4 Ways to Unleash the Power of Your Wiimote Controller

A big part of the Nintendo Wii's charm is its wireless motion-sensing controller, the Wiimote. But who knew it could do so much more than just serving as a virtual racket or bat? From pointing your Roomba to where it should go, to creating an interactive whiteboard for a fraction of the cost, here are 4 Wiimote hacks guaranteed to make you smile.

1. Hook it up to a Horse

With the technology available for modifying the wiimote now, nothing is impossible these days. Even rigging a springy horse to work as a controller in Need for Speed. Admittedly, it's kind of a niche project, but there are plenty of other crazy (and easy to do) ideas as well. Like #2 on our list:

2. Control Your iTunes

Hesitant to go crazy with your wiimote before a smaller test? Why not use the controller to power your favorite media library? An already existent program, Blue Tunes, allows you to do just that, using the buttons on your wiimote to control the various functions. No programming experience is necessary--just download, adjust the settings to your music library of choice, and you're ready to go.

3. Create an Interactive Whiteboard

Don't want to shell out $1500, for an interactive white board? Why not do it on the cheap while harnessing the full potential of what the Wii controller can do. Johnny Lee's genius whiteboard that could be placed and used anywhere was picked up quickly by major technology blogs like Gizmodo. The ease is the big factor. As long as you've got a projection screen or LCD monitor, a laptop, and a cheap infrared (IR) device, you have a whiteboard that can be used by multiple users at the same time for a fraction of the cost of other interactive whiteboard systems.

Amazingly, the whiteboard is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Johnny's developments. Other projects use concepts of image recognition and computer vision to use the Wiimote to track finger positions and create VR displays that display different views of an image based on the postion of your head in relation to the sensor bar. Interested in seeing what that means? All of these projects are available at his website and youtube channel.

4. Make Sweet, Sweet Music

Creatively stifled by Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but don't want to wait around for Wii Music to come out? Or maybe you just don't want to invest in a real drum kit. Either way, it's now possible to make great music with your controller!

Because of the Wiimote's rectangular shape, the drums are a natural extension of the controller's capabilities. Those looking to replicate a full drum kit can even use Nunchuks to simulate the pedals. The software to do all this can be found here. Personally, I'm looking forward to testing this out once I'm back at school and need a break from the work.

Picture 48.pngOf course, there are plenty of other great ideas out there as well. From turning the controller into a spray can (pictured left), to controlling your Roomba (below)if you've got a little imagination and a little know-how, the sky's the limit. In any case, if you know of any applications we missed or need to check out, be sure to drop them in the comments.

Unraveling the Legend of Polybius, the Most Dangerous Video Game of the 1980s

For several decades, a creepy urban legend has circulated in the darker corners of online forums devoted to vintage video games. The tale goes that in 1981, a game with some unfortunate side effects appeared in a few suburban arcades in Portland, Oregon. The game was said to have been housed in an all-black cabinet, and while playing it was fun, gamers soon noticed they were feeling terrible after their sessions—suffering from extreme anxiety, seizures, night terrors, and an obsessive desire to continue playing. Some were even said to have attempted suicide.

To make matters even weirder, men in black supposedly visited the cabinet every few weeks to collect some kind of data—not money—from the back of the machine. And just a few months after it appeared, the game was gone. Its name: Polybius.

Some said the game was connected to MKUltra, a (real) CIA program experimenting with behavior modification techniques and LSD from the 1950s through the '70s, although no evidence of that was ever found. Recently, Great Big Story's series "8 Bit Legacy: The Curious History of Video Games" set out to investigate Polybius, and found some surprising truths behind the mystery. They also found some fans attempting to recreate the game—hopefully minus the ill effects. You can learn more below:

8 Clever Ways to Recycle Your Old Nintendo Equipment

For retro game players looking for a simple fix, the recent arrivals of Nintendo’s official NES Classic and Super NES Classic game systems have been an exciting purchase. The systems—when you can find them in stock—boot up dozens of classic games via an HDMI port. That’s left a pretty big inventory of original consoles and cartridges collecting dust in attics.

If you’re crafty and you dig the Nintendo aesthetic, check out these ideas for how to repurpose your old game gear into something new. (A word of caution: Modifying electronic components carries risk of electric shock, so we recommend being careful and using good judgment.)


A Nintendo console is shown after being modified into an alarm clock

Instructables user arrmayr0227 uploaded this tutorial on a better way to wake up. You’ll be splicing together a gutted NES console with a digital alarm clock, then rewiring the controller to set the time. The reset button acts as a snooze bar and the power button sets the alarm.


Video game artisan Fluctifragus offered a step-by-step breakdown of hollowing out an old NES console to make room for your tuna sandwiches. The interior components can be removed with a screwdriver; the remaining screw posts can be clipped and filed down with a rotary tool. Two small hinges will keep the top and bottom tethered together.


(Or coin purse, if you prefer.) Instructables user Zenilorac detailed a controller hack that involves separating the part by removing the back screws and then gluing a fabric-based zipper around the edges.


Lehmeier at Instructables perfected a new way of antagonizing your cat by rigging a laser diode and 9-volt battery into the NES’s light gun accessory. Pulling the trigger will allow power to pass from the battery to the diode.


For Mario, it’s always time to eat mushrooms. Your schedule is probably a little less predictable. He can still help you tell time with this tweak from Instructables user BeanGolem. The clock hands are spray-painted, while the cartridge is split in half to allow for a clock mechanism (available at most craft stores) to be installed.


A Nintendo Advantage controller is used as a guitar pedal
wenzsells, Instructables // CC BY 2.0

The joystick-equipped Advantage controller was one of the earliest peripherals available for the NES. Using this guide from Wenzsells, it’s the perfect size to double as a chassis for a pedal kit. The “turbo” knobs control volume, while the A button acts as power switch.


A Super Nintendo cartridge is used as a wallet
stalledaction, Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Who doesn’t want to show a bartender their ID by flashing a Super NES game cartridge? Instructables user Stalledaction crafted this conversation piece by fitting a transparent plate to the front and adding space for keys and a USB drive.


A Nintendo controller is operated as a computer mouse
Courtesy of Ryan McFarland

Ryan McFarland came up with a novel use for an old controller: turn it into a PC interface. An optical mouse is inserted into the chassis, while the A and B buttons serve as the left and right selectors. You’ll need, among other things, a Dremel tool, a hot glue gun, and about four or five hours’ worth of patience.


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