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Is it possible to build a new track ball with arcade parts? The CX-22 looks very flimsy! :)

Yes, it can be done. The CX22 really isn't what I'd call flimsy. Though the way the buttons actuate the switches is kind of weak.

 

I wouldn't bother building one, though. These recently modified games support Gray code, quadrature encoded input the same that seems typical of arcade controller output. I suspect you could use arcade hardware with little or no added circuitry.

Edited by BigO
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Yes, it can be done. The CX22 really isn't what I'd call flimsy. Though the way the buttons actuate the switches is kind of weak.

 

I wouldn't bother building one, though. These recently modified games support Gray code, quadrature encoded input the same that seems typical of arcade controller output. I suspect you could use arcade hardware with little or no added circuitry.

I was thinking that hizzy was wanting to build the equivalent of the CX22. After re-reading, I see that isn't what was actually said.

 

So, I change my answer to just "Yes." :)

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Is it possible to build a new track ball with arcade parts? The CX-22 looks very flimsy! :)

Yes. Arcade trackballs naturally output native gray code. (ST Mouse, or "CX-80" mode which is a misnomer). Left button pin 6. Right button pin 9 (or pin 6 if using one button / ambidextrous). Trackball Vertical = LR inputs (pins 3 & 4). Horizontal = UD inputs (pins 1 & 2). If trackball rolls backwards, swap AB inputs. Conversion circuitry necessary for native CX-22 mode, which the vast majority of Atari CX-22 and CX-80 trackballs use.

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Have you tried an arcade x trackball on these games? I would love to try to build a trackball in a nice wooden case!

I don't know about those. If you mean X-Arcade, I also don't know about those, but what I read seems to indicate that their output looks like a mouse through USB or PS/2. That'd likely work with an emulator running 2600 games.

A real arcade trackball that natively outputs quadrature encoded signals would be a better fit in my opinion.

 

I have no direct experience with the device you're referring to, so I might be way off base.

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I don't know about those. If you mean X-Arcade, I also don't know about those, but what I read seems to indicate that their output looks like a mouse through USB or PS/2. That'd likely work with an emulator running 2600 games.

A real arcade trackball that natively outputs quadrature encoded signals would be a better fit in my opinion.

 

I have no direct experience with the device you're referring to, so I might be way off base.

You would need to gut the X-Arcade and direct wire it for retro consoles. Cthulhu USB board works with a bunch of modern and retro layouts if you're up to doing some rewiring. Sadly the Cthulhu stops short of supporting Atari/Genesis because those need 9 pins and Cthulhu only supports up to eight wires via Ethernet plugs.

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And Now for Something Completely Different: Marble Craze

After I got permission from Paul Slocum, I put this hack on hold for a while. But this week I finally remembered it, completely refactored the kernels and created versions 0.5.

In the attached file, you find two versions for each controller, 0.5s(ingle) and 0.5d(ouble). The latter doubles the responsiveness. Please tell me which one you prefer and what controller you are using.

There are still a few TODOs left, not sure if I can sort them out completely:

  • 2 player mode is missing power ups for 2nd player (I needed the RAM for now, every single byte of RAM is used)
  • Option row selection on title screen doesn't work
  • PAL versions are missing because I have no source code yet (asked Paul yesterday)

Please test on higher (starting) levels too, where there are no walls anymore and where the game gets harder (and harder...). icon_evil.gif

 

BTW: For those who do not RTFM: with B&W you can disable the animation on the right. icon_smile.gif

Marble Craze (NTSC).zip

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You would need to gut the X-Arcade and direct wire it for retro consoles.

I don't know that you'd necessarily have to "gut" it, but yeah, I suspect you could get the necessary signals out of it with some work.work would be required. If I happen to stumble on to one for free somewhere, I'll let you know. :)

Edited by BigO

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No love for Marble Craze? icon_frown.gif

 

I really need some feedback, especially about the controls. But any other feedback is welcome too.

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I only played a little bit last evening with my modified MSX trackball and also tried the original paddle version. Both really require some time to get accostumed to the control scheme, so I need to play quite a bit more (hope to do that later this week).

For the paddle version you really need to stick both paddle controllers to a box (using adehsive velcro, for example) to mimick those wooden marble maze games. (or build a dedicated controller which would be an easy project for anyone with some soldering experience).
post-10599-0-71634500-1487594721_thumb.jpg
As for the Trackball, I prefer the "single speed" version so far.

I think it might be worth trying a different scheme, though: make the "bars" (representing inclination of the wooden marble maze) move according to trackball speed, instead of movement.
So their offset from center position would be proportional to the pulses detected on that axis in each frame. Which means that to keep a certain "inclination", you must keep spinning the trackball at constant speed, while both bars return to center when you stop moving.
That would make the behaviour similar to "Marble Madness", I think.
(I don't know how that would affect playability and difficulty of the game)

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Thanks for the feedback, Alex. If I get you right, you would like to control the ball speed more directly.

  • In the paddle version, the paddle position changes the gradient of the board which then changes the velocity of the ball.
  • Currently, the trackball movement changes the gradient of the board which then changes the velocity of the ball.
  • In you idea, the trackball movement would set the gradient of the board which then changes the velocity of the ball.

Correct?

 

I think I can create such a version.

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Correct.

With paddles, if you secure them so they don't slip around, and after playing for a while, you can "learn" what position of the knob correspond to the center on each axis without constantly looking at the on-screen bar indicators.


This doesn't happen with a trackball which doesn't return an absolute position, and I think that makes controlling the marble more difficult.

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I created such a version, but that doesn't work well. The resolution per frame is too low, usually you get only one or two ticks per frame (else you have to spin very rapidly constantly). I thought about accumulating multiple frames, but then we would be back to the current situation.

 

So my next plan is to stay with current controls, but add auto centering. How does that sound?

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Here it is! Its double speed to counter the centering.

Please let me know how it works for you e.g.

  • More or less centering?
  • Double speed ok? (I could also do e.g. 1.5 or 1.25 times speed )
  • ...?

Other Improvements:

  • Options can now be selected with the trackball
  • 2 player mode fully restored
  • Difficulty switches = A (because B is Stella default, maybe I will reverse that later) for beginners:
    • 15s extra time after death
    • 30s (instead of 15s) after time up
    • friction is doubled

 

 

Marble Craze v0.7 (NTSC).zip

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I have added the first 1.x version of Marble Craze to the first post.

 

The centering is now dynamic (faster when the gradient of the board is larger) and I have create PAL versions too. These use the colors from Paul's PAL version with some fixes to better match the NTSC version.

 

And here the new difficulty switches (I know they are reversed :)) support again:

  • difficulty B plays like the original
  • difficulty A is for beginners:
    • 15s extra time after death
    • 30s (instead of 15s) after time up
    • doubled friction

Paul was wondering in the source code about supporting the difficulty switches anyway. And because Nathan was complaining a bit in his review, I tried to address some of his points with difficulty A.

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Just spitballing an idea here - so don't throw your shoes at me just yet - but theoretically, how difficult would it be to add score saving options via the AtariVox?

 

Thought I'd ask since Albert had mentioned more AtariVoxes will be available in the near future....

 

I would imagine that might add 1K or 2K to the ROM sizes, not to mention from a practicality standpoint, it would preclude 2-player games since the device occupies the 2nd Joystick Port...

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Is it possible to build a new track ball with arcade parts? The CX-22 looks very flimsy! :)

 

You better not say that in the vicinity of Dan Kramer at any public Atari event. Doubly so if you utter a comment about the ColecoVision Roller Controller or the Wico trackball being a better product...

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I could use some more feedback regarding Marble Craze.

 

Unfortunately I can't test myself on real hardware, because my Atari's power supply (and many others too) got fried lately.

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I have added the first 1.x version of Marble Craze to the first post.

 

The centering is now dynamic (faster when the gradient of the board is larger) and I have create PAL versions too. These use the colors from Paul's PAL version with some fixes to better match the NTSC version.

I only managed to play a few rounds, but I can say that the control "feels" good. The dynamic centering is an improvement over the previous version.

I find moving straight in a diagonal direction more tricky than it is horizontally or vertically, but I guess that's the same on the original paddle version (I need to play a bit more of that too).

 

And here the new difficulty switches (I know they are reversed :)) support again:

Even Atari wasn't consistent on which position was to be considered the easy setting:

 

I think most games use A as the hard setting (Advanced) and B as the easy one (Beginner) and the "Sears Telegames" console has them labeled as "Expert" and "Novice" respectively.

Anyway, the official 1987 "Game Standards and Procedures" have them reversed:

 

[...]

6) Difficulty Switches

 

Players of differing skills may be handicapped by using the

difficulty switches. The "A" position (to the left) is the easier

setting, and the "B" position is the more difficult setting. Any

game using these switches should poll them frequently.

[...]

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This is kind of a weird request, but would anyone be up for making a trackball hack of Super Breakout? If it's even possible that is.

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