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More new 2600 arcade joystick controllers

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A while back I was persuaded to sell the ATARI 2600 arcade joystick controller that I had built for myself...so I needed to make something new to replace it.  As usual, I tried to think bigger and better, in an attempt to build something truly special and unique...and I came up with this; my ATARI 2600 Edition - VVG Switch-O-Matic Controller:

 

1sKr2O.png

 

The controller was built into a reinforced and weighted 14" x 8.5" aluminum sloped-top enclosure, and for the basic game-play controls, includes an 8-way iL EuroJoystick 2 (w/ medium bat handle, modified spring, and Cherry micro-switches) and (4) Groovy Game Gear Classx push-buttons (w/ Cherry D41X micro-switches).  At first glance, some may feel that the 4 push-buttons are a bit of an overkill for a 2600 controller, but I assure you're there is a good reason for them (at least in my mind).  

 

The ancillary controls, center mounted between the joystick and the arcade push-buttons, are the inspiration for the Switch-O-Matic moniker.  

 

vwc6y5.png

 

Each of the (4) arcade push-buttons (labeled "button 1" thru "button 4"), has a mating 6-position rotary switch (w/ solid aluminum knob w/ black indicating line), and an on/off push-button switch (with mechanical indicating cap - black/orange).  The rotary switches select which function their mating arcade push-buttons will be wired as (Joystick UP / DOWN / LEFT / RIGHT, or Button 1 / 2), and the on/off push-button switches easily enable or disable each of their mating arcade push-buttons, without changing their previous setting.  So for example, if the game you're playing has you use the joystick for left & right directional control, up for thrust, and down for shields, plus the fire button for firing...you could keep the left & right directional controls on the joystick, and assign the button "firing" to button 1, joystick up "thrust" to button 2, joystick down "shields" to button 3, and have button 4 disabled...or any other possible combination.  

 

The (4) on/off push-button switches in a diamond shape, directly to the right of the joystick, are used to easily enable/disable each of the (4) joystick directions.  So for example, in a game where you've assigned joystick down to one of the arcade push-buttons, you can disable the joystick's physical down switch, so that you can't accidentally trigger it (via the joystick) during gameplay.  

 

The top left, "skill" on/off push-button switch, selects which mode the controller is in; either "b" (beginner), or "a" (advanced).  When in Advanced mode, the controller is completely configurable as described above...but when in Beginner mode, all of the lower ancillary controls are bypassed, and the joystick is a standard 8-way joystick, and the orange arcade push-button (button 1), is the fire button...regardless of the state of any of the lower switches.  This way, if you have the controller set very specifically for one game that you're playing in Advanced mode, you can easily switch back to Beginner mode, to play all other games normally...without having to switch everything back and re-configure it.   

 

The top right, "fire button(s)" on/off push-button switch, selects whether the controller is wired for 1 or 2 ATARI 2600 fire buttons.  When on (enabled), fire button 2 (used in some hacks and homebrews), is available to be assigned to any of the (4) arcade push-buttons in Advanced mode, and is defaulted/wired to button 2 in Beginner mode.  When disabled, it is un-wired, due to incompatibility issues with the 2nd fire button in some emulators and and on some "retro" ATARI-esque consoles.

 

Then to complete the controller, cosmetically, the CPO artwork was created to compliment the ATARI 2600 woody consoles (and the era they come from), as well as to detail the functions of all of the ancillary controls.  The controller is wired with a custom 10' cable that I made, and two cord cleats are mounted onto the rear of the enclosure, for cable management.  

 

In addition to the VVG Switch-O-Matic Controller above, I also built this one recently for the 2600:

 

UCfGyY.png

 

...its my Phoenix Edition - VVG Experience Controller.  Using the actual/vintage hardware & controls, and silk-screened aluminum CPO from a Phoenix cocktail arcade cabinet, I built a dedicated arcade experience controller for the 2600 version of Phoenix...because why not.  In addition to the arcade 2-way joystick, and Barrier & Fire buttons, I added a joystick up/down paddle switch for multi-cart menu navigation, and a rocker switch to flip-flop the order of the buttons from Barrier (joystick down) as the left button and Fire (fire button) as the right button...to Fire (fire button) as the left button, and Barrier (joystick down) as the right button.  It also works great for similar games like Galaga, Galaxian, Space Invaders...and others.  

 

Then lastly, a while back I was creating a Mini ColecoVision controller for my portfolio (because again, why not), so I decided to simultaneously make a 2600 variant as well.  So here's my Atari VCS Edition - VVG Mini Controller

 

85GVMg.png

 

...for all of those who think most arcade sticks are too big.  Enjoy!

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One of these days I'll spend the money and get an appropriate Arcade stick for the 2600.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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On 5/15/2021 at 10:59 PM, Prizrak said:

One of these days I'll spend the money and get an appropriate Arcade stick for the 2600.

 

It will change your life!  Ok, maybe not, but it can make playing games a bit more enjoyable, and more "arcade accurate" for those arcade ports.  Personally I don't hate the CX-40 at all...I grew up with it.  But with the ability to build my own...it's almost like model building to me...creating new controllers.  

  

On 5/16/2021 at 8:42 AM, Tinman said:

Impressive!  I love it.

 

Thanks.  

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I love shit like this.  That's some great engineering on that first one; lots of thought clearly went into it.  One of the touted benefits of emulation is the ability to quickly and conveniently remap controls, so it's very cool how you've found an "analog" way of doing the same thing right on a real console. 

 

I find myself thinking it would be even cooler if it incorporated a pot-based dial for paddle games, but I also acknowledge that "too much complexity" is sometimes a thing.  

 

Great work!

 

 

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On 5/18/2021 at 7:38 PM, somebooks said:

these are beautiful! wow!

Thanks.

On 5/19/2021 at 12:46 PM, Cynicaster said:

I love shit like this.  That's some great engineering on that first one; lots of thought clearly went into it.  One of the touted benefits of emulation is the ability to quickly and conveniently remap controls, so it's very cool how you've found an "analog" way of doing the same thing right on a real console. 

 

I find myself thinking it would be even cooler if it incorporated a pot-based dial for paddle games, but I also acknowledge that "too much complexity" is sometimes a thing.  

 

Great work!

The only emulator I ever use is MAME, for arcade games, and even that's a fairly rare instance these days.  I like, and appreciate, real and actual hardware; so a controller like this Switch-O-Matic (or something game specific/dedicated) is the only way I can very easily re-map the inputs.  I will say that the more I play with it, the more games I come up with to change.  Last night I was playing Grand Prix, and I disabled the Joystick's left switch, and re-mapped this input to the 2nd button for push-button brakes...as I was inadvertently hitting them occasionally when using Up & Down to steer.  Then playing Pitfall, I mapped the 2nd button as a redundant Joystick down input.  I kept the Joystick's actual down switch enabled for descending ladders, but I definitely liked just slapping a push-button to let go of the swinging vines.  It's truly a "game-changer"...pun intended.  

 

Adding the potentiometer for paddle games is easy enough, "wiring-wise"...that just wasn't what I was looking for with this particular controller, as I wanted it joystick only.  I've already got a plan for a little bit larger controller that will include a joystick, a paddle, a driving controller, their necessary buttons, and a few other bits for game configuration, but now I'm also thinking about more of a mid-sized plain-Jane version, with just a joystick and it's button, and a paddle and it's button...I just need to see if I can lay it out comfortably in a 14" x 8.5" enclosure or not.  

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