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doubledown's Robotron: 2084 Edition - VVG Experience Controller

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I figured I'd post this here, as it's more relevant here than in the ColecoVision forums where I normally post:

 

A93iAe.png

 

I don't know what knocked Robotron into my brain recently, but something did so I started looking into making a controller for it.  I knew there were decent ports of it for the 5200/8-Bit/7800 systems (but unfortunately not the ColecoVision), and as I have an XEGS hooked up, I figured I'd see what I could come up with.  I found several pictures of controllers "made" for Robotron: 2084 online, and they of course always feature a twin-stick control scheme.  But I didn't come across any, that I felt, really captured the aesthetics and ergonomics of the arcade cabinet, or made use of the proper period-correct hardware.  So after a bit of research I ordered a bunch of parts and started working on the artwork while I waited.  

 

So here it is, my Robotron: 2084 Edition - VVG Experience Controller.  The artwork had to be scaled down from the full-sized arcade CPO to fit on the 20" housing, but what I didn't scale down was the separation/distance between the joysticks.  So while cosmetically they are further away from the center map graphic (and closer to the blue vertical striping), they do feature arcade-accurate spacing and are new reproduction WICO 4", 8-way leaf-switch, red ball-knob joysticks, and they are properly installed with the dust washers below the CPO.  On the original arcade cabinet the P1/P2 start buttons were on the right side of the CPO within the blue vertical striping, but as this housing is a little smaller than the arcade, if I put them over there, my right hand would be resting on them during game play and I didn't like that idea.  So I moved the 2084 logo down a bit and squeezed them into the center of the panel.  Obviously these buttons aren't required in Robotron when playing with 2 sticks, but as I liked the looks of the translucent blue pushbuttons, and they help to complete the look I was shooting for, I decided to include them.   They are wired as 7800 buttons...so this controller is compatible with all joystick only 2600/8-Bit/7800 games, 1 button 2600/8-Bit/7800 games, and all 2 button 7800 games, using the left stick and 0, 1, or 2 of the pushbuttons.  

 

The buttons also illuminate:

 

KQT8eU.png

 

I know the Atari consoles provide 5V @ 50mA at the controller ports, but since I had already figured out the battery pack & power switch when I built my Mouse Trap controller, I figured I'd just duplicate it.  Plus I can illuminate the buttons on display without having to have it hooked up to a console whenever I want.

 

Components used

(2) WICO 4", 8-way leaf-switch, red ball-knob joysticks

(2) IL concave translucent blue external leaf-switch pushbuttons

(2) 5V IL-lumination RGB LEDs (only the blue is wired)

Custom 12' cable-set, combined in braided expandable sleeving for the first 11' out of the enclosure, then y-split into (2) 1' sections at the end for connection to the console.

 

Here's a pic for size comparison:

 

Mudn0R.png

 

Now hopefully with some practice, I won't suck at Robotron: 2084!

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That’s a really nice looking controller! From reading through the component list it should be amazing to play with! I would also be interested in a controller if you decide to make more.

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This controller, with the 7800 version of Robotron, has to be as close to the arcade experience as possible. Love it!

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Thanks guys, glad you like it.  I've never played much Robotron due to not having a twin-stick before to use with it, so I definitely need some practice.  But I played a few games last night with it and it does play great.  For the uninitiated, the old-school WICO joysticks "feel" stiff compared to modern candy cabinet microswitch joysticks, but when you realize that they only need to be thrown a fraction of their directional distances for their contacts to close, you realize how sensitive they really are, as are the pushbuttons I used too.  Plus the WICOs feature a circular restrictor (not that you ever throw the joystick that far to find it), whereas modern microswitch joysticks normally use a square or octagonal sub-gate.  When you're manipulating the joystick around 360 degrees all the time like you do in Robotron, with the modern sticks you feel all of these points and corners, plus you hear all of the clicking (and clicking, and clicking, and incessant clicking), none of that exists with the WICO leaf-switch joysticks, just complete silence and smooth operation...as Eugene Jarvis intended I'm sure. 

 

As usual, any of my controller designs can be available for purchase (assuming they weren't a limited edition or something), and/or new/bespoke designs can also be commissioned.   Now that this one is finished I'll have to fill out my cost grid to come up with a price.  I figured with the holidays coming up most folks are busy in that regard, and "fun" moneys being spent for gifts for family and friends, this time would be a good opportunity for me to freely build a few items I had in mind.  Once I have an idea on price I'll post about it for anybody interested, and time will probably free up starting in the 2nd or 3rd week of the new year, for new orders.  

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So for the few here that were wondering, and the PM I received this morning, I sat down and figured out my costs and a selling price for the Robotron: 2084 Edition - VVG Experience Controller...and it is, $495.00.  

 

I realize that this is a lot of money for a controller, and I didn't build this controller in an attempt to offer a low-priced twin-stick Robotron compatible controller, but like I said a few have expressed interest, so I'm answering.  Understand that none of the components in this controller are inexpensive, and none of them are purchased locally, or from ebay or Amazon where shipping is free unfortunately.  To simply purchase the parts necessary to build this controller as-is, they cost, $450.65 when factoring in minimum package quantities of items like the specialty fasteners.  Plus items are ordered from 5 different vendors, all of whom charge for shipping, which adds an additional $56.00.  Now obviously for me I don't factor in the cost of an entire box of (100) screws when I use only (4), I absorb that extra cost into inventory as I will use them on other builds, and I try to order parts for 3 or more controllers at a time to split those shipping charges over multiple builds too.  It also took me about 8 hours to machine, assemble, wire, and test this controller, not counting the R&D time taken for the initial research, graphics work, more research, placing and receiving orders, and the likes.  

 

So I'm not looking for exclamations regarding how expensive this is, I know it is, as I built it the way I wanted it.  I'm just announcing how much it will sell for if someone wants to buy one.  With all that said, if now knowing a price, people are still interested, fine, I should have time starting in the 2nd or 3rd week of January to accept any orders.  If however somebody really wants one now / before the holidays / as a holiday present for someone, I would sell this one that is built and build myself another.  The only thing I have to finish is the cable management on the rear, which I'll get done probably next week/first week of December.  On my other Experience Controllers I came up with this on the back of them for cable wrapping:

 

spQmSa.png

 

But as the Robotron "cord set" is a 12' long, double cable set, in an expandable sleeving, it won't all fit on these cleats as they are, so I'll be spacing them out with black anodized aluminum un-threaded spacers to accommodate the extra girth.  Here's a close-up/detail of the cord set ("fun fact"...the heat-shrink, adhesive-lined, 2:1 breakout (y-splitter) in the picture at the rear cable-tie costs $18.08):

 

D6YCfo.png

 

So like I said, just letting people know who expressed an interest and/or were just curious, and easier to do it here publicly vs. answering multiple PMs with the same question. 

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6 hours ago, GoldLeader said:

That controller is so BADASS!!!!!!!!  Great Job doubledown!

Thank you.  Haven't had much time to play with it as of late, but it is the only way to play Robotron: 2084.

6 hours ago, SoundGammon said:

How about doing an overlay for the X-Arcade Joystick?

 

The X-Arcade is a lot larger than I currently have the hardware to print/laminate for...plus it has too many buttons!  :grin:

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