Beans in Space

September 14, 2015

Mission objective: Build a wireless game controller for Kerbal Space Program


Sol 1: 

Fellow travelers of the cosmos, our ship has crash landed and its control panel is FUBAR. We’re stuck on this lifeless space rock until we build replacement controls. Lucky for us, some useful parts survived the wreckage:

  • a 60W laser cutter
  • ¼” sheets of red acrylic
  • a few buttons
  • switches
  • gimbal joysticks
  • sliders
  • a shiny new Bean+ with HID

First thing tomorrow, we’ll start work on our new control panel.

Sol 2: 

It’s been a hard day's work building blueprints (vector file). Taking the weekend off. More updates coming. 

SPLODE vector

Sol 5:

We're back to work after taking the weekend for some leisurely, low-gravity, space golf. We’ve fired up the laser and started cutting our new panel’s enclosure.

SPLODE looping


Sol 6: 

We’re not going into orbit with just any run-of-the-mill control panel. This thing is getting a snazzy paint job.

We’ve masked off our text by laser etching through the acrylic's removable paper coating. Spray paint will easily stick to the recessed and rough surface of the etched text. Paint in unwanted areas will be peeled away when we remove the paper coating.


Sol 7:

We’ve finished the painting, peeled off the mask, and started installing our "salvaged" components. Mandatory feature of any spacecraft: child lock. Toddlers in low gravity just can't be trusted.

SPLODE beginnings

Sol 8: 

We’ve wired the controls and are ready for the most important components: The Bean+ and Grove adapter board.

Bean+ Grove

Why are these components so important you ask? Here’s the breakdown:

  • The Bean+ is an easy-to-get-started Arduino microcontroller 
  • The Bean+ is programmed wirelessly. Once we seal up the enclosure, we can continue to program it…. from anywhere… no wires needed.
  • The Bean+ can be used as a standard Bluetooth HID device. It can be used with our Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices; No custom software required on the devices. It’s just like a game joystick.
  • The Grove adapter for the Bean+ allows you to wire your project cleanly. Leverage the many existing Grove sensors and modules to create your project quickly. 

  SPLODE bean

Sol 9:

We've buttoned up the controller and programmed it to be a game controller (HID). We are ready for takeoff. 

(Rest assured, no Nates were harmed in the making of this video. Pyrotechnics were very intentional.)

Mission Debrief:

Success! We've reached liftoff with our custom-built Kerbal controller.

Now here's more eye candy: 





Questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you!