DIY Adapter Enhances Legacy WC Joystick Support on Modern PCs (May 30, 2021)


Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Necroware has posted an extensive video about a project to create a more capable USB to Gameport adapter. Plenty of basic dongles already exist, but they are apparently limited in function with some of the more capable old school sticks. This experimental device uses an Arduino Pro Micro to emulate/pass along some of the more complete functions. A full rundown is available in the video. The creator is a huge WC fan and uses various WC games to test the device. Scroll to the 28:00 mark for a few minutes of WC3 and Prophecy in action with an old MS Sidewinder. You can read more about the project here.

How does it work?

The adapter is built around Arduino Pro Micro, which uses the same ATmega32U4 microcontroller as Leonardo. This microcontroller has built-in USB HID capabilities and can be used to build HID input devices, like joysticks. The adapter itself is super simple, the main brainwork was invested into the software. Very much simplified, it reads the joystick states and sends the data via the USB to the computer, which in the end thinks, that it communicates with an USB joystick.

What is special about this one?

There are already plenty of gameport to USB adapters for basic analog joysticks and, as far as I know, there were some efforts to communicate with Sidewinder joysticks by Microsoft as well. But there are no universal adapter, which would work with different types of joysticks. This adapter implements multiple drivers for various analog and digital joysticks with an option to add more in the future.

Features overview:
  • Support for generic analog joysticks with 2/4 buttons and 2/4 axes
  • Four switches to select joystick type
  • Autodetection for digital Microsoft Sidwinder joysticks
  • Auto-Calibration

Original update published on May 30, 2021