Jim emailed me with his joystick project,
which is fairly well documented and has several very nice pictures.
You can download the zipfile
with an MS-Word writeup and the pictures. It's the same information
presented here. Thanks Jim!
The first step to any controller is
first decide what you are going to use it for. The games you intend
to play will determine what parts you use and what interface you will select.
I enjoy MAME (Galaga) and Callus (Street Fighter). Callus required
the most buttons so I decided to go with 2 joysticks and 6 buttons each.
I also wanted to be able to select and run a game with only the joystick
so I would need the extra buttons pictured at the top (see Controller
Top.jpg or Controller.jpg).
All parts are from Happ
Controls. The joysticks are Happís Super Joysticks in 8-way mode.
All pushbuttons are Happís Ultimate pushbuttons. Both use microswitches
I decided to go with a Street Fighter
type layout for the joysticks and the buttons. Here is a real good
tip. Trace out the dimensions of your buttons and joysticks on paper
and cut them out. Then arrange the paper buttons and joysticks on
a piece of masonite. Masonite is a cheap building material you can
find at any hardware store. This way you can play around with your
layout by just moving the paper around. No drilling to figure out
exactly how you want it. Then trace your layout onto the masonite.
You now have a template to build your control panel with. I measured
out all my dimensions and labeled them right on the masonite. I then
drilled all the holes out and put my controls in. Masonite is much
easier to drill, much cheaper than plywood and stiffer than cardboard.
I could now see exactly how my joystick would feel and I havenít messed
up one piece of wood trying. Masonite layouts will save you time
and money. You can see my template in masonite.jpg.
Bring on the carpentry :). I
made my controller out of 3/4 inch plywood. This may be a bit excessive
but I wanted something that I could beat the heck out of. I tend
to be an emotional player and will be the first to slap the controller
when I die. This big thing hurts my hands. I covered the outside
of the plywood with kitchen countertop formica. This left a very
nice finish and makes it ďbeer proofĒ for the occasional spill. I
used a router to cut the formica, which left nice clean edges, but I am
still looking for some nice molding to put around the edges. Formica
isnít cheap but here is a good tip. Go to your hardware store and
find a piece of formica that is damaged. I found a piece that had
a huge crack down the center of it and was basically useless for a counter
top but would not affect my joystick at all. I just cut around the
damage. I ended up getting a $60.00 piece of black formica for only
8 bucks. I donít think I could have painted the joystick for $8.00.
One more tip. Since I used 3/4 inch plywood my joysticks were too
short when I mounted them. I took a router and carved out the area
where my joysticks were mounted. This let me keep the durability
of thick plywood but still mount my joystick with the maximum length and
freedom of movement. Check out joystick
routing.jpg to see how nice this worked.
I decided to go with a hacked keyboard
for my interface. I chose this mainly for cost. I read all
the information I could on hacking keyboards and figured I could do it
no problem. I was right and wrong. If you decide to go with
a keyboard hack make sure you have plenty of time, plenty of patience and
the right tools. Keyboard hacks are cheap but they are a royal pain
in the *$%. Soldering to a pc board is rough without a really good
soldering iron. And doing all those wires took forever. Take
your time with the soldering, it is real easy to screw things up.
Even if you screw up on the last wire it is back to the drawing board if
you burn up the board or short it out. I am decent with a soldering
iron and was quite happy how good my hack turned out. Take a look
at keyboard hack.jpg
to see for yourself.
Wiring was the roughest part but I
came up with a great timesaver. I used terminal blocks from Square
D. They are DIN rail mounted. I just cut a piece of rail and
mounted it to the bottom of my plywood and then the terminal blocks just
snapped in. I connected my keyboard hack to one side of the terminal
blocks. Look at terminal
strip.jpg to see it. This particular terminal block has little
labels you can write on for identification. See Terminal
Strip Closeup.jpg to see how nice this makes wiring. It also
is great for tracing the matrix; you only need one wire to trace it out!
Terminal blocks and DIN rail can be found in any industrial supply catalog.
I used Graingers.
To connect my joystick to the computer
I used a connector in the back of the joystick (see keyboard
connector.jpg). This lets me use a standard keyboard extending
cable to connect my joystick to the computer. This method also allows
the controller to be portable. I just pick it up and take it to a
friendís house. You can find this part at an electronics store.
A keyboard hack needs diodes to stop
ghosting. I soldered my diodes into the wire and used heat shrink
to insulate them. I then used a quick connect crimped on the end
of the wire. I attached this connector to the microswitch and the
other end to the terminal block. I used wire ties and adhesive anchors
to make my wiring clean and not a mess. Check out Wiring1.jpg
and Wiring2.jpg to see
the underside of my joystick and the completed wiring. Clean wiring
makes a nice professional looking job.
I left out a lot of steps in the construction
and wiring parts. This was not intended to be a how to guide just
a quick run down of things I discovered and ideas I had during the construction
process. Read the web
page you got this from extensively and visit the projects linked there.
Saint has done a spectacular job of assembling all the technical information
you need. (saint's note. He really did say that.
I didn't throw that in there. Honest.) It is where all
my know how came from. I hope my project and the ramblings here both
inspire you and make your project better. Half the fun of your arcade
controller is building it. Now go play some games ?!