Known Issues

  • Up/Down/Left/Right do not display correctly when in the CollectorVision Phoenix menu.
  • Common ground between the Arduino and the ColecoVision is required, but this poses some difficulty because the controller port does not have a common ground pin.
    • On the original console you can buy these and connect Arduino GND to the shield around the Expansion port.  If the expansion port is inaccessible there is another option, but it is not recommended so I am not going to add it here.  If you really want to know this option contact zoggins directly.
    • If you are using a CollectorVision Phoenix you can connect Arduino GND to the GND pin of either the PS/2 keyboard port or the SNES controller port.

What You Need

  1. Two of the following boards:
  2. USB cable(s) to connect the Arduino to your computer
  3. A RetroSpy ColecoVisionRoller cable for each board, if two boards are required.  Do one of the following:


  1. The latest Arduino software
  2. Firmware for the Teensy
  3. Nico’s PinChangeInterrupt Ardunio library, found here
  4. PC software to connect to the Arduino and display the controller

#2 and #4 above are included in the release package of RetroSpy. The firmware is located in the firmware folder and is called firmware.ino. Just run RetroSpy.exe to launch the display software.


Wiring – No Soldering Required

It is possible to solder jumper wires onto each wire of the extension cable like some other platforms, but since the we are dealing with a standard port type, we can build a cable with no soldering required.

  1. Take the extension cable, wires, Breakout Board and Y cable you have acquired and put them together in this configuration:

Wiring – Soldering Required

This is the most time consuming piece, especially if you have never done any wiring/soldering before.

  1. First you will need to cut your controller extension cable so you can splice into the wires (consider which spot in the extension cable to cut, game system side, controller side, middle)

  1. Use your exacto knife or box cutters to very carefully cut away and peel back the plastic covering on both halves, about 2-3 inches should be good enough.
  2. Use wire strippers to strip back about 1/2 an inch of the plastic covering on each wire. In my case I had to carefully use my exacto knife because the wires were too small for the stripper, I rotated the wire against the blade until I could pull the plastic off the end.

  1. Next you will need to use a digital multimeter or continuity tester to figure out which pin on your controller plugin goes to which wire in the extension cable, make sure to write down your findings. Do NOT trust the color of the wires, the colors will vary from cable to cable.
  2. For the ColecoVision you need to splice all 9 pins of the DB9 connector.

  3. Figure out the length you need between your controller extension cable/Arduino and cut and strip a wire for each wire you are going to splice into.
  4. Solder each wire back together with your spliced wires, here’s what mine looked like when finished I soldered them this way (instead of end-to-end) because this will provide more strain relief against the small controller extension wires possibly breaking with use.

  1. After soldering everything back together, test out your extension cable with your game system to see that it still works before proceeding.
  2. Use electrical tape to tape up each wire separately.

  1. Again use electrical tape to tape all the wires back together, make sure to tape all the way back up to where the extension cable covering starts.

Hooking it up

  1. Download and install the latest release of RetroSpy.
  2. Install the latest Arduino software, download the Windows Installer option.  If you are not programming your own board you can skip this step.
  3. Hook up the RetroSpy cable to your Arduino according to this pinout.
    DB9 PinArduino 1 Digital PinArduino 2 Digital Pin
  4. Plug the controller into the RetroSpy cable.
  5. Plug the RetroSpy cable into the ColecoVision.
  6. Plug the USB cable into the Arduino.
  7. Plug the other end of the USB cable into the display PC.

Software Setup

Once the wiring is done and everything is hooked up to your game system and computer, now for the easy part.

  1. Make sure the the USB cable between your Arduino and PC is connected and if you are not going to program your own board you can now skip to Step 10.
  2. Open the Arduino software that you installed above.
  3. Once installed, open the Arduino software, you should see “Arduino Uno on COMX” at the bottom right corner if everything is working. If not, you may need to restart and/or replug the USB connector. Make sure COMX is your the Arduino wired up as your 1st Arduino.

  1. Install Nico’s PinChangeInterrupt library. Installation directions are here.
  2. Open common.h in the RetroSpy installation directory (by default this is C:\Program Files (x86)\RetroSpy\firmware) with any available text editor and uncomment the line //#define COLECOVISION_ROLLER_TIMER_INT_HANDLER.  Also uncomment //#define TP_PINCHANGEINTERRUPT.
  3. In the Arduino software select File->Open from the menubar and open the firmware.ino file from the firmware folder of the installed RetroSpy release (by default this is C:\Program Files (x86)\RetroSpy\firmware).
  4. Now uncomment the option for MODE_COLECOVISION_ROLLER. Note that MODE_SNES is uncommented in this image.

  1. Hit the upload button (right pointing arrow) located just under the ‘Edit’ menu, this will upload and run the software on the Arduino. It should look like the following image. Once successfully uploaded, you won’t have to upload software again to the Arduino again unless you want to change controller modes.

  1. Now select your 2nd Arduino in the Arduino IDE the Tools -> Port menu.  Recomment out MODE_COLECOVISION_ROLLERand then uncomment out MODE_COLECOVISION_ROLLER from firmware.ino. Repeat Step 8.
  2. Power on your console.
  3. Run RetroSpy.exe.
  4. The selection here should be pretty straightforward, select the ‘COMX’ port that the Arduino is on, select the controller you are using, select a skin, and hit ‘Go’. If everything is hooked up correctly you should see your controller and inputs displaying.
  5. Give the roller a good roll in all directions to calibrate the minimum and maximum range of the roller.  If for some reason you need to recalibrate you can just reset the Arduino.  Calibration will persist across console restarts.