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New: VECTREX Joystick Kit for sale

Vectrex Joystick Controller

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#26 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:32 AM

Good news #1: I've got the prototype of the 3D-printed lever  :)!

It's almost good: the radius of the round cover on the base of the lever must be increased a tiny little bit since it's scratching along the edges of the potentiometers. The dimensions of the lever itself are more or less identical to the Vectrex original part. :thumbsup: After modification I'll try to get a few items printed.

PrintedLever01.JPG PrintedLever03.JPG PrintedLever02.JPG

 

Good news #2: I've got the tracking number of the ordered buttons right from Japan. They are coming...

 

Bad news #1: I discovered a weakness in the electronic design of my board, which is bad for the response of auto fire. For most games like "Minestorm", that's not a problem, where the finger presses the fire button more or less constantly. But there might be other games. I will modify the circuitry a bit, which is a lot of work and which doesn't make the boards look more beautiful. But I think functionality comes first. 



#27 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 2, 2015 2:22 PM

short update:

  • Lever prototype 2 failed miserably. Some problems during production process. Tomorrow, I'll get another one.
  • Today I got a parcel from Japan. Yeah, the buttons are here. All nicely packed and protected in a SEIMITSU box. Fantastic! Thanks, guys from Japan!
  • Modification of circuit not done yet. Made some -not working- tests, learnt a few lessons, but have new ideas. I have to wait for the lever-3D-printing anyway.
  • I still have no really cheap and easy  "mass production" option. As soon as I have an approved design, I'll contact some people/companies.

I'll keep on working... It's a long way  ;)



#28 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2015 3:14 PM

P1010648.JPG :)

 

New lever prototype  :thumbsdown::

 - not robust, round cover falls off  

 - cover radius still not wide enough

 

Must wait for the guy, who made the design-files, to come back ...

I have been distracted by another retro project for the last couple of days.



#29 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:28 PM

Project is still alive! Just have not much time for it.  :-o

Finally got a new prototype. This time it looks good! Bigger now, right size and robust. I'm gonna sent the file to a 3D-manufacturer and ask about the price for a small batch (polyamide probably). Look at the history - a standard thumb-stick as comparison:

lever prototypes01.jpg lever prototypes02.jpg

 

I figured out a good way to mount the controller-pcb onto a front panel. Geometry is fine now.

assembly01.jpg assembly02.jpg

I must order some mounting material for all the kits.

-Rolo

 

 

 



#30 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:45 PM

Recent progress:

I ordered a batch of polyamide controller levers last week. Should be here end of this week. I hope they will be fitting fine.

Not especially cheap to print those parts. All in all about 4.50 euros per lever. Despite of this, I decided to order the levers, since they are a somewhat central part in a controller and I could not see any sense to save money on that part.

 

As mentioned somewhere above, the circuitry had to be changed, to get better responsiveness in auto-fire mode. I made an experimental prototype now. Measurements are looking fine. I figured out a clean way to bring in the additional components and to get the needed signals of the main-pcb. There will be a small, crowded piggyback-board on the solder side of the pcb for that reason, which will be irrelevant for the user. I'll probably order the small boards tomorrow, after some double checking of my drawings. Then I can finally do the modifications.

 

Adapted my mock-up to a standard housing (cheap plastic housing) size, just to see, what it could look like and so on.

 

Piggyback01.JPG  Mock-up01.JPG

 
This time I really announced far to early.I thought most of the work would have been done - so wrong! Next time I'll do that a different way.
 
Regards,
Rolo


#31 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:52 AM

The polyamide sticks are here.  :) Looking good. The thin central shaft needs some manual drilling.

P1010707.JPG

P1010708.JPG

 

The piggyback-patch boards currently are in production in China.

-Rolo



#32 werdy OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 6, 2015 3:51 AM

Great project! If there is an available piece please count me in. Thanks!



#33 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 6, 2015 4:42 AM

If I had a Vectrex, I would be all over this! Someday I'll get one... :D :thumbsup: :thumbsup:



#34 Hyperboy ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 6, 2015 7:53 AM

I would be interested in a kit!

#35 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 7, 2015 6:09 AM

 Project update:   :waving:

 

The piggyback pcbs have been delivered. Tests were successful. ✓

I started soldering in the components until I ran out of stock. I've already ordered the lacking components. 

piggyback pcbs.JPG

The board is mounted back to back on the solderside of the controller board.

mountedpiggyback0.JPG mountedpiggyback01.JPG

 

 


#36 mckafka99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 7, 2015 6:24 AM

I'm interested in a completed version of one of these whenever the are ready (hope they havent all been claimed).

#37 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 7, 2015 2:02 PM

Building a prototype

All parts are here, time to make a prototype. Let's see...

I've already got the panel (my old mockup) with buttons, switches and potentiometers attached. Next thing: I need wires to all of  those components, nicely colored, a little bit too long maybe (depending on how much space the housing will provide):

wireing01.JPG

 

Connecting the potentiometers to the board. Yes, three wires are nonsense, two would have been enough :sleep:. Doesn't do any harm. I leave it this way. 

wireing02.JPG

 

Now the switches. This time three wires are needed.

wireing03.JPG

 

And the marvelous SEIMITSU buttons.

wireing04.JPG wireing05.JPG

 

The joystick cable to the Vectrex is already there. That's all the wiring required. Easy!

Next steps:

  • pushing the controller stick onto the analog controller
  • optional: screw in a M2 screw into the central drilling of the stick with minimum torque moment. Maybe put some superglue into the hole of the analog controller's axis, before
  • mounting the pcb onto the panel with six M3-screws onto the distance rollers of the board.

mounted01.JPG mounted02.JPG

 

Last thing would be, to put the panel into a housing (I have none at the moment).

prototype.JPG

 

That's basically all there is to do. Speeds up the whole process, doesn't it?

The prototype works great on my Vectrex. The central, neutral position of the stick can be adjusted with a screwdriver and the two potentiometers, behind the two drillings in the panel. Auto-fire shows immediate response and can be adjusted from some 4 to 18 shots a second.

Playing MINESTORM with auto-fire really makes a difference!  :thumbsup:

 

 

 

 



#38 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 7, 2015 2:45 PM

I built and testet another two controller boards:

productionpcbs.JPG

 

Look, original controller compared to the new one.

originalandprototype.JPG

 

That's probably what a kit will look like:

kit.jpg

  • joystick cable 
  • strain relief
  • two potentiometers with knobs
  • two switches
  • four buttons
  • polyamide stick with central screw
  • fully populated controller board
  • printout of the board design (paper template) to make drilling of your front panel easier

 

My next steps:

  • make a calculation to find out the production costs of a kit
  • build and test all the boards, one by one
  • contact (via PM) the people, who showed interest in the project, since my first announcement here on Atari Age (first come, first serve)

If this "batch" (well, only nine) of controller kits should be sold out and you didn't make it to the top of the "queue", there might be a second chance. If all kits should be gone, I will go on in the queue and PM the next in row. If there should be a realistic demand for a second batch, I'll start round #2. This time hopefully quicker, since most of the problems are solved now.

 



#39 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 8, 2015 1:02 PM

Ok, I made my little calculation.

Believe it or not, the controller it is made of 73 parts! The most expensive part is the DB9-cable, number two is the analog controller, number three the printed controller stick...

 

All in all, I am going to offer the Vectrex controller kit for 55 US$ plus shipping:party:

In the meantime, I go on building kits ...  :skull: a lot of work ... 



#40 werdy OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:43 AM

Great progress and good price :) I can't wait to grab one.



#41 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 13, 2015 3:33 PM

Project update:

 

I finished soldering and mounting

allSoldered01.JPG allSoldered02.JPG

 

and I made boxes.

preparingBoxes.JPG

 

Final testing: not done yet.



#42 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:00 PM

Been thinking about some documentation....

I'll put a few sheets of paper into the boxes, hoping that'll be enough. If something is missing, please tell, I'm in this forum almost every day.

 

This should help making your own panel:

drillingPanel.JPG

You'll find a paper template in each box to facilitate finding the right positions of the mounting holes, stick hole, led's ...

 

There is a little mistake at the joystick cable connection of the board. Labels of "GND" and "-5V" must be swapped.

cableConnection.JPG

 

Unfortunately there is no uniform color code for the wires of the DB9-cable. Each batch is different and each manufacturer does it differently  :P.

Checking my cables, I found two color schemes.

DB9colorcode01.JPG DB9colorcode02.JPG

I just took samples! There could be more. Please check your cable with a multimeter before you start soldering.

 

 

 



#43 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:15 AM

On the test bench:

onTheTestbench.jpg

 

:arrow: Btw.: right DSUB9 photo above:

pin 6 (Y) is white, not brown  :-o



#44 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:29 PM

Project update

 

All units tested and working.

One gave me some headache, I changed two components, now it's fine. ✅

 

Btw.: auto-firing frequency is ~2.5 to ~10 shots per second.  



#45 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:31 AM

A few questions did come up:

  • I am unclear to what extant this is a kit because it looks like you have done most of the difficult assembly already. 
    :arrow: It is a kit, since you have to do the final assembly, like mounting on a panel or building a housing yourself. I did the things I could for you, the rest is up to you...

     
  • ​Will there be soldering required?
    :arrow: 
    Absolutely yes. You'll have to solder all the cable connections, between pcb and buttons, switches, potentiometers and the DB9-joystick cable.
     
  • Does the kit leave much room for customization or swapping out anything?
    :arrow: Oh yes, you can arrange all panel elements the way you like. Only the leds are soldered in. You can easily desolder them and make a wire connection, too. I'd suggest to leave the analog stick soldered in, because it's mechanically robust and stable, the way I attached it. It was one of my objects to make it as flexible as possible. I'd like to see, what people come up with...
     
  • I would like to do my own experiments with the joystick, modifying to a different design. Is the stick easily accessible in the kit i will recieve?
    :arrow: What do you mean with "stick"? The plastic lever or the whole thing with potentiometers?  Well, look at the photo. Everything is accessible on the pcb, in principle.
     
  • Is it possible for me to get an extra stick or two for my experiments?
    :arrow: I ordered a little stock of plastic sticks. I have enough and I can order new ones anytime. But they are really not cheap, so I would have to charge them extra.
     

More questions concerning the controller? Please feel free to ask. I don't want anybody to order something because of a misunderstanding.

 



#46 gliptitude OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 15, 2015 2:54 PM

Thanks for the answers Rolo.

Yes by extra stick i just meant the plastic stick, not the potentiometer assembly.

I might end up really liking the stick as it is but i wanted to try to fashion a longer one, which would be my preference.

It makes sense for you to charge extra for extra stick(s), if it is something you are willing to do at all. At $3 or less i would buy two extra. $5 or less i would buy one extra. More than $5 i might just stay with what is in the kit.

#47 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:54 AM

Project update

 

I've started shipping and a few kits are already on their ways. 

I PM'ed the people on my list in chronological order. If you haven't heard from me in the meantime, you're too far down the list, I'm afraid. BUT, not all people still want a kit and not all people have responded yet. So, there still is a chance, to advance in the queue. Maybe you'll get a PM from me, let's say, next week or so.

I'll give an update, when all parcels have left my house.


Edited by Rolo, Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:54 AM.


#48 Rolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:09 AM

Kit-builders, I'd like to remind you once again:

When screwing in the central screw of the stick, please keep in mind, that this is only an additional stiffening (which is not really necessary). There is no thread inside the hole of the axis of the analog controller and the screw is just a tiny, little bit thicker. This can't withhold a real torque momentum. Just screw it in, until you notice a slight increase of resistance, indicating you're at the end. Stop screwing, don't try to give it a little final extra torque. 

You can put in a little drop of superglue (better be quick) or plastic-glue before mounting, to provide a firm seat for the screw.



#49 werdy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:48 AM

My kit has arrived and it looks great :) I have ordered an enclosure to it and hope that I can build it during the next week. Thanks Rolo!!!



#50 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:28 PM

I wish I had a Vex; I'd buy this in a heartbeat... :)






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