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Author Topic: Controlling Windows w/ gamepad like a PS3 or XBOX  (Read 10241 times)
PrincessBridget
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« on: July 19, 2011, 02:18:21 PM »

I hope this is the right spot for this... Ok so I have a dream! cheesy I've been attempting this for years off and on and after seeing PS3/XBOX and PC Media Center stuff. I sooo want to control the whole PC from my gamepad with the *buttons* and not even touch the mouse! Kinda like the PS3 XMB thing. I'll explain...

My goal is to be controlling my PC completely through the gamepad, away from the PC, without using any sort of mouse (even virtually), or the keyboard. The gamepad buttons will push certain keys and shortcuts. That's actually where I'm at, but I have to remember a billion buttons and combinations. I'd like a nice interface that let's the A button play/go/etc on whatever item is selected, and the B button cancel. Basically I want the computer to be like a game console with menu navigation! I hope I'm explaining this right...

Media Center on Windows 7 is really nice and would be nearly *perfect* if it would handle all files, but it only sees the files it wants to see, and for example I can't navigate to a "foreign" .vgm music file. Media Center can be completely driven by keyboard I think, and therefore gamepad if you use Joy2Key or Xpadder. It even has a virtual keyboard that you can navigate with the arrow keys and push A and it'll type it.

Soo if I'm making any sense here, is there possibly a Media Center kind of thing out there that would let me navigate the whole computer like Windows Explorer would, except in a nice Media Center interface with full gamepad or at least keyboard control? Every Media Center I've used seems picky about what it will actually see and launch.

The best I've gotten to controlling the PC with just gamepad is using Xpadder with like every button and a half mapped to a keyboard shortcut. Like, Flip 3D is Triangle+Left/right, close tab is tap Select, close window is hold Select, scrolling through a page is the left analog stick (PS3 controller). A bunch of stuff like that.
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skwire
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 03:36:23 PM »

Have you looked into any media center software?  If not, here are a few to get you started.

XBMC
Boxee
TVersity
Media Portal
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PrincessBridget
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 05:20:51 PM »

They're not really what I'm after... they're all being specific with what they handle. I want to just use the whole computer in an alternative way with a gamepad, and having a good UI like a media center does, would be nice. Butttt I don't think a media center is the word for what I'm after...
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skwire
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 05:28:05 PM »

The problem you're going to find is that the regular Windows interface is simply not designed to be controlled with a gamepad.  Good luck.
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PrincessBridget
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 05:30:02 PM »

Yep... I found that out a long time ago! So I thought you people would know something about it, or am I really that one-in-a-million?
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skwire
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 06:27:47 PM »

No, it's not that so much as what you're requesting, within the default Windows interface, is not trivial to program.
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bmikey
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 09:57:58 PM »

I think there are already a lot of research about this idea and on our own computing laboratory, we have a functioning game pad used to control the computer interface.  That is with the help of a plug-in running on the system tray though, but just like how your Mac magic mouse connects to your notebook through bluetooth.  The problem in my opinion would be control though.
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2012, 10:32:20 AM »

A million years or so ago, I worked with a company that developed applications for music composition and performance; one of them was a fairly simple thing called "Midi Mouse" where the act of drawing would serve as input to generate music.

For a tradeshow, we had a demonstration where an actual chair was wired up as a controller, so moving the chair around would cause the mouse to move, and iirc, you could click the button (back in the days of one button) by pushing down on the armrest. I named it the "Midi Moose".
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2012, 11:52:47 AM »

A million years or so ago, I worked with a company that developed applications for music composition and performance; one of them was a fairly simple thing called "Midi Mouse" where the act of drawing would serve as input to generate music.

I remember that. (Wasn't it called Music Mouse though? Or was that a different app entirely? The Midi Mouse program I'm familiar with is more of a 4-channel X/Y joystick emulator that provides 4 mappable midi data streams using your mouse. Music Mouse was more like the Atari based MidiDraw program which took whatever you drew and tried to make music out of it.) Awesome program! I owned a copy. (Probably still have it packed away in a box somewhere too!)

Has it really been a million years? huh My, how time flies!  tongue

« Last Edit: January 26, 2012, 12:07:47 PM by 40hz » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2012, 12:17:31 PM »

Question: why are they trying to do this since you can already control PCs with a smartphone?

I'm rocking TeamViewer on my phone. Last week I used it to ok and install a critical update and remotely reboot a client's server while I was on the road. I pulled over and was done about ten minutes later once I was sure everything came back up correctly.

It was a little clunky. But it worked. And it got easier once I got used to working with a tiny screen.

I'm seeing a lot of this done with other devices too. My GF controls her Roku set-top box with her iPhone whenever she can't remember where she put the perfectly good remote that came with it. undecided

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superboyac
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2012, 12:46:01 PM »

OK, I've probably obsessed about this exact topic more than I should.  And I've probably experimented with various devices, so I'm sure people can benefit from it here.   Here goes...

After years of fiddling around with stuff, I realize the perfect pc remote would be an airmouse (i.e. gyroscopic mouse pointer control) with a few physical buttons, a wheel or slider, AND (this is the critical feature) a direction pad.  This would be the best way to control a big HTPC from far away.  I posted about this on the XBMC forums, with absolutely no replies because, as with most things I care about, nobody else seems to:
Quote
Hi everyone, I'm new here, but I've been researching the information here for several weeks now. I wanted to have an in-depth discussion about remotes. Currently, I am using the Logitech MX Air, and it's really great. The MX Air is the best airmouse on the market. There is only feature it is lacking: a directional pad. This is essential for programs like XBMC and any other frontend for HTPC's. Why is it essential? because a mouse is simply too accurate and freeform for something like navigating a huge screen with limited movement. it's great for precise movements that you need when you use a desktop pc, sitting 3 feet away and with tiny text and buttons everywhere. But for TV's, everything is better with a D-pad. That's why all dvd players and cable TV remotes have a D-pad at the heart of it's construction. There's always the up-down-left-right plus centered Enter button on every TV remote.

So, I'm looking for the perfect remote for use with XBMC. The only thing I could find was the Wii remote. It has the ability to be a mouse (with glovepie) but it also has the D-pad. The only problem with it is that I highly doubt it's mouse functionality is as nice as the MX Air. The MX Air is awesome in that it's very easy to control, and it has a really nice feature where it recenters itself when you go too far off screen or put the mouse down (something like that, I don't understand how the recentering works exactly, but it's very nice).

From what I've seen with the Wii remote, the movement is a little less pleasant. It's not as responsive as the MX Air, and it seems like you have to make larger physical arm motions to achieve small movements. I don't really know because I don't have one, so I'm asking you guys for advice on it if you've had experience with both.

Also, regarding Motion Plus:
1) Does it work on the PC with glovepie?
2) Does it help with controlling the wii remote on the PC? That is, does motion plus make the wii remote behave more like the MX Air?

Another bad thing about the wii remote is that it sounds like you must line of sight for it to work. THe MX Air doesn't need any line of sight and it doesn't even need to be pointing towards the receiver or TV. It's all relative motion, and it's awesome.

Finally, how about those universal remotes like the Logitech Harmony remotes? Do those have air-mouse features? That is, can you wave your arm around with those to control the mouse, or do you move the mouse using d-pad buttons? If it's the latter, that's no good. I was wondering if the Harmony remotes have the same technology inside is as the MX Air, but I can't tell from the stuff I've read online. I doubt it. Otherwise, it would be the perfect remote, because it has the airmouse ability, along with a D-pad, plus a bunch of other buttons.

The perfect remote in my opinion would be simply an MX Air with a D-pad. I bring all this up because I haven't seen good detailed discussions about remotes here yet.

Thanks.

Now, since that post, there have popped up a few options.  Let's go over them:

Using a playstation controller:
Years ago, when the playstation-to-USB controllers came out, I got one and started using it to control my htpc.  The bad thing is that there's a long cable, ideally it would be wireless.  The other bad thing is the mouse control: using a d-pad or joystick to control the mouse is way less convenient than a gyroscopic airmouse.  But overall, this is a decent solution.  You'd want to use one of those joystick-to-pc software.  I forgot which one I use, I can check when I go home.

Logitech MX Air:
This is the one I'm currently using.  It's wireless, has very good battery life and a convenient charging dock.  It has a great gyroscopic motion control.  It has a very nifty feature which recenters the pointer if you go outside the bounds of the monitor with your motion.  it's hard to explain, but the idea of it is similar to relative paths and absolute paths...it doesn't matter where the thing is pointed, it just matters where you are on the monitor.  The ONLY beef I have with this is that it doesn't have a D-pad.  So, let's say you have a file selected in a big list of files.  Now you want to choose a file two files below it.  A D-pad would make it very convenient and easy to just click two down, and get there.  Without it, you have to carefully select it with the mouse pointer, which is not as easy.  That's the difference between using a desktop and an HTPC: on the desktop, precision control with the mouse is super easy.  But when you are far away, it's not as easy, so a D-pad is very useful in those kinds of movements.

Nintendo Wii-mote bluetoothed to PC:
I had high hopes for this one.  I got a bluetooth reciever and a wiimote.  Ideally, the wiimote is perfect: it has great gyroscopic control AND a D-pad AND a great selection of buttons.  It's physically the perfect device.  But getting it to work with a pc is a huge pain in the ass.  First of all, installing bluetooth drivers on a Windows machine is a nightmare.  It's a very "heavy" installation and messes with your system a lot.  it's difficult to troubleshoot.  The connection between the remote and windows is very unstable...you're going to spend a lot of time getting disconnected and reconnect and stuff like that.  It's hard to choose the "right" bluetooth receiver, because it varies with each computer's hardware...and the documentation out there is poor and difficult to understand, and outdated.  SO bluetooth was a terrible experience for me, I'd avoid it if possible.
next is the software you would use to control the wii.  it's called glovepie.  And, as you can expect, it's a very hardcore, scripting program.  Pain in the butt.  If you google around, people will make it sound like it's easy to sue and people have made all sorts of nifty scripts for it.  But I spent hours researching the forums and stuff, and nothing was all that easy.  i tried to find or create a script to make the mouse act like the feature I described above for the Logitech MX air.  But I have no idea how to do it, and nobody else probably going to do it.
So the wiimote is perfect, but trying to get it to work is way too hard for me.  It would be great if someone here can help streamline this, either with an application or a tutorial, or a script that can be copied/pasted easily.

ipod/ipad/android device to PC:
Now this is the newest option I'm playing around with, and I like it a lot.  The only really bad thing about this one is that there are no physical, tactile controls...it's all touchscreen.  Which is fine, but I love tactile controls (which is why I really wanted the wiimote to work).  Anyway, there are several apps out there that will connect the mobile device to the pc so it can be controlled.  Usually this involves installing a "server" component on the computer and an app on the device.  The connection works through wifi, so you don't need line of sight or anything.  They have those kind also, but they don't appeal to me at all really (they seem antiquated).  Now, what's fantastic about this option is that all sorts of cool things can be done with the touchscreen.  You can pull up a keyboard, you can use multi-gesture commands (I love the two-finger swipe for volume control), you can launch application shortcuts from the mobile device.  The Android devices are ok, but the ipad/iphone/ipod is the best.  Apple has absolutely the best touchscreen responsiveness and control, and that's what you really want for something like this.  I've been using my ipad, but I'd like to try it with an ipod to use the gyroscope features (the ipad doesn't have that).  The ipod has all that stuff.  Now that ios5 is jailbroken, I'd like to try it with the new ipod touch.
The app I like best for the Apple devices is Mobile Mouse.
For Android, the best app is Unified Remote.  If there was an Android device the size of the ipod touch that had gyroscope control, this would be the way to go.  but there is nothing right now.  I thought the Samsung Galaxy player would have it, but no.  And even if it does, the touchscreen controls don't compare to Apple.  You really want good touchscreen responsiveness, any latency and lagging will be annoying.


So there you go.  That's been my search so far.  The best of the "easy" options is the Logitech MX Air, you won't be disappointed.  But it doesn't have a keyboard.  All the ones that are small little keyboard controls, have awful mouse control...they normally have a small touchpad-like area (like a laptop) and that's the worst way to control the mouse pointer.  So there's no easy and perfect device out there right now.  but if the ipod touch works out, that might be the way to go.  I'll report back later on that.
I also would not recommend any of the old-school "universal remotes".  That's old technology, and klunky.  You have to program all the tv codes in there, they have awful mouse pointer control features.  Switching devices with the input buttons are always klunky and stupid.  They're relatively expensive for what they offer.  I don't recommend the harmony remotes at all, just old bullshit at this point.
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PrincessBridget
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2012, 02:31:27 PM »

Using a playstation controller:
Years ago, when the playstation-to-USB controllers came out, I got one and started using it to control my htpc.  The bad thing is that there's a long cable, ideally it would be wireless.  The other bad thing is the mouse control: using a d-pad or joystick to control the mouse is way less convenient than a gyroscopic airmouse.  But overall, this is a decent solution.  You'd want to use one of those joystick-to-pc software.  I forgot which one I use, I can check when I go home.

This is actually what I'd like to do, minus having anything to do with controlling a mouse. Basically I'd want something that could be controlled by menus with the d-pad. Like, the whole computer being controlled like that. No more clicking X buttons, instead press Square > down, down, A! cheesy  (although I know that's possible through current keyboard shortcuts but yeah just a new interface that does it all basically)
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Ath
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2012, 02:34:10 PM »

No more clicking X buttons, instead press Square > down, down, A!
Isn't that close to steering through Windows using a keyboard only? That can be done quite easily already Grin
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PrincessBridget
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2012, 02:43:57 PM »

I guess it's more about having a new interface that's more friendly about it. And then there's the fact I don't want to control a mouse at all ever if I'm using a gamepad. I honestly don't even know where I'm going with this lol, it's just a vision I've had in my head for some years. All programs would have to be rewritten for the new controls and things like that so it's just not happening. Just think like if you had Windows on an Xbox or some console, and all you had to control it and do everything is with the gamepad. Virtual keyboard and all. I think that's what I'm seeing.
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Hacnstein
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 08:48:37 PM »

Like the programs http://sourceforge.net/projects/phjoymouse/
or
http://atzitznet.no-ip.org/Joy2Mouse3/
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