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The plan is to auto detect the controller by software, which seems pretty reliable in my experiments.

 

And in case that should fail, you can still manually select the correct one.

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I thought carbon dots were tried *first* on the 5200 joysticks along with the flex PCB and both turned out to be a disaster that doomed the 5200 to an early retirement. Dome contacts are used on the 5200 CX53 Trak-Ball Controller per Dan Kramer's dictates [and Atari Consumer management actually listened for a change].

NES and Sega controllers used silicone/rubber membranes with carbon dots on actual PCBs and the still work great 25-30 years later. The domed contacts are hard and clicky.

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NES and Sega controllers used silicone/rubber membranes with carbon dots on actual PCBs and the still work great 25-30 years later. The domed contacts are hard and clicky.

 

Well, they both did have an extra couple of years after Atari's experiment to perfect the process. They also didn't use a flex circuit like the 5200 joysticks did...

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Well, they both did have an extra couple of years after Atari's experiment to perfect the process. They also didn't use a flex circuit like the 5200 joysticks did...

Two years is a stretch. Famicom used rubber membranes with carbon dots, in 1983, not long after the 5200 debuted in America.

 

Rubberized pads with carbon dots on rigid PCB. Even the NES Advantage and Sega Joysticks used it. So did the Flashback Joysticks. Only "official" Atari stick I'll use for whatever reason, like if my custom ambidextrous VCS arcade joystick isn't handy at the time. Apples to oranges I know. The Famicom/NES pads were great so everybody copied them, but the tech also works for cheap joystick controllers as well... :P

 

I have a Quick shot for NES and a Quick shot for Atari. Same plastic casing on the outside, but the internals are night and day. The NES used micros, while the Atari had some type of spider mech on the joystick and dome button contacts for the triggers. Maybe I'm a hypocrite. I love the click of microswitch buttons and joysticks, but hate clicky dome contacts. Apples to oranges though... :P

 

I'll get off my soapbox now as likely the reason why Atari didn't use it was probably because the tech didn't exist at the time. 80s TV remotes tended to use hard buttons as well and not the soft membranes that they all use today. :dunce:

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Two years is a stretch. Famicom used rubber membranes with carbon dots, in 1983, not long after the 5200 debuted in America.

 

Rubberized pads with carbon dots on rigid PCB. Even the NES Advantage and Sega Joysticks used it. So did the Flashback Joysticks. Only "official" Atari stick I'll use for whatever reason, like if my custom ambidextrous VCS arcade joystick isn't handy at the time. Apples to oranges I know. The Famicom/NES pads were great so everybody copied them, but the tech also works for cheap joystick controllers as well... :P

 

I have a Quick shot for NES and a Quick shot for Atari. Same plastic casing on the outside, but the internals are night and day. The NES used micros, while the Atari had some type of spider mech on the joystick and dome button contacts for the triggers. Maybe I'm a hypocrite. I love the click of microswitch buttons and joysticks, but hate clicky dome contacts. Apples to oranges though... :P

 

I'll get off my soapbox now as likely the reason why Atari didn't use it was probably because the tech didn't exist at the time. 80s TV remotes tended to use hard buttons as well and not the soft membranes that they all use today. :dunce:

 

So maybe if hard PCBs were used in 5200 controllers then you could get away with carbon dots instead of going for gold dot kits. I started a thread over in the 5200 area last month about possibly using a hard replacement PCB in the controllers. I think it would take 2 to 4 separate ones wired together…a mini PCB up front for the selector buttons, 2 on the sides for the fire buttons, and the larger PCB for the numeric keypad. Or you could possibly use 1 under the keypad and then wire it up into a mess like a Colecovision controller.

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I think the score position is fine. Below are pictures from two of my CRT's. I intentionally washed out the pictures with the flash so you can clearly see the boundaries of the screen and bezel.

 

32" Sylvania

post-12370-0-08186600-1459817639_thumb.jpg

 

9" No name ("RoadShow")

post-12370-0-61485500-1459817640_thumb.jpg

 

If it would be of any help, I also have a 19" Trinitron that I could test it on.

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Great.

 

I also have prepared some small improvements (more levels and scoring closer to arcade original) for this game, but I need Manuel's OK before I release that to public.

 

:thumbsup: thumbs way up!

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After a break, my first attempt at Plaque Attack.

 

The movement is fine, but IMO the tube direction needs some work. Any ideas?

Plaque Attack - CX-22 Hack v0.9 (NTSC).bin

Plaque Attack - CX-80 Hack v0.9 (NTSC).bin

Plaque Attack - Amiga Mouse Hack v0.9 (NTSC).bin

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I've never played it, but it sounds like control of the tube/firing direction is awkward.

 

I watched a review of that game. In the reviewer's opinion, the big negative to the game was how the toothpaste tube direction change was implemented. You couldn't back away from what you wanted to shoot. The tube reverses direction when moving backward so you have to turn, move away then move toward the target again to get the tube flipped back around.

 

Sorry, no ideas for improvement at the moment.

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I never really played Plague Attack it before. But IMO the game grows on you if you play it for a while. But the tube direction stays a problem.

 

At least for the Trak-Ball version I have a workaround. The tube only flips when you move a bit faster vertically (at least 2 pixel/frame). This works OK (see attachments), but maybe there is still room for improvement.

 

E.g. I find it odd, that the tube flips when you move to the top or bottom border. Maybe that was meant as an alternative for not being able to back away? Anyway, this can be eliminated easily. Should I?

 

I don't know how other people play the game, but I am constantly firing. Or is there a reason why one should stop firing? If not, the fire button could be used to flip the tube.

 

BTW: For a two player game, which variation is more important? Both players have their own Trak-Ball, or both players share one controller?

Plaque Attack - Amiga Mouse Hack v0.91 (NTSC).bin

Plaque Attack - CX-22 Hack v0.91 (NTSC).bin

Plaque Attack - CX-80 Hack v0.91 (NTSC).bin

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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The only thought I had when watching the review was that maybe a L/R motion on the joystick could have been used to flip the tube. Probably not intuitive, but one of the few options available. That would be unworkable on a trackball as far as I'm concerned.

 

If autofire is a viable way to effectively play the game, that sounds like it's worth a try. Opinions from anyone who actually plays the game?

 

I may have time to play the game later to see if I can recognize any other options.

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Tested on real hardware.
On v0.90 controlling the tube direction is indeed problematic, the trackball is too sensitive and the slightest movement cause an unwanted change of direction.

I don't know how other people play the game, but I am constantly firing. Or is there a reason why one should stop firing? If not, the fire button could be used to flip the tube.

I keep the button pressed all the time as well, so I think you could just make the tube to fire automatically and repurpose the button to change direction. Another idea could be to allow the direction to change only when you're not firing.
Anyway, I like your solution in version 0.91. Move slowly to back away, and give a quick spin to change direction. It just feels quite natural to me.
My vote is to keep it that way.

I find it odd, that the tube flips when you move to the top or bottom border. Maybe that was meant as an alternative for not being able to back away? Anyway, this can be eliminated easily. Should I?

I'm not sure about this, I need to play it a little more. It didnt bothered me that much, anyway.

BTW: For a two player game, which variation is more important? Both players have their own Trak-Ball, or both players share one controller?

I'd say both player with the same controller, mostly because I don't think many people have two trackballs.
Moreover you should take in account the possibility that the two trackballs have different protocols, which I guess would complicate things...

Edited by alex_79

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I once converted Plaque Attack to use 2 buttons on a Genesis controller. There the solution was simple. I made one of the buttons fire upwards, and the other button flip downwards. The buttons would flip the toothpaste to correct orientation, and the joystick handled the movement of the tube.

 

 

With a trackball it would be easy to have autofire on, and use the firebutton to flip the direction. This has been said already.

 

Some other options:

1) Keep and use the automatic flipping when you reach the very top or bottom. For this scenario this should be the only way to flip (the fire button is just for fire). With the speed of the trackball you can reach top and bottom very quickly so this might make the right type of challenge which balances the gameplay.

 

2) Flip the toothpaste by rotating the trackball in a tight circle very quickly. This might be hard to do as it requires some monitoring of the the TB over many frames, but would be a very natural way of doing it. Optional is doing 1.5 quick complete circles in a row to cause a flip.

 

3) Require the trackball to be stopped, and the fire button press flips the toothpaste. This might cause inadvertent flips while pressing fire while transitioning from one direction to the opposite one.

 

4) Toothpaste orientates whichever vertical direction trackball is moving (up/down), but with requires some continuous frames of movement in one direction to flip. Take 20 seconds for an NTSC game as # of continous frames. If I want I'm firing upward and want to move the toothpaste down a little (but still fire upwards) then I just roll down quickly and push back up at the end of stroke a little. The tootpaste wouldn't flip because it's using a moving counter and 20 frames didn't pass. Likewise to actually flip a direction scroll in that direction for at least 20 frames. This scenario adds challenge because you have to find safe spots to flip.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I knew there would be more options than I can imagine myself. :)

 

But before I am going to implement those, have you tried v0.91 which Alex seems to like? This is close to your option #2.

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Anyway, I like your solution in version 0.91. Move slowly to back away, and give a quick spin to change direction. It just feels quite natural to me.

My vote is to keep it that way.

Great! How about the flip detection sensitivity? Is it OK?

 

I hope I get more feedback from other players.

 

BTW: How much better does the game play with a Trak-Ball for you? IMO the difference is not that big.

 

I'd say both player with the same controller, mostly because I don't think many people have two trackballs.

Moreover you should take in account the possibility that the two trackballs have different protocols, which I guess would complicate things...

Yea, my thoughts exactly. So I will use that as the preferred option.

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Great! How about the flip detection sensitivity? Is it OK?

Yes, it's ok for me. It takes some practice to master, which is fine.

 

BTW: How much better does the game play with a Trak-Ball for you? IMO the difference is not that big.

Agreed. Maybe it's because of the smaller play area compared to other games. The trakball is still an improvement, anyway.

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I just uploaded new versions of Millipede to the first post.

 

The original reason for the new versions was to fix a bug in the CX-80 and Amiga versions. While fixing it I also built a new CX-22 rom from the base code of the CX-80 and Amiga roms. Previously the CX-22 rom was quite different, but now all three versions are built from the same base code.

 

As an improvement I smoothed the Y axis a little bit by making it half speed. I've gotten feedback that it's not too much different in the CX-22 version, but in the CX-80 and Amiga roms it is slightly noticeable.

 

 

Please enjoy. :)

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I once converted Plaque Attack to use 2 buttons on a Genesis controller. There the solution was simple. I made one of the buttons fire upwards, and the other button flip downwards. The buttons would flip the toothpaste to correct orientation, and the joystick handled the movement of the tube.

 

 

 

 

Going off on a tangent...early morning thought. I wonder if the 2600 could recognize 3-fire buttons if you used the Paddle lines. I know it works on Atari 8-bit because that's how Dan Kramer built the custom 3-fire button Trak-Balls for 3-Base Missile Command after Rob Zdybel came up with that idea. Of course, A8 has POKEY and the 2600/7800 has RIOT so...

 

If it worked on the 2600/7800, adapter cables could be made and home-brew could be written to recognize it....

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Going off on a tangent...early morning thought. I wonder if the 2600 could recognize 3-fire buttons if you used the Paddle lines. I know it works on Atari 8-bit because that's how Dan Kramer built the custom 3-fire button Trak-Balls for 3-Base Missile Command after Rob Zdybel came up with that idea. Of course, A8 has POKEY and the 2600/7800 has RIOT so...

 

If it worked on the 2600/7800, adapter cables could be made and home-brew could be written to recognize it....

Yes. The Omega Race Booster Grip and the standard key pad controller for the 2600 use paddle lines as digital inputs.

 

It might not be possible to read those inputs as fast/frequently as the actual digital IO pins. It will still be necessary to charge the capacitors on those paddle lines to get the input level to register as a logical 1 and some sort of external resistor tied to +5 volts would be required to do the charging. That charge time on the paddle line is likely short enough that it wouldn't have much if any impact on the practical use.

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Yes. The Omega Race Booster Grip and the standard key pad controller for the 2600 use paddle lines as digital inputs.

 

It might not be possible to read those inputs as fast/frequently as the actual digital IO pins. It will still be necessary to charge the capacitors on those paddle lines to get the input level to register as a logical 1 and some sort of external resistor tied to +5 volts would be required to do the charging. That charge time on the paddle line is likely short enough that it wouldn't have much if any impact on the practical use.

The inputs are pulled low by default. A paddle with 1megohm pot tuned all the way up will charge this input in roughly one frame. the console can also dump the charge whenever it wants, but even a zero resistance on the paddle won't hurt the discharge circuit.

 

Most logic chips can easily push a few milliamps easily so connecting a logic TTL or CMOS output directly to the paddle input would work fine. There would be in the order of tens to hundreds of microseconds range of signal lag on the paddle input due to the internal charging cap and the logic chip's ability to transmit data. If the paddle logic is connected to a simple on or off input such as a button or otherwise, there should be no issue reading it as logic input. These could also be wired directly to a button provided a pullup resistor is used.

 

The Genny controller PCB has a pullup resistor connected to pin 7 (Genesis Select, Atari VCC) so that it can function as an SMS controller in the event the Genesis Select pin is left floating. This pullup resistor presumably passes enough current to pin 5 (Genesis VCC) power the Genesis 74XX157 multiplexer IC. The result is that the pin 5 paddle line on the Atari is always pulled high. Homebrews that read Genny controllers use this input to detect Genesis mode. Button C on the Genesis (also the rightmost button on SMS controllers) connects to the pin 9 paddle input and is normally held high because the 74XX157 is outputting high logic to this pin. Pressing C button drives pin 9 low which the game can process as an additional input.

 

SMS controllers will not work as second button with homebrew Atari games because there is no pullup resistor on the input. SMS is direct wired with each button signal to ground, with the first button connected to pin 6 and the second button to pin 9. Since Pins 5 and 9 on the Atari are low by default, connecting pin 9 to ground will not do anything because the logic is already low.

 

I developed a schematic for an SMS joystick to be compatible with Genesis enabled homebrews as well as working with all SMS games including those which reject authentic Genesis controllers. The schematic is untested but should work. In a nutshell, a diode is placed between pins 5 and 7. The plus side of the diode is connected to pin 7 (Sega Select / Atari VCC) and the minus side is connected to pin 5 (Sega VCC, Atari paddle). Next, a 10k pullup resistor is connected between pin 5 and pin 9 (SMS second button, other Atari paddle). Those two components are all you need to add.

 

When joystick is connected to an SMS system, the diode is reverse bias and does not pass current to pin 7 SEL. The 10k resistor between pin 5 VCC acts as a pullup for the second button. This signal is already internally pulled up inside the SMS, so the presence of the resistor and diode have no impact on SMS operation. When the joystick is connected to Atari system, the diode passes current from Atari VCC (pin 7) to paddle pin 5, holding this input high. This allows homebrew apps to detect the presence of a "Genesis" pad. The 10k pullup resistor between pin 5 and pin 9 (the second button) keeps pin 9 normally high, but goes low whenever the second button is pressed. So the SMS joystick is now fully functional for both Atari homebrew and Sega SMS. :thumbsup:

 

Sadly there is no way to get SMS/Atari homebrew and 7800 two-button mode working on the same joystick without adding a 3rd button and a toggle switch to change modes. This is due to the fact 7800 buttons do not share a common ground plane and instead connect to pin 6 FIRE. Both buttons act as 2600 FIRE or the left SMS button, so a third button would need to be added for right SMS. And because the schematics are not compatible, a DPDT toggle switch would need to switch pins 5 and 9 between SMS and 7800 standard. I have a hand drawn (untested) schematic I designed last year:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/241814-universal-joystick-schematic-for-2600-7800-sms-untested/?p=3303350

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Whaaa!

Sorry to interrupt the conversation, but I just came across this thread as I just picked up a CX-80 (that functions as a CX-22), and tried these conversions out.

They are amazing and so much fun!

Thanks for working on these!

 

Cheers,

Carry on!

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Whaaa!

Sorry to interrupt the conversation, but I just came across this thread as I just picked up a CX-80 (that functions as a CX-22), and tried these conversions out.

They are amazing and so much fun!

Thanks for working on these!

 

Cheers,

Carry on!

Also if you own a 7800, there is an awesome CX-22 Centipede hack in the AA store. I highly recommend checking it out.
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Any word when and which of these 2600 Trak-Ball enabled games will hit the AtariAge store in cartridge form?

 

(I have to spend the huge pile of income I recently received from designing, building and selling a classic gaming product. :D)

Edited by BigO

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Any word when and which of these 2600 Trak-Ball enabled games will hit the AtariAge store in cartridge form?

 

(I have to spend the huge pile of income I recently received from designing, building and selling a classic gaming product. :D)

I kind of hope that someone would put 2 or more Trak-Ball conversions with a selection menu on one cart.

Probably won't happen, but when the Trak-Ball controller is hooked up, I want to play all the conversions and a collection cart is more convenient and overall less expensive (I hope) than 8 or so $25 carts (and double that for CIB individuals). After all these are just controller hacks (albeit sometims difficult code).

8 games on a new or refurbished Harmony cart is more cost effectIve than 8 $25 carts.

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