Bunker Project Log

09 Aug

Stub Hero V – Mistakes were made

Mrs. G and I tried to watch Renaissance tonight, but we only got 20 minutes in before Version 2.0 (the gigantic 4 month-old boy super-smiley blob-thingy) decided it was screamy time. Wifey took one for the team, and I decided to get back to the guitar.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good Whammy mechanism, and what I’m settling on (but still haven’t quite figured out how to do) is some kind of motion sensing thingy. Since this is the goal, my first priority is to disable the motion-activated Star Power switch. Since Star Power is also activated by one of the buttons on the guitar face, I can retain the functionality by moving that switch somewhere easily activated by the fret hand.

Here’s the Star Power mechanism. I always assumed it was a mercury switch, but I swear I hear something rolling around in those deceptively capacitor-looking cans.

Mercury Switch?

Basically, all I need to do is add another switch to the series. Luckily, the board has four extra traces with pre-drilled holes and nice, clean, unlacquered solder pads! It’s my lucky day!

Mecury Switchboard

Eazy cheezy, lemon squeezy. The original black wire gets moved to the new solder pad on the lower right. Then, two long wires are added to be soldered into the toggle switch. At this point, you should not be noticing the hideous soldering. It is merely an illusion.

Sneaky

Here is the more intimate side of the aforementioned switch:

Star Power Motion Activation Disabler Switch

Now it’s time to move on to the Star Power activation switch. I had to stop for a few minutes and walk through the problem. Where do you put this thing? It needs to be accessible, and out of the way at the same time. The head seemed obvious, but where? At the bottom (on the edge that faces the ground) the button would be accessible by the index finger, but what if you were holding down a note with that finger? On the top, it is accessible by the thumb, but that is a critical part to keeping the guitar balanced and in position, since the strap is loose. If worse comes to worse, you could tap it against your cheek, which is almost exactly the same motion needed to activate the motion sensor switch.

In the end, I decided to put a button on both sides. It isn’t much more to do and leaves the decision completely up to the wielder.

Button Head

On to wiring this up. As you can see in the picture above, the two switches are wired in parallel. Now I have to make the connection to the actual control board.

Button Board

Here, I luck out again. That little wire on the left just hanging out had a sliver of that gray ribbon insulation on it, and was only left so that a blob of solder could be made to jump between the two ground circuit traces. This must have been a design oversight by whoever laid out the board. (Yes, I should have taken a picture of the other side.) Of course, I used that spot to solder in my ground wire.

Now, I’m to my mistake. I can’t remember which button activates Star Power… Start or Select? The buttons on this guitar are different. One is raised, the other recessed into the body. Of course, I assume that the raised one (Start) has to be it. The designers of the guitar would surely want to recess the annoying pause button! Right?

So I go with that, and screw everything back together. I start up the PS2, plug my homemade switch in. Strike one! It doesn’t work any more! I’ll have to track that one down, but until then, I’ve got the fancy, but very difficult Yamaha pedal.

It isn’t long before my foot is aching. The 3-note riff diddy in “Smoke on the Water” is killing me. What’s worse is, I can’t hit the Star Power notes! It’s going to be a little hard to test this thing without getting enough juice to activate it… Strike 2!

Finally, I just decide to start mashing the buttons to see what happens. The good news is, they work. Both of them. The bad news is… you guessed it!I picked the wrong one. I am the proud owner of the Guitar Hero guitar that has the most accessible pause function! Strike 3!

All in all, it’s not bad. More soldering to do next time. At least I know that everything is functional. 

The head, with all the doodads:

All Done

 Now all that’s left is solving the Whammy problem. Stay Tuned. Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

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