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DOUBLEDOWN Custom ColecoVision Controllers

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I thought of another edition theme for my VVG Joystick Controllers today:

 

Donkey Kong Cocktail Edition (or some such similar name)

 

TX7f4t.jpg

 

Keep in mind this edition does not yet exist, I was just playing around with the artwork today after I had the inspiration.  What do we think?

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So in addition to the pre-ordered VVG Joystick Controllers I'm building (and all of the other ideas I have rattling around in my brain), I have an additional Experience Controller I'm working on.  This will be my most radical controller yet, and here's a look at one of the components:

 

I1JZCP.jpg

 

Who can guess the game?  

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Nope...Turbo only needs one pedal. 

 

But since you brought it up, I am working on a Turbo Experience Controller as well.  I've been going back and forth on the Turbo one to decide if I should make it a specialized Turbo Edition - Experience Controller, or make it a high-end/more-robust universal Expansion Module #2 controller.  As of now I'm leaning more toward the Turbo specific variant for that one, we'll see.

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Spy Hunter?  :)

 

If yes, than if one foot pedal is for accelerating and the other is for slowing down, it's going to feel a little weird for the player if he has to refrain from pressing a pedal if he wants to keep his car's speed constant.

 

If not, then it has to be Dukes of Hazzard. Destructor wasn't really designed for two foot pedals, and it wouldn't work well.

 

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Yes Luc...it is Spy Hunter...guesser of all things secret!  It should all work well assuming an understanding of the different control schemes for the Arcade vs. ColecoVision port:

 

Steering:

Arcade - analog steering yoke

ColecoVision - digital joystick via left & right movements

 

Weapons:

Arcade - pistol grip handles featuring dual trigger buttons and dual thumb buttons allowing for 4 weapon deployment

ColecoVision - combination of side buttons and keypad buttons, or SAC buttons for 4 weapon deployment

 

Weapons Van call button:

Arcade - Push Button on steering yoke

ColecoVision - not used/abandoned

 

Acceleration/Deceleration:

Arcade - analog accelerator pedal for increase/maintain of speed, engine braking (let off pedal) for decrease of speed

ColecoVision - digital joystick via up & down movements with effective "cruise control".  Press and hold up to increase speed to desired speed, pull and hold down to decrease speed to desired speed.  Once at desired speed let off up or down action to "maintain" set speed - like cruise control

 

Gear Shifting:

Arcade - Hi / Low gear shifter for 2 gears

ColecoVision - not used/abandoned

 

So my pedals will be wired to the Up / Down joystick controls of the ColecoVision, whereas you will press down on the right digital pedal to increase speed to your desired speed (just like you would press up on the joystick), then let off to maintain speed or hold down (if you want to) to maintain maximum speed, the car will only go so fast.  When you want to slow down to get behind enemy, or enter the weapons van, you will press down on the left digital pedal (like you would pull down on the joystick) to slow down.  So its just like playing the ColecoVision port now (and all home ports that I've ever played) but instead of using the joystick up and down you have the foot pedals.  When you play with the joystick and you achieve your desired speed (whether increasing or decreasing speed) you let off the up or down action on the joystick to maintain speed, the same will be true with my pedals.  

 

As far as steering, the yoke and pistol grip controls are iconic and an absolute must for my controller.  While "original" controls are available, they cost a fortune, are usually beat to hell, and weigh a ton because they are installed into a 400lb. cabinet.  So I'm working on a custom-made solution engineered/built by yours truly.  I was able to get modern reproductions of the grips (technically closer to Spy Hunter 2, but damn close enough) and they look/feel great:

 

0uEeXf.jpg

 

And I've started prototyping the yoke structure to test tubing strength and bend radius (mind you this isn't any sort of final design, I just had to start somewhere):

 

UnEQpK.jpg

 

The steering will obviously be digital, with the yoke spring loaded, return-to-center, and allowing for somewhere between 30-60 degrees rotation each direction off center, and engaging the microswitches at approximately 5-10 degrees off center each way.  Once I get further along with the prototype/test assembly, I will play around with and determine the engagement throws, and maximum throws that feel the best.

 

One other thing I'm considering is making use of a gear shift, even though the ColecoVision port doesn't require gear changes.  The arcade gear shift would remain in position (up or down), until you threw it in the other direction, but if I use a spring-to-center gear shifter (or a 2-way joystick), I could install a "gear shifter" as an alternate speed control, mimicking the use of a joystick to control your speed, as an alternate control option if you didn't want to use the foot pedals.  My biggest issue with this is that in the arcade the gear shift was to the right of the steering yoke.  So if I placed mine to the right as well, when you were adjusting speed, you couldn't fire the machine guns (they are the right "trigger" button), so I will probably place it to the left, so that you can still fire machine guns when adjusting speed.  

 

So all that said, lots of work to be done with this one figuring out/finalizing the steering assembly mechanics, but I'm sure it will be amazing when its done.

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30 minutes ago, doubledown said:

0uEeXf.jpg

 

 

UnEQpK.jpg

 

 

Wow - you're a machine!  Do you ever sleep?  This is going to be awesome..but I can already tell it will be too large for me.  :(

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1 hour ago, mingus said:

Wow - you're a machine!  Do you ever sleep?  This is going to be awesome..but I can already tell it will be too large for me.  :(

Not as much as I'd like to!

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Unveiling...the Vanguard Edition - VVG Experience Controller:

 

ELlXxa.png

 

LOBSvo.png

 

So at the request of a fellow member, I was tasked with building a custom controller to compliment the recent ColecoVision port of Vanguard.  After a bunch of back and forth regarding details and ideas, here is what we came up with.  It was built into my 20" aluminum enclosure and was made to mimic the original arcade cabinet in both looks and its control scheme.  

 

We decided to apply a walnut wood grain vinyl to the enclosure sides, and front face (like the original cabinet), and the CPO is a scaled down copy of the original, with only slight changes made to the instruction & points cards to reflect the differences between the original arcade game and the ColecoVision port.  

 

Hardware/control-wise...nothing but the best:

 

(1) Wico 8-way, leaf switch, red ball-knob joystick for directional control (reproduction from Arcade Shop)

(4) Red Ultimarc GoldLeaf pushbuttons for directional firing

(1/1) Red/White Ultimarc GoldLeaf pushbuttons for P1/P2 buttons

...and by my design, a special indicating selector pushbutton switch at the top right corner to allow for 2 different control schemes.

 

So due to the hardware/software limitations of the ColecoVision console and the ColecoVision port of Vanguard, we worked out 2 ways to control in game shooting.  Ideally the 4 directional fire buttons would simply be wired to their 4 corresponding keypad keys.  The only problem with this, is that the ColecoVision gets confused when 2 keypads keys are pressed at once.  Meaning that you can only fire in 1 direction at a time.  The port of Vanguard also allows for the option of pressing the right fire button, to fire simultaneously out of both sides of the ship.  So as we weren't sure which way way would work best, it has been wired for both schemes.  This allows for the following 2 control wiring schemes:

 

Arcade Controls (switch position, black):

Fire Up = Keypad 2

Fire Left = Keypad 4

Fire Right = Keypad 6

Fire Down = Keypad 8

 

ColecoVision Controls (switch position, green):

Fire Up = Right Fire Button

Fire Left = Keypad 4

Fire Right = Keypad 6

Fire Down = Right Fire Button

 

Additionally the P1 button was wired to the Left Fire Button to allow for game selection and pause resuming, and the P2 button was wired to the 0 Keypad Key for pausing the game.

 

The controller came out beautifully and I'll let its new owner chime in if he wishes.  To be honest, it will be sad to see it go, the wood grain really makes it pop.  And for the sake of memories, I figured I'd take at least one picture of this new controller with its siblings while I had the chance:

 

1CK3vA.jpg

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Thanks guys, it did turn out beautifully.  I was play testing a bunch of different games with it for a while last night before I went to bed, and I really like the "different" feel (and complete silence) of the Wico leaf-switch joystick.  And by different I mean when compared to modern micro-switch joysticks.  Unfortunately leaf-switch joysticks are substantially deeper than micro-switch sticks and require a housing like this for the required mounting depth.  At some point I may have to make a Vanguard Edition Experience Controller for my own collection.  

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I've had a couple hours over the last couple of nights after work to play around with my Spy Hunter Experience Controller.  I machined and assembled the bearing block for the steering shaft, a new center hub piece, and the tube-to-tube grip adapter mounts:

 

cNo2qf.jpg

 

With the new center hub a different size and having different angles from my original, I will need to re-bend new handlebar tubing, but for now its all prototyping and proof of concept for final design.  Now I'll need to work on the return-to-center spring components, rotational limit stops, and micro-switch mounts.  Its getting there though.

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...one of the many benefits of being single...and having zero children!

 

With that said, I had a couple more "free" hours after work tonight, and worked out the return-to-center, spring-tension, and rotational stop mechanics:

 

9kdg8b.jpg

 

The torsion spring legs rest against the standoffs in the outer arc to provide the return-to-center, as well as the spring tension.  The standoffs in the inner arc provide the rotational stops.  As I wasn't sure exactly where I would want the stops, and how much tension I would want, I simply machined 3 separate arcs of 10-32 holes along the circumferences of 3", 4" and 5" circles.  Its nice to have a CNC at work!

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So I got the last of the mechanical aspects for the Spy Hunter Experience Controller figured out tonight.  I added a hemispherical cam to the steering shaft for actuation, and then mounted leg-style micro switches:

 

QQ5OtW.jpg

 

All I need to do now is mostly cosmetic...remove excess materials, re-bend the handlebars, and assemble all together in an enclosure...easy-peasy!

 

In additional news, I received today the 1 "major/iconic component" for yet another "secret" Experience Controller I plan to make:

 

1Fbuy3.jpg

 

No telling what this could be for. 🙄

 

And finally, in my ever-ongoing search for potential controller housings, this came in today:

 

8MObVq.jpg

 

The camera perspective really throws off the apparent size of this enclosure.  The flat surface area is near identical in width (only maybe slightly wider) when compared to the Hori HSS-09, but it is smaller front-to-back.  Again the camera shot makes it look truly the opposite.  The enclosure is 4 pieces, the top and bottom pieces are clear anodized extruded aluminum, and the end caps are grey plastic.  It's a good looking housing, unfortunately not cheap.  I think with tax and shipping I paid around $89 for this one off order.  At some point I'll get around to seeing what I can do with it.  

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Unveiling the Q*bert Edition - VVG Joystick Controller:

 

IaO32M.png

 

I had the idea to make this controller at some point in the future, but a member contacted me about its possibility so this is what we worked out.

 

It features:

Seimitsu LS-32 4-Way Joystick, w/ Black Ball Knob (30mm) and Black Shaft Cover - Rotated 45 degrees clockwise

Sanwa Transparent Red Silent Push Buttons, obviously these are not needed for Q*bert, but for universal game compatibility we chose to add these to closely match the P1/P2 buttons from the arcade cabinet

Edladdin Easy CV I/O board w/ Keypad

Custom CPO artwork to mimic the original arcade CPO, and custom keypad overlay

And the donor controller's original Start button was left factory yellow and wired as a 2nd * button

 

Special thanks to the buyer for the help with cleaning up the Q*bert characters and logo images.  

 

This is THE controller for playing Q*bert, Q*bert Qubes, and Congo Bongo!  Additionally, rotate the controller housing 45 degrees counter-clockwise in your lap, or on your desk and it's compatible with all games requiring a 4-way joystick and 2 buttons or less.  Enjoy!

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4 hours ago, smurfbert said:

Your joysticks are absolutely beautiful, how much is your asking price for the Q*bert controller?

The Q*bert Edtion is $225.00.  It's just a little bit more than the Coleco Black Edition due to the extra cost of the ball knob(s) (35mm, 30mm, & 25mm included), and the higher price of the transparent buttons.  The original Rotterdam joystick used in the Q*bert arcade cabinet had a distinctively smaller ball knob than other games, but as we couldn't find out what size it actually was, I've installed the slightly smaller 30mm ball, but included the factory Seimitsu 35mm knob, and an even smaller 25mm knob with the controller. 

 

It is amazing to play Q*bert with the rotated joystick...moving Q*bert in the direction you want without having to think about it makes it so much more enjoyable.  

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

The Q*bert Edtion is $225.00.  It's just a little bit more than the Coleco Black Edition due to the extra cost of the ball knob(s) (35mm, 30mm, & 25mm included), and the higher price of the transparent buttons.  The original Rotterdam joystick used in the Q*bert arcade cabinet had a distinctively smaller ball knob than other games, but as we couldn't find out what size it actually was, I've installed the slightly smaller 30mm ball, but included the factory Seimitsu 35mm knob, and an even smaller 25mm knob with the controller. 

 

It is amazing to play Q*bert with the rotated joystick...moving Q*bert in the direction you want without having to think about it makes it so much more enjoyable.  

Excellent, you got PM :)

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31 minutes ago, smurfbert said:

Excellent, you got PM :)

If you're planning on getting one, you won't regret it!  The above mentioned controller is mine.  I originally messaged doubledown about a smaller controller conversion, but he quickly convinced me to just go for the gold with the arcade stick.  Took me days to clean up the Q*Bert with word bubble (removed the background by hand!), but the Q*Bert logo on the top was a slick find that was pretty easy to do.  I had a buddy on another forum clean up Coily for me, but then I added back some shadows for him.  All in all, i'm thrilled with how it turned out.  Frankly, i'm just glad doubledown didn't just send me back my deposit after we went back and forth on design and graphics for nearly three weeks!

 

I'll probably never use it as a regular 4-way as the way it would need to rotate would put the buttons near the top of the stick, so I also ordered a super action edition.  So i'm ready for anything!  Thanks again to doubledown for being so patient and allowing me to work on some of my own graphics! ;)

 

-James

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5 hours ago, mingus said:

If you're planning on getting one, you won't regret it!  The above mentioned controller is mine.  I originally messaged doubledown about a smaller controller conversion, but he quickly convinced me to just go for the gold with the arcade stick.  Took me days to clean up the Q*Bert with word bubble (removed the background by hand!), but the Q*Bert logo on the top was a slick find that was pretty easy to do.  I had a buddy on another forum clean up Coily for me, but then I added back some shadows for him.  All in all, i'm thrilled with how it turned out.  Frankly, i'm just glad doubledown didn't just send me back my deposit after we went back and forth on design and graphics for nearly three weeks!

 

I'll probably never use it as a regular 4-way as the way it would need to rotate would put the buttons near the top of the stick, so I also ordered a super action edition.  So i'm ready for anything!  Thanks again to doubledown for being so patient and allowing me to work on some of my own graphics! ;)

 

-James

I think that you and Doubledown has done a fantastic job on this one. As long as you are ok with other people (at least me :) ) buying this, I would love to.

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