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Steam Gun (Steam Controller modification)

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

I wanted to own a relative position outputting gun controller, for games which are not compatible with absolute position outputting light guns. Sadly qualifying light guns are very outdated by now, or were never released in the West. Therefore I planned to go with a "gyro gun". I reviewed a very early gyro gun in episode 105. Sadly, it is very difficult to get a modern gyroscopic gun controller for a reasonable price. The successor of the G-MATE MAGII called "MAG P90" is sold for around 400 USD and the Delta Six controller, which is solely based on accelerometers, also costs 400 USD. Yet worse those controllers don't have a great reputation. Personally I like pistol controllers better than submachine gun controllers, which makes the two guns even less attractive to me. There is a pistol controller made by SD, but that one is terribly difficult to obtain in the West.

I now could have gone with a state of the art gyro sensor like the InevenSense MPU-9250 which sports an additional digital compass and build a gyro gun myself. But that way I would have to write my own driver software. Instead I decided to use a state of the art gyroscopic game controller and turn it into a gun myself. My research for the best gyro controllers brought me to the Steam Controller and the Dualshock 4. I finally settled with the Steam Controller, took the PCB from it and put it into a Guncon-45 shell which I extended with oven curing putty. Sadly the InevenSense MPU-6500 used in the Steam controller is oriented in a way that only allows for horizontal or vertical tracking when slapped sideways into a gun but not both at the same time. It would sense torsion, but that's not interesting for the intended purpose. Now I could have gone with the lazy solution and slap the PCB into one of these augmented reality guns, which are supposed to hold a cellular phone and call it a day. Instead I desoldered the gyro sensor and built a MPU-6500 breakout board by taking a cheap microprocessor sensor board and removing everything but the sensor. I connected that board, turned by 90 degree, to the Steam controller PCB to restore the gyroscopic functionality.

This is the final unit, which I call the Steam Gun. It has five buttons not counting the trigger and analog stick press. The cord is detachable which simplifies storage and display. The center of mass location is strategically modified using lead weights. The trigger is using a Cherry micro switch, held by a 3D printed bracket as shown in episode 99. Every gyroscopic gun will sooner or later lose its zero position no matter how good it is. Because of that it is very important to build in ways to quickly fix calibration during game play. Like it is done at the popular guns I went with an analog joystick, but I also resurrected the touchpad. Personally I like using the touchpad way better to re-center the gun. I am glad I have built this controller and I enjoy using it.

In my opinion the biggest benefit in me basing the Gun design off the Steam controller, is the Steam Controller configuration utility. It allow for intuitive yet precise and detailed tuning of the sensor to the player's personal desires. Also remapping buttons with functions is a breeze. The freeware GIoSC allows people to use the Steam controller features outside of Steam for example in desktop applications and non Steam games.