Trombone Video Game Controller

Best Beginner Hardware Hack

HackUMass X

Project Overview

Inspired by my love for the "GOTY contender" video game Trombone Champ, as well as my personal experience playing trombone in the UMass Marching Band, I decided to make this controller as a fun way to combine these two passions.

The first prototype of this project were created during the HackUMass X Hackathon. From a field of over 60 projects, this project won the Best Beginner Hardware Hack Award, given to the underclassman with the most outstanding hardware-oriented project and presentation.

What it Does

Similar to the simplified controllers of games like Guitar Hero, my controller takes the position of an actual trombone slide, and converts that to in-game input. Additionally, it measures the sound produced by the trombone to register clicks.

How I Built it

This controller was built with a combination of Arduino microcontrollers and sensor modules, linked together. The project is divided into two parts: the trombone side, where all the sensors are mounted, and the computer side, where the USB interface is.

Challenges I Ran Into

As is the nature of hackathons, the development process was far from smooth. Here's a brief summary: 

Accomplishments that I'm Proud of

Despite these numerous setbacks, I was able to produce something that delivers on the original goal. Additionally, I'm really happy with how the 3D printed parts I designed turned out, as they fit perfectly. Additionally, I felt really happy about my presentation to the judges, as I showed my enthusiasm very well.

What's Next for Trombone Video Game Controller?

Going on, I plan on improving the overall packaging of the controller, as well as ordering more tailored parts that are compatible, instead of having to implement workarounds.