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DavidD

Modern "Paddle"/Spinner As Analog Joystick instead of Mouse?

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I have Atari Flashback on my Switch... playing paddle-based games can be annoying, as the joystick is just awkward for that kind of control.  However, the game does have an option for an absolute positioning mode -- in Breakout, for example, the on-screen paddle stays in the center of the screen, and moves to the left or right as you press the joystick in either direction.

 

In other words, the game appears to be using the analog pots of the analog joystick in much the same way as the analog pots of the original 2600 paddle controllers.

 

Are there existing "spinner" controllers that act as analog joysticks, instead of as mice?  It seems like it would be relatively easy to create those, as you'd just be simulating the existing joystick setup, but only across a single axis.  I had the impression that most/all recent attempts at spinner/paddle controllers essentially acted as mice.

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I presume you are referring to old mice PS2 mice, as USB send 1 byte of x data, 1 byte of y data and 1 byte of button data.

Rotary "spinners" usually output a Grey code, the number of bits determine the resolution but for the 2600 a 2 bit Grey code would probably be sufficient, it is for Jaguar rotary controllers.

 

A two bit Grey code is a repeating sequence of...

00, 01, 10, 11, 00, 01, 11, 00

The direction from stationary is determine by which value it changes to from stationary, for example if stationary at 00 a change to 01 = right but a change to 11 = left, once the direction is established the number of changes in the same direction = distance moved.

 

I do not know for certain but I would think it unlikely that there are spinners that act like analogue pots because there would be little point when you could use a Pot instead. However, if you can program a Microcontroller you should be able to make one easily enough. You program the Microcontroller to read the spinner and add or subtract 1 from an overall position count depending on the direction of movement for each change in spinner output. Then you send that count value to either an internal or external DAC to output an analogue voltage equivalent to that of a analogue pot as, assuming a byte value is used, 255 = 5V (extreme right), 127 = 2.5V (centre) &  0 = 0V(extreme left).

Which value represent extreme left and right can be reversed depending on the end application.

 

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Old ps2 mice still send digital/gray/quadrature code just like a modern spinner or mouse. 

 

The atari 2600 paddle controller, arcade breakout, arcade warlords, arcade pong used analog potentiometers.  Arcade Arkanoid, Tempest, Sprint, Super Bug, Fire Truck, Monte Carlo, Major Havoc, and 2600 indy 500 used digital spinners.

 

A spinner/mouse can emulate an analog paddle in software like Stephen Moss suggested.  Mame takes care of it in software.  An analog paddle/rotary control can't emulate a digital spinner very well.  Can the switch take a usb mouse/spinner for arcade spinner games?

 

For analog paddle games you could get an original atari 2600 analog paddle controller and a usb adapter (e.g. 2600-daptor.com).  Hyperkin makes an atari 2600 compatible paddle controller.  Modern usb steering wheel controllers are also analog potentiometer based.  While you can get a usb arcade spinner controller, nobody really makes a handheld digital spinner usb game controller.

Edited by mr_me

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I have an old knockoff pong machine that I turned into a dedicated paddle game mame cabinet. I used regular atari 2600 paddles with the adapter you can get from 2600-daptor. Works fantastic and it works with damn near every emulator you throw at it.

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12 hours ago, mr_me said:

A spinner/mouse can emulate an analog paddle in software like Stephen Moss suggested.  Mame takes care of it in software.  An analog paddle/rotary control can't emulate a digital spinner very well.  Can the switch take a usb mouse/spinner for arcade spinner games?

I don't believe so -- not the mouse, at least.  (Now I'll have to go try it).

 

I think I may have explained myself badly, but I guess what my question boils down to is:

 

  • The 2600 paddles appear to work like a volume knob - they have a fixed starting position, a fixed ending position, and transmit the precise value they are currently set to.
  • Current analog thumbstick joysticks send a precise value between two ranges, depending upon how far in a direction it is pressed.
  • In theory, it would seem that a modern analog joystick could exactly mirror the usage of a 2600 paddle controller.
  • Thus, is there a way to use a paddle/spinner controller so it outputs a JOYSTICK output range (left/right position) instead of being read as mouse data?

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Yes, take a set of atari 2600 paddle controllers, plug in to a 2600-daptor usb adaptor, and you have paddle controllers that emulate a usb analog joystick.

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11 hours ago, DavidD said:
  • The 2600 paddles appear to work like a volume knob - they have a fixed starting position, a fixed ending position, and transmit the precise value they are currently set to.
  • Current analog thumbstick joysticks send a precise value between two ranges, depending upon how far in a direction it is pressed.

Both use pots and are essentially the same, the difference being that thumbstick joysticks are biased to the centre by springs but their output is relevant is still to their position along their resistive track, if you are trying to make a Joystick operate rotationally rather than in a back and forth action, then you cannot as it is just no physically possible.

 

The difference is in how they are used, thumbstick and other modern analogue joystick as used wired as a potentiometer, One end of the resistive track at 5V, the other at 0V with the wiper outputting a voltage between those two values dependant upon it position.

For the 2600 the potentiometers are use the same was as old style PC gameport joystick and used as variable resistor, one end tied to 5V, the other left floating or tied to the wiper. The output is still dependant upon its position but is connected to a capacitor which is discharge, a counter is then incremented until the capacitor charges to a set voltage level, how long that take depends on the set resistor value, higher resistance = less current = longer charge times. It is how long it takes the capacitor to reach the set voltage that determine the count value and therefore the position.

 

Consequently to convert at thumbstick joystick to operate like a 2600 paddle you can either...

a) Rewire it as a variable resistor, but that will only work is you can get a direct output, all modern controller are USB and so only output the Analogue value as a byte of data so it is not immediately available.

b) Read the digital position value and use that to set the equivalent resistance of a digital potentiometer which thereby determines the current

c) Read the digital position value and use that to control a current source

 

However, I think you intention is to use a mouse/spinner controller as in external controller with your Switch to act as a psuedo 2600 style controller, if that is correct then my original answer still stands as presumably the Switch converts analogue voltage from eth thumbstick to a position and you need to give it an analogue input for it to work with. With a Microcontroller you can determine if your count starts at 0 thereby initially placing you at one end of the screen or 127 placing you at the centre, either way you still need to determine the direction the spinner was moved and how many time to vary the digital value from 0 to 255 and create a 0 to 5V output.   

The thumbstick joystick output 0 to 5V (digital value 0 to 255), software determines that the biased centre point (2.5V, digital value 127) is the centre screen position as the output voltage of the pot increases then digital value increases above that the position moves more to the right, as the output voltage and subsequently digital voltage decrease the position moves more to the left (directions may be reversed)

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On 11/10/2020 at 4:22 PM, mr_me said:

Yes, take a set of atari 2600 paddle controllers, plug in to a 2600-daptor usb adaptor, and you have paddle controllers that emulate a usb analog joystick.

Okay -- somehow I missed that when I first read the description.  I hadn't found anything other than spinner/wheels/etc. being used as mice, so knowing there's already a convertor out there is useful.  Now I wonder how the official USB wheels on the Switch work...

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On 11/11/2020 at 4:35 AM, Stephen Moss said:

Both use pots and are essentially the same, the difference being that thumbstick joysticks are biased to the centre by springs but their output is relevant is still to their position along their resistive track, if you are trying to make a Joystick operate rotationally rather than in a back and forth action, then you cannot as it is just no physically possible.

Sadly, most of the work is probably beyond my technical skills -- although I've come up with some horrible kludge-type ways to turn a dial to move a joystick left and right, now. Heh...

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Just now seeing this.  There's a way to install an actual Atari paddle onto a Dual Shock 4 with help of a 3D printed mini-steering wheel you can find on Etsy or Ebay.  If you buy a wireless 8bitDo adapter that converts the Dual Shock 4 to Switch, you'll have a somewhat easy way to play Atari paddle games that are on Atari Flashback on your Switch.  Here's my video showing how to install it:  

 

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On 1/17/2021 at 2:48 PM, ave1 said:

Just now seeing this.  There's a way to install an actual Atari paddle onto a Dual Shock 4 with help of a 3D printed mini-steering wheel you can find on Etsy or Ebay.  If you buy a wireless 8bitDo adapter that converts the Dual Shock 4 to Switch, you'll have a somewhat easy way to play Atari paddle games that are on Atari Flashback on your Switch.  Here's my video showing how to install it:  

 

Okay, this is neat... it seems like it should be possible to make a modified design that works on a Joycon -- the gear assembly is interesting.  I wonder who came up with this idea...

Edited by DavidD

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