Anything can be a controller these days—old-school dance mats (opens in new tab), Wii balance boards—hell, even Sony wants you to be able to use everything from a banana to a coffee mug (opens in new tab). But what about something from far humbler origins, like my childhood favourite toy Bop It?
Well, Seth Altobelli (opens in new tab) has taken the twistin', pullin' toy and transformed it into a controller to be used with Minecraft. He shared the process and final workings on his YouTube channel, having built the controller for Minecraft YouTuber Technoblade who previously beat the game with a steering wheel (thanks, Kotaku (opens in new tab)).
The process of changing the inner electricals seemed simple enough, with Altobelli swapping out the usual Bop It control board for a Raspberry Pi and a little bit of soldering magic. There was also some far more complicated mathematics that went into using the angle of the Bop It for movement, which he explains in his YouTube video for all the math geeks out there.
Altobelli has made clever use of the Bop It's few functions—different inputs will toggle how each button works, like switching between movement and the camera as well as bringing up crafting menus. The severe lack of buttons does have its weaknesses—Altobelli fell foul to a surprise silverfish attack during his first playthrough attempt, with the Bop It simply not being dexterous enough to handle simultaneously running away and attacking or blocking the silverfishes' path.
While Altobelli (understandably) struggled to power through the game with a plastic toy, it's impressive just to see the thing working with some degree of playability. The way people use Rasberry Pis never fails to amaze me either—like when our own Andy K built a miniature PC to play his favourite classic console games on. (opens in new tab)