The following reviews/comments are a far cry from being a comprehensive or statistically significant unbiased sampling. Some are comments I've collected from folks who have some hands on experience with a product, system or vendor. Some are links to reviews done by other folks. Got a review you think belongs here? Please let me know!
PowerRamp vs. V-Stick
I-PAC by Andy Warne
Imperial Trackball by Doug Hansen
MK40/64 by Ron
Its big, laminated plywood, and a fiberboard bottom... It even comes with its own distinctive serial# ... Has rubber feet, and screws on the bottom for easy fixing/disassembly...
Control? Hey... This
thing rocks... I first played it with Donkey Kong.. Worked
PERFECTLY.. Straight outta the box... Then I tried it withRobotron... The
default settings in MAME didn't work... But, it was a SNAPto configure..
Just hit TAB and move the cursor to the Keyboard Box, andreconfigure..
Need an up key? Push the joystick up.. VERY EASY... I playedRobotron, to
try out the 2 sticks.. Worked beautifully, and makes the game
actually playable.. Unlike the keyboard controls..
Next game played was Dig Dug.. Hell, we all love this game... Again.. Beautiful control...
Black dragon.. Ditto... i didn't try out the other 2 buttons yet for any 4 button games.. Will have to try that next...
The only gripe I have is that the buttons are a bit 'clicky'... But I'm sure the arcades were like this before the wear factor... They will certainly bea little LESS clicky after MAME .30 comes out with Track and Field.. (Youguys know where I'm comming from here.. ;)
Big, beautiful, bulky, and loads of control.. The thing rocks.. Hope you guys get yours soon...
--- Eric (Again from Dave's message boards)
V-Stick vs. PowerRamp comparitive review
The biggest difference between the two controllers is the joysticks used. The V-Stick uses arcade leaf joysicks, which don't click. Instead, a metal prong bends to make contact with the other contact. If you go to an arcade, you'll have a hard time finding this style joystick, but it's quite nice to play with. The only bad thing about the V-Stick joysticks are that they're a little stiff since they're new. They also have a red ball on the tip that's hard to grab hold of. A taller bat-shaped joystick would be nice, but I don't know if that's available as a leaf-style. I really don't notice this ball in the heat of battle, though.
In a word, the PowerRamp joystick is bad. Not only is it tiny and delicate, it doesn't move in a circular radius. If you circle the joystick, it moves around a "square" shape. This means the joystick has a tendancy to move to the corners of the square, at the diagonals. It's really no fun in games where I mean to move RIGHT or LEFT and instead move diagonally because I'm off by a millimeter. The joystick works okay in some games such as Galaga-style shooters, but is impossible in others that require exact movements such as Mr. Do! and Pac-Man.
A final word about sticks
- the V-Stick has two of 'em, which makes certain games very playable.
If you're playing MAME with the keyboard or a single joystick, you're undoubtedly
having a tough time playing Robotron, Battlezone, Krull, Black Widow, Cloak
and Dagger, Fire Trap, Splat, Rescue, and especially Crazy Climber.
These all play great with the V-Stick. Playing two player games such
as Mario Bros. also brings that arcade intimacy back, and is surely fun
with a member of the opposite sex, if only I could find a girl interested
in old arcade games... Uh, anyway, let's stay focused on the review here.
The V-Stick only gives two buttons to each player. The two buttons to the right and left of each joystick equal the same keyboard key. This works out okay in most games, since the left player can simply use the right player's buttons for games that need it. You won't be able to play two-player Street Fighter 2, or even two player Altered Beast with the V-Stick. Also, the V-Stick's buttons are assigned to only one set of keyboard keys, which causes certain problems. In Callus, ALT+D turns off sound. This is easy to press by accident in two player games. In System 16, S takes a snapshot but it also happens to be LEFT for player two. (The next version of System16 will let you select the key for snapshots). Programmable buttons, and more of them, would be welcome on the V-Stick.
Finally, the V-Stick can be played left-or right-handed. This is nice, since I play certain games with my right hand. It is hopeless to play the PowerRamp with your right hand, and my left hand just doesn't feel right in those no-button games like Nibbler.
That's about all the outstanding features of the two sticks I can think of. If anyone has any questions feel free to drop me a line. I'm in the planning stage of cannibalizing my PowerRamp to hook up to arcade controls for something similar feeling to the V-Stick, but with the features of the PowerRamp. For anyone else planning to do the same, you'd be better off with the PowerRamp Mite (the hand-held version of the PowerRamp). It has two more buttons, which means there are enough keys for two joysticks and twelve buttons (can you say SF2?)
The Pounder is no longer produced and the web page has disappeared :(
I'm the builder of The POUNDER joystick.
Let me tell you that
The POUNDER is essentially a merge of the V-stick and the PowerRamp.
The joystick is microswitch style and has a tapered head. There is
only one joystick standard, but several people have ordered custom units
with 2 joysticks. (See attached picture)
There are a total of 8 buttons, but up to 10 buttons and 2 joysticks can
be be included in a custom configuration.
The arcade play of the V-stick is there with the programmablity of the PowerRamp, and you get more buttons that the V-Stick.
Not an unbiased review I realize, but it's something.
(saint: Thanks for the information Douglas!)
Pounder Joystick Review
OK, I had a couple of people out there curious about the joystick I ordered. It arrived today, so I'm posting this short review.
It's called THE POUNDER, hand-built by a guy named David Prinn. It's approx. 12"x6"x3" and weighs around 4 or 5 pounds. The base is all metal. In fact there is NO plastic used. The joystick is SUPERB!!! Just like the beauties on Virtua Fighter etc. There are 8 buttons - 6 arranged in a Street Fighter layout and 2 more above that. The 6 button layout has 3 red buttons on the top row and 3 blue on the bottom. The other two buttons are a white Player1 button and a yellow "coin drop" button. Every button is a real arcade button from HAPP (as is the stick) and all of them feel great.
On the back of the base is an input where the keyboard pass through
cable goes. Hooking it up is a cinch. Mr. Prinn supplies cables for PS2
and normal keyboard inputs. Next to the input is switch labeled "Play"
and "Setup." This
wonderful little switch lets you program any button to any keyboard button or series of buttons at anytime. I quickly learned how to do this and found it very useful.
Overall the Pounder is constructed very solidly, built with care. Even
the inside (yes I just had to take a peek) is layed out in a manner that
suggests the person knew what he was doing. Overall I'm very happy with
If like me you don't have the time, technical confidence or patience to build one yourself, the Pounder is a great alternative. Best of all, it only takes about 4 weeks for the Pounder to arrive. You can even pay COD like I did.
Much easier than the V-stick. I might purchase a second unit with a few extra buttons eventually. Robotron would rock!!!
Check out the web page if you want more info:
(saint's note: Taken from one of Dave's Classic's message boards. Thanks Prophet!)
I was VERY impressed with the standard of build and it is heavy enough to stand-up to some serious 'pounding' - my son particularly likes thumping the buttons when I'm not looking.
The best bit though was the service from Douglas - it can be a bit worrying ordering stuff by bankers draught from the UK to the States, especially if you don't know the recipient, but Douglas was superb, keeping me well informed on the progress of the order.
It took about eight weeks to arrive, which being just before Christmas was pretty ok - shipping took only three days !!
I can't recommend this stick, enough - GO GET ONE !
Were yours the 4 way or 8 way joysticks? I've been told the 4 ways are great for 4 way, but hard on diagonals, while the 8 ways were great for diagonals, but ackward on 4 way games such as pacman. I've not heard from anyone yet that one particular joystick was best for all uses...
They are 8 way. I got pretty much the results that you described.
I bought a pair of Super joysticks and they work pretty good . Only a slight preformance loss in robotron, it's not really that big of a deal. The super joysticks, just like the Universal ones, have little strips of metal that simulates the leaf switch. This works great. I wish that I had bought the supers in the first place! They are only like a dollar more or somthing like that.
The Ultimate joystick and the Competion joystick just have microswitches and a square plastic block that forces you to have to be exact in you direction your moving in or you will have problems. They probably make good 4-ways.
So there you have it - a vote for the Super joysticks over the Ultimate... Thanks Joe!
I built it because I hate a gamepad's tendency to go diagonal when I'm just trying to go straight. It looked like Happs had a $25 minimum order, so to fill that out I bought both the Ultimate joystick and the Universal joystick (Here's where the review starts).
What I wanted was a joystick that felt like a Ms. Pac Man joystick. Something that responds fast and feel good. The Ultimate joystick had the 4-8 way switcher on it, which is what my biggest concern was. The joystick is stubby and rather stiff, and didn't feel all that great.
I then received the Universal joystick, which was on backorder. I decided to install it, and it felt much better. It was taller, and looked like what you see on Neo-Geo arcade games and fighting games. I would recommend the Universal over the Ultimate.
Yet another vote to not go with the Ultimate... Thanks Tony!
The following was originally a message posted on the message board here.
Well, I too am a neogeo lover, and am building a 4 player cabinet, and have built a sample stick (which is now broken because the dins got screwed over while a friend bungled up trying to splice the wire while I was on the pot) and it worked great. I used the super 8's and they worked great. It took me a few posts too this board to figure out how to switch between four & 8 way modes(the hourglass shaped piece, put the bigger end at top for 8 way, smaller end for 4 way). After that was fixed it worked great. Im still unsure of how to mount it under the cp with a really thick cp, but im gonna cut it from metal so it should be fine. The super 8's work wonderful & I had no problems doing any of the moves from Last Blade 2 that I attempted (the best ng IMHO). I have only seen 3 ng cabs in my lifetime, 1 in walmart, the other in a local pizzarea, both were taken out before I got into emulation. I found one currently in operation not too far from my house (like 30 minutes) with Baseball Stars 2 (another fav) & KOF94. Im gonna download KOF94 & practice more on BS2 & then go to the arcade & rape those games. Anyways...The super 8 feels long enough to use for a fighter but has enough of a thickness to not feel ackward in use with baseball games & such. The current cab at the arcade has I believe a Wico fighting stick, which I dont like, it feels too mushy. I have never heard of anyone with the Super 8's not liking em.
I purchased my TwistyGrip blueprints online from their web site, and it got here in 4 days - very nice :) It cost $19.95, and came in a 1/2" binder (limited time I think on the binder). There are 38 pages of detailed how-to-build information, including more pictures than I'm prepared to count. I haven't built one obviously, but from reading the manual, I can't see that a single detail has been left out. The full sized to-scale blueprints were a very nice touch. The list of tools needed was a bit daunting to me, but I think anyone who has a workshop and works with their hands should have them on hand. My overall conclusion? I think the complexity of the yoke is more than I'm willing to tackle, at least at this point. When he starts to sell yokes again, I expect I'll probably purchase one. While the instructions are extremely detailed, the potential for error and frustration seems very high to me. If, however, you are the handy type, then you could build a TwistyGrip Yoke with these blueprints. Recommended.
The customer service dept. is very nice and are ready to answer all of your questions. You don't have to order a catalog from them because they have their prices on-hand. They, unfortunately, forget little questions to ask, like what color, or leaf or cherry? I still managed to get my choice of parts and colors though.
The parts took about a week to arrive, and I'm sad to say that their packaging methods are less than desired. They cramed the parts into as small a space as possible, crushing my switch contacts in the process. They were however, easy to bend back into position, and they worked great. !!
I must say that they seem to be a very good vendor for odd products, despite their short-comings. I can't stress enough the better feel and price of leaf-switches. I've used both and think that at home builders should really use leaf over cherry.(After all, 100 grubby kids a day don't come to your house and play your game like at the arcade.)
I pretty much had the EXACT same experience as Howard did. I ordered three ball-top leafswitch joysticks from them. The person on the phone was very friendly and my order arrived fairly quickly. However, they did the same thing to me: they packaged the joysticks in such a manner that the switch contacts were bent. I was able to bend the prongs on two of the sticks back into shape, but the prongs were actually broken off on one of the sticks. Basically, the larger box that all three joysticks were shipped in was fine, but the three smaller boxes inside the larger box (that each had one joystick in them) were too small to hold a joystick without the prongs getting bent.
Would I go with Video
Connection again? Yes. They have good parts and very friendly
staff. I just hope that they can get their shipping a little more
I received the I-PAC keyboard interface in the mail today! It came a lot faster than I expected since I got an email saying that it was just sent.
If you are building your own cabinet and don't know how to interface your controls GET THIS DEVICE!!!! It works exactly as it's supposed to right out of the bubblewrap!
After fixing a crossed wire (my fault), I had it in the cabinet, up and running in minutes. A simple remap of some key controls in MAME and I was playing two player Track & Field!
At $50US (including shipping
anywhere in North America) this has to be the cheapest (
that to $79US for the cheapest Hagstrom encoder + shippingsaint's
correction: The Hagstrom
KE-18 is $44.95) and fastest
way to get your cabinet going. Unless you really like soldering wires (and
I can appreciate the "I built it myself" aspect), this is the way to go.
NOT! connected to IPAC in anyway, apart from being a very happy customer!
Nothing but happy words :)
Chris was very helpful
before, during and after the sale. He answered all of my questions,
and followed up to make sure I didn't have any problems. It is apparent
that the spinner was designed for abuse. The installation manual
is extremely detailed with a lot of pictures so you know exactly what to
do every step of the way. I installed it on a test control panel
first and can't quit using it long enough to mount it permanently.
I own an actual Tempest and playing with the [fultra] spinner is just like
the real thing. However, now I can play lots of other games that
I couldn't play before like 720 and Pole Position! If you are in
need of a spinner, I suggest you take a serious look at Chris's
From Bob D.
First of all let me say that it was a pleasure dealing with Chris. The communication was never cut off, from sending the check to when I received the Spinner. He also led me to the instructions, which I downloaded, and found everything in them to be professional and precise. The instructions were easy to follow, and explained not only what you were doing, but why you were doing it. The only difference in what I was doing and what the instructions covered was that I was not installing the spinner on a wood Control Panel. My spinner was going on the original metal (1/8") panel that was on the cabinet. The unit itself was very solid and sturdy. It spun very easily, and it was weighted so that it spun just enough after releasing it. The only thing I haven't done yet is cut the shaft, only because I don't have the tools at this time. All in all, it is a great product. It only took me about 20 minutes to install, and it works like a champ. I would recommend this to anyone building their own Control Panel.
From Tom A.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the trackball and Fultra spinner. The spinner is slightly larger (deep) than I thought and that forced me to redesign my control panel. I originally had a sloped surface that started off at 3 inches at the top and ended at 1 1/2 inches at the bottom. This design was going to be extremely tight without the spinner but was impossible with the spinner. I'm not blaming Chris for the dimensions, I just didn't pay that much attention to the dimensions, I just didn't realize it was so big. Chris was very good to work with and he sent me out a replacement knob after informing him that mine was received scratched. His installation instructions were very professional. I am happy with the unit.
[Chris] - Tom also commented on a problem he ran into - the flywheel and shaft collar separated while he was cutting the shaft to length. This was probably due to the vibration, or possibly my fault in the building process. Tom super glued the collar back on and had it fixed in minutes. I will correct this problem so it doesn't happen again. CF 5/21/00
The Fultra Spinner has worked very well for me, I'm using it in a test control panel with my new KE-72T and have had no problems. The installation doc was well written and full of pictures, it made installation really easy(an HTML or PDF version would be nice, I had to use a friends computer because I didn't have Word). The purchase of the spinner went smooth, Chris kept me well informed.
The big test was with MAME Tempest, which was the main reason why I bought the spinner, and it performed excellent. Other MAME games I like using it with are Warlords and Pole Position (it's like a mini steering wheel). The spinner has a nice big weight in it and spins really smooth and quiet. I've also been using a hacked mouse spinner, the Happ encoder on the Fultra Spinner and the mouse hack both work very well but the Fultra Spinner feels solid and is an arcade quality control. A cool feature is the option of using the Fultra Spinner for the X or Y axis, just switch connectors on the Happ trackball wiring and you've got a bunch more options for different kinds of games (you probably shouldn't switch 'em while your computer is on though).
For PC games I tried Atari Arcade Hits, Tempest and Warlords worked great. The new Atari Pong was a little slow but playable, maybe speeding up the mouse speed in Windows would help.
I've also used the Fultra Spinner connected to a hacked PlayStation Nyko trackball. The PSX trackball is pretty easy to adapt to the Fultra, first you unscrew the encoder wheel from the Nyko and replace the Fultra's encoder wheel. Then unscrew the Nyko's optic board and mount it on the Fultra's PCB bracket, this is the only difficult part because you'll also have the flip the Nyko's optic board upside down so you'll spin in the correct direction. The PSX games I've tried are Tempest X and Tempest in Arcade's Greatest Hits 1, both work super smooth and Tempest X will blow you mind (praise Minter).
Another project I'm planning is to use the Fultra Spinner with Tempest 2000 for Atari Jaguar. There's already a well known hack for the Jaguar which requires the use of an old Atari 2600 driving controller, but I've tried it and it's really lame. I found a site with info for connecting a Happ trackball encoder to a Jaguar gamepad(http://gozips.uakron.edu/~sra/jag_rot.htm). I can't wait to try it.
To sum it all up the
Fultra Spinner is a smooth arcade quality control that can be put to many
Finally, we've done our
own review of the Fultra Spinner
(two thumbs up!) ... :)
I would recommend this to anyone thinking of hacking a keyboard. I took the time to hack one myself, and had it working fine. I knew it would be more cost effective to purchase a unit like Ron's, but I like the challenge. Well, I did get it working, but the wiring was a mess, the wires had to soldered directly onto the traces, and kept falling off, and pulling out the traces - not the most robust piece of work I've ever seen! When I wanted to change the key layouts, the mere thought of moving wires around kept me from changing my original setup. The shift keys are simply awesome, and the main reason I bought the unit.
At least I can say I have hacked a keyboard, and made it work, but when the hammer comes down and you need something that is robust, a huge time-saver, and incredibly useful you can't go wrong with the MK40.
My first impressions were wow, this is a big case! I knew I would need to build a new control panel to be able to house this thing with the rest of my controls. I ordered the 3" unit with a translucent red ball. The ball was an orangey/red color but after a light was applied to the underside, the ball glowed a nice deep red.
When I first gave the ball a spin, it didn't spin for as long as I remembered the true arcade balls spinning. This prompted me to take the unit apart. Unfortunately I had the unit upside down when I took the casing apart and all of the components went flying all over my living room. The rollers and bearings were very heavy duty and seemed to be top notch quality. After I reassembled it, the ball was spinning like a champ. I'm not sure if the unit had been assembled wrong at the factory since I didn't have a reference point to compare it to because of my mishap.
A Happs 3" trackball plate fits just like it was made for it. I mounted it by I tracing the shape of the casing onto my control panel and cutting the hole out with a sabre saw. I then attached it to my trackball plate and dropped it in. You can see from Imperials website www.imperialusa.com that the shape is a little odd but it measures 6" x 6" and is 2 1/2" deep. You can see the finished, mounted product at www.doughansen.net/arcade/controls.htm .
Overall I would say this is a great choice for someone who wants an arcade quality trackball without having to fork over the extra money for an interface. From what I hear, these are the trackballs that are used in the Golden Tee games.