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MiniVex: newly produced controllers for Vectrex & Atari

vectrex atari 2600 vcs

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#1 classicgamesnut OFFLINE  

classicgamesnut

    Space Invader

  • 19 posts

Posted Mon Jan 7, 2019 12:27 PM

Hi Vectrex-ahloics...got a worn-out controller, and those little space mines are walking all over you?  Here's some new alternatives to get those scores back up where they should be.

 

The following hand controllers are compatible with Vectrex only, but the foot pedal add-on is compatible with Atari 2600 / VCS also.

 

-MiniVex I: single analog joystick with rapid fire capability for button #4.Comes with your choice of red, black, or gray buttons.  vexIcol.png

 

-MiniVex II: twin analog sticks, rapid fire for button #4.  Can be operated on one cable as a conventional single-stick controller, or on both cables for simultaneous dual stick action games such as Robot Arena or Stramash Zone.  Has a toggle switch for selecting left or right cable for button input, both for selecting the appropriate cable when only one cable is plugged in and preventing overlapping inputs when both cables are plugged in.minivexiinew.JPG

 

-MiniVex III: spinner and analog joystick in one unit, rapid fire for button #4.  Comes in both LH spinner and RH spinner models.  These are compatible with homebrew spinner titles and original titles that have been modified for spinner use.  Also functions as a conventional joystick controller.  The spinner doubles as an additional fire button...just push down on it.minivexiiilh.JPG minivexiiirh.JPG

 

-MiniVex IV: LH mounted spinner, rapid fire for button #4, no joystick.  Comes with choice of red, black, or gray buttons.  Like the MiniVex III, it's compatible with homebrew spinner games and original titles that have been modified for spinner use.vex4col.png

 

     The following foot pedal add-on is compatible with both Vectrex and the Atari 2600 / VCS.

 

-MiniVex Pedal I: foot pedal interface for the Vectrex and Atari 2600.  Plugs right into either console and provides a foot pedal substitute for the four Vectrex buttons, the action buttons on the Atari joystick, driving controller, and player 1 paddle, as well as all four directions on the Atari joystick.  Works with factory and aftermarket controllers.  Cable measures 6" between console jack and selector box, and 5' between selector box and pedal.pedal1.JPG pedal2.JPG pedal3.JPG pedal4.JPG

 

     All of these controllers, with the exception of the actual foot pedal, come in a steel case and are hand-made by me.  It's a very time-consuming process, and the finished products are not and will never be cosmetically perfect, but they are TOUGH.  Here's how they compare in size to the factory unit:  minivexisc.JPG

    

     Interested in one of these?  You can contact me here, or purchase through eBay.  As these are so time-consuming to make, I generally post them on eBay as soon as they're completed.  Prices and shipping are the same whether purchased on eBay or through me.  My eBay seller's name is: classicgamesandcarsfan.

 

     Larry / Classicgamesnut on AtariAge

 

    



#2 ls650 ONLINE  

ls650

    Quadrunner

  • 7,448 posts
  • Atari rocks!
  • Location:British Columbia

Posted Mon Jan 7, 2019 8:10 PM

I'm interested, but although I asked back on Dec 22nd for some reviews:

      http://atariage.com/...ivex/?p=4182645

 

I haven't received any responses.  :(



#3 SiLic0ne t0aD OFFLINE  

SiLic0ne t0aD

    River Patroller

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  • Rock 'N Roller, Space Patroller
  • Location:Ohio Valley

Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 8:06 AM

A review? His controllers are fantastic! Ruggedly built - built to last! I highly recommend getting one. I went for the spinner combo, miniVex III myself and it works great. Having a spinner in conjunction with a regular, analog controller is awesome.

#4 vectrexroli OFFLINE  

vectrexroli

    Moonsweeper

  • 491 posts

Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 9:59 AM

Love my MiniVex II and III!



#5 Vectrexer OFFLINE  

Vectrexer

    Moonsweeper

  • 362 posts
  • Location:GMT-8

Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 4:52 PM

A review?  Here ya go.....

 

The MiniVex II controller for the General Consumer Electronics (GCE) Milton Bradley (MB) and Bandai Vectrex and uses a more or less traditional Vectrex controller format but done on a slightly smaller execution of the design. The analog joystick is there as are the four buttons laid out in linear format. So is the angled top of the controller. But from this point things take off with the addition of a second analog joystick. Second cable for connection to the second Vectrex controller port. Metal body. Longer cords. Plus a host of options switches and controls adding features the original era Vectrex controllers never had.

 

As mentioned the MinVex joystick controllers are smaller than the original controller.  I find the design choice works well for both handheld and tabletop usage. The build aesthetic is also well done. Case finish in a black-gay crinkle color with the texturing provides a good grip surface when being held. Joystick and button choices match well with the MiniVex appearance. One point on looks I did find distracting was the use of comparatively large natural finish hex head sheet metal screws.  I would have preferred less protruding black pan head screws to be used in closing up the case. Other case hardware is also black / dark colored (bumper feet, rivets, cabling). Felt pads are currently used for bumper feet. A good choice to elevate the controller and prevent it from scratching desk and tabletop surfaces. Felt bumper feet are nice. But also include a set of rubber bumper feet as well to allow for better surface grip.

 

The analog joysticks are the typical modules seen in use for other modern controllers seen on Xbox, PlayStation, etc.  The joysticks have a great feel to them. Their placement in the controller body lends well to either a two-handed grip, or just using your fingers while on the desk. I the concave center portion and a micro-textured ring. Both of  which prevents the player’s thumbs from slipping. The tension of the sticks feel lighter that the original era joystick. Gamer’s used to playing with modern controllers will quickly adjust to the feel. Others might have a short period of getting used to the controller but in the end might find long gameplay sessions less fatiguing.  One thing I found missing as compared to modern platform controllers is the use of the joystick button switch. The switch is present in the joystick module in the MinVex controller. Just not used at the moment. Perhaps some future enhancement possibilities for the MiniVex. Since the MiniVex II controller is a dual joystick design connected to both Vectrex controller ports. Having both Vectrex ports connected provides for better electrical centering of the joystick controls. Normally a single joystick connection does not allow for the controller to port 1 to be centered. This is the reason the Madtronix Vectrex controller port “Center Dongle” terminator was created for use in controller port 2 to improve the accuracy for single port analog games . But it is not needed when using the MiniVex II controller as both Vectrex controller ports are connected to a controller.

 

Buttons on the MinVex II are very good perfect in my opinion. Excellent button tension, size, and button shape. I did get one of the early MinVex II controllers. Larry indicated later versions of the MinVex II are shipped with a button component that has a lighter touch. Something the user will notice between the original controller and the MinVex is the use of rounded top buttons instead of concave top buttons.  Personally I prefer concave top buttons for every gaming controller I use. Not just the Vectrex. But after hours and days of play I cannot complain about the button choice Larry made for the MinVex Line. They are accurate and responsive.

 

All of the MiniVex hand controller line up to this point, MiniVex II included, share options. These include Rapid-Fire with a switch to disable/enable. Plus a companion control to adjust the rate of fire for the Rapid-Fire feature. Rapid-Fire on the MiniVex works well. My subject option for all of the Vectrex auto-fire / rapid-fire dongles or controllers with the feature built in I have tested so far, is the MiniVex controller line is the quickest. I did find during rate adjustment and gameplay the MiniVex Rapid-fire repetition is grouped into sets of pulses.  I would like the recovery time for the groups to be instantaneous for those times when the rapid-fire rate is set to maximum. But most people will not ever notice or be affected by this this point. The MiniVex II has two cables connecting to both Vectrex controller ports. The MiniVex II also has a companion option switch for selecting button mapping association to the controller cable. The switch will select the association for all buttons at the same time. Switch down selects the right cable closest to button 4 that is normally connected to Vectrex controller port 1. Switch up enables button usage on the left cable. Nice to have this feature when selecting options or using buttons for games that need it. The option switch is also present for other dual control MiniVex hand controllers.

 

Connection to the Vectrex for the MiniVex controllers is long cables of a Atari 2600 / Sega Genesis / Commodore cable re-purposed for use with the Vectrex.  The connector ends shaped with material removed provide a perfect fit into the Vectrex controller port right out of the box. The connectors have good strain-relief since the molded end are retained. Cable length is more than ample at 5 feet (1.5 meters). I don’t think anyone will have issues on this point. The cabling is a standard straight cable instead of a coiled cable. If you like a self-tending cable then you may want to ask Larry if there is an optional cable he could build the controller. But doing so might delay delivery of your order.  Attachment of the cables to the MiniVex chassis is thoughtfully protected with strain-relief rubber grommets.

 

You might have already seen the comments by Larry, the creator of the MiniVex, about how they are of are constructed  using steel and are tough. I agree with both of these statements. The MiniVex controllers feel like they can take beating. In daily play both of the controllers I have, the MiniVex II and MiniVex Pedal I, stood up what I have thrown at them so far. This includes not using the rapid-fire feature and instead just mashing down on the buttons. Or in the case of the MiniVex Pedal repeated stepping on it when playing with games as a button 1-3 control, and as a button 4 primary foot stomping control.  Try your foot out using Binary Star Software's "Quick Shot (http://www.binarystarsoftware.com/?p=363).  For a real challenge of stomp speed play against a local metal or punk band drummer. No controller on any platform is "bullet proof". But MiniVex is a tough controller that I have taken out to local coffee shops for public play. Next I'll see if it can survive a local brewery bar top session or two. I am not concerned.

 

Warranty offered by Larry for all MiniVex controller is good and provides for 30 days after the purchase. Judging by Larry's build quality I have seen so you will never need to exercise warranty coverage. Even after the 30 day period ends Larry provides long term support to resolve any issues created during drops, dings, soda spills, and intense game play.

 

The Final Verdict

 

All things considered, the MiniVex II Vectrex Dual Analog controller by Larry / Classicgamesnut (AtariAge) / Classicgamesandcarsfan (eBay), offers Vectrex gamers and enthusiasts everything that the original Vectrex controller offered, and then some. MiniVex improved on existing ideas and has introduced improvements in regards to functionality, aesthetic, tank-link build quality with its hand-formed metal chassis, and comfort.

 

There is of course still some room for improvement. But if you are looking for one of the best controllers currently available, and one of the few dual stick controllers regardless MiniVex should be in your acquisition plans. I am eager to see what else Larry will have on offer next with his new models of the MiniVex line.

 

For the MiniVex II here is a wrap of the Pro and Con points I noticed:

 

Pros:

  • Dual Joystick. This really is one of the sticks meant for Thomas Sontowski's "Robot Arena" play and Clockwork Robot's "Stramash Zone". Other dual stick control titles too.

  • Small size. Like the fact Larry went smaller instead of bigger. Allows of easier button reach during play even if the button layout remains standard.

  • Analog Vectrex controller. I like these better than the digital controllers even when playing the games that do not take advantage of analog input.

  • Smooth joystick controls. The choose joystick module feels nice and operates smoothly over the entire range of motion.

  • Self-Centering joysticks.

  • As with most joystick modules of the type used in the MiniVex the design fits your thumbs well and have a decent size to accommodate use with your other fingers

  • Steel construction. The case really does have the feel of bullet-proof tank armor.

  • Excellent Joystick centering related to overall build the fact MiniVex II connects to both Vectrex controller ports providing for proper electrical termination on both ports.

  • Button switch for cable selection. Love the convenience of being able to swap the button operation between the Vectrex controller port cable connections using just a switch.

  • Crinkle paint  finish. Give the MiniVex II a nice texture when touching and holding the controller.

  • Great looking paint. Even if this is just a result of the crinkle finish I like the look as it matches the grey of the Vectrex case pretty well.

  • Handmade MiniVex logo graphic matches the handmade case appearance.

  • Hefty weight  of the controller feels good. The weight also helps keep the controller fixed in placed on its bumper feet when on the desktop.

  • Rapid-fire speed control feels smooth during use.

  • Like the fact rapid-fire has its own option switch to disable the feature.

  • Button color choice options are a nice touch.  

  • 30 Warranty for every controller sold.

 

Cons:

  • No external port to pass through a connection to an accessory. Such as a Vectrex Light Pen.

  • Buttons do not have the best ergonomic design layout. But still a decent trade off for a dual controller of this size and adherence to a traditional Vectrex controller layout

  • At times the hex heads of the case screws dig into my hand a bit when holding the MiniVex controller.

  • Cord does not coil up. Not a deal breaker. But I do like being able to have cord tend itself when I am finished playing for the day.

  • Not made to fold up into the Vectrex.

  • Lack of control control switch labeling / notes on the back or bottom of the controller.

  • Rapid-fire repetition is grouped into sets of pulses.  Would like the recovery time for the groups to be instantaneous for those times when the rapid-fire rate is set to maximum. Bear in mind most people will not ever notice or be affected by this this point.

  • MiniVex case graphics and lettering could be sharper. Even if I did include the logo as a pro, we are long past the desktop publishing age where logo design using a computer was made easy.

  • Better design and print of the MiniVex instruction sheet.

  • Rivets used to seal some parts of the case. Would like to see an all screw design for easier self-service after the warranty period ends.

  • For the price of the controller I would love an additional pack-in item such as a cool logo sticker or business card. But I do realize every "extra" costs extra for creator to make.

 

MiniVex Future Improvement Suggestions:

  • To go along with the button color options, also offer an option to match the joystick cap hats to the button color. Either as a fully colored control cap hat, or one with a  rim / logo (skull etc.) color accent.

  • Allow for button mapping to one or both of the joysticks. The current joysticks being used have a button switch activated when the joystick is pressed.  Would be nice to have the ability to switch one, or both, joysticks into a the Vectrex controller button position. Alternatively, would be nice to have them statically controlling button 4 of their respective controller port cable connections.

  • Use of pan head screws instead of hex head screws to bite less into hands.

  • Change the case screws used to a black or gray color to better match the case paint.

  • Use of plain sheet metal screws with pilot holes instead of self-tapping sheet metal screws for a tighter finish

  • Elimination of all rivets in favor of an all screw design for easier self-service.

  • Provide warranty validation via a sticker as needed.

  • Four bottom bumper feet are nice. Add an extra middle bumper foot set into the center bottom of the MiniVex II.

  • Felt bumper feet are nice. But for the price include a set of rubber bumper feet as well to allow for better surface grip.

  • Allow for a joystick that is configurable to either self centering or free moving.

  • Allow for an external port to pass through a connection to other Vectrex accessories using the second Joystick port. Suck as the Light Pen.

  • Rounded case corners to bite less into hands.

  • Label(s) for the option switches on the back or bottom of the MiniVex controller case.

  • A black knob on the rapid-fire rate potentiometer control shaft would be a nice finish.

  • Smooth out rapid-fire a bit more. Also have the maximum rate for rapid-fire be at the top of the range for the control instead of just below the range top.

  • Fold away design for storage into the Vectrex. Along with a complementary graphics on the bottom.

  • Coiled Cord to allow for self-tending of the cable.

  • Allow for rapid-fire to be assignable on the other buttons. Or just have rapid-fire on each button. Some game have differ button control usage that could benefit from rapid-fire.

  • Improve MiniVex logo graphic.

  • Offer button options with the button top that has a flat or concave design. I like concave button controls.

  • Controller illumination. Accomplished using backlit joysticks and buttons. Alternatively top / side lit using LED(s) with a shade hood to direct the light. And for the joystick interior side lit using the natural gap that already exists between the joystick cap hat the case.



#6 ls650 ONLINE  

ls650

    Quadrunner

  • 7,448 posts
  • Atari rocks!
  • Location:British Columbia

Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 5:23 PM

Now _that_ is a review!  :D



#7 SiLic0ne t0aD OFFLINE  

SiLic0ne t0aD

    River Patroller

  • 2,413 posts
  • Rock 'N Roller, Space Patroller
  • Location:Ohio Valley

Posted Tue Jan 8, 2019 9:01 PM

The joystick button could easily be wired up, though the two bottom rivets would need to be drilled out to gain access to the inside, as already mentioned by Vectrexer. On vectrex controllers with ps4/Xbox type joysticks, I always tie them into button #4. I'm sure when you order a controller, you could request that the joystick button is wired to a button of your choice, with button 4 being the most commonly used one. It's not a big deal though, I usually just press button 4 instead anyways. It's all personal preference though but the joystick button is handy at times, though I could live without it.

The one and only thing only thing I'd change about the miniVex controller would be the buttons themselves, which I prefer to be more responsive with a light touch. I have to be 'heavy-handed' at times as it is. Other than that, It's Perfect! I like Japanese style buttons, ie. Seimitsu and Sanwa brands to be more specific. The usual Seimitsu 24mm buttons I always use would obviously never fit, but Sanwa makes 18mm and 20mm buttons and both of those are used on the 3d printed Coolate Vectrex controller that's also still available. A set of 18mm Sanwa buttons might just fit into a miniVex and are smaller than the original vectrex buttons. There's only one way to find out though, which I'll look into whenever the warranty runs out, along with possibly adding an LED. It's fine as is though, again just a personal preference. ;) Get yourself a miniVex, I guarantee you won't regret it! :D

#8 classicgamesnut OFFLINE  

classicgamesnut

    Space Invader

  • Topic Starter
  • 19 posts

Posted Wed Feb 6, 2019 6:44 PM

Just read a very old post on providing links to eBay items and sellers.  Should have done this in the original posting.  Check this link for all MiniVex items currently for sale or auction:

 

eBay Seller: classicgamesandcarsfan


Edited by classicgamesnut, Wed Feb 6, 2019 6:46 PM.






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