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About doubledown

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    River Patroller
  • Birthday 09/13/1976

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    My ColecoVision had a baby!
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    Toledo, OH

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  1. Now, the final details of my PAC-MAN build...for those interested in such things. Chapter 3 - "Built to last" So I've built plenty of controllers using these Hammond enclosures, and while I do in fact like them very much...I simply don't find their overall assembly very sturdy or robust, but I'm a perfectionist, and I over-build everything. So after I swap out the stock #6 sheet metal assembly screws, with #8 machine screws (and mating tapped holes), I also add steel angle braces to the upper corners, underneath the control surface, where the side upright panels meet the top. This solidifies these enclosures to create a solid, single, 6-sided housing...versus two, 3-sided enclosure halves, partially attached to each other on the bottom only: You can see 1 steel angle brace installed above, on the left (not yet installed on the right). This bracing offers 3 much needed improvements to these enclosures: 1) Prevents the control surface top from bowing/flexing downward due to the weight of your hands/palms/wrists...and exuberant play 2) Prevents the upright side panels (which are part of the bottom half of the enclosure) from winging outward causing unsightly gaps between the metal 3) Adds 8-16 oz. (depending on the size of enclosure, which dictates the length of the braces) of additional weight to the light-weight aluminum enclosure So on any other controller, I would have simply repeated these enhancements to the enclosure like I always do, then machined the necessary clearance holes for the joystick and button(s), and the joystick's mounting holes. But look carefully at an original PAC-MAN upright control panel: Notice, that there are 6 black carriage bolts visible in the control panel (1 in each of the 4 corners of the artwork, and 2 centered on either side of the joystick). Now look again: ...what you don't see, are the 4 fasteners that mount the joystick in place. How can that be? What sort of witchcraft/sorcery did Midway use for this? I'll show you: Underneath the metal control panel, is a piece of plywood, that the joystick is top-down mounted through (via 4 hidden fasteners highlighted above), which was then (as an assembly) mounted to the underside of the metal control panel via: ...you guessed it...6 black carriage bolts. Now for reference, let's look at my controller again: ...and what do you see, the same 6 black carriage bolts in the control panel (1 in each of the 4 corners of the artwork, and 2 centered on either side of the joystick), and no visible joystick mounting fasteners. So obviously, I simply copied Midway's design, and got myself a cheap piece of wood, and duplicated what they did, right...hell and no: I would never install a piece of plywood into a masterpiece like this...that was built into an aluminum enclosure. Instead, I installed a 6" wide, custom machined aluminum C-channel, to perform the same task of hiding the joystick fasteners...which are highlighted above. And here below, you can see the 6 black carriage bolts, that mount the channel with joystick, to the underside of the control panel: ...just like how Midway did it...albeit a helluva lot stronger. Then of course for the added side Flipper and Launch buttons, I had to machine/remove a bit of material from the side steel angle braces, and the outer edges of the aluminum C-channel, so that there wouldn't be any interference. So there it all is. The extreme lengths that I'll go to (apparently)...to create the greatest PAC-MAN joystick controller...ever built. I would assume, now that I've shown you all how I've done it...there will be a flood of copycats hitting ebay sometime here in the very near future! 🤣 For those who have taken the time to read along, this has been just a small glimpse into my world (and brain) of custom built controllers, to help those understand the utter minutiae of detail(s) that I take into consideration, and pay attention to...for some of my more elaborate, and ultimately expensive, creations. Thanks for reading.
  2. I'm sure the issue is with "all" of the solder joints on the board...but as the controller ports get plugged/unplugged with great frequency, they are the ones that most often fail.
  3. I thought I read somewhere, that the Gemini controller port solder joints are susceptible to cracking and then losing connection(s). Open the console, re-flow the connections, and presto...if that's you're particular issue.
  4. Yes, there are PC mice (of several hardware variations and connection types), PC track-balls (PC mouse alternatives with ~1" thumb actuated balls, and those larger types with larger finger tip actuated balls usually used by graphic designers and engineers), and then there are "arcade" track-balls, or a "Trak-Ball" as ATARI called them. I personally have used some version of a Logitech PC track-ball (currently the M570) on every computer I have owned or used at work, for probably the better part of the last 15 years. And like I said...if point-and-click type games (old Sierra "Quest-esque" games, Lemmings type games) are made available for the ColecoVision...I'm happy to use either a PC mouse, or a PC track-ball for their gameplay...if its possible. But if I want to play games like Missile Command, Centipede, Millipede, Crystal Castles, Marble Madness, and/or Atari Football...then I only want an open-frame, enclosure mountable, 2-1/4", 3", or 4", true arcade track-ball...again if possible. There are currently a couple of arcade track-balls made/sold (normally for MAME use), that feature USB and/or PS/2 connectivity...some cheap, and then also the nicer HAPP 2-1/4" and 3" track-balls...both also available with USB & PS/2 connectivity. And if those can be used for appropriate games, with true proportional control, not simply like using a Roller Controller in "joystick" mode...then I'm all for it, again if the electronics required for their use are robust and reliable enough to last.
  5. So I don't have any idea of how the "magic" of the encoders work in either the Steering Module, or the Roller Controller (and/or how their software reads them)...I just know that they work for the software selections that they were made to work with, and that were programmed to work with them. I'm sure that there are things/ways that "this adapter" plugged into "this adapter", which is then plugged into this Arduino...can be made to possibly work similarly...but it's nothing I'm looking into. If somebody can, or wants to develop, the perfectly functioning electronic equivalent, to replace the original electronics (with 100% perfect compatibility, and reasonable reliability)...I'm sure I could make use of it...but anything that I currently have plans for at this moment (single axis spinner for an arcade controller for Victory, and an arcade accurate Turbo controller), would be built with original Coleco electronics. If somebody has gotten a mouse working on the ColecoVision...and point-and-click type games are made available for it...hey, great, but I don't want to play Operation Wolf with a mouse, as I've played it in it's original form in the arcades...and I'm satisfied living with those memories. I know I've read where people talk about playing Missile Command on system "x" with a mouse that they got working...and it's so much easier than playing with a Trak-Ball...and to that I say...yes it is easier...and yes it's cheating...and yes it's wrong...and I don't want anything to do with it...and I could care less. I'm not attempting to diminish the efforts of those attempting to get PS/2 or USB mice (or whatever) working on a ColecoVision...I'm just saying it's nothing I'm interested in, again, unless "appropriate" games are programmed for it, or that mouse interface would allow me to use a legit arcade track-ball (USB or PS/2) on the ColecoVision....and it worked just like the Roller Controller does in "Roller" mode, for those couple of games that it can work with. For the paddle controller that was made, as there aren't any "paddle" games made for the ColecoVision (as there were for the ATARIs, wherein the engineering/software specifications were defined by ATARI and then adhered to by the programmers)...it wasn't that useful of a controller...from what I remember reading. So if somebody wants to define the specifications for a paddle controller for the ColecoVision, and programmers are on board to program games with that controller in mind...great, and I can't wait. **Please note the above ramblings are those of one cranky old man, and do not reflect the views of the parent website! 😃
  6. I can measure it when I get home tonight...but its probably around 25mm or 28mm. If you're looking at arcade parts suppliers, you're probably not going to find anything smaller than 30mm. The original Nintendo arcade sticks used 30mm, 28mm, and 25mm ball knobs...depending on the game, and cabinet type, and MikesArcade.com sells reproductions of all 3 sizes (do a search for "knob" in their search box, top/left corner)...I don't remember what thread they are though. You can also check McMaster.com (do a search for "ball knob") for different sizes/colors. FYI, phenolic plastic knobs will be glossy and smooth, polypropylene knobs will be matte, and very slightly textured. Then you'd have to know what thread size/pitch you'd need. FYI, 1/4" and M6 are incredibly close to each other...so if you want to install a M6 threaded ball knob onto a 1/4-20 shaft, you can easily "re-tap" the M6 ball threads with a 1/4-20 tap...if they don't have what you're looking for in M6x1mm thread (and vise versa).
  7. Or create a single axis spinner using original Roller Controller hardware/electronics, set it to "Roller" mode for Victory (arcade accurate), or set it to "Joystick" mode for any other games that you'd want a spinner for (Omega Race and Star Trek would be arcade accurate with a Spinner). If I'm not mistaken, the Roller Controller uses both joystick ports because each port can only read one axis of the two-axis track-ball, so this would only need to be connected to 1 joystick port as well...if I'm correct.
  8. I see, I didn't have any knowledge that it had to do with the encoder pulses read per frame, creating the difference between the faster/slower speeds. As I don't do any software programming...I have no knowledge of any of that type of sorcery. 😃 What!?! Me!?! No!!! Wait, actually the artwork for Centipede is already done (low res. sample): This would just give me the kick in the pants I need to move forward with the project, as I have nearly zero love for Slither. 😉
  9. So this is how I thought a "true" proportional Track-Ball works...please feel free to educate me if my understanding is wrong: Say you rotated the track-ball 1 degree, and that 1 degree of ball rotation rotated the encoder disc enough to output 1 pulse, and that 1 pulse was programmed to move your on-screen character 1 pixel in that direction...for every 1 degree of ball rotation your on-screen character would move 1 pixel. (I'm not saying that this degree - to encoder pulse - to pixel movement ratio is correct...just for the sake of easy numbers). Then if you moved the ball 30 degrees of rotation, your on-screen character would move 30 pixels...the difference being, that if you rotated the ball slowly, your character would move slowly...and if you moved the ball quickly, your character would move quickly...but still the same amount of on-screen movement (30 pixels) for the same amount of ball rotation. Is this correct or incorrect? Is the ball rotation, to encoder pulse, to pixel movement ratio changing based on the speed at which the ball is rotated? With Slither being one of the original games that actually can use "Roller" mode on a Roller Controller...how was it done for that game? Please note, that these are not snarky or condescending questions/comments at all...I am genuinely curious.
  10. Are there to be any graphical or audio improvements/enhancements made to the game, or is it just the addition of Roller Controller "Roller" mode compatibility?
  11. Looks like I built this just in time: There can never be too many versions, bootlegs, variants, sequels and/or clones of PAC-MAN!
  12. You are correct, in that Toru Iwatani did not create the name PAC-MAN...what he did create was the character that we have all known for 40+ years as PAC-MAN, and the PAC-MAN game/gameplay itself. The original Japanese name PUCK-MAN, was changed to PAC-MAN due to potential vandalism concerns here in the West...but when Namco released their first official sequel to PUCK-MAN...they adopted the PAC-MAN moniker...and they released SUPER PAC-MAN.
  13. So continuing on with the details of the PAC-MAN build, let's move onto the joystick. Chapter 2 - "Catching lightning in a bottle, a 2nd time" With the exclusive publishing rights to PAC-MAN in North America, Midway had to decide what joystick they would install into their cabinets...and this is what they built: Simply referred to as the Midway 4-way, or the PAC-MAN joystick, this first iteration/variant of what would become Midway's staple controller for a number of years, is instantly recognizable, and a welcomed sight to any true PAC-MAN aficionado. Let's take a look at the physical properties of this iconic piece of video game history/hardware: * Ball Knob - Red - Semi-gloss finish - Textured - Diameter, ~1.375" - Height of the great circle of the knob when installed, ~1.341" * Lever Shaft - Black stop sleeve, ~0.562" diameter * Dust Washer - Black, under panel installation * Centering method - Steel/rubber grommet * Switch Type - Leaf-switches * Restriction Shape - 4-way diamond, with true break-before-make actuation * Activation Force - Lateral force applied at the great circle of the knob required to activate any switch, ~7.0 oz. Now there are 2 problems that kept me from simply installing an original Midway joystick into this controller: 1) They haven't been produced in over 30 years. There are plenty of these joysticks available on the used market, but they will all most likely need some rebuild/repair (unless NOS), and not all of the necessary repair parts are available. Additionally, as they're out of production, availability and price cannot always be guaranteed. 2) They are simply too large/deep to install into the Hammond Mfg. sloped top enclosures. There are currently 3 joysticks being sold, as "PAC-MAN replacement joysticks", but none of them, even remotely accurately, replicate the look or feel of the original. So my main goal with this project was to custom build a joystick, that would look, feel, and handle, just like the originals (as much as possible)...that could be built with new, available, and sustainable parts. So naturally, the best place to start would have to be one of the 3 joysticks that are marketed as a "PAC-MAN replacement joystick", and simply fix up a few things they fudged...right? Wrong. I opted to start with one of my absolute favorite modern joysticks, the iL EuroJoystick 2: As you can see, it's a far cry from an original PAC-MAN joystick. Tall, molded bat handle lever, spring centering, round 8-way restriction, and micro-switches. How in the world could this ever get passed off as a Midway joystick...with a whole lot of design and engineering on my part...that's how. Let's start with the knob and the lever. Fortunately, this was one of the easiest parts; Arcadeshop.com is currently selling reproduction Midway handles and stop sleeves: On the left, is the "stock" reproduction handle and black stop sleeve, and on the right are my modified versions. For the handle, I had to cut/shorten it's overall length, and then cut a new e-clip groove for the now shorter shaft. With the stop spacer, I had to also cut it shorter, to achieve the proper knob height when installed into the iL EuroJoystick 2 base. Then I had to design and machine the custom tool steel shaft sleeve (steel tube bored and counter-bored, pictured on the far right), that slips over the lowest/skinny portion, and up partially onto the fatter portion, of the Midway shaft...so that the Midway shaft would fit and manipulate properly, with the pivot and actuator parts of the iL EuroJoystick 2...at the arcade accurate height. Seems simple enough! Now that I'd figured out how to install an original or reproduction Midway PAC-MAN ball knob lever into my joystick...I had to tackle the centering spring. Take a look at this picture for reference: In the back row, on the far left, is a red iL EuroJoystick 2 "Long" bat handle lever...the factory shaft for my donor joystick base. The red ball knob on the right side marked PAC-MAN, is a reproduction Midway ball knob shaft. Note the height difference...the iL Bat "Long" is 2.674" tall at the fattest part of the bat knob, versus the 1.341" height of the PAC-MAN knob (at it's giant circle). The lateral force required to manipulate the factory iL EuroJoystick 2, with it's factory "Long" bat handle, is ~8.9 oz...which is already 1.9 oz. more than an original PAC-MAN joystick. When you change out the tall bat knob lever, with the much shorter PAC-MAN ball knob lever, that required force increases to ~14.5 oz...way to firm to be playable. The reason being, is that you're shortening the lever, but not decreasing the amount of work that has to be done...so the solution...have a custom spring made: On the left is the factory iL EuroJoystick 2 spring, and on the right is the one that I had made. Unfortunately I have no way to make my own custom springs, but luckily there is a company in town that does, and I already deal with them occasionally for work. So I went over one day, had a talk with the owner, and had him make me up a few samples. This one was the winner...as it provides for a Midway joystick matching ~7.0 oz. of lateral force required for actuation...just like the original. Now for all intents and purposes...this is the one major difference from my joystick and the originals...the centering device. Mine uses a centering spring, and the Midway joysticks used a steel/rubber centering grommet. I will grant that it does mean that my stick's feel is ever so slightly different from the originals, but as they require the same amount of force (and the knob and lever are the same), the difference is marginal, and probably only discernible to those with lots of play experience on an original. On to the switches. A true PAC-MAN joystick, makes use of silent leaf-switches...no micro-switches...no ifs, ands or buts! So I chose Rollie leaf-switches for my build, as they already come with a molded nylon mounting base, that would make my use/installation of them a bit easier: On the left are (4) "stock" Rollie leaf-switches, that were created as a leaf-switch solution to be used with modern micro-switch push-buttons from HAPP and iL, and on the right are the (4) I modified for my new joystick. I slightly increased the size of the 2 mounting holes on each holder, and machined/removed some material from the mounting ends, due to interferences when installed onto the joystick base, and I changed out the thread-forming screws to machine screws with nylon-insert locknuts...which provides for much more repeatable actuation points. After these simple modifications to the leaf-switches, a bit of modification was required to the iL EuroJoystick 2's switch base for their installation, which was done with with 4 aluminum unthread spacers, and 4 new SST screws. Ok, so I've got the ball knob, stop sleeve, lever height, leaf-switches, and force actuation copied...but it's still a round restricted 8-way joystick, not a diamond restricted 4-way; so I would need a new restrictor plate, and a new actuator: On the left is my 4-way diamond restrictor plate, which mounts to the top of the joystick base, and still allows for the dust washer to be properly installed underneath the control panel. The center diamond cutout features the same 8.6 degrees of chamfer, to match the angle of the joystick shaft when fully actuated in any direction, and provides for full engagement/nesting of the the joystick shaft's stop sleeve perfectly, into each of the 4 cardinal direction points. The smaller/round actuator on the right, fits onto the bottom of the joystick shaft, and was designed to be the proper diameter, to ensure that this is a true 4-way joystick...in that no 2 contacts can be made simultaneously, period. Some modern joysticks that have a repositionable square 8-way / diamond "4-way" gate, can still allow for 2 switches to be made simultaneously, at a small section of their diamond sides...making them not true 4-way joysticks. But my design truly offers a break-before-make switching scenario, from any one direction, to any other...so there can be no issue with any software where a make-before-break scenario can be destructive. Then as I was looking for a way to beef-up the installation of my leaf-switches, and provide a guide for their indexing orientation, I created a spider that pins into the 2nd mounting hole on each of the leaf-switch holders, to index them at the installation angle I wanted, and provide a bit more stiffness in their mounting. Then I simply put it all together, and I get this...my VVG iLeaf Midway 4-way joystick: And that's it...the closest facsimile copy of an original Midway 4-way PAC-MAN joystick the world has ever seen. This will also be my go-to joystick of choice, if/when I decide to build custom arcade controllers themed for the Midway published games Burger Time, Rally-X, Root Beer Tapper, and/or Wizard of Wor, or any of the other PAC-MAN sequels. Stay tuned, and I'll soon detail the machining and assembly, and the meticulous attention to detail observed when designing this masterpiece, to provide the maximum arcade accuracy I could present!
  14. I've started a new topic/post/thread, to fully detail the above pictured PAC-MAN controller build (pictured in post #482 above)...for those interested...follow this link: Details Here
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