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boggis the cat

Flashback 9 ‘special’ buttons

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I have done some testing of my Flashback 9, and found that the special buttons are mapped as follows:

 

MENU = UP + DOWN

SELECT = LEFT + RIGHT (or LEFT + RIGHT + DOWN)

REWIND = LEFT + RIGHT + UP

START = UP + DOWN + LEFT

 

These only work for joystick port 1 (left). You could add these functions to an existing joystick by wiring additional buttons to make the required connections.

 

Check online for a joystick wiring diagram. The basics are: connect a pin to ground to get a direction / fire button as follows;

UP = pin 1 to 8 (ground)

DOWN = pin 2 to 8 (ground)

LEFT = pin 3 to 8 (ground)

RIGHT = pin 4 to 8 (ground)

FIRE = pin 6 to 8 (ground)

 

So, if you wanted to create a MENU button, you would connect one side of the button to pin 8 (ground) and the other side to pins 1 and 2. When you press the button, pins 1 and 2 are shorted to pin 8 (ground) and the Flashback 9 registers that as the MENU button.

 

Also, with the Flashback 9 you can use the wireless [P1] joystick to use those functions while using a wired joystick. (They dont lock out.)

Edited by boggis the cat
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Part number for a suitable 10 kOhm potentiometer:

Bourns PDF241-S425F-103B0

 

I couldn’t find anything else that appeared to meet the same sizing and specifications for the original paddle pots. Bodging something else in would be doable, if you’re keen and don’t mind possibly damaging the paddle knob.

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Or did you mod a paddle to work?

I tested potentiometers of different values. The one that worked correctly was 10 kOhm. The Bourns part given above should be a good replacement if you want to modify a standard paddle to a Flashback 9 compatible one — you would remove the existing pot and put the Bourns one in its place.

 

It is possible that some other factor is involved, but a 10 kOhm pot works and the standard method for the button also works unaltered (joystick left for left paddle, joystick right for right paddle).

 

Atgames could have used a simple 100:1 gain transistor to amplify the output from a standard 1 MOhm paddle, so I really don’t understand the reasoning behind modified paddles. Four transistors would cost less than a cent in the volumes they would be using. (Perhaps it was a BOM issue: lack of reels on the pick and place machine or such.)

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I tested potentiometers of different values. The one that worked correctly was 10 kOhm. The Bourns part given above should be a good replacement if you want to modify a standard paddle to a Flashback 9 compatible one — you would remove the existing pot and put the Bourns one in its place.

 

It is possible that some other factor is involved, but a 10 kOhm pot works and the standard method for the button also works unaltered (joystick left for left paddle, joystick right for right paddle).

 

Atgames could have used a simple 100:1 gain transistor to amplify the output from a standard 1 MOhm paddle, so I really don’t understand the reasoning behind modified paddles. Four transistors would cost less than a cent in the volumes they would be using. (Perhaps it was a BOM issue: lack of reels on the pick and place machine or such.)

 

Any chance there could be a how-to guide/video for this mod in the near future?

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Any chance there could be a how-to guide/video for this mod in the near future?

 

I will try to do a guide for both the paddle pot replacement and adding the extra buttons.

 

It should be quite simple, provided you can solder. (Or use some other electrical connection type, if that seems a bit scary. Wago connectors would work.)

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Instructions on swapping out the potentiometer in a standard Atari paddle. You require a 10 kOhm linear single-turn pot for a replacement. I suggest this one:
Bourns PDF241-S425F-103B0
Note that I expect the Bourns pot will need the flat deepened. This would require filing down or sanding / Dremelling to make fit.
First step is to note which paddle is which. Put a piece of tape on the paddle you want to modify, unless you are going to modify both at once.
Paddle with new potentiometer to be installed. This is not a decent pot, it is a cheap one to try while I wait on the delivery of the Bourns ones.

P1030253 R14

Disassembly: take two screws out of back, then take rear cover off.

P1030254 R14

Disassembly: remove knob from front - pulls straight off.

P1030255 R14

Disassembly: remove nut from top of potentiometer, then remove internals.

P1030256 R14

Replacement pot has some issues. Shaft is too long, flat is not deep enough (too much material on shaft), and threaded portion is too short.
(Well, this is just a test using a quality Chinesium product...)

P1030257 R14

After some Dremel adjustments to the pot. The small metal part is the insert from the paddle knob - I removed this for a better fit to this pot. (Also note that the paddle knob boss is split - this was already like it. If this makes the knob loose, then you can try glue plus tape to close it, or glue plus some suitably sized heatshrink.)

P1030258 R14

Disconnected from old pot, and soldered to new. Note where the wires go on the original pot, and solder to the same spots.

P1030259 R14

Testing fit. Needs some packing on the right to prevent the pot turning (can't lock this one down as no threads above the surface).

P1030260 R14

You shouldn't require this step, if you use a decent pot.
Packing in place.

P1030262 R14

You shouldn't require this step, if you use a decent pot.
Working out how much packing I need, due to this pot being loose.

P1030263 R14

You shouldn't require this step, if you use a decent pot.
Packing wodge size, on right, worked out.

P1030264 R14

 

Now just close the paddle and put the screws in.

 

 

Turns out I still suck at paddle games. Meh.

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Very cool! Seems easy enough provided you have the correct pots and necessary tools (I have neither). I may need to call a friend...

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I can confirm boggis the cat's findings that 10K ohm single-turn potentiometers do make the Paddle controller work in FB9 (I have the Gold with wireless joysticks). I had an FM radio engineer friend help me solder an old 10K pot he had - complete with the old-timey radio console knob - to the left paddle controller and it works! The paddles are AtGames paddles from my FB4 deluxe, not originals. It's a little sluggish turning (maybe the pot is old, not lubricated), but it is very responsive on screen. Will have to see if I can pick up newer inexpensive 10K pots.

 

The wireless joystick won't work with the paddles plugged in. So you have to start the game with the joystick, then plug in the paddle, select and start the game (using the buttons on the console), then play. When done, unplug the paddles, wake up the joystick (it goes to sleep mode), and return to menu.

 

20190118 154902

20190118 154720

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The wireless joystick won't work with the paddles plugged in. So you have to start the game with the joystick, then plug in the paddle, select and start the game (using the buttons on the console), then play. When done, unplug the paddles, wake up the joystick (it goes to sleep mode), and return to menu.

 

EDIT: The wireless P1 joystick special buttons WILL continue to control select, start, rewind and menu while the paddles are plugged in (just not fire or direction).

 

An info disclaimer box appears whenever you use the paddles at the start of a game: "The wireless joysticks will not work properly when paddles are plugged in. Please remove paddles when not playing a paddle game. Press Fire to continue." You will have to wake up the joystick after it goes to sleep mode though.

 

The control with the new 10K potentiometers seems more than adequate, certainly far better than playing with the joystick. And nothing like the lag I had using these paddles on FB4 & FB8.

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EDIT: The wireless P1 joystick special buttons WILL continue to control select, start, rewind and menu while the paddles are plugged in (just not fire or direction).

...

You will have to wake up the joystick after it goes to sleep mode though.

 

The control with the new 10K potentiometers seems more than adequate, certainly far better than playing with the joystick. And nothing like the lag I had using these paddles on FB4 & FB8.

 

Yes, I should have added that in my post.

 

The wireless joystick will time-out and go to sleep, but just pressing any button will wake it and send the button press – there isn't any significant delay.

 

The pot I used was a cheap one, and it seemed a bit twitchy at first but settled down. I would advise that you buy a good quality pot as the cheap ones are not designed to be used constantly. If you can find some old stock of suitable pots then that may be the cheap option. Look up the spec sheet on the Bourns pot I mentioned, and make sure that your one meets the requirements. (Ideally with a half-width flat, which the Bourns one doesn't have, otherwise you will have to do some work to make it fit the existing knobs.)

 

I do want to look into whether the pot lines from the joystick ports can be modified and the signal amplified. If this is feasible, then you should be able to use unmodified paddles by modifying the Flashback 9.

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I do want to look into whether the pot lines from the joystick ports can be modified and the signal amplified. If this is feasible, then you should be able to use unmodified paddles by modifying the Flashback 9.

Hey there Boggis the cat,

 

Any further research done on this?

 

Jimmygtr

 

 

 

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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Hey there Boggis the cat,

Any further research done on this?

I did look at the board in the Flashback. Unfortunately it would be pretty tricky to get it to work. Some messing about with capacitance to see if it was an RC network (and thus could be shifted to work with 1 MOhm pots) didn’t yield anything, and most of the circuitry is highly integrated / inaccessible to mere mortals. I think you’d have to build an entire front-end with active components then tune it to work correctly with the circuit that is polling the paddles. Beyond my capability to build something sensible that would achieve that end.

 

There would be a reason why the engineers went with the now-standard 10 kOhm pots. My guess is that modern systems are simply too twitchy to handle that large resistance swing. All modern consoles seem to use 10 kOhm. Earlier Flashback models used the standard paddles but were quite laggy, thus making the capability a bit pointless.

 

So we’re stuck with modding existing paddles, or waiting for Atgames to actually produce compatible paddles.

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I did look at the board in the Flashback. Unfortunately it would be pretty tricky to get it to work. Some messing about with capacitance to see if it was an RC network (and thus could be shifted to work with 1 MOhm pots) didn’t yield anything, and most of the circuitry is highly integrated / inaccessible to mere mortals. I think you’d have to build an entire front-end with active components then tune it to work correctly with the circuit that is polling the paddles. Beyond my capability to build something sensible that would achieve that end.

 

There would be a reason why the engineers went with the now-standard 10 kOhm pots. My guess is that modern systems are simply too twitchy to handle that large resistance swing. All modern consoles seem to use 10 kOhm. Earlier Flashback models used the standard paddles but were quite laggy, thus making the capability a bit pointless.

 

So we’re stuck with modding existing paddles, or waiting for Atgames to actually produce compatible paddles.

Maybe try this: resistor in parallel on each axis

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/172971-jsut-made-another-batch-of-pc-to-5200-adapters/?p=2144872

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There seems to be something wrong with the switch logic in post 1, or I'm just getting too old. Lets say we follow the OP suggestion and wire 1 and 2 to a new button and the other side to pin 8. Fine. That brings up the Menu. But moving the joystick up during normal game play will also ground pin 2 since they are wired together. The computer (VCS) will thing we are pushing up and down at the same time and give us the menu. There needs to be some kind of logic involved electronically to discern when we just want one direction, i.e. Up. Of course a DPST push button would work because it would keep pins 1 and 2 separate until its pushed.

 

Hmmm....

Edited by mgas

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2 hours ago, mgas said:

The computer (VCS) will thing we are pushing up and down at the same time and give us the menu. There needs to be some kind of logic involved electronically to discern when we just want one direction, i.e. Up.

Based on my experiences with these Flashback 9/X joysticks, you understand perfectly.

 

These are buttons that are not terribly useful to be mapped to anything for gameplay. On the Flashback, they're all special buttons that stop gameplay, so you don't really notice this limitation.

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On 10/30/2020 at 10:28 AM, mgas said:

There seems to be something wrong with the switch logic in post 1, or I'm just getting too old. Lets say we follow the OP suggestion and wire 1 and 2 to a new button and the other side to pin 8. Fine. That brings up the Menu. But moving the joystick up during normal game play will also ground pin 2 since they are wired together. The computer (VCS) will thing we are pushing up and down at the same time and give us the menu. There needs to be some kind of logic involved electronically to discern when we just want one direction, i.e. Up. Of course a DPST push button would work because it would keep pins 1 and 2 separate until its pushed.

 

Hmmm....

You need to use diodes to prevent this.

 

I haven’t gotten around to building the buttons in to a joystick yet, and just used a set of five push buttons to map out the ‘special’ options.  Diodes are necessary to prevent any inadvertent operation as you note.

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