The Most Expensive Video Game Controller

Those who love to play video games want to have the most realistic experience possible which is typically only offered by looking for the items that resemble the actual items used in the games. While the Nintendo Wii tried to offer us places to put the controllers that felt similar to what you would have in the actual world, nothing can compare to the real thing. Of course this doesn’t mean you’re going to hit golf balls at your TV or have a real gun to fire, but some enthusiasts have figure out ways to do something more.

Modern vehicles have several computers on board. These computers offer the programmability and accessibility needed to do many functions. Inside your vehicle they’re programmed to control different systems inside your car and make sure you can have the ride you’ve been looking for, but what if these computers could be used for something else? Could the computers in your car be used to control a racing game and turn the driver’s seat of your car into the control unit for the game you love to play? One group of computer hobby hackers chose to see if they could make this happen.

The group called Catch Me if You CAN which is comprised of Gordon Hlavinka, his son Dan, and friends Adam Ringwood and JP Smith found a way to allow you to play Mario Kart 64 using a Chevy Volt as the control center for the game. This is being called the most realistic driving simulator ever because it uses and actual car for the controls of the game, making it possible to play a racing game and have the fun of being in the driver’s seat of the car that you drove to wherever you plan to play.

This driving simulator has won multiple prizes at HackIllinois 2016 which was a competition held at the University of Illinois for hackers and hobby engineers. There was a lot of work and programming involved in creating this simulator out of the car that Gordon owns, but the finished product boils down to using a Raspberry Pi mini-computer that’s attached to the OBD2 port of the car. This allows a laptop to read the CAN BUS signals of the steering, throttle and brakes. With the laptop plugged in and the Mario Kart 64 operating the car becomes the controller and allows you to do everything in the game with the switches and knobs in the car.

The development of this kit wasn’t done using the Chevy Volt they took to the show, which was part of the impressive performance. The development was done using a Honda CR-V but hooking up the system to the Volt showed just how easily and transferrable this system can be. With more technology inside cars of today, more of these simulators could show up for those who are technology driven and want to have a great way to enjoy their games as if they are more realistic.

05.19.17 - Mario Kart 64

Written by Scott Boyd

Sports fan. Coffee lover. Entrepreneur. California dreamin’. The only thing I enjoy more than writing about cars is driving them around town… especially old hot rods. Find me on Facebook and Twitter.