor] built a simple joystick-plus-fire-button setup on a piece of MDF and equipped it with his IoT transmitter. Instead of adding a replacement numeric keypad he decided to use the joystick to simulate the most commonly-used buttons: “right” for “1”, “down” for “2” and so on. The receiver module uses digital switches to mimic keypresses to the console’s input port. The end result might look a bit hacky, but the console is fully functional again and runs its games just like it did over thirty years ago.
We’ve seen several projects that add wireless controllers to a variety of classic consoles. If you’ve got a ColecoVision that turns out to be beyond salvaging, you can always just build your own from scratch.