A tiny controller that also helps you practise your soldering
Ever since the Pi Zero came out, its use for video game console projects has been widely explored. From installing them into classic controllers to hacking Happy Meal toys into working Game Boys, it’s been great to see just how inventive people have become with them. Sometimes though, you need something a little more practical, like the Score:Zero.
It’s a plain, white PCB the size of a Pi Zero that comes with a 40‑pin GPIO header and buttons. You solder these on and then place it on a Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins – a nice and simple concept. As there’s not much to solder, it is fairly quick to do and is a good way to practise soldering a 40-pin GPIO header – in this case a female one. We did find some of the buttons a little small and fiddly, though, so make sure you’re at a clear work area when opening the box and getting everything ready, lest you lose a button.
Once you’ve soldered it up, you need to install some software to get the Score:Zero working on your Raspberry Pi. The Wonky Resistor website has a great little guide to help you do the soldering and installing – in fact, just one line of code will get you some example code to use with it.
The code is all done with GPIO Zero so you can easily put it into your own game projects without having to download any of the code. However, you can use the examples along with some other software to quickly use the Score:Zero as a keyboard or mouse.
With it sitting on top of a Pi Zero, we found the Score:Zero a bit awkward to use. The diminutive size of both hampered proper usage and the microswitches for the D-pad weren’t very comfortable to use. On a full-size Raspberry Pi, though, the story was very different – we thought we’d have trouble reaching the buttons at all, but it was generally a lot more comfortable to use. For those with smaller hands who might get the most out of learning to solder and code with it, the Pi Zero size probably won’t be too much of an issue, though.
A nice quick project that, while a bit small for adults, will be perfect for younger makers getting their start in soldering and programming.