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doubledown

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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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    Male
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    Toledo, OH

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  1. After I built my recent 2600 arcade controller, I got to thinking about building a simple, mid-sized 2600 combo controller, featuring both a joystick control (with its fire button), and a paddle control (with its fire button). Mostly because, why not…and also because I don’t find this solution currently being offered by anybody else. After spending a bit of time with the layout, in an attempt to maximize the ergonomics within the space constraints, I had come up with a plan that I felt would work out well, and would be very comfortable to play with. Then I started considering the graphics for this new controller. Originally I had thought about modifying and re-using the woodgrain CPO that I designed for my Switch-O-Matic controller, but then I had a better idea. My memory was jogged, and I remembered that ATARI had already made such a controller that I could model mine after, perhaps you’ve seen one: While I love the look & symmetry of the controls on the original kiosk, I do take issue with their layout. So, as I was building this controller from scratch…I laid out the controls a bit more ergonomically…and, more appropriately for the 90% of us gamers who manipulate an arcade stick with our left hand…and not our right. So behold, my: 2600 VGSC Edition – VVG Enhanced Controller Built into a Hammond Mfg., 14” x 8.5” aluminum sloped-top enclosure (which has been reinforced and weighted), this new controller offers the same dual-control functionality of the original kiosks, in a smaller form-factor…that’s a bit more comfortable in your lap...and a little easier to store when not in use. Controls-wise, the original kiosks featured a WICO leaf-switch joystick w/ a CX40-esque lever (versus their standard 1-1/2” ball knob shafts), (2) 4-piece arcade leaf-switch push-buttons, and a potentiometer with an ATARI Tempest/Warlords knob (for the paddle control). In an effort to design this as an affordable controller, and to, of course, appease those who need to hear their joystick clicking (to ensure that it’s working), I selected my favorite modern joystick…the venerable iL EuroJoystick 2, 8-way micro-switch joystick for this build. Now looking at the joystick handle, you may be thinking that it doesn’t look like any EuroJoystick 2 that you’ve ever seen…and that’s due to the custom handle that I designed and machined for it. The factory handle for these sticks is a molded bat, but I was going for a bit more authenticity with regards to mimicking the original kiosk controls. So I replaced the molded bat handle with an iL threaded shaft, and I custom machined the handle, modeled after the CX40 stick. Starting with a length of 3/4” (across the flats) solid aluminum hex stock, I pre-cut a short piece to the approximate necessary length, machined flat the top face (perpendicular to the sides), machined flat the bottom face (to achieve the final length), drilled and taped a M6x1.00 hole, and milled a 10mm pocket in the lowest portion, so that the knob would completely sleeve over (and cover), the lower portion of the round threaded shaft. This minimizes the round shaft’s visible exposure, and allows the hex knob to sit as low as possible to the control surface, mimicking the CX40. Then for comfort, I turned down, and softened all of the edges / hex points of the knob on a lathe…and to recreate that oh-so-familiar feel of the rubber boot on the CX40, I coated the knob in black PLASTI DIP. This is the first time I’ve used the PLASTI DIP products…and I have to say, I’ve very impressed with it. It seriously feels exactly like the rubber boot on the CX40, albeit a bit more robust/solid feeling…due to the aluminum knob that it is adhered to, versus the hollow plastic lever of the CX40. Here's a side by side comparison of my first prototype hex handle/knob on the iL, next to a CX40. This initial one was a bit high off of the base, which after I made this one, and took some further measurements, I realized that I could get it to drop down a bit lower, and get it closer down, to the control panel's surface. To compliment the modern joystick, I was then looking for a modern push-button to use. As a perfect paired match to the joystick, I normally would have installed iL PSL-L concave plunger, micro-switch push-buttons w/ Cherry micro-switches. But due to the shallow mounting depth available near the front half of these sloped-top enclosures (with regards to the Paddle control’s fire button), they simply wouldn’t fit. So I selected the only shallow-mount concave plunger push-button available (and another personal favorite of mine), the Ultimarc GoldLeaf push-button. While they have “leaf” in their name…these are not like the vintage external leaf-switch push-buttons from the days of old. They employ an internal key-switch, like those found on modern Japanese buttons… but these feature the look of the vintage arcade buttons, due to their smaller and concave plungers. So they require no maintenance or adjustments, and will offer years of trouble-free service. For the audibly desperate, who have to hear their buttons click when they’re pressed (because if they don’t, they’re not working obviously)…you’re out of luck here unfortunately. The GoldLeaf buttons use a silent switch, so that clicking noise that you need so that you can sleep at night…simply won’t be present. The only other option here would be to use an iL PSL-L micro-switch push-button for the joystick’s button (where the depth allows for it), and use an Ultimarc GoldLeaf for the paddle’s button. I’d have to compare the 2 side by side, to see how close they are in look and color, to determine how viable this would be. For the paddle control, I never had any intent on using a knob from a CX30 paddle controller. Because for one, the kiosks used an ATARI arcade knob (so I would too), and two, I find the slightly smaller diameter arcade knobs more comfortable than the larger CX30 knobs. Especially when mounted to a controller sitting on my lap (or on a desk), versus one that is held in my hand. With this in mind, I selected a Bourns 1M Ohm potentiometer, with the appropriate/necessary shaft dimensions to accept the knob that I would be using. The original ATARI Tempest/Warlords knobs haven’t been manufactured in what, probably 35-40 years. So while they can be found…they can be very expensive. I’ve seen some places offer NOS knobs for $75.00 (for just the knob), and one place had molded reproductions made a few years back, which they sell for $25.00. Again, as this was an attempt to make a budget-friendly controller, I opted to try 3D printing a reproduction knob. Using a model that I found on thingverse, I printed this reproduction ATARI Tempest/Warlords knob, with black Tough PLA filament, a layer height of 0.1mm, and with 100% infill. For those familiar with 3D printed parts (versus their molded counterparts), you know that you will always be able to see/feel their layers, but with the fine layer height that I printed, they’re very minimal…and post-print sanding could always be done to make them smoother, should one choose to do so. For the artwork, I obviously selected to mimic the ATARI table/counter top Video Game Selection Center kiosk’s color scheme (versus the full-sized POP kiosk), as I think the orange coloring pops very nicely, much more so than the grey. I copied as much of the artwork/text that was appropriate for this controller, and sized/moved items and text as necessary. The artwork here (as per my usual), was photo inkjet printed on Epson premium glossy photo paper, and dual-sided, heat-laminated with 5 mil glossy lamination media, with UV protection. The artwork is applied with 3M double-sided adhesive sheeting, and goes edge to edge on both the CPO and the front marquee. The control panel fasteners used are #8-32, black-oxide, carriage bolts, matching the look and feel (or lack thereof) of the fasteners used on the originals. Next, I had to make a decision…how to account for the fact that 2 paddle controls plug into one controller port…but I only have room for 1 paddle control, on this controller. Option 1, was to ignore the problem, and only provide the use of paddle “control 2” (pins 4 & 5), which is used by player 1 for most games. Option 2, was to install a C&K DPDT push-button switch (with mechanical indicating cap (black/white)) which basically, at the push of a button, re-wires the paddle control and its fire button from “control 2” (pins 4 & 5), to “control 1” (pins 3 & 9). I opted for option 2, install the extra switch, and allow for the use of both paddle controls…which is useful for alternating-play, 2-player games, and also games like M Network’s Astroblast, which uses “control 1” for player 1. For simultaneous-play 2-player games, a small custom adapter cable could be made so that both this controller, and a regular set of CX30 paddle controllers could be plugged in at the same time, but wherein you wouldn’t end up with 2 potentiometers connected to the same pins at the same time, causing interference. Alternately, with 2 of these controllers, only a standard wye-cable would be necessary, so long as their “paddle” switches were set opposite of each other. Then I had to decide if I was going to disengage 1 set of controls, while the other set was in use. I considered this for the reasons of any possible hardware/software conflicts when the paddles can be auto-sensed, as well as to prevent any unintended physical contact with 1 set of controls, whilst manipulating the other. So if for example, the joystick and paddle controls were always all active, a game like Astroblast, will default to paddle controls…joystick mode is not possible; and with a Harmony cart, you would navigate the menu with the paddle controls versus the joystick controls. Additionally, if the paddle controls are active, then its push-button would be actively wired to either joystick “left” or “right” (depending on which paddle you’ve selected). If while playing a joystick game very feverishly, your hand/finger(s) inadvertently pressed the paddle’s push-button, you could get an unwanted input, which may cost you a high score. So to address this issue, I installed a C&K 4PDT (only using 3 poles) push-button switch (with mechanical indicating cap (black/white)) so that I could engage/disengage the paddle controls when desired. I originally considered engaging one set and disengaging the other with this switch, but couldn’t come up with any reason to disengage the joystick controls (no software/hardware conflicts, and far enough out of the way for any physical interference when manipulating the paddle controls). I still have the option to do this if I find a reason where this would be necessary. So as it is currently wired, when in “joystick” mode, the joystick controls are active, and the paddle controls are in-active, and when in “paddle” mode, both the joystick and paddle controls are simultaneously active. These ancillary controls are located in the upper half, between the joystick and its push-button, as shown below. The upper switch toggles the paddle controls on & off, and the lower switch select which paddle is connected. And finally, rather than hacking and whacking an already short 6’ DE-9 extension cable, I installed a custom crimped 10’ cable, which can be wrapped up neatly on the enclosure’s rear mounted cord cleats. Then the enclosure was finished off with a set of mechanically fastened soft rubber feet on the bottom, to provide stability, and prevent scratching, when placed/used on a table or desk. So there you have it, a quick few words and tips describing how to build a beautiful and robust kiosk/combo arcade controller for the Atari 2600, should you have the inclination. Additionally for those interested, much of the hardware can be swapped for other types/styles/brands…the only real limit is the shallow mounting depth for the paddle’s button. If you’re looking to play ports of the most modern SHUMPs, or the latest installment of TEKKEN on your 2600, you can easily install a more appropriate Sanwa JL-series joystick, and mating buttons. If you want to go vintage old school, you can squeeze in a WICO joystick and 4-piece arcade leaf-switch push-buttons. If you want to go in between those, you can select the iL EuroJoystick 2 and use the factory molded bat lever, or install the threaded shaft, and use a more conventional ball knob. Let the world be your oyster! Now for me, my original plan was to build this, add it to my catalog/portfolio of controllers, and then sell this one off. But as I got into the design and build of it, I really started developing a fondness for it, and decided to build, and keep it for myself. But being me, I didn’t simply want just any old controller, I wanted a little something special, so may I present to you, my: The Orange Special – VVG Enhanced Controller To the unknowing, this model will look near identical to the one pictured above, but there are 2 major differences, selected by me, for my personal preferences. Firstly, and the only item semi-visually obvious, is the knob used for the paddle control. I prefer the ATARI Super Breakout arcade knob for my paddle play. So I sourced an original arcade knob from ebay (no reproductions or printed parts here), and I’ve installed that here, on The Orange Special. Secondly, and most importantly, is the joystick. Externally, you can’t tell any difference, but what’s installed inside, is a Buttercade OpticIL joystick. While it has been made sometimes annoyingly obvious by some, that there are those, who need to hear a joystick click, to verify that it’s working…I personally, am not one of those people. And while I don’t absolutely lament the clicking of micro-switches (unless they’re super loud Japanese ones), I definitely prefer silent controls. So even though the obvious choice here would be to install a WICO leaf-switch joystick like the kiosk originals…I decided to install a silent optical joystick…like those that were sold as options and upgrades to the original leaf-switch joysticks, back in the day. In this instance, the Buttercade OpticIL starts its life as an iL EuroJoystick 2, has its micro-switches and switch actuator removed, and gets a custom PCB which accommodates the necessary electronics, magic, and witchcraft…that can harness the awesome power of light. This in turn, provides a silent joystick solution, without all of the fuss, all of the muss, and all of the maintenance of external leaf-switches…that so many people seem to be afraid of. Additionally the OpticIL PCB includes 2 sets of dip switches (one set for the cardinal directions, and another set for the diagonals), which allow the user to adjust the sensitivity of the joystick for their preference, and offers 4 different levels (Minimum 1 – Maximum 4) of sensitivity, unique to each set of directions. No, the diagonals cannot be completely turned off, to make this 8-way joystick a true 4-way…but they can be “de-sensitized” so that it’s a lot more forgiving when playing 4-way games. And now...that’s all. Hopefully I’ve been able to provide a little bit of inspiration and/or some helpful information, to any of those considering building their own custom controller(s). Enjoy!
  2. As they don't have the necessary keypads, I would assume that these were controllers (probably for PC or Genesis) that were converted to work-ish with the Jaguar.
  3. As mentioned, it's one I have at work...not one I personally own (like the CNC mill I get to use for my custom controllers)...but I am the one who runs it as needed. I had never 3D printed anything before we got this around the beginning of this year, and I've not had even one remote issue or failure with anything I've printed with it yet. Of course this has nothing to do with me, but rather the unit, and it's software package. I have seen that there is carbon fiber and some even more exotic filaments out there, I swear I saw some sort of wood type filament exists too. When we got the unit we got a big bundle of filaments to test with, including those I mentioned above...and I will say that I love the PVA water soluble support material for it's supreme ease of removal after printing. The 6 spool climate controlled material handler section below the printer is nice too for large print jobs, where you can insert multiple spools of the same material, and as one finishes, it will pull back the remaining bit, load the new spool, and continue/finish the print all on its own. Its a magical time to be alive!
  4. If you need any help test printing anything let me know, I have an Ultimaker S5 Pro at work: I know I've got PLA, Tough PLA, ABS and Nylon filaments on hand.
  5. Thanks. The only emulator I ever use is MAME, for arcade games, and even that's a fairly rare instance these days. I like, and appreciate, real and actual hardware; so a controller like this Switch-O-Matic (or something game specific/dedicated) is the only way I can very easily re-map the inputs. I will say that the more I play with it, the more games I come up with to change. Last night I was playing Grand Prix, and I disabled the Joystick's left switch, and re-mapped this input to the 2nd button for push-button brakes...as I was inadvertently hitting them occasionally when using Up & Down to steer. Then playing Pitfall, I mapped the 2nd button as a redundant Joystick down input. I kept the Joystick's actual down switch enabled for descending ladders, but I definitely liked just slapping a push-button to let go of the swinging vines. It's truly a "game-changer"...pun intended. Adding the potentiometer for paddle games is easy enough, "wiring-wise"...that just wasn't what I was looking for with this particular controller, as I wanted it joystick only. I've already got a plan for a little bit larger controller that will include a joystick, a paddle, a driving controller, their necessary buttons, and a few other bits for game configuration, but now I'm also thinking about more of a mid-sized plain-Jane version, with just a joystick and it's button, and a paddle and it's button...I just need to see if I can lay it out comfortably in a 14" x 8.5" enclosure or not.
  6. It will change your life! Ok, maybe not, but it can make playing games a bit more enjoyable, and more "arcade accurate" for those arcade ports. Personally I don't hate the CX-40 at all...I grew up with it. But with the ability to build my own...it's almost like model building to me...creating new controllers. Thanks.
  7. For my most recent, and most pain in the butt (with regards to wiring) controller, my new ATARI 2600 Edition - VVG Switch-O-Matic Controller: Full details/specs for it can be found HERE, but "simplistically," it purpose is to allow me to assign any of the ATARI 2600's inputs (Joystick UP / DOWN / LEFT / RIGHT or Button 1 / 2) to any of the 4 arcade push-buttons, so that I can play games how I want to, not how the programmers decided I should. In the pic above, it's configured for how I like to play H.E.R.O. on the 2600, (and controller port 2 on the ColecoVision...seriously, read the manual), with the joystick only being used for left and right movements, button 1 for firing the Microlaser, button 2 for hovering (joystick up), and button 3 for setting dynamite (joystick down). For those who would like to play SMURF with a push-button assigned as Joystick UP / JUMP (instead of pressing up on the joystick)...this type of featured controller allows for it. I've actually had the idea for a controller like this, for the ColecoVision, for quite a while now, but just haven't gotten around to it. For a ColecoVision version, should I decide to make one, any of the arcade push-buttons (either 5 or 6 in total, I haven't decided yet), would be able to be assigned to any of the 20 possible ColecoVision inputs (4 joystick inputs, 12 keypad inputs, 4 S.A. buttons). The biggest problem with a ColecoVision version, will be the 5 or 6 (depending on the number of arcade push-buttons) 2-pole / 20-position rotary switches required, to allow for maximum configuration possibilities. And the problem isn't that they don't exist...because they do; the problem is their price. The cheapest I can find them for is about $75 a piece...times the 5 or 6 that are needed...plus all of the other hardware costs...and then it has to be wired! So that's why I started with the "cheap & easy" ATARI 2600 version first, only 6 inputs and 1 single common...which made it a lot less expensive, and the wiring only took a couple of hours, versus a couple of days.
  8. Looks like it's just a new housing/case design for the previously made controller boards.
  9. A while back I was persuaded to sell the ATARI 2600 arcade joystick controller that I had built for myself...so I needed to make something new to replace it. As usual, I tried to think bigger and better, in an attempt to build something truly special and unique...and I came up with this; my ATARI 2600 Edition - VVG Switch-O-Matic Controller: The controller was built into a reinforced and weighted 14" x 8.5" aluminum sloped-top enclosure, and for the basic game-play controls, includes an 8-way iL EuroJoystick 2 (w/ medium bat handle, modified spring, and Cherry micro-switches) and (4) Groovy Game Gear Classx push-buttons (w/ Cherry D41X micro-switches). At first glance, some may feel that the 4 push-buttons are a bit of an overkill for a 2600 controller, but I assure you're there is a good reason for them (at least in my mind). The ancillary controls, center mounted between the joystick and the arcade push-buttons, are the inspiration for the Switch-O-Matic moniker. Each of the (4) arcade push-buttons (labeled "button 1" thru "button 4"), has a mating 6-position rotary switch (w/ solid aluminum knob w/ black indicating line), and an on/off push-button switch (with mechanical indicating cap - black/orange). The rotary switches select which function their mating arcade push-buttons will be wired as (Joystick UP / DOWN / LEFT / RIGHT, or Button 1 / 2), and the on/off push-button switches easily enable or disable each of their mating arcade push-buttons, without changing their previous setting. So for example, if the game you're playing has you use the joystick for left & right directional control, up for thrust, and down for shields, plus the fire button for firing...you could keep the left & right directional controls on the joystick, and assign the button "firing" to button 1, joystick up "thrust" to button 2, joystick down "shields" to button 3, and have button 4 disabled...or any other possible combination. The (4) on/off push-button switches in a diamond shape, directly to the right of the joystick, are used to easily enable/disable each of the (4) joystick directions. So for example, in a game where you've assigned joystick down to one of the arcade push-buttons, you can disable the joystick's physical down switch, so that you can't accidentally trigger it (via the joystick) during gameplay. The top left, "skill" on/off push-button switch, selects which mode the controller is in; either "b" (beginner), or "a" (advanced). When in Advanced mode, the controller is completely configurable as described above...but when in Beginner mode, all of the lower ancillary controls are bypassed, and the joystick is a standard 8-way joystick, and the orange arcade push-button (button 1), is the fire button...regardless of the state of any of the lower switches. This way, if you have the controller set very specifically for one game that you're playing in Advanced mode, you can easily switch back to Beginner mode, to play all other games normally...without having to switch everything back and re-configure it. The top right, "fire button(s)" on/off push-button switch, selects whether the controller is wired for 1 or 2 ATARI 2600 fire buttons. When on (enabled), fire button 2 (used in some hacks and homebrews), is available to be assigned to any of the (4) arcade push-buttons in Advanced mode, and is defaulted/wired to button 2 in Beginner mode. When disabled, it is un-wired, due to incompatibility issues with the 2nd fire button in some emulators and and on some "retro" ATARI-esque consoles. Then to complete the controller, cosmetically, the CPO artwork was created to compliment the ATARI 2600 woody consoles (and the era they come from), as well as to detail the functions of all of the ancillary controls. The controller is wired with a custom 10' cable that I made, and two cord cleats are mounted onto the rear of the enclosure, for cable management. In addition to the VVG Switch-O-Matic Controller above, I also built this one recently for the 2600: ...its my Phoenix Edition - VVG Experience Controller. Using the actual/vintage hardware & controls, and silk-screened aluminum CPO from a Phoenix cocktail arcade cabinet, I built a dedicated arcade experience controller for the 2600 version of Phoenix...because why not. In addition to the arcade 2-way joystick, and Barrier & Fire buttons, I added a joystick up/down paddle switch for multi-cart menu navigation, and a rocker switch to flip-flop the order of the buttons from Barrier (joystick down) as the left button and Fire (fire button) as the right button...to Fire (fire button) as the left button, and Barrier (joystick down) as the right button. It also works great for similar games like Galaga, Galaxian, Space Invaders...and others. Then lastly, a while back I was creating a Mini ColecoVision controller for my portfolio (because again, why not), so I decided to simultaneously make a 2600 variant as well. So here's my Atari VCS Edition - VVG Mini Controller ...for all of those who think most arcade sticks are too big. Enjoy!
  10. Amazing stuff. It looks so much different (even graphically, in addition to the scrolling) from the previous version. I honestly would have guessed it was for a more powerful system. Well done.
  11. It really is. That's not on a ColecoVision is it?
  12. If you're gonna do it, do it right! I still have the Jaguar Pro to SAC conversion controller, as it was the only 1 of those I ever built...mostly because the Jaguar Pro controllers have always been a bit pricey (even back then). I think I made something like 7 or 9 of the standard 2 button versions, which I sold either here or on ebay. They're not super hard to wire, just time consuming.
  13. For the ones I made years ago, I kept the original Jaguar controller PCBs, then stuffed into the controller housing a ColecoVision PCB (for the diode array and contact points), then cut Jaguar PCB traces & hand wired/soldered point to point as necessary. You can keep it "simple" and convert a standard Jaguar controller for 2 button compatibility: ...or you can go fancy and use a Jaguar Pro controller, and then you can use the shoulder buttons for Front Line "arm rotation"...thusly:
  14. Correction on my post above. ATARI pins 5 and 9 are the paddle pots, their buttons make use of unused digital direction contacts. But modern hacks and homebrews for the 2600 and 8-bits make use of the pin 5 and 9 paddle lines to allow for a 2nd and 3rd button...via some witchcraft and trickery. Sorry for the confusion.
  15. I thought I remember reading in an Atari 2600 service manual, that the +5VDC at pin 7 was good for approximately 50mA..safely. I've used it to power optical joysticks that draw around 35mA with no problems, on both 2600 and 7800 consoles (including the EM#1). It's mainly used for the Paddle controllers on the 2600, and 3rd party joystick controllers that had an "auto-fire" circuit, made use of this power as well. Keep in mind too, that while in most Coleco Hand Controllers, the controller cables may only have 7 wires (Pins 1/2/3/4/5/6/8), Pins 7 & 9 are connected at the console's controller port, and are used for quadrature inputs from "spinning/rotational" controls like the EM#2, the Roller Controller, and the Speed Roller on the Super Action Controllers. Additionally, I believe the Atari 2600 controller port pinout you posted, is incorrect...as Pin #5 is for Paddle B's button, and Pin #9 is for Paddle A's button. A standard CX-40 joystick controller cable, has only 6 wires (Pins 1/2/3/4/6/8), but at the console port, all of the pins are connected/used.
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