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New Combo Controller for the 2600/Retron 77: The Ranger

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Just wanted to share this here and give my thoughts. This is a new controller that combines a paddle and joystick into one. I tested the controller on a variety of devices as well and will continue to test when I have time.

This is a prototype and not released yet.

Also tested it with the 7800 on games like Crazy Brix and Donkey Kong.

Worked really good with Pac-Man style games

 

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Very cool! Looking forward to seeing what the final product will be like!

Hmm... wonder if a 2600-daptor will auto detect this on the fly as you switch from paddle to stick?

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Did they give you any idea of the MSRP for this thing? Looks really cool but the price will be the deciding factor for me.

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I tested the controller on a variety of devices as well and will continue to test when I have time.

 

 

 

When you tested on Retron 77, was it the factory stock firmware or the updated Community Build. If Community Build, what version?

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Nice concept. I like the fact that's reversible and that it uses a small stick instead of a d-pad.

I think it would be perfect if it also had an additional switch to act as the second paddle (the Atari originals were paired on a single connector).

This would be useful for two reasons:

1 - you could play 2 players games with alternating turns

2 - A few games used the other paddle as player one (Tac-Scan, Demons to Diamonds, Street Racer, Video Olympics, Canyon Bomber, Star Wars - Jedi Arena, AStroblast).
This is not a problem on the r77, as Stella has those games in its internal database and swaps the paddle inputs for you, but on real hardware they cannot be played with that controller (unless you have one of those Y-adapters that came with the Coleco Gemini console, or you build one).

Maybe that's what is happening on your c64? If you can, try 2 player games and see if the second player respond to the Hyperkin controller.

Edited by alex_79
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While this is cool and I want one it basically makes four player Warlords impossible doesn't it?

Only if you don't still have two pairs of paddles around.

 

Maybe Hyperkin will include and/or sell a Y cable for 4 player.

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Honestly I like these solutions however they really need an additional controller pass through on the controller to daisy chain another one or a set of paddles to it for 4 player paddle games.

 

In addition making the paddle side comfortable to turn the controller vertical so the knob is on top would be great.

 

Adding 2 buttons to allow this to use the 7800 would be great.

 

In my opinion if hyperkin made those changes they would have a potential great controller in our hands.

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The biggest unresolved beef I have with the Retron77 is that the built in controller ports have terrible support for the official paddles. I dont know about anyone else but they are unusably jittery for me, which is not the case when I use them with my 2600. Ideally Id like Hyperkin to release a new controller board firmware to go along with this, because its a shame I dont have the ability to use the original paddles without using a 2600dapter over USB. Im going to get one anyway because itll make playing the 2600 library so much easier, but Id still like the option of using the original hardware.

Edited by Drunk_Caterpillar

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We also can't dismiss the possibility that the R77 is behaving differently for different people. In my case, one of the buttons seems to be wired backwards, so that on powerup it is always on, and pressing it will turn it off. For all the other buttons, they start out as 'off' and only come 'on' when you press them. I fixed it in code, but then determined that this isn't happening for the two other members of the Stella team. So we had to add code that detects at runtime whether a button is misbehaving, and 'invert' its signal in that case.

 

So here we have a sample case of three consoles, where already one is partly borked. So I can't rule out that the paddle handling is acting differently on different consoles. The hardware may be doing completely different things for different people.

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We also can't dismiss the possibility that the R77 is behaving differently for different people. In my case, one of the buttons seems to be wired backwards, so that on powerup it is always on, and pressing it will turn it off. For all the other buttons, they start out as 'off' and only come 'on' when you press them. I fixed it in code, but then determined that this isn't happening for the two other members of the Stella team. So we had to add code that detects at runtime whether a button is misbehaving, and 'invert' its signal in that case.

 

So here we have a sample case of three consoles, where already one is partly borked. So I can't rule out that the paddle handling is acting differently on different consoles. The hardware may be doing completely different things for different people.

 

Haha, yeah, everyone seems to have a different experience. For a $100CAD device I had hoped that little things like this wouldn't be an issue but it is what it is. If this combo controller works well and I have a 2600dapter for the edge cases then I'll live, but it still bugs me a little.

Edited by Drunk_Caterpillar

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The biggest unresolved beef I have with the Retron77 is that the built in controller ports have terrible support for the official paddles. I dont know about anyone else but they are unusably jittery for me, which is not the case when I use them with my 2600. Ideally Id like Hyperkin to release a new controller board firmware to go along with this, because its a shame I dont have the ability to use the original paddles without using a 2600dapter over USB. Im going to get one anyway because itll make playing the 2600 library so much easier, but Id still like the option of using the original hardware.

 

A new controller board firmware would be nice, but deploying it may not be a straightforward process. I don't think that anyone has looked into this thoroughly, but assuming the MCU allows itself to be reflashed, it may not be as simple as running a flasher program on the R77 via the sdcard. You may have to attach a programmer to the board itself. Hyperkin would most likely want people to send in their R77 for service if such a fix became available rather than arranging for a board swap, but I wouldn't hold my breath on either of those possibilites.

 

On the other hand, I seem to recall someone reporting that they did send their Retron to Hyperkin, and the paddle jitter issue was fixed as a result. It's too bad that Andrew the Hyperkin rep stopped posting on AtariAge before the initial release of the Retron 77.

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Thanks for doing this review - it's good to see the controller being used on several different systems and games. This being a combo (paddle) controller is pretty ingenious as well.

 

Any ideas on a potential ETA to this going on sale to the public? I'm definitely interested in getting one, as it's significantly more portable (along with the RetroN77) than a CX-10/40.

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