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PAC-MAN Arcade Controller...the quest for PAC-fection!

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So this is one that I've been working on for quite a while, mostly due to the joystick.  But it worked out for the best, as the extra time it took me to design/engineer/build the joystick, allowed me to think of and add, a few more features & options that I wasn't originally planning on, and those extra features/options make this controller compatible with more games than I had originally planned for.  So if you haven't yet seen the pictures in my main controller thread, here they are:

 

Pac-Man Edition DX - VVG Experience Controller

 

2p0p5G.png

 

m326C2.png

 

qnvf0Q.png

 

Due to the amount of research, engineering and work that went into this build, I've decided to chronicle this one a bit more than I usually do, but I'll split the details into 3 parts to break up the info a bit.  So we'll start here with Chapter 1, the overall controller, it's features and its console & game compatibility.

 

Chapter 1 - "SIX-PAC"

 

This controller was built into a Hammond Mfg., 17" x 11.25" aluminum sloped-top enclosure, that was braced, stiffened, and weighted...and it features the following hardware:

 

** (1) VVG "iLeaf Midway," 4-way joystick (custom designed, engineered, and built...and will be detailed in a later chapter)

 

** (2) 4-Piece, arcade original, leaf-switch push-buttons, (Black), (installed into the control surface, on both sides of the joystick)

 

** (2) 4-Piece, arcade original, leaf-switch push-buttons, (Yellow), (installed into both sides of the enclosure)

 

** (1) Suzo-Happ, miniature round push-button, (Yellow), (installed into the right side of the enclosure)

 

** (1) C&K 2PDT push-button switch, w/ mechanical indicating button cap (Yellow), (installed to the left of the keypad)

 

** (1) VVG ColecoVision Controller PCB (Rev. 2, 6x2), w/ (12) C&K D6 key-switch push-buttons, (Yellow, round)

 

** (12') Custom controller cord, w/ custom-crimped AMP DE-9 connector, with rear-mount cord cleats for cable management

 

** Arcade cabinet (upright & cabaret) inspired CPO artwork, and arcade cabinet (upright) inspired side panels (Yellow)

 

I've built previously, PAC-MAN "themed" Hand Controllers (PAC-MAN, Ms. PAC-MAN, & PAC-MAN PLUS), and PAC-MAN "themed" VVG Joystick Controllers (PAC-MAN & Ms. PAC-MAN).  Now all of those controllers were built as improved / alternate / upgraded controllers for the ColecoVision, with aesthetic and cosmetic queues taken from their arcade counterparts.  The purpose of this controller however, was not simply to replicate the styling of a PAC-MAN arcade cabinet, but to also replicate the controls...specifically the Bally/Midway joystick used in the North American published arcade cabinets.  But again, the specifics regarding the joystick will be detailed in a later chapter, I just wanted to point out the purpose of this extreme build.  

 

So let's start in the middle...a proper 4-way, diamond restricted joystick, installed for directional control (Up / Down / Left / Right), and wired for native compatibility with a plethora of 8-bit systems and computers, including (but not limited to) the Coleco ColecoVision / ADAM, the ATARI 2600 / 8-Bits / 7800, the Commodore VIC-20 / C-64, the CollectorVision Phoenix, and others...and with a joystick / wiring adapter, also compatible with systems such as the TI-99, Apple IIe, Magnavox Odyssey, and others.  Now personally, I don't care one little bit about ambidextrous controls (I don't think anybody else does either, no one ever posts about it), but as PAC-MAN is one of the very few games that I can (and often do) play either handed, and because a center mounted joystick is "arcade accurate", I installed my joystick in the center of the control panel...for authenticity and accuracy.    

 

There you have it, a beautiful 4-way joystick controller for PAC-MAN...because that's all PAC-MAN needs...so why all of the other buttons then you may be asking!?!  Well, let's move onto the keypad next.  Installed centered-ish below the joystick, and ergonomically clear of your wrists/palms when manipulating the joystick, is a 6 column, by 2 row, 12-button keypad; wired as a fully functional 12-button ColecoVision keypad, useful for in-game menu selections...for those games that require them.  Such as the AtariSoft's PAC-MAN prototype, and @opcode's PAC-MAN Collection, and their upcoming PAC-MAN DX...as well as other games that this controller was built for.  

 

To the left and to the right of the joystick, are black leaf-switch push-buttons.  Now at this point, anybody who has ever played PAC-MAN well knows, that you don't use any buttons to play PAC-MAN.  But what if you want to load PAC-MAN from your ColecoVision AtariMax multi-cart, your 7800 Concerto multi-cart, or from the SD card menu on your CollectorVision Phoenix...you'll need some method to select PAC-MAN from your list of games...and these buttons make that possible.  And as the joystick is centered, allowing for ambidextrous control, there is one button on the left, for right-hand joystick manipulators...and also one button on the right, for left-hand joystick manipulators.  There are a couple of more reasons that I selected to add these buttons, and one of those reasons is pretty super!  The arcade game SUPER PAC-MAN, with it's radically different game-play, added a new and very exciting gameplay element...Super Pellets.  When PAC-MAN eats a Super Pellet, he temporarily becomes super-sized, is invincible from ghosts, can blast through locked gates...and at the press & hold of a button, can travel at Super Speed.  Now the ColecoVision version of SUPER PAC-MAN, doesn't make use of this button, once you eat a Super Pellet, you are automatically travelling at Super Speed...but @PacManPlus's version of SUPER PAC-MAN for the 7800 does make use of the Super Speed button, just like its arcade counterpart.  So these ambidextrous buttons are required for the 7800 game SUPER PAC-MAN, and as leaf-switch buttons, once again, are arcade accurate.  

 

Now Bally/Midway, used their amazing 4-way leaf-switch joystick, on several arcade games that they published...many of which have been ported to our favorite 8-bit systems.  Including (but not limited to) Burger Time, Rally-X, Root Beer Tapper, Wizard of Wor and others...and each of these games requires a 4-way joystick, and one button for game-play...all of which can be properly played with this controller due to the inclusion of the control panel surface buttons.  And as a proper PAC-MAN controller, this purpose-built wonder is also perfect for playing other games in the PAC franchise, besides just PAC-MAN and SUPER PAC-MAN...and those games include Ms. PAC-MAN, PAC-MAN PLUS, and Jr. PAC-MAN.  

 

So by now, if you've been keeping track, you've surely counted that I've listed 5 PAC-MAN games that this controller is perfect for...so why did I title this chapter "SIX-PAC?"  Well because there was one other PAC-MAN game released by Bally...BABY PAC-MAN...the hybrid, video / pinball entry in the PAC franchise...that also happens to have a homebrew port for the 7800.  Like other PAC-MAN games, the video game portion has you manipulating a Bally/Midway 4-way joystick for maneuvering your way through the maze portion, but when down in the pinball playfield area...you of course need both left and right flipper buttons.  The official arcade flyer lists that the flipper buttons on the BABY PAC-MAN cabinets were available as "Top" (control panel surface on either side of the joystick) buttons, and/or "Side" (standard pinball machine placement) buttons.  The one pictured on the flyer in fact, shows them only installed on "Top", but every one I've ever seen personally, or in non-promotional pictures, shows them with both the "Top" and "Side" buttons installed.  So for arcade accuracy/inclusion, I've installed a set of leaf-switch push-buttons on the side of the enclosure, for that authentic pinball feel...if that's you're pleasure.  But now you may be thinking...what if you wanted to control your flippers with the "Top" mounted control buttons, on either sides of the joystick...well press the ONE Button / TWO Button push-button switch below the joystick and to the left of the keypad...and the two buttons on the control panel surface go from being wired as the same "ONE" button (providing ambidextrous control), to being wired as "TWO" different buttons...so that you can play BABY PAC-MAN...using the joystick, and the two "Top" buttons...as was an option in the arcades.  

 

If memory serves, and from what I've seen and read, original BABY PAC-MAN arcade/pinball machines (while a legitimate pinball game), did not employ a standard pinball plunger for launching the ball when down in the pinball playfield area.  Instead (again from what I remember, and what I've read), you would press the right flipper button to launch the ball (or after a time of approximately 3-5 seconds it would automatically launch).  The 7800 homebrew, instead, has you pull the joystick down to launch the ball.  But as I didn't want to have to manipulate the joystick to launch the ball, and then very quickly move a hand to get it over to the side flipper buttons, I installed a small "Launch" button on the right side, above the right flipper button.  This way I can get my hands placed and set for manipulation of the side flipper buttons, press the "Launch" button on the right side (more like what the original would have been) (wired as Joystick down), then be already ready, to manipulate the flipper buttons after the ball has launched.

 

Now for those wondering...here's the reason for the color choices I selected, for the aforementioned buttons.  As this controller is PAC-MAN themed...and PAC-MAN has no game-play buttons, I chose colors that would allow these buttons to blend in with their surrounding artwork...Black for the control panel buttons, and Yellow for the side flipper and launch buttons.  Originally I had planned on using black square keypad caps for the keypad buttons, but then I remembered that those same key-switches are available in yellow, in their round variants...and as PAC-MAN is yellow...and round...it seemed like a no brainer.  

 

So technically detailed, there it is...the perfect home arcade controller for:

 

Baby Pac-Man

Burger Time

Jr. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man

Pac-Man

Pac-Man Plus

Rally-X

Root Beer Tapper

Super Pac-Man

Wizard of Wor

 

...as well as being compatible with a very large number of other games, and compatible with a very large number of consoles and computers.

 

In the upcoming 2 chapters, I will detail the custom built joystick itself...and the unique assembly and build of this arcade accurate controller, so stay tuned!

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I guess you can extend the game list with  the Frogger games  and  may be Q-Bert.

 

I would say also may be  Frostbite!

 

 

btw , Very nice controller! :)

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6 hours ago, youki said:

I guess you can extend the game list with  the Frogger games  and  may be Q-Bert.

 

I would say also may be  Frostbite!

 

 

btw , Very nice controller! :)

Yes, the compatible games list that this controller can play, is much much larger than simply:

 

Baby Pac-Man

Burger Time

Jr. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man

Pac-Man

Pac-Man Plus

Rally-X

Root Beer Tapper

Super Pac-Man

Wizard of Wor

 

...these are just the games that were published in North America by Bally/Midway (and that have ports/homebrews for consoles like the ColecoVision and 2600/7800, and others), wherein this particular controller is truly appropriate for; with regards to its custom built joystick's physical look, function, and feel...when considering arcade accuracy. 

 

Frogger was published by Sega/Gremlin, and had a 4-way WICO ("standard", skinny shaft) joystick as standard.  Donkey Kong, and it's sequels were shipped with Nintendo's clover restricted, 4-way, micro-switch joysticks.  Again, all of these games (and many many more) are all playable with this controller, but the true goal of this project, was to build a PAC-MAN arcade controller, with a joystick that looks and feels like, the original Bally/Midway 4-way arcade joystick.  Any game that requires either a 2-way (vertical or horizontal) or 4-way joystick...and 0 or 1 button can be easily played with this controller, across a great many game consoles and personal computers.  

 

This controller is my small hardware contribution, to be added to the ever-expanding list of software contributions, from so many programmers, who all share the same single unifying goal...bringing the PAC-MAN arcade experience to our homes.  

 

I'd like to personally dedicate this controller to the creator of PAC-MAN...Toru Iwatani, and also to all of the talented programmers (Tod Frye, @PacManPlus, @opcode, and so very many others) who have, and who continue to...program newer, better, and ever-increasing arcade accurate ports, hacks, and homebrews...and of course, also to all of the PAC-MAN sequels and clones, made for so very many consoles and computers, created over these last 40 years. 

 

Long live PAC-MAN!

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Thank you so much for the shout out.  I do appreciate the kind words! :)

 

That joystick looks incredible, so I have to ask...

Is that a one-off project, or would you be willing to make a 7800 version (the only two differences are no keypad buttons in the front and two fire buttons on either side of the joystick)... and if so, how much?

 

Thank you, and excellent work!

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2 hours ago, PacManPlus said:

Thank you so much for the shout out.  I do appreciate the kind words! :)

And I think I can speak for more than just myself when I say...we all appreciate your fine programming!

 

It is in fact, the 7800 versions of BABY PAC-MAN, and SUPER PAC-MAN, that flat out, are the reasons for many of the extra features and functions included into this particular controller build.  And I'll give some credit (albeit begrudgingly 😉 ) to my friend @AtariBrian, who got me back into the 7800 scene, and quickly got me up to speed on all of the great homebrew games that have been released for it...since last I was even remotely playing/collecting for it...many, many, many moons ago.    

 

2 hours ago, PacManPlus said:

That joystick looks incredible, so I have to ask...

Is that a one-off project, or would you be willing to make a 7800 version (the only two differences are no keypad buttons in the front and two fire buttons on either side of the joystick)... and if so, how much?

I have, in the past, made a few limited edition controllers...but PAC-MAN (and it's many sequels and clones) is too great, and too important of a game, to limit this build to a single, solitary, one-off example. 

 

As always, I'll freely state, that in the realm of our universe, and the infinite number of others...anything, and everything, can be, and/or is possible.  Give me a chance to finish chronicling this build here, over the next few days (hopefully I'll be finished by the end of this weekend), so that you (and everybody else) can get a true understanding of what's inside this particular controller, so that all of the detailed info is in one public place.  At that point, discussions can be had as to which features and options, can/could be added or subtracted, for anybody's particular needs or wants.  Who knows...maybe someone wants one like this, built for the NES versions of PAC-MAN & Ms. PAC-MAN!

 

With regards to price...I honestly don't know yet...I never do until after the controller is built and I sit down and calculate it (if somebody requests it)...unless the controller was commissioned by a buyer prior to the build...whereas, a price would have been previously calculated.  Generally all of the controllers that I build (that aren't commissioned), are built by me, for me, as "passion projects" in my never ending pursuit for extreme-quality, and arcade-accuracy, for in-home enjoyment...and I generally don't take the controller's cost into consideration very much at all, as it would just lessen the final product.  😉  There are several features, options, and component selections on a controller like this, that can greatly affect it's overall price...but again this can all be discussed once I finish detailing the build.  

 

And for those who may already be thinking that they also may be interested in something like this...variants could be made and themed for:

 

Ms. PAC-MAN

BABY PAC-MAN

SUPER PAC-MAN

Jr. PAC-MAN

 

...in addition to PAC-MAN.  As PAC-MAN PLUS was never sold in a dedicated cabinet (only as a conversion kit for existing PAC-MAN / Ms. PAC-MAN cabinets)...there is no unique artwork/theme for it (with the exception of the marquee, which I'm not making use of).  

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So continuing on with the details of the PAC-MAN build, let's move onto the joystick.  

 

Chapter 2 - "Catching lightning in a bottle, a 2nd time"

 

With the exclusive publishing rights to PAC-MAN in North America, Midway had to decide what joystick they would install into their cabinets...and this is what they built:

 

47Jyxk.png

 

Simply referred to as the Midway 4-way, or the PAC-MAN joystick, this first iteration/variant of what would become Midway's staple controller for a number of years, is instantly recognizable, and a welcomed sight to any true PAC-MAN aficionado.  Let's take a look at the physical properties of this iconic piece of video game history/hardware:

 

* Ball Knob

 - Red

 - Semi-gloss finish

 - Textured

 - Diameter, ~1.375"

 - Height of the great circle of the knob when installed, ~1.341"

 

* Lever Shaft

 - Black stop sleeve, ~0.562" diameter

 

* Dust Washer

 - Black, under panel installation

 

* Centering method

 - Steel/rubber grommet

 

* Switch Type

 - Leaf-switches

 

* Restriction Shape

 - 4-way diamond, with true break-before-make actuation

 

* Activation Force

 - Lateral force applied at the great circle of the knob required to activate any switch, ~7.0 oz.

 

Now there are 2 problems that kept me from simply installing an original Midway joystick into this controller:

 

1) They haven't been produced in over 30 years.  There are plenty of these joysticks available on the used market, but they will all most likely need some rebuild/repair (unless NOS), and not all of the necessary repair parts are available.  Additionally, as they're out of production, availability and price cannot always be guaranteed.  

 

2) They are simply too large/deep to install into the Hammond Mfg. sloped top enclosures.  

 

There are currently 3 joysticks being sold, as "PAC-MAN replacement joysticks", but none of them, even remotely accurately, replicate the look or feel of the original.  So my main goal with this project was to custom build a joystick, that would look, feel, and handle, just like the originals (as much as possible)...that could be built with new, available, and sustainable parts.  So naturally, the best place to start would have to be one of the 3 joysticks that are marketed as a "PAC-MAN replacement joystick", and simply fix up a few things they fudged...right?  Wrong.  I opted to start with one of my absolute favorite modern joysticks, the iL EuroJoystick 2:

 

yBTYvN.png

 

As you can see, it's a far cry from an original PAC-MAN joystick.  Tall, molded bat handle lever, spring centering, round 8-way restriction, and micro-switches.  How in the world could this ever get passed off as a Midway joystick...with a whole lot of design and engineering on my part...that's how.  

 

Let's start with the knob and the lever.  Fortunately, this was one of the easiest parts; Arcadeshop.com is currently selling reproduction Midway handles and stop sleeves:

 

6PPkRn.png

 

On the left, is the "stock" reproduction handle and black stop sleeve, and on the right are my modified versions.  For the handle, I had to cut/shorten it's overall length, and then cut a new e-clip groove for the now shorter shaft.  With the stop spacer, I had to also cut it shorter, to achieve the proper knob height when installed into the iL EuroJoystick 2 base.  Then I had to design and machine the custom tool steel shaft sleeve (steel tube bored and counter-bored, pictured on the far right), that slips over the lowest/skinny portion, and up partially onto the fatter portion, of the Midway shaft...so that the Midway shaft would fit and manipulate properly, with the pivot and actuator parts of the iL EuroJoystick 2...at the arcade accurate height.  Seems simple enough!

 

Now that I'd figured out how to install an original or reproduction Midway PAC-MAN ball knob lever into my joystick...I had to tackle the centering spring.  Take a look at this picture for reference:

 

Lj1Z03.png

 

In the back row, on the far left, is a red iL EuroJoystick 2 "Long" bat handle lever...the factory shaft for my donor joystick base.  The red ball knob on the right side marked PAC-MAN, is a reproduction Midway ball knob shaft.  Note the height difference...the iL Bat "Long" is 2.674" tall at the fattest part of the bat knob, versus the 1.341" height of the PAC-MAN knob (at it's giant circle).  The lateral force required to manipulate the factory iL EuroJoystick 2, with it's factory "Long" bat handle, is ~8.9 oz...which is already 1.9 oz. more than an original PAC-MAN joystick.  When you change out the tall bat knob lever, with the much shorter PAC-MAN ball knob lever, that required force increases to ~14.5 oz...way to firm to be playable.  The reason being, is that you're shortening the lever, but not decreasing the amount of work that has to be done...so the solution...have a custom spring made:

 

qPLGcH.png

 

On the left is the factory iL EuroJoystick 2 spring, and on the right is the one that I had made.  Unfortunately I have no way to make my own custom springs, but luckily there is a company in town that does, and I already deal with them occasionally for work.  So I went over one day, had a talk with the owner, and had him make me up a few samples.  This one was the winner...as it provides for a Midway joystick matching ~7.0 oz. of lateral force required for actuation...just like the original.  Now for all intents and purposes...this is the one major difference from my joystick and the originals...the centering device.  Mine uses a centering spring, and the Midway joysticks used a steel/rubber centering grommet.  I will grant that it does mean that my stick's feel is ever so slightly different from the originals, but as they require the same amount of force (and the knob and lever are the same), the difference is marginal, and probably only discernible to those with lots of play experience on an original.  

 

On to the switches.  A true PAC-MAN joystick, makes use of silent leaf-switches...no micro-switches...no ifs, ands or buts!  So I chose Rollie leaf-switches for my build, as they already come with a molded nylon mounting base, that would make my use/installation of them a bit easier:

 

xcZFVz.png

 

On the left are (4) "stock" Rollie leaf-switches, that were created as a leaf-switch solution to be used with modern micro-switch push-buttons from HAPP and iL, and on the right are the (4) I modified for my new joystick.  I slightly increased the size of the 2 mounting holes on each holder, and machined/removed some material from the mounting ends, due to interferences when installed onto the joystick base, and I changed out the thread-forming screws to machine screws with nylon-insert locknuts...which provides for much more repeatable actuation points.  After these simple modifications to the leaf-switches, a bit of modification was required to the iL EuroJoystick 2's switch base for their installation, which was done with with 4 aluminum unthread spacers, and 4 new SST screws.

 

Ok, so I've got the ball knob, stop sleeve, lever height, leaf-switches, and force actuation copied...but it's still a round restricted 8-way joystick, not a diamond restricted 4-way; so I would need a new restrictor plate, and a new actuator:

 

xZ1lsZ.png

 

On the left is my 4-way diamond restrictor plate, which mounts to the top of the joystick base, and still allows for the dust washer to be properly installed underneath the control panel.  The center diamond cutout features the same 8.6 degrees of chamfer, to match the angle of the joystick shaft when fully actuated in any direction, and provides for full engagement/nesting of the the joystick shaft's stop sleeve perfectly, into each of the 4 cardinal direction points.  The smaller/round actuator on the right, fits onto the bottom of the joystick shaft, and was designed to be the proper diameter, to ensure that this is a true 4-way joystick...in that no 2 contacts can be made simultaneously, period.  Some modern joysticks that have a repositionable square 8-way / diamond "4-way" gate, can still allow for 2 switches to be made simultaneously, at a small section of their diamond sides...making them not true 4-way joysticks.  But my design truly offers a break-before-make switching scenario, from any one direction, to any other...so there can be no issue with any software where a make-before-break scenario can be destructive.  

 

Then as I was looking for a way to beef-up the installation of my leaf-switches, and provide a guide for their indexing orientation, I created a spider that pins into the 2nd mounting hole on each of the leaf-switch holders, to index them at the installation angle I wanted, and provide a bit more stiffness in their mounting.  

 

Then I simply put it all together, and I get this...my VVG iLeaf Midway 4-way joystick:

 

ndzB0b.png

 

P4njZ5.png

 

And that's it...the closest facsimile copy of an original Midway 4-way PAC-MAN joystick the world has ever seen.  This will also be my go-to joystick of choice, if/when I decide to build custom arcade controllers themed for the Midway published games Burger Time, Rally-X, Root Beer Tapper, and/or Wizard of Wor, or any of the other PAC-MAN sequels.  

 

Stay tuned, and I'll soon detail the machining and assembly, and the meticulous attention to detail observed when designing this masterpiece, to provide the maximum arcade accuracy I could present!

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Toru Iwatani did not exactly create Pacman  , to be accurate he has created Puck-man. :)

 

 

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5 hours ago, youki said:

Toru Iwatani did not exactly create Pacman  , to be accurate he has created Puck-man. :)

You are correct, in that Toru Iwatani did not create the name PAC-MAN...what he did create was the character that we have all known for 40+ years as PAC-MAN, and the PAC-MAN game/gameplay itself.  The original Japanese name PUCK-MAN, was changed to PAC-MAN due to potential vandalism concerns here in the West...but when Namco released their first official sequel to PUCK-MAN...they adopted the PAC-MAN moniker...and they released SUPER PAC-MAN.  

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Now, the final details of my PAC-MAN build...for those interested in such things.  

 

Chapter 3 - "Built to last"

 

So I've built plenty of controllers using these Hammond enclosures, and while I do in fact like them very much...I simply don't find their overall assembly very sturdy or robust, but I'm a perfectionist, and I over-build everything.  So after I swap out the stock #6 sheet metal assembly screws, with #8 machine screws (and mating tapped holes), I also add steel angle braces to the upper corners, underneath the control surface, where the side upright panels meet the top.  This solidifies these enclosures to create a solid, single, 6-sided housing...versus two, 3-sided enclosure halves, partially attached to each other on the bottom only:

 

sYAYnq.jpg

 

You can see 1 steel angle brace installed above, on the left (not yet installed on the right).  This bracing offers 3 much needed improvements to these enclosures:

 

1) Prevents the control surface top from bowing/flexing downward due to the weight of your hands/palms/wrists...and exuberant play

 

2) Prevents the upright side panels (which are part of the bottom half of the enclosure) from winging outward causing unsightly gaps between the metal

 

3) Adds 8-16 oz. (depending on the size of enclosure, which dictates the length of the braces) of additional weight to the light-weight aluminum enclosure

 

So on any other controller, I would have simply repeated these enhancements to the enclosure like I always do, then machined the necessary clearance holes for the joystick and button(s), and the joystick's mounting holes.  But look carefully at an original PAC-MAN upright control panel:

 

p2gBJS.png

 

Notice, that there are 6 black carriage bolts visible in the control panel (1 in each of the 4 corners of the artwork, and 2 centered on either side of the joystick).  Now look again:

 

6gYgHs.png

 

...what you don't see, are the 4 fasteners that mount the joystick in place.  How can that be?  What sort of witchcraft/sorcery did Midway use for this?  I'll show you:

 

IwLVZ1.png

 

Underneath the metal control panel, is a piece of plywood, that the joystick is top-down mounted through (via 4 hidden fasteners highlighted above), which was then (as an assembly) mounted to the underside of the metal control panel via:

 

aW0kjn.png

 

...you guessed it...6 black carriage bolts.  Now for reference, let's look at my controller again:

 

GNnBkg.png

 

...and what do you see, the same 6 black carriage bolts in the control panel (1 in each of the 4 corners of the artwork, and 2 centered on either side of the joystick), and no visible joystick mounting fasteners.  So obviously, I simply copied Midway's design, and got myself a cheap piece of wood, and duplicated what they did, right...hell and no:

 

nJQOxH.png

 

I would never install a piece of plywood into a masterpiece like this...that was built into an aluminum enclosure.  Instead, I installed a 6" wide, custom machined aluminum C-channel, to perform the same task of hiding the joystick fasteners...which are highlighted above.  And here below, you can see the 6 black carriage bolts, that mount the channel with joystick, to the underside of the control panel:

 

CCDPpf.png

 

...just like how Midway did it...albeit a helluva lot stronger.  Then of course for the added side Flipper and Launch buttons, I had to machine/remove a bit of material from the side steel angle braces, and the outer edges of the aluminum C-channel, so that there wouldn't be any interference.  

 

So there it all is.  The extreme lengths that I'll go to (apparently)...to create the greatest PAC-MAN joystick controller...ever built.

 

I would assume, now that I've shown you all how I've done it...there will be a flood of copycats hitting ebay sometime here in the very near future!  🤣

 

For those who have taken the time to read along, this has been just a small glimpse into my world (and brain) of custom built controllers, to help those understand the utter minutiae of detail(s) that I take into consideration, and pay attention to...for some of my more elaborate, and ultimately expensive, creations.  Thanks for reading. 

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One suggestion - "Nudge"  buttons for Baby Pac-Man on the 7800.  While playing the pinball portion, nudging is important for the game play.  It's mapped to up and down on the joystick.  Since you have the flipper buttons on the sides it would be sweet to have buttons where your thumbs rest so you could "nudge" the game(actually it looks like pointer finger buttons might be batter).  Otherwise you have to reach to the joystick to do it which isn't ideal.

 

 

Edited by koolmoecraig

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33 minutes ago, koolmoecraig said:

Please tell me you will be selling these.

They can be sold...but understand that a perfect clone of this one...will be very expensive, due to the the custom joystick (with all of it's parts, and machining/assembly time), and the aluminum C-channel, with it's machining time, and all of the extra machining time and extra wiring required for the additional side flipper buttons, plus the original arcade style leaf-switch push-buttons.  I haven't priced it out at all yet, but an exact clone of this one, as a: Pac-Man Edition DX - VVG Experience Controller...would probably end up somewhere in the $550 range.  Simply a look-a-like controller, that doesn't have the custom joystick, doesn't have the aluminum C-channel necessary for the hidden joystick fasteners, and doesn't have the side flipper buttons...could be closer to $225.  It just depends on what somebody wants.  I built this one to replicate the look of the original arcade cabinet control panel (as much as possible)...and the feel of the original control hardware (as much as possible)...for me, the way I wanted it. 

 

26 minutes ago, koolmoecraig said:

One suggestion - "Nudge"  buttons for Baby Pac-Man on the 7800.  While playing the pinball portion, nudging is important for the game play.  It's mapped to up and down on the joystick.  Since you have the flipper buttons on the sides it would be sweet to have buttons where your thumbs rest so you could "nudge" the game(actually it looks like pointer finger buttons might be batter).  Otherwise you have to reach to the joystick to do it which isn't ideal.

I thought about "bump" buttons...but couldn't come up with a good way to do it.  If I'm not mistaken, the 7800 port allows you to bump the playfield left, right, and up...I'm not sure if you can diagonally bump up/left or up/right...but I don't think so (I think I tried that), I think its just the 3 directions.  I don't think you can bump down...as that would have you behind the machine bumping it from the back (if at the real arcade cabinet), and down on the joystick is the "launch" button.  I wasn't sure where I would place 3 different "bump" buttons that would make sense, and would offer ease of use during game-play, so I just figured to keep that control done via the joystick...unless somebody has a better idea.  

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