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BIGHMW

5200 Trak-Ball issues - keypads & fire buttons not working properly

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Before I jump to a downgrade to a 2600 Jr with short rainbow and an a/v mod (also being lured towards it by the wonderfully done Pac-Man 4k and due to a lack of a Yars' Revenge 8-bit port), my 2 5200 trak-balls (yes, I said it, two, trak-balls, model no. CX53) that I've had since 1983 (both purchased just a couple of months after taking delivery of my first 5200 unit on my 17th birthday (USA-Made 4-port, Serial No. 141101, now retired after getting an a/v/power-out modded 4-port unit just 2 months ago) in 1983 seem to have a serious issue going on with (yes, you guessed it!) the keypads and fire buttons not working at all, and I really wanted to use them with Tempest and of course the CX53 is also the ONLY one that will work with games like Missile Command, Super Breakout and Gorf, but alas these three games cannot be played with the 2600 trak-ball I picked up (the fire buttons are more responsive on it than the CX53) because it reads through my Redemption 5200 as a digital unit on these games (Missile Command, Super Breakout and Gorf all take advantage of the analog system the stock stick uses), but yet, that very same setup reads beautifully with games like Centipede, Millipede, and also Tempest.

 

Does Best Electronics offer circuit-board and/or keypad/fire button upgrades for the CX53 trak-ball controllers like they have for the stock 5200 joystick controllers, as I have a gold-contact 5200 stick which is a thing of beauty, but I don't want to throw in the towel and sell a system platform that I have supported for 33 years and also spent thousands of dollars in games and accessories, including the 2600 and 7800-compatible Redemption 5200 units and almost all the great homebrews and finished prototypes over the years.

 

I hope they do, because I don't wanna throw away such a great system just because of a mere snafu involving the CX53 Trak-Ball Controllers, somebody help!

Edited by BIGHMW

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Does the console work when using any controllers at all? I would tend to suspect the console electronics more than the Trak-Ball.

 

I have 5 CX53's of various ages and the keypad/fire buttons are reliable enough that I'd be pretty surprised by 100% failure. I intercepted mine on the way to the trash bin and aside from some intermittent dirty fire button issues, all of the buttons worked without any attention.

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yea in my experience the tracballs are very robust it can be a bit tricky to dissassemble the keypad board cause you dont want to break the little plastic fingers that hold the circuit board check continuity with all the wires

 

most i need to do is make a few skidmarks on a sheet of paper with the keypad contacts and they work again

 

 

yea make sure your 5200 is working properly especially make sure all pins exist in the jack

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Does the console work when using any controllers at all? I would tend to suspect the console electronics more than the Trak-Ball.

 

I have 5 CX53's of various ages and the keypad/fire buttons are reliable enough that I'd be pretty surprised by 100% failure. I intercepted mine on the way to the trash bin and aside from some intermittent dirty fire button issues, all of the buttons worked without any attention.

You asked do the other controllers work with it, the answer is yes, but as far as the trak-balls (CX53) are concerned, please note that I haven't used them in almost a decade if not years, perhaps maybe they just need a good cleaning, would electronics aerosol spray cleaner like the ones you used to be able to pick up at Radio Shack (like TV tuner cleaner, electronics cleaner or equivalent) before they were banned (were they), could that be it?

 

And as for the fire buttons, do they need a cleaning too? I hope that it merely is an issue of dust and dirt building up all these years, what do you think?

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If it works with other controllers then that's pretty solid evidence that the problem is in the Trak-Ball controller or cable. It's very unlikely in my mind for the cable or plug to cause 100% failure.

 

Personally, I would clean the keypad circuit board with deoxit and a chamois swab. Tuner cleaner would probably be okay, but as I recall it leaves a heavier film of lubricant than deoxit. As was mentioned above, just rubbing the rubber contacts of the keypad buttons on paper may bring them back to life.

 

The fire buttons are a dome switch like in the 2600 controllers. I've seen several instances where some sort of grit gets in between the dome and the circuit board contacts. These dome switches are taped down to the board. I found that you can pull the tape, clean out the crud and put the switch back down with the original tape. Here, I'd avoid any type of cleaner that leaves a film as it could keep the tape from sticking. 99% alcohol would be a good choice, I think.

 

All of these buttons we're talking about are completely passive circuitry so wouldn't be affected by any of the chips on the main circuit board. As a result, you can easily use an ohmmeter to probe the cable and test the key matrix and fire buttons without hooking the controller up to the console at all.

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I cleaned my fire button contacts underneath the "dome contacts taped down" with a piece of fine steel wool...they became shiny again with no scratches. After replacing the tape (same tape, it stuck again just as well as before), the fire buttons worked as good as new. Same with the keypad and auxiliary buttons contacts...fine steel wool works wonders, doesn't harm the board, and everything works again. Now I'm having a problem with the trackball making the cursor move "UP". It moves left, right, and down, but it won't move up at all. I'm trying to find out any troubleshooting tips here on this board, so if anyone has any ideas, I'm well open for them. Let me know, OK? Thanks!

- Ed

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In theory, there could be some sort of mechanical glitch that's preventing the roller from turning reliably in one direction. I doubt that such a problem would cause there to be absolutely no up movement at all, but you're going to have to open the controller to troubleshoot this anyway so it's worth looking at.

 

Both the up and down direction information gets carried on just one wire, so it's not a broken wire like one might suspect if they had tinkered with typical digital joysticks in the past.

 

I'd first remove and reinstall each of the chips (they're all socketed) one at a time to break any oxidation that may have been formed on the socket or chip leads over the years. That oxidation acts as an insulator so can prevent a pin from making contact with its socket. Some have reported success after doing this several times with each chip.

 

If that doesn't solve the problem then there's likely a bad chip. With a logic probe, you could figure out exactly which chip is failing. But, I don't think I could narrow this failure down to a single chip otherwise.

 

The fact that the controller can produce a "down" signal means that both of the optical sensors are working on that axis so you won't need to desolder and test those. It would also mean that the LM339 IC is working as it amplifies/squares up the signals from the optical sensors. (But, it wouldn't hurt to make sure the slot is clean where the encoder wheel passes through the optical sensor.)

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River Patroller -

Thanks for your reply and thorough explanation...I still have a feeling that one of the LED emitters underneath the opti-sensor chip is probably bad. I can do soldering and don't mind attempting the repair (it doesn't work now, so I can't make it any worse, right?), but I simply CAN'T FIND THE PARTS to replace them with. Does anyone know where I can get parts for the CX-53 Atari 5200 Trak-Ball? I hate buying entire units that are described as "for parts only, sold as-is" only to find that it's the same problem on ALL of them...the directional controls. I've successfully cleaned and repaired non-working fire buttons and auxiliary buttons on these, but that didn't require any parts replacements. I need to know WHERE to FIND new parts or replacement parts for this trak-ball. Any help from ANYONE would be greatly appreciated (as I said, I now have 3 of these units where the directional functionality doesn't work in one or more directions...I'm almost positive it's the opti-sensor chips and the LEDs underneath the chips).

 

Thanks!

 

- Ed

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If I understand correctly what you've described, I don't believe an LED emitter can be bad.

 

The way the quadrature encoding works, it requires signals from both of the emitters on an axis to be changing in order to encode a movement, even if that movement is only in one direction. If one of the two encoder/emitter pairs on a given axis is stuck at a HI or a LO value, the toggling of the other pair will not result in a valid quadrature state change. Unless there's something quirky in the circuitry that I haven't yet noticed, it requires valid quadrature (gray code) state changes in order for motion to be detected.

 

Based on my experience with these controllers, I don't think you need to do any soldering.

 

I have seen on multiple units where a given axis moves in only one direction. It's never been the encoders. One guy did find a suitable part and replaced his optical components and found that wasn't the problem.

 

I've been able to find replacements for all of the chips from standard online sources. One of them is a little bit harder to find than the others, but I don't remember off the top of my head which one it is.

 

(I'm almost positive it's not the optical encoders ;))

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River Patroller / BigO -

 

So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying that the LED diodes aren't bad (most likely the case), but it's the optical sensor chips that snap on over them? You also mentioned that they are available from standard online sources. I tell you the truth, I've spent hours scouring the web looking for this part, but I can't find it anywhere. I'd buy a dozen of them if I ever found where they were available! Could you dig just a bit more for me and help me find this part, since you mentioned that you did find them previously, and I'm running into nothing but brick walls on this. It would be an immense favor and I'd be eternally grateful to you for the information if you could help me find them, and I'd offer to help you in any way that I can (which probably won't be much because you sound like you're light years ahead of me in understanding the workings of the Trak-Balls, probably the 5200 consoles as well (I could use some help identifying/troubleshooting which chip on the motherboard controls which function...power, sound, video, cursor movement, etc...I have about 12 non-working 5200 consoles, I purchased them thinking that I could repair them but it's harder than I thought it would be!). I'm not asking for you to spend hours on this for me, just a bit more info. on where to find these seemingly non-existent parts for the CX-53 Trak-Balls. thanks!

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I am saying that the LED emitters are not bad. But, I'm also saying the detectors are not bad. I'm saying that I believe you're focusing on the wrong parts.

 

If either one of LEDs or either one of the detectors are bad on an axis, there will be no motion detected on that axis at all. It's not like one LED corresponds to Up and one to Down. They both have to work in order to encode any movement at all.

 

 

 

When it comes to looking for parts, spend your time looking for replacements for the socketed chips. All of them are available.

The 339 chip is very unlikely to be the problem, but they're cheap so if you end up ordering chips you may as well throw one in.

 

I'm also saying that before you buy any chips, you need to remove and reinstall each of the socketed chips one at a time. It's possible that corrosion on the chip legs is preventing one or more of the leads from making contact with the socket. Removing and reinstalling the chips can scrape through that oxidation. This is a very common troubleshooting technique that occasionally fixes such problems (best of all, it's free!)

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