The complicated controls of the game Kerbal Space Program (KSP) inspired us to design a unique, physical controller that would make KSP more player-friendly for young and inexperienced players. We were fortunate to have access to many electronic and other physical components that helped us to bring our idea to life. Our project name "Meowth" was inspired by Team Rocket from Pokemon. We also decided to name our team "Team Rocket" for this reason.

What it does

Meowth is a hand-held controller specifically designed for the gameplay of KSP. It is shaped as a mini model of a rocket ship to represent the rockets in-game which the players design for launch. Meowth can activate all of the common controls in-game with the use of variety of sensors. For example, initial launching and other staging controls in-game are activated by putting a lighter below the base of the model rocket to represent the ignition of the engines. Pitch and yaw controls in game can be done by rotating Meowth as it includes a built-in accelerometer + gyro.

How we built it

A 1L plastic water bottle was used as the body of the model rocket. Paper covering, a nose cone made of electrical tape, and foam board fins were attached to the body as decoration.

The electronics used in our project were composed of an Arduino Nano, a flame sensor, a rotary encoder, a potentiometer, MPU-6050 Accelerometer + Gyro, multiple NeoPixel LEDs, a power switch, a breadboard, and many wires.

Our Arduino sketch printed measurements of the various sensor data to a separate Python script, which interprets the data and uses them to act as controls for Kerbal Space Program.

Challenges we ran into

Design of the entire electronic schematic, short circuits, using faulty and flammable components, integrating the electronic components in a tight and slim casing (our original water bottle) are all examples of challenges we ran into regarding hardware.

Our limited knowledge of incorporating physics and mathematics in our program files are examples of other challenges we ran into during this hackathon.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are extremely proud to be able to showcase a functioning and well-presentable project by the deadline. We are also honoured that many of the other participants and sponsors took great interest in us, as we are only-high school students (but we will no longer be soon :D).

What we learned

Solder connections are much more stable than jumper cables! Also, sleep is recommended for long events such as this one because without sleep, a person will go insane when hacking!

What's next for Meowth

To add more sensors and buttons included on the model for users to input custom controls and receive difference feedback of the state of the in-game rocket ship through something new such as a vibration motor.

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