Build Your Own Arcade Controls



Atari Jaguar Hack
  From the Atari Jaguar FAQ, posted to one of the related newsgroups, comes this writeup on building a spinner control from an Atari 2600 driving controller.  This could probably be adapted to the PC world, particularly with the many options for interfacing Atari joysticks and such to PCs via the parallel or joystick ports.  I'm reprinting it sans editing so some of the information obviously won't apply. Subject:      FAQ: Atari Jaguar Frequently-Asked Questions

Q. What's this about a rotary controller?  What games use it?  How do I makeone for myself?

A. TEMPEST 2000 has hidden in it an option for a rotary controller (at the"Game Options" menu, press Pause on both controllers to activate the    "Controller Type").  No plans for an official Atari rotary controller were announced, but many TEMPEST fans have been trying to build such a controller, to give the game a feel that's close to its arcade original.

Andy Light has written instructions for taking a Jaguar joypad and an Atari2600 Driving Controller and building a rotary controller with the parts. His instructions are condensed below.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLYBEFORE ASSEMBLY -- there are some areas that are left to the whim of thebuilder, and advance planning is highly recommended.

                                    * * *

Parts needed: Atari Jaguar controller
                     Atari 2600 Driving Controller (NOT the paddles)
                     13 wires, preferably of separate colors
                     A board or box or shell to mount everything on/in

1. Open the driving controller by removing the two underside screws.Inside is a top-like device or a grey box with three wires coming out ofit.  This is the encoder.  Pull the driving controller's knob off theencoder's shaft, then remove the encoder by unscrewing the nut that holdsit in place.  Disconnect the wires from the encoder.

2. Open the Jaguar controller.  There are four screws on the bottom holdingit together, behind the round rubber pads.  Inside the controller are two circuit boards connected by a ribbon of wires.  The bottom board is for thenumeric keypad and is held by two screws.  Remove the screws and take outthe keypad.

3. Disconnect the wire ribbon from the keypad by melting the solder.CAREFUL!  This is delicate work -- get help if you need it.  Solder thethirteen wires where the ribbon connection was; do not confuse them.

4. From the left side of the board (the side that says "P2"), I've numberedthe wires as follows:

      1) Common      5) Button A       9) Button C      13) Down
      2) Right            6) Button B      10) Pause
      3) Option          7) Button B      11) Up
      4) Option          8) Button C      12) Left

5. On the encoder, connect wire #1 to the center terminal, #2 to the rightterminal, and #12 to the left terminal.  The rotary part of the controlleris now finished.

6. How to connect the other controls is up to you.  I'm using arcadebuttons, a thumbpad, and a switch (to toggle joypad or rotary control)mounted in an Atari 5200 trak-ball controller case.  You can mount ajoystick, extra buttons, or other features for your own controller.Buttons and empty control boxes are available at stores such as Radio Shack.

Wiring for the other signals are as follows:

         Up         - wires #1 and #11       Button A - wires #1 and #5
         Down     - wires #1 and #13       Button B - wires #6 and #7
         Pause    - wires #1 and #10       Button C - wires #8 and #9
         Option    - wires #3 and #4

Because wire #1 has multiple uses, you will either need to string it orsplit it for each destination.

7. Reassemble and mount everything according to your design.  For betterspin, you can glue lead fishing sinkers to the inside of the knob, andlubricate the shaft of the encoder with light oil or silicone lubricant.

That's it!  Please forgive me for any mistakes in my grammer, terminology,spelling, etc.  If you encounter any problems, feel free to e-mail me at ALIGHT55@AOL.COM.  Good luck

Barcade's Build Your Own
  Barcade [BAD LINK] has put up a section showing how to build a spinner [BAD LINK] from the guts of a mouse, with several nice pictures.
Chad's Build Your Own
  Chad also has a section on building a spinner from a mouse hack.
Chris' Barrel Spinner
  Chris wrote up an interesting technique he's created for his arcade spinner, similar to the TwistyGrip design... The Barrel Spinner!
Drew's Build Your Own
  Many games use a spinner for control. A spinner differs from a trackball in that a spinner only controls movement along the x axis, while a trackball controls movement along both the x/y axes. One of the folks from Dave's Classics, Drew, has produced an excellent page [BAD LINK] on building a spinner control. It requires a mouse (will be gutted), a shaft, and a knob. Drew has gone into some detail on building the spinner and it looks fairly straight-forward.
Fultra Spinner

The Fultra Spinner is an arcade spinner designed to interface with the Happ Controls, Hagstrom, and/or OptiPAC trackball/spinner standard interfaces.  From their web page:

What is the Fultra Spinner?

The Fultra Spinner is an arcade game spinner control.  It can be used as a replacement in a dedicated arcade cabinet, or for home arcade emulators such as Mame.  It was designed for my Mame cabinet as an alternative to the $170 (spinner + PS/2 converter) that it would cost if purchased from an arcade parts distributor.

Currently the only product offered is the spinner, however there has been a new interest in developing a push/pull spinner which many users have been asking for. Right now we are making a totally new spinner to take advantage of the push/pull design - but when it is complete it will be an 'add on' kit that can be purchased for the Fultra Spinner. Additionally there may be a stand alone control panel in the future as well.

The spinner includes:

Solid steel spinner, Happs PCB,custom machined encoder wheel, 2 teflon friction reducing bearings, and a complete mounting kit including the bolts. This unit can be mounted in ANY control panel up to 1" thick.

There's more info on the page, including an available knob.  Priced at $65 including shipping.  Look for a review soon!
Happ Controls Optical Device to Mouse Hack
  Most efforts to interface trackballs and spinners have been via a mechanical hack to a mouse using the mouse optical pickups and electronics, or using a purchased interface. LuSID's Arcade Flashback and MAMEzilla instead hacked a Happ Controls trackball (and since they're the same optical interface, it will work for a Happ spinner as well) direct to the electronics of a mouse, requiring soldering but no mechanical hacks.  Very cool.  Credit where credit is due, the original idea came from LuSID's Arcade Flashback site as credited on MAMEzilla's page.

At any rate, LuSID emailed me to pass on this bit of extra information:

But 2 people have contacted me over the last year that had trouble duplicating it, so it would seem that some mice won't work with this hack. As with most hardware hacks, ymmv . . . On the other hand, I can confirm that it works with the Happ spinners. Thats what I did on my cab.
Thanks LuSID!
Hard Drive Based Spinners
  A couple of folks came up with an interesting idea - noticing that the platters inside old hard drives spun rather nicely, they used the parts to hack a spinner design.  Very cool.  Dhansen's Arcade Stupidity [Mirror] has one writeup.  Mamezilla has another, page one and page two.  Very cool indeed!
Nathan Strum's Cheep Spinner guide in Adobe PDF format
  Nathan Strum put together a "Build Your Own Cheep Spinner" guide in Adobe Acrobat format, that is just absolutely fantastic.  Incredibly detailed, built with easy to find parts, total cost under $40 including interfacing to a mouse hack.  *Very* cool.  This is Mac oriented, but can easily be applied to a PC mouse hack.  Nathan runs the MacMAME News & Info web site, of the same fine quality as this PDF.  Thanks Nathan!
Get Adobe Acrobat Reader here!
Need the reader?
OSCAR - Optical Spinner Control for ARcade games
  The OSCARs are a series of arcade spinners available for purchase, with a variety of interfaces.

From their web site:

Model 1

* * Features * *
  • Rugged aluminum capped control knob with straight knurl.  Control knob is 1.53" diameter.
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Oil impregnated bronze bearing - keeps the shaft straight and true.  This is true linear bearing, not a nylon/plastic bushing found on other spinners.
  • Low friction Delrin® bushing - used to set the height of the control knob.
  • Weighted flywheel for momentum
  • Continuous 360 degree rotation
  • The OSCAR is pre-mounted on a 3" x 5" 16ga. mounting plate.  This unit is ready to install -- no assembly required!  Mounting plate top surface is pre-finished in durable "black dimpled" coating.
  • Microsoft® mouse compatible - detected by Windows®95/98/Me PS/2 and/or USB interface!
  • All OSCAR's are now capable of axis switching.  This means that two OSCAR's can be connected to a single mouse PCB, one on the X-axis and one on the Y-axis.  By using a MAME port such as EMU+, this allows for independent, 2 player spinners utilizing a single port.
  • Model 2
    Has similar features, with the following difference:
    • Opti-Pac Plus version!  It has also been successfully tested with the Hagstrom ME4.
    • Up to 4 OSCAR's can be connected to the Opti-Pac Plus
    Model 3 - Oscar PRO

    The all metal construction ensures a lifetime of enjoyment!  Every component of the spinner is specifically designed for maximum gameplay and durability.

    The alloy steel shaft is precision ground and case hardened to Rockwell C 60.

    The extra large encoder wheel is custom designed for top performance in MAME for ALL spinner games!  Laser cut from commercial quality sheet steel ensures unmatched precision.  The large encoder wheel makes for a dramatic speed increase without incurring "backspin".

    The OSCAR Pro has an extra heavy feel due to the large flywheel and encoder wheel.  Combining this with the full length bearing makes for an ultra-smooth spin that cannot be matched by other spinners!

    The optic board is pre-wired to connect directly to an Ultimarc Opti-PAC interface.  Optionally order your OSCAR Pro for a Hagstrom Electronics interface, and the spinner will have the necessary connector attached to the optic board's wires.

    The OSCAR Pro is designed for easy installation without a mounting plate.  Drill a single 3/8" hole in your control panel for the bearing, and the self-aligning bracket assembly does the rest.  Simply install the shaft/encoder wheel assembly, attach the optic board, and you are ready to play!

    Looks great!  Prices start at $49 not including shipping.   Be sure to check out the review, and visit their web site for more information including pictures of customer installations of Oscar Spinners!
    QuickSpin Arcade Spinner Project
      A do it yourself guide to building an arcade spinner that mounts directly into your control panel.  Other modifications are in the works.  This model of the QuickSpin interfaces with a Happ compatible optical interface like the Hagstrom Spinner/Trackball interface or Ultimarc's Opti-PAC. For those on a budget any of the usual mouse hacks will work too.  More on their web page, looks great!


    SlikStik's Tornado Spinner
      SlikStik has produced the Tornado Spinner as part of their product line, available both in their joystick products and as a part for your own projects.  Kevin has done a review of the spinner, and he was impressed.  This is a heavy duty metal spinner with a PS/2 and USB interface.
    Stephan Hans
      Stephan Hans has struck once again!  He has designed his own spinner control, and has full details on his web page.  It looks fairly straight forward and is well documented.  He also has created a circuit that "allows the use of the spinner in an arcade console which uses a gutted keyboard as core, or with a standard joystick or even a gamepad." -- The electronics of it are beyond me, but for those of you with the courage or expertise, this looks to be an excellent solution for wiring up a spinner.
      TwistyGriphad a commercial spinner for sale, no longer available.  However, they created complete instructions (2 megs worth!) on building one.  Michael converted it to a PDF format (Adobe Acrobat), and TwistyGrip gave their blessing to post it here (in the downloads section).  Thanks Michael & TwistyGrip!
    Get Adobe Acrobat Reader here!
    Need the reader?
      The Snake sent me an email with a source for genuine Arkanoid arcade spinner controls from Wico (800-367-9426).  From their latest catalog: Complete Trackwheel Control   part# 15-898200  $47.89
    Printed Circuit Board Only    part# 98-074500  $ 7.47
    Finger Dimple Knob - Black    part# 15-899400  $12.87
    The Arkanoid Encoder Schematic from Smash TV's Coin-Op Arcade Game site may also come in handy.  Also, Happ Controls sells replacement spinner controls as well.  They've just recently started selling a complete trackwheel control with knob for $110!  Thanks Snake and William!
    Wingman Warrior
      One ready made alternative that several folks have had good luck with is the Wingman Warrior joystick, which includes a spinner knob.  Unfortunately, this is a discontinued product.  One person recently picked one up at a computer store for $39.00, but I expect they will soon be scarce.  You might try ebay to see if they ever have one. Gumby Tempest reported on one of Dave's Classics' message boards about a new driver for the Wingman Warrior.  If you've been having problems getting it to work right in Win9x, give this a try.  Gumby cautions, "Be careful, and read the readme first, because it replaces the older LES23.exe drivers. So don't install it if you're not having problems!"


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