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DOUBLEDOWN Custom ColecoVision Controllers

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11 hours ago, mingus said:

Wow, doubledown!  These are AWESOME!

 

21 minutes ago, lawdawg710 said:

Not gonna lie, I think those look really friggin good!!  I like how you incorporated the keypad as well!!  Very nicely done!!  Let us know when you have a price point....I may be very inclinded to throw some cash your way.....just gotta make sure before I do I do something special for the wife so she won't care lol

Thank you, thank you.  The new keypad layout PCB was a stroke of luck (or genius maybe).  I happened to have one of my CV controller PCBs laying on my bench, when I sat this housing down next to it and realized that 2 rows of my keypad buttons would fit into the height of the front face.  Then a quick measurement lead me to the fact that I could fit 6 columns of buttons on the same face (with just enough room for the necessary diodes on the same PCB), so I just designed a new board for that layout.  Its actually a win/win, because now I can also use this new 6x2 keypad layout on other large controllers, like arcade type recreations, where I don't want a large/standard layout keypad detracting from the overall arcade aesthetics.  I can simply install one of these up near the top edge, where I normally install ancillary rotary and/or toggle switches, to allow P1 & P2 start buttons to behave as different keypad buttons, for different skill selections.  I've already got an idea for one I plan to build this way. 

 

I'll see if I can get a chance to look into pricing for these this weekend, for those interested.  And to answer a few questions I've received, here in one public place for all, this is the line-up of the different controller editions (ColecoVision versions), with their detailed features/differences, in a little more compact form, than my post above (ordered from lowest featured/priced to highest featured/priced):

 

ColecoVision Basic Edition - VVG Mini Controller

1 Joystick

2 Buttons

1 8' Cable (male plug)

**User is responsible for keypad input solution. You could provide your own wye cable, that you plug this controller and a Hand Controller into, into Port 1.  You could plug this controller into Port 1 for game-play, and plug a ColecoVision Hand Controller (or similar) into Port 2 for keypad inputs (for games that allow this).  You could plug this controller into Port 1 of your Phoenix, and use a SFC NTT Data Control Pad, plugged into the SNES port on your Phoenix.  Or some other similar solution.  

 

ColecoVision Edition (Standard) - VVG Mini Controller

1 Joystick

2 Buttons

1 8' Cable (male plug)

1 3' Cable (female receptacle)

**User to provide a secondary controller, such as a standard ColecoVision Hand Controller (or similar), to plug into the 2nd cable (w/ female receptacle) wired into this controller, for keypad inputs. Then only the 1 cable, with the male plug from this controller, has to be plugged into Port 1 of your console.  

 

ColecoVision DX Edition - VVG Mini Controller

1 Joystick

2 Buttons

1 10' Cable (male plug)

Cord cleats mounted onto the rear of the enclosure, for cable management

12 Button keypad, installed into the front of the enclosure

**This edition is a full-featured ColecoVision Hand Controller replacement, no secondary controller, or any other bits are necessary, to play any game that can be played with a standard ColecoVision Hand Controller

 

ColecoVision DX+ Edition - VVG Mini Controller

1 Joystick

2 Buttons

1 10' Cable (male plug)

Cord cleats mounted onto the rear of the enclosure, for cable management

12 Button keypad, installed into the front of the enclosure

1 Carry/storage handle

**This edition is a full-featured ColecoVision Hand Controller replacement, no secondary controller, or any other bits are necessary, to play any game that can be played with a standard ColecoVision Hand Controller.  

**The + edition, simply adds the right side mounted carry/storage handle (because why not!)

 

The Grey Special - VVG Mini Controller

My personal ColecoVision DX+ Edition - VVG Mini Controller, built to my preferences, and not available for sale

 

So like I said, I'll try to work out the pricing this weekend, and post it here when I get it figured out.  

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They are really awesome, I also would be very interested in some of the models (and I already have an arcade joystick for my Coleco - with keyboard)

 

In any case, I grew up using the typical Atari joystick with the button in the upper left corner, so right hand for the stick, left thumb for the button.

When did we swith to left hand for the stick and right for the buttons? I'm not left handed and always had to cross my arms to play at the Arcades.

 

If you have a "lefties" model I'd be all over it. Ideally for Atari also (Atari specs are good for a lot of systems) ...

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3 minutes ago, cubelindo said:

They are really awesome, I also would be very interested in some of the models (and I already have an arcade joystick for my Coleco - with keyboard)

 

In any case, I grew up using the typical Atari joystick with the button in the upper left corner, so right hand for the stick, left thumb for the button.

When did we swith to left hand for the stick and right for the buttons? I'm not left handed and always had to cross my arms to play at the Arcades.

 

If you have a "lefties" model I'd be all over it. Ideally for Atari also (Atari specs are good for a lot of systems) ...

I too grew up with a 2600, and it's CX-40s and a WICO Command Control (bat handle), and I...to this day, hold/manipulate joystick controllers thusly (I am right handed by definition):

 

If its a hand held joystick/controller...CX-40, ColecoVision Hand Controller, or the likes, I hold the controller in my left hand, using my left hand thumb and/or finger(s) for the buttons, and manipulate the joystick with my right hand.

 

If it's a lap-top, or table-top controller...like any type of "arcade stick" controller, I use my left hand for the joystick, and my right hand for the buttons (I can play as the inverse, but I'm not as good with that orientation, unless it's simply a joystick only, game like Pac-Man or similar). 

 

The arcade game I grew up playing the most, was a Galaga cocktail cabinet at a Pizza Hut near me, and that game only has Left Joystick / Right Button controls...so that's what I also grew up with too.  If it had a button on both sides of the joystick, I probably would have done it opposite, as I do with hand-held controllers. 

 

All that being said, there would't be any issue building any of these, ColecoVision or Atari editions, (with the exception of the DX+) as a Right Hand joystick / Left Hand buttons layout...if someone preferred.  Note, that the keypad on a Right joystick / Left buttons DX Edition, would still be in the same position, and layout/orientation as those pictured above.  

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I got a chance to look at some of the pricing for my VVG Mini Controllers this weekend, and it looks like this:

 

ATARI VCS Edition - VVG Mini Controller - $160.00 (2600 or 7800 2-button wiring)

 

ATARI 7800 Edition - VVG Mini Controller - $160.00

 

ColecoVision Basic Edition - VVG Mini Controller - $160.00

 

ColecoVision Edition (Standard) - VVG Mini Controller - $180.00 (this is the model with the 2nd cable for the connection of a Hand Controller) 

 

I still have to finish looking at the pricing for the ColecoVision DX and DX+ editions.  

 

Note, these prices represent 1 controller being built at a time, with that 1 controller taking the brunt of the associated shipping costs.  If multiple controllers were being built simultaneously (multiple controllers to one buyer, and/or multiple buyers ordering controller(s) at approximately the same build time), the above prices can drop between $10 - $20 per controller. 

 

So as an example, if 1 buyer, wanted (2) ColecoVision Basic Editions, they would be (2) @ $150 each...totaling $300 ($10 savings per controller).  If 5 separate buyers, wanted (1) ColecoVision Basic Edition each (or some similar scenario where 5 or more controllers were being built simultaneously), then each controller would be $140 each ($20 savings per controller). 

 

I'll try to get pricing for the ColecoVision DX and DX+ editions here when I can.  

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So I've been slowly working on a few new controllers, on and off for a while now...because they all require pretty significant control hardware modifications.  All of which will have to be engineered, designed, tested, and then implemented.  Most of these modifications are joystick related, in an effort to improve the performance/feel of a particular vintage joystick, and/or to create a new joystick that simulates/mimics another, that's no longer manufactured, or simply too bulky to install into a specific enclosure.  So I started by building this:

 

Ss1ska.png

 

To most, I'm sure, its nothing very fancy or awe inspiring.  But to me, its a fixture that I made up with very calculated bored & counterbored holes, for very specific joystick levers.  It allows me to accurately measure and reference their "installed" heights for the purpose of reproducing the size, look, and feel of the originals.  For those curious, the 3 red bat and 3 black ball levers on the left, are iL Bat and Ball knob shafts, that I bought and/or modified for different purposes thus far.  Then starting with the large/tall red ball knob w/ red shaft (basically dead in the middle), and working to the right, these are:

 

HAPP/Coin Controls, mid 80s ball knob

Nintendo Upright (Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, and others)

WICO Heavy Duty 3.5"

Bally/Midway (Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and others)

Seimitsu LS-32

 

As you can see, manufacturers used a very wide range of knob sizes and heights over the years, and that's part of what I'm working on, to engineer solutions for.  

 

Then to work with my new VVG iLeaf Stick (leaf-switch modified iL EuroJoystick 2), I had to design and make new switch actuators, for both the 8-way and 4-way variations I am building:

 

iRyPph.png

 

The joystick's original factory 8-way square actuator is on the left, then my new round 8-way version is in the middle (necessary for my leaf-switch modification), and on the right, a new smaller 4-way actuator, that works with both the original micro-switches, and my leaf-switch modification.  Previously, there was no way to convert a new iL EuroJoystick 2, from an 8-way stick to a 4-way stick, but there is now.  

 

For the HAPP/Coin Controls joysticks that I have and have plans for, my biggest gripe with these sticks, is the length of throw required to make contact with the switches.  It seems like its about a mile long in the cardinal directions...and even longer for the diagonals.  So to remedy this, I also made new actuators for these joysticks too:

 

LyjoiP.png

 

The original actuators (pictured on the left) were hour glass shaped.  The lower/larger diameter portion was used when you wanted an 8-way stick, or you could flip it over and use the smaller diameter portion, which made the stick a 4-way.  For my current plans, I need 8-way sticks, but I'd like them to actuate with a substantially shorter throw, versus that of the originals.  So I designed and made up a few new actuators, starting at 0.050" larger than the original, and increasing each in diameter by an additional 0.050", for a range of actuators that are between 0.050" - 0.250" larger than the originals.  I'll have to spend some time with these once I get the stick mounted, to really see which one I like best.  But just playing around with them installed onto a joystick held in my hand, I think one of the largest 2, will be the winner.

 

Then let's see...oh yeah, I got these in today:

 

KBUsss.png

 

Now that I finally have these in hand, I can take the measurements I need so that I can calculate the required modifications to their mating joystick shafts, for their proper and accurate installation...in some upcoming mystery controller.  

 

And then lastly, there's this new acquisition:

 

iiRMoA.png

 

...in all it's majesty.  I'm sure I can do something with this...but what!?!  Only time will tell.  

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So as we all know, there are those games that require an 8-way joystick, and then there are those games that work best with a 4-way joystick.  So when building a custom arcade controller, you have a decision to make...install an 8-way, so that you can play all games with it (at the infuriating expense of playing 4-way games), or install a 4-way, and sacrifice compatibility with 8-way games (or have 2 different controllers).  There are of course a few joysticks, that allow you to switch from 8-way to 4-way.  Most of them require access to the bottom of the joystick so that you can re-orient the gate(s) (Japanese style sticks), or the actuator (Western style sticks), and there is even one that can be switched electronically (Japanese style).  But what if you wanted a Western style joystick, like say a vintage/retro WICO, that could be both an 8-way or a 4-way, without the need for tools or extra parts, or any sort of disassembly.   I'd tell you tough...its simply not possible.  But what is possible, is this:

 

ColecoVision Twin Edition - VVG Enhanced Controller:

 

9NqgDQ.png

 

Built into a reinforced Hammond 20" aluminum enclosure, this controller features:

 

(1) WICO 8-way, leaf-switch joystick, (round restrictor)

(1) WICO 4-way, leaf-switch joystick, (diamond restrictor, "true" break-before-make contacts)

(2) 4-Piece, arcade original, leaf-switch push-buttons, (grey)

VVG CV Controller PCB w/ Keypad, w/ C&K switches (10) grey, (2) black, with legends

(1) NKK, 8-WAY / 4-Way rocker switch

 

The joysticks have a separation of 5.375" center-to-center (and both are left of the center line of the enclosure for ergonomics), which leaves enough room so that even when operating/manipulating the more inboard, 4-way joystick, there is basically no way that you can accidentally touch/hit the 8-way joystick (which could cause possible unwanted joystick inputs).  But just to be safe, an NKK rocker switch was installed at the top of the control panel, which connects the COM lines to only the joystick that is selected/active, and disconnects the COM lines to the other.  So now when you want you want to play Zaxxon or Venture, you toggle the switch to it's 8-WAY position and use the left joystick, and when you want to play Donkey Kong or Pac-Man Collection, you toggle the switch to it's 4-WAY position and use the right joystick.  No need to turn off your console, unplug 1 controller and put it away, then grab another controller and plug it in, then turn your console back on...this is an all-in-one, tool-free, 8-way & 4-way arcade solution, that happens to be era-correct with true leaf-switch controls!

 

Of course, such a controller could also be built with different hardware should your preferences differ, including micro-switch based controls, bat knob levers, 4 S.A. buttons, Japanese controls, or the likes..you just have to dare to dream.  

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On 2/14/2021 at 12:34 PM, doubledown said:

PAC-fection!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams really can come true.

The print is too small for me to read.

Are you switching between 4-way and 8-way; 

Or what is being switched?

Buttons on the side;

Looks like it could be for pinball.

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12 hours ago, Swami said:

The print is too small for me to read.

Are you switching between 4-way and 8-way; 

Or what is being switched?

Buttons on the side;

Looks like it could be for pinball.

1 player or 2 player I think it says

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16 hours ago, Swami said:

The print is too small for me to read.

Are you switching between 4-way and 8-way; 

Or what is being switched?

Buttons on the side;

Looks like it could be for pinball.

 

4 hours ago, zaphro72 said:

1 player or 2 player I think it says

Switch is for One Button / Two Button.  I'll post the build & features details here in the next couple of days.

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I've started a new topic/post/thread, to fully detail the above pictured PAC-MAN controller build (pictured in post #482 above)...for those interested...follow this link:  Details Here

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One Schrute Buck...to the first arcade game aficionado, who can properly identify this joystick handle (which was only ever used for one arcade game, to my knowledge):

 

3KeyRO.png

 

This is for yet another new controller project...go figure right!?!

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1 hour ago, DeanOVision said:

Wacko?

Seems a little un-called for!  😁

 

But seriously...no...not Wacko.

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Hint...its really enormous:

 

GOXdNF.png

 

Left to right, "mystery handle", then iL EuroJoystick bats - tall, medium, and short.

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4 hours ago, wongojack said:

This thread is like porn

...in that you can't stop watching (reading in this case)!?!  😉

 

Last hint:

 

zvcRno.png

 

Surely someone has seen this before.

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4 hours ago, doubledown said:

...in that you can't stop watching (reading in this case)!?!  😉

 

Last hint:

 

zvcRno.png

 

Surely someone has seen this before.

...Berzerk :)

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... or Frenzy.  :)  Although in both cases, the cabinets I see of those games on YouTube have "regular" arcade joysticks, so no wonder it's hard to associate that large joystick to anything.

 

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@OriginalJohn, allow me to present to you, 1 Schrute Buck:

 

3B6vhR.jpg

 

...for your correct answer of Berzerk.

 

So here is what an original Berzerk joystick assembly looks like:

 

ZGuX8I.jpg

 

In addition to its enormous black bat handle, one other very unique feature of this joystick, was the switches used...in that there weren't any...at least not mechanically.  No leaf-switches, and no micro-switches to be found...it used optics instead...a rather radical ideal at the time.  So no leaf switches who's contacts could get corroded and/or who's leafs could get bent out of tolerance, and no micro-switches with their incessant "clicking"... simply the power and magic, of light (and electronics).  Unfortunately for Stern...it was a major failure.  I don't know the full details behind the failure (mechanical/electrical, or what-have-you), but they supposedly lost a ton of cabinet/game orders (4000+) due to the news of their joystick failures getting out.  So they re-grouped, and sent out WICO 8-way leaf-switch replacement joysticks to owners who wanted to swap out their problematic originals...and they then began shipping new units with the WICOs.  Their cocktail cabinets, due to their much smaller size, were all shipped with WICOs as factory new.  So of the 37,000 or so Berzerk upright cabinets sold...some unknown number of them were originally shipped with this optical behemoth as factory standard, and some greatly fewer number of those, in functional condition, still exist to this day.  

 

13 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

... or Frenzy.  :)  Although in both cases, the cabinets I see of those games on YouTube have "regular" arcade joysticks, so no wonder it's hard to associate that large joystick to anything.

 

Due to the failure of the optical joysticks installed into their Berzerk cabinets, Stern once again simply opted to install a WICO into their sequel, Frenzy.  But, there were recorded, approximately 500 Frenzy conversion kits sold to Berzerk cabinet owners, as an upgrade...and some of those owners possibly still had their original optical bat handle joysticks functionally in-tact...so technically Frenzy is theoretically also correct.  

 

This does not mean the optical joystick doesn't work...it simply means the Stern optical joystick was highly prone to failures.  Midway's Gorf used an optical pistol grip joystick on their upright cabinets...and they had no problems.  Additionally WICO and HAPP, back in the 80s - 90s also made optical joysticks...all of which are long out of production, highly sought after by collectors, and all fetch a pretty high price in the used and NOS markets.  So why does any of this matter...here's why:

 

1C8oqb.jpg

 

Very recently, Buttercade developed and released an optical joystick...which is a conversion they perform to an iL EuroJoystick 2.  Wherein, they remove the factory micro-switches and switch actuator, and install their custom designed optical PCB...creating a new optical joystick.  As a fan of all hardware, I got one to check it out, then I was trying to figure out what to do with it.  Technically, it can be used with any 8-way game, but as Berzerk (and technically/theoretically Frenzy) are arcade accurate with an 8-way optical joystick, I set out to transform the iL/Buttercade joystick, into a clone of the original Stern optical joystick by replacing the "small" molded bat knob shaft, with an iL threaded shaft...and sourcing an arcade accurate sized "large" bat knob.  I asked the guys over at the KLOV arcade forums for dimensions of the original Berzerk bat handles, and after I got a few responses...I set sail to the internet to see what I could find.  It seriously took me about 3 minutes to find a perfect replacement...made by Carl Lane MFG., and it could very well be the same exact ones used by Stern back 1980.  So after I got the new bat handle, I spent a little bit of time machining it to mate it to the iL threaded shaft...and now I have an arcade accurate Berzerk joystick...that is truly optical...as was the original.  

 

Currently a ColecoVision port of Berzerk does not yet exist, but one is in the works...and a port of Frenzy already does exist.  Plus there are currently multiple ports of Berzerk and/or Frenzy for the 2600 and 7800, and clones like K-razy Shoot-Out for the 8-bits...to justify building this controller, as an arcade accurate controller for all of these games, across all of these systems.  So that's what I'm working on next/now.  

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Been a while...but I've been crazy busy at work...now that's starting to settle a bit...so hooray for me, I can get back to my real passion...the world's greatest ColecoVision controllers!

 

Previously I've made a few controllers with lighted buttons, and to power said lighted buttons, I've installed a small panel mount (4) AA battery pack.  Obviously at some point these batteries can run out, but as the power is only for the "flashiness" of the illuminated buttons, not the actual function of the joystick or buttons...if the batteries die, the controller is still usable.  It's just not as "flashy."   

 

But for this optical joystick I'll be using for Berzerk, and a few other secret joystick projects upcoming, I'll need power, to power the joysticks.  So if I use batteries only, when the batteries run low/die...the controller itself will be wholly unusable until the batteries are recharged or replaced (just like the EM#2).  Based on current draw calculations, (4) AA batteries should power the joystick for something in the neighborhood of 8 - 12 hours...an actual time check will be done here hopefully soon.  So I'm considering all of my "power" options for these upcoming controllers, and I'm looking for input for any of the following ideas, and/or any ideas that maybe I haven't considered.  Keep in mind, each option to follow is possible as a stand-alone option, or in conjunction with any/all of the other options.  More options = more cost...however.  

 

Option the 1st: Batteries - (4) AA battery pack, can use alkalines/lithiums, or rechargeables, should offer somewhere between 8 - 12 hours of play time

 

Option the 2nd: Coleco Roller Controller power cable (only for ColecoVision/ADAM use) - salvage the in-line power cable from a Coleco Roller Controller, so that it can be directly plugged in series with a ColecoVision/ADAM and it's mating power supply

 

Option the 3rd: PS/2 power cable (only for Phoenix use) - wire a PS/2 port, to allow it to be plugged into the front PS/2 port on a CollectorVision Phoenix

 

Option the 4th: DB25 power cable (only for Phoenix use) - wire a DB25 port (or similar with conversion cable), to allow it to be plugged in the the rear DB25 port on a CollectorVision Phoenix

 

Option the 5th: USB power cable, wire a USB port, which would allow it to be powered by a USB power supply (phone charger or similar), or directly from a PC, especially useful if using the controller with a 9-pin to USB controller adapter for PC emulator use

 

Option the 6th: DC power cable, wire a barrel jack, which would allow it to be powered by an external DC power supply

 

** Additionally, for "ATARI" compatibility, there will be a switch-a-roo, to allow the joystick to pull power from Pin #7 (5V) on the ATARI 2600/8-Bits/7800 consoles and computers.  Obviously this is technically unnecessary with some of the other power options...but when playing on an ATARI, why power it with another power source, when the console/computer can power it directly, and it only adds a switch and a little bit of extra wiring.

 

So, with all that...any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, adulation?

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