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Using a D-Pad for Atari 8-Bit Computer

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Personally I have never been able to use standard Atari joysticks... I have a bunch of Wico controllers and they are better made, but equally uncomfortable for longer gaming sessions... back in the day the only controller I could use was the Amiga Powerstick (which I no longer seem to have).

 

Recently, I watched a couple of episodes of Adrian's Digital Basement and he has demonstrated a number of methods for adapting existing D-Pads for use on the C64 (which should be 100% Atari compatible).

 

I'm thinking of pulling apart two NES gamepads and doing the "direct to the chip" method he describes.  I'll just sacrifice some old cheapo Atari compatible joysticks or broken cx40's for the cables.  One thing that I like with what Adrian did is that he also wired up the "B" button to the "Up" direction for those infuriating games that require move the joystick direction "up" for games.

 

I have heard that Sega Genesis controllers would work, but then I saw something that said they could damage the Atari... is there anything definitive on this?  I would consider modifying these, but I have plenty more NES controllers and knock-offs are out there for low $$$ as well.  What is the deal here?

 

Is there a better standard on Atari for a second button than what Adrian suggests with the Up?

 

I'm sure this has already been beaten to death, so apologies for being late to the party.

 

 

 

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I've used Genesis controls without any issues.  I wasn't aware of any risk associated with using them so I'd be interested in that as well.  But I've never had a problem and they work great.  

 

I still like a good old cx40 the best though!   :)

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So there is a thread on this here on AA, but it's not specific to Atari:

 

It would seem that the "Select" button is wired to where the 5v is on C64.  Would this be an issue with the 800XL or 130XE?  The Atari also seems to have 5v on pin 7...

 

 

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I also watch Adrians channel and saw this episode, I do like a D-Pad but those cheap AliExpress ones are poorly made (which is why he uses a real Nes pad). I'd love to convert a Snes controller to one for the Atari but I like my Starfighter J/S so much I've never bothered..

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Or pick up a CX78 joypad, which will work 100%, unmodified, with an A8.

 

Pros: reasonably well-built, Bes Electronics sells upgraded PCBs for them, if you ever get a 7800 you'll already have a two-button controller to use with it that isn't a Painline Proline

 

Cons: not the greatest joypad you'll ever use, but pretty far from being the worst, either

 

It's a good controller for what it is.  There are arguably-better alternatives out there, but if you just want 100% plug-and-play, this is your best bet.

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I use a Buffalo USB JoyPad via an Arduino, I wrote the code to accept that and a Saitek pad too.

I can use any USB pad I want, just have to change the code if required.

 

It even allows me to use a USB keyboard (although not for games)

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8 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

I also watch Adrians channel and saw this episode, I do like a D-Pad but those cheap AliExpress ones are poorly made (which is why he uses a real Nes pad). I'd love to convert a Snes controller to one for the Atari but I like my Starfighter J/S so much I've never bothered..

Well I have alots of old NES controllers... not so many extra Genesis and SNES controllers.  So hacking up some original ones won't bother me much.  Now I like the idea of the up arrow, but there also seems to be a way to use the paddle line for a second input as well... are there any Atari games that have been modded to use a second button?  I know there are some stock games like platformers that use the button to "shoot" and the up direction for jump.

 

 

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These are all so interesting and I really do like the up being jump, totally sensible but I'd like to be able to switch it of for shooters. I've seen mods for that so its on my radar but as I say, I'm so comfortable with the Suncom Starfighter I feel bad for wanting to abandon it :)

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To me the by far most comfortable option is to use the 8bitdo Mega Drive Retro Receiver and combine it with an 8bitdo SN30 pro+ wireless controller.

The retro receiver requires a very simple 5V rewire adapter. Then you will get immediately a 2button Mega Drive compatible TOP ATARI controller matching today's controller standards (switch, xbox, ps3).

 

https://www.8bitdo.com/sn30-pro-plus/

https://www.8bitdo.com/retro-receiver-genesis-mega-drive/

 

Big advantage of the 8bitdo controllers is the "Ultimate Software" that you can use to remap buttons (e.g. X-BUTTON = UP) and you have auto-fire directly included (use the star*-button). 

 

This setup supports two buttons, but it can be extended via Manterola's concept - not my usecase, as I'm very happy with 1b, 2b (e.g. Scramble) but it seems that it could be quite easily 2B+ (with patched games of course).

 

grüße,

\thomas

Edited by twh/f2
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IIRC, Sega Master System controllers also work with Atari 8-bit like Genesis controllers. But as was said, the 7800 joy pad controller is pretty good, very much the same size and feel of NES or SMS controllers, but it comes with a removable thumb stick attachment they don't have, which is nice for the best of both worlds (joystick and pad) for games that play better with or without it. How ever 7800 game pads have become quite expensive. I myself have a Genesis 3-button that I've used for years with my Atari 8-bit, ST, 2600 and 7800 (one button) but I recently did the Joy2B+ mod to it and now have all three working buttons, though only the hacked Star Trek SOS game uses all three so far, as far as I know.

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Have you all tried the Hyperkin ranger?

 

I bought a Hyperkin Trooper, and since it broke within 10 minutes of first using it, I was a bit disappointed.  It makes me reluctant to try the brand again.


However, the reviews of the ranger have been good (whether the reviewers got a special more reliable version, hard to say).   The design with the thumb control looks tempting.

 

 

 

 

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I use Sega Genesis 3-button controllers with no ill effects - as a bonus, Button C works as the second button for most Joy2B games* right out of the box.

 

Reportedly, 6-button controllers may cause some issues - the adaptor that @manterola mentioned above (by @Eyvind Bernhardsen) is meant to address that, and also provide Button 3 support for 3-button Joy2B+ games.

 

* the vast majority of these are 2 button games

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17 hours ago, twh/f2 said:

To me the by far most comfortable option is to use the 8bitdo Mega Drive Retro Receiver and combine it with an 8bitdo SN30 pro+ wireless controller.

Yep, the 8BitDo receiver is the reason I started the Sega adapter project in the first place, I don't actually have any real Mega Drive/Genesis controllers. I like the M30, but the receiver works with pretty much any modern Bluetooth controller. I used mine with a DualShock 4 at first.

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I have a sega genesis 3 buttons variant controller, which I use with Atari 8 bits computers. That works without modification with 1 and 2 buttons games.

I also got the 8bitdo receiver for genesis ($20 in Amazon). That one needs a modification to supply 5V to..mm Pin 5? Not sure. But the details of the simple mod are here in Atariage. After the mod you can play 2 buttons games with several modern controllers. I have used and tried Nintendo Wii, Switch and Switch Pro controllers. 

@Eyvind Bernhardsen project is great as it adds support for the 3rd button and other nice features using the start button of Sega Genesis controllers and 8bitdo receiver. 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Bobo Cujo said:

I use Sega Genesis 3-button controllers with no ill effects - as a bonus, Button C works as the second button for most Joy2B games* right out of the box.

 

Reportedly, 6-button controllers may cause some issues - the adaptor that @manterola mentioned above (by @Eyvind Bernhardsen) is meant to address that, and also provide Button 3 support for 3-button Joy2B+ games.

 

* the vast majority of these are 2 button games

I think this is the way to go for me... I should have some 3-button Sega controllers and I think the quality of the Sega controllers is pretty decent.  I like the idea of using JoyB games.  I'm thinking that I do this PLUS hack together one of my old NES D-pads with a second button for "Up".  mostly just because I have many NES gamepads readily available.

 

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IMO, if you're going to hack an NES pad, you should go the Joy2B route, seeing as NES controller circuitry inherently requires a more involved hardware hack anyway.  (Recommended mapping: B as button 1, C as button 2, Start as button 3)

 

Many of the Joy2B hacks eliminate the need for Button 2 as Up - in some cases, they're better as Up still can climb ladders (or perform other functions) while Button 2 handles jumping.  Button 2 as Up also doesn't help for games where up doesn't jump (think "bomb button")...

 

As an extra bonus, the 2600 folks have a similar set of 2 button modified games/homebrews that use the same hardware standard 🙂

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1 hour ago, Bobo Cujo said:

IMO, if you're going to hack an NES pad, you should go the Joy2B route, seeing as NES controller circuitry inherently requires a more involved hardware hack anyway.  (Recommended mapping: B as button 1, C as button 2, Start as button 3)

 

Many of the Joy2B hacks eliminate the need for Button 2 as Up - in some cases, they're better as Up still can climb ladders (or perform other functions) while Button 2 handles jumping.  Button 2 as Up also doesn't help for games where up doesn't jump (think "bomb button")...

 

As an extra bonus, the 2600 folks have a similar set of 2 button modified games/homebrews that use the same hardware standard 🙂

So is there a documented JoyB mod to the NES controller?  The Adrian's Digital Basement hack just involves running wires to the NES controller's chip.  Pretty straightforward... if the JoyB modded games are better I'm inclined to agree, so then the question really is how to mod the NES to that standard.  This might be the best approach for me in the end.

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For Nintendo controllers i recommend the excellent "(S)NEScontrol 2.0" adapter, developed by Mariusz Ejchsztet in Poland. You can reach him via PN in this Forum (user "Mq."). All my original controllers work with his adapter, and my wireless SNES receiver from 8bitdo as well. No soldering required and there are different modes to use all the extra buttons.

Edited by Dinadan67

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I use a modified Genesis controller for the Atari and Commodore systems.

My approach was to cut around the internal controller, and then bridge from the pads to the wires directly.

I connected button 2 and 3 to "up" and "down" respectively.

(For the c64 I even added a second port connector wired to button 4. On the c64, the fire button on joystick 1 maps to an I/O port that also is used by the space bar. As most games use joystick 2, this means you can "press the space bar" on games like Commando, which throws a grenade)

 

I have also made a custom one for my Amstrad CPC. It's my latest and neatest. I wrote it up here if you were interested in seeing how I did it.

 

I might have to make me a joy2b+ joystick, now I know they exist. I do happen to have another clone Genesis controller I can use :-D

 

Cheers!

 

Chesh,

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On 3/17/2021 at 10:43 AM, bbking67 said:

So is there a documented JoyB mod to the NES controller?  The Adrian's Digital Basement hack just involves running wires to the NES controller's chip.  Pretty straightforward... if the JoyB modded games are better I'm inclined to agree, so then the question really is how to mod the NES to that standard.  This might be the best approach for me in the end.

From looking a bit closer at the NES controller schematic and briefly skimming through the Adrian's Digital Basement video, it looks like the hack simply bypasses the shift register chip and effectively wires the joystick port pins directly to the switches.

 

For Joy2B (schematic here, courtesy of @ascrnet and @mrrobot), you'd do a similar approach, but with a twist because you now need to tie the extra buttons into what would normally be the paddle lines:

Wire Atari pin 7 to what would normally be +5V (we need this for the pull-up resistors.  It's safe to still have it going to the shift register chip since it's no longer an integral part of our circuit anyway)

A button (button 2): Wire Atari Pin 9 to the point where the switch connects to the shift register chip

Start button (button 3): Wire Atari Pin 5 to the point where the switch connects to the shift register chip

Swap the 1kohm resistors that are connected to the the A/Start button lines with 330 ohm resistors

Remove or disconnect all the resistors on the other 6 buttons - unlike the Adrian hack, we're sending 5v to the pull-up resistors, and we don't want or need those on the up/down/left/right/fire inputs.

 

(Big disclaimer: I haven't tried/doublechecked any of this myself; this is all off the top of my head...)

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On 3/15/2021 at 9:30 AM, bbking67 said:

Personally I have never been able to use standard Atari joysticks... I have a bunch of Wico controllers and they are better made, but equally uncomfortable for longer gaming sessions... back in the day the only controller I could use was the Amiga Powerstick (which I no longer seem to have).

 

Recently, I watched a couple of episodes of Adrian's Digital Basement and he has demonstrated a number of methods for adapting existing D-Pads for use on the C64 (which should be 100% Atari compatible).

 

I'm thinking of pulling apart two NES gamepads and doing the "direct to the chip" method he describes.  I'll just sacrifice some old cheapo Atari compatible joysticks or broken cx40's for the cables.  One thing that I like with what Adrian did is that he also wired up the "B" button to the "Up" direction for those infuriating games that require move the joystick direction "up" for games.

 

I have heard that Sega Genesis controllers would work, but then I saw something that said they could damage the Atari... is there anything definitive on this?  I would consider modifying these, but I have plenty more NES controllers and knock-offs are out there for low $$$ as well.  What is the deal here?

 

Is there a better standard on Atari for a second button than what Adrian suggests with the Up?

 

I'm sure this has already been beaten to death, so apologies for being late to the party.

 

 

 

Someone has done this with a little style if you don't mind the $40 - $45 price. They have a wide selection. Read through each one's description. The C64GS with fire 1 and 2 or Retro64 for C64 with button 2 mapped to up for jump is nice. The Amiga has 2 fire buttons and button mapped to up for jump, although if fire 1 is fire left and fire 2 is fire right, they are oriented backwards (for instance, is there a 2 fire tutankhaman or Front Line on Atari computers?)

https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

 

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Comfort- and precision-wise Genesis controllers beat the CX-78 by a wide margin. I have some old and some new out-of-the-box  CX-78's that came with European VCS jrs. and 7800s and the D-pads are always "stickier" than the Genesis pads. The Genesis controllers are more comfortable to hold and I think there are some games that even use two buttons (Scramble?).

 

If you want to use them on the 7800, Edladdin has the Seagull adapter and there are usually homemade adapters available on EBay.

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