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Replace TAC-2 controller cables?


thetallguy24
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What symptoms are you having when you use your TAC-2 joysticks? You say you have a few; I can't imagine the cables being bad in all of them. If the game you're playing sometimes doesn't respond to a button press, well, that's just the way Suncom joysticks are in my experience. When I was a kid I bought a Suncom Slik Stik brand new, and it did that from day 1. About 11 years ago I was given an Atari 7800 which included some games and controllers, including a pair of Slik Stiks, and they do the exact same thing that the one I had as a kid did.

 

To check the cables, use a multimeter to check for continuity. The continuity setting usually has a symbol which looks like:

 

->|-

 

For example, on this typical multimeter, it is located just before the 6 o'clock position on the dial, between the 200 ohm range setting and the "hFE" setting. With your joystick disassembled, you then touch one of your multimeter's two probes (it doesn't matter which one) to the bare end of a wire (it doesn't matter which wire you start with) that terminates at a contact in base of the joystick, and touch the other probe to one of the female pins in the plug at the end of the cable. If your multimeter's display doesn't change, that means there is no electrical continuity between those two points, so leave one of the probes touching the wire in the base of the joystick and move the other probe to the next female pin in the plug. Keep going until you find continuity (or, if you don't find any continuity after checking every pin, it means the wire is broken internally somewhere). This procedure will not only tell you which wire goes to which pin, but also whether or not you have any broken wires.

Edited by MaximRecoil
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Also, if I use a different cable, how do I know which cable goes where? I've got a broken Genesis controller but the colors are not the same

That'll be your friend the ohmmeter/continuity tester again. If you don't already have a meter, buy one with the continuity beeper function. It's perfect for this kind of task. Touch one probe to a wire on the controller (or new cord) then use the other end to probe the plug. When you find the right pin in the plug, your meter will show zero ohms or the beeper will go off.

Write down which color goes with which pin #.

 

 

One possible approach: you could make a map table of (at least 6 rows) with the following columns:

--------------------------------------------
| Pin # | Old Wire Color |  New Wire Color |
|------------------------------------------|
|  1    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  2    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  3    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  4    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  6    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  8    |                |                 |
--------------------------------------------

http://atariage.com/2600/archives/schematics/Schematic_2600_Accessories_Low.html

 

Then remove one wire at a time from the joystick and replace it with the correlating color from the new cable using your handy dandy table.

Edited by BigO
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I just took one of my Slik Stik joysticks apart, and I was impressed by the design. Very simple and robust. I don't see how you could ever wear one out. Even the rubber grommet which is used for self-centering is very thick and isn't subject to much stretching (due to the short throw), so I don't see that ever wearing out either. Some types of rubber can simply go bad with age, but it is still like new in mine. The design looks like it should work perfectly; I have no idea what causes the occasional missed button presses. The button has a thick metal washer at the base of it which shorts two metal terminals when pressed down; it's as simple as can be. While I had it apart I even cleaned all of the contacts with a toothbrush and Bar Keepers Friend, but it didn't make a difference (the one I had as a kid was brand new and did the same thing, so I guess it isn't surprising that cleaning didn't help).

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What symptoms are you having when you use your TAC-2 joysticks? You say you have a few; I can't imagine the cables being bad in all of them. If the game you're playing sometimes doesn't respond to a button press, well, that's just the way Suncom joysticks are in my experience. When I was a kid I bought a Suncom Slik Stik brand new, and it did that from day 1. About 11 years ago I was given an Atari 7800 which included some games and controllers, including a pair of Slik Stiks, and they do the exact same thing that the one I had as a kid did.

 

To check the cables, use a multimeter to check for continuity. The continuity setting usually has a symbol which looks like:

 

->|-

 

For example, on this typical multimeter, it is located just before the 6 o'clock position on the dial, between the 200 ohm range setting and the "hFE" setting. With your joystick disassembled, you then touch one of your multimeter's two probes (it doesn't matter which one) to the bare end of a wire (it doesn't matter which wire you start with) that terminates at a contact in base of the joystick, and touch the other probe to one of the female pins in the plug at the end of the cable. If your multimeter's display doesn't change, that means there is no electrical continuity between those two points, so leave one of the probes touching the wire in the base of the joystick and move the other probe to the next female pin in the plug. Keep going until you find continuity (or, if you don't find any continuity after checking every pin, it means the wire is broken internally somewhere). This procedure will not only tell you which wire goes to which pin, but also whether or not you have any broken wires.

 

Well on one the up doesn't work. On another the down and right doesn't work.

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That'll be your friend the ohmmeter/continuity tester again. If you don't already have a meter, buy one with the continuity beeper function. It's perfect for this kind of task. Touch one probe to a wire on the controller (or new cord) then use the other end to probe the plug. When you find the right pin in the plug, your meter will show zero ohms or the beeper will go off.

Write down which color goes with which pin #.

 

 

One possible approach: you could make a map table of (at least 6 rows) with the following columns:

--------------------------------------------
| Pin # | Old Wire Color |  New Wire Color |
|------------------------------------------|
|  1    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  2    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  3    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  4    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  6    |                |                 |
|------------------------------------------|
|  8    |                |                 |
--------------------------------------------

http://atariage.com/2600/archives/schematics/Schematic_2600_Accessories_Low.html

 

Then remove one wire at a time from the joystick and replace it with the correlating color from the new cable using your handy dandy table.

 

What do I do when the meter's probe doesn't fit inside the plug?

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Well on one the up doesn't work. On another the down and right doesn't work.

 

Those directions never work? If not, then yes, you probably have a broken wire(s). Does everything look okay inside it, and are the QD terminals tight?

 

For the one where "up" doesn't work, start by setting your multimeter to its continuity setting, and touch one of its probes to the "up" terminal in the base of your joystick:

 

yKZy8lF.jpg

 

And then touch the other probe to each of the female pins in the plug, one at a time, until you either find continuity (indicating the wire is fine) or you don't (indicating the wire is broken). Then do the same thing for the other joystick, testing both the "down" and "right" wires.

 

Note that the common ground goes through the joystick shaft; just above the steel ball there is a terminal that snaps onto the shaft. Check to see how tight that is. I see this as a possible weak point in the design, because that terminal that snaps onto the shaft wasn't very tight in mine, and there's no way to really get it tight short of soldering it in place. I did take it off and squeeze it down some with pliers, but that didn't make it much tighter. You can't squeeze it down too much because you'd never get it snapped back onto the shaft. Soldering to steel is difficult or impossible without the right type of flux, and the flux-core in typical electrical solder isn't usually the right type of flux, and if I remember right, the right type of flux for soldering to steel may be bad for electrical connections.

Edited by MaximRecoil
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