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Interest Check - 5200 Trak-Ball mod to play 2600 TB games


BigO
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I've been tinkering off and on with a mod to my 5200 Trak-Ball to let me play the 2600 games that were recently modified to support real trackball input (not joystick emulation).



I've boiled down the work to a replacement wiring harness that makes available several types of trackball signal plus all of the original 5200/CX-53 functionality.



This is done with no modifications to the controller enclosure and no modifications to the circuit board. No soldering to the original board. Restoring to 100% original would consist, essentially, of re-installing the original cable.



All of the signals are brought out to a 25 pin DB connector. Selection of interface is accomplished by plugging an adapter cable into the DB-25 cable end. I have built connectors that let the 5200 Trak-Ball controller work as:


  1. Original 5200 CX-53
  2. Straight quadrature encoded signal (like the ST Mouse)
  3. Direction+clock style (like CX-22)
  4. Could easily make an adapter to make it act as an Amiga mouse.


Though tested only with the 2600, there's no technical reason that the controller wouldn't work with various vintage computers that have trackball games.



I don't have a solid price in mind yet, but I don't want to source parts if nobody's interested. It's so labor intensive, that I don't think there'll be any profit in it.


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For $25 I might be in...

Thanks. I appreciate that feedback.

 

I haven't really costed out the BOM yet. I made mine out of a lot of parts I had sitting around. The cabling might be cost prohibitive. And there turns out to be a surprising number of pieces and parts required to build one of these by the time I actually got one done. There's a lot of time doing fiddly crimping, heat shrinking, fabricating the custom IC taps (I never expected to end up owning jewelry making tools, but there they are sitting on my workbench), and so on. I don't really plan to make much on these, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it that low.

 

I may have time this week to eyeball the costs.

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Doing this the way I wanted it for myself, a complete drop-in replacement wiring harness, requires more than $25 in parts.

 

If you end up paying as much for this mod as just buying a CX22, why not just buy a CX22?

 

I'll see what alternatives I might be able to come up with. I still want it to be user installable.

I'm really not a fan of having multiple cables coming out of the console, but could live with that for the sake of being practical.

With an alternate design for adapters, I think I can blend new signals with the existing DB15 without modifying the original controller or wiring in any way.

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Mark II prototype complete and tested with 5200 and 2600.

 

Still user installable, zero enclosure mod, zero soldering, zero changes to existing wiring, zero permanent mod of any kind.

Cheaper and faster to build. The compromise is having a second cable coming out of the CX53. That probably only bugs me.

 

Pictures later.

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Now that I know that I can make a working version with fewer pieces (no crimping and soldering pins in 5 & 11 pin connector, no fiddling with zillion wire IEEE 1284 printer cables, I'll try to get time this week to put together a second one and get a reasonable assessment of the time requirements.

 

I also want to try a couple of tweaks on the construction of the IC socket/taps to make it a bit easier to deal with and slightly more robust. I also have to find a more effective strain relief than what I happened to have on hand.

 

Don't hold me to it, but at the moment, it seems like I'm going to be looking at something in the $30-$35 range for one, at least with the parts I have on hand that I bought to make four of them. That would include one adapter cable that's configured for CX22 style signals. That seems to be as universally supported as anything. (The straight quadrature signals are available using a differently pinned adapter, but there doesn't seem to be nearly as much need/interest there.)

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Could be possible, but I'm clueless/inexperienced/unknowing about anything Jaguar/STE/Falcon. Is a trackball in any way supported already?

 

It should be. The Enhanced Joystick Ports support digital and analog.

 

A lot of ST games supported the ST Mouse - which is the true "CX80" designation - on the normal DB9 ports. So an ST game ported to Jaguar should be pretty easy for Cyrano's wrappers to remap that "Mouse"/Trak-Ball functionality over to the Enhanced Ports. It's probably also going to be the only way any actual Atari system can use a Trak-Ball for [sT] Crystal Castles since it's been deemed impossible on the 2600, and A8/5200.

 

You know, I never really counted the pins on the ports on either my Falcon or Jaguar so it's interesting to read they are 15 pin ports… Wonder where Atari CORP got the idea for that...

 

Here's some info:

 

http://www.gamesx.com/controldata/ejp_faq.htm

 

http://acm.atariportal.cz/index.php?submenu=conST&zobraz=connectors/STE_ejoystick

 

http://acm.atariportal.cz/index.php?submenu=ada&zobraz=cables/jagpad-xe <----DB9 to Enhanced Joystick Port cable adapter [best Electronics sells a version]

 

Here's an adapter to use a Jaguar controller on a 5200: http://www94.pair.com/jsoper/jag_adapter.html

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Looks like it has up/down/left/right digital inputs, so if the software reads those as digital inputs then hooking up to the Jag shouldn't be a problem. Assuming that such a platform would expect ST mouse signals, there should be no problem since I'm making the quadrature output available.

 

It looks like the Jag controller port could be the same high density 15 pin connector as used with VGA. That'd be convenient.

 

Should be worth looking into if any actual demand arises.

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Rambling thoughts:

 

Just saw some info about Jag rotary controllers. Given that they're essentially the same technology as the trackball, it appears that the Jag can certainly accept the necessary signals.

 

From one schematic I could find quickly, it looks like the Jag keypad is a 3x4 matrix, so it may be possible to support the keypad as well. Would have to do some detailed research to see about fire buttons, etc.

 

I also see that the OEM Jag controller appears to be one big scan matrix. There must be some exception to that when reading the spinner inputs.

 

I see Tempest 2000, but are there other games that natively support the rotary controller?

 

I'm now thinking that if I owned a Jaguar (or other compatible platform), I'd be hacking together something to play Tempest 2000 with my CX53. :)

I assume that one could easily mentally translate rolling the ball left/right to do the same thing as spinning a rotary controller left/right.

 

I didn't find a video showing somebody using a rotary controller and specifically which buttons are used to play Tempest 2000, so I'm just making guesses.

 

I see that some people have made these Jag rotary controllers from 2600 driving controllers and those are extremely low resolution. If that's the resolution that Tempest 2000 is really happy with, there would have to be some circuitry to reduce the resolution of the trackball's output.

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Where do I begin… I believe Tempest 2000 is the only commercial Jaguar game to support a rotary controller. From what I've read, most people have avoided using 2600 Driving Controllers for parts. They go with other parts and the custom jobs are anywhere from basic - adding a spinner to the JagPad - to external boxes with arcade rotary parts. Perhaps Breakout 2000 supports rotary; not sure about that. Get Tempest 2000 to work with a CX53 would be pretty cool though.

 

There's probably more Atari STEs out there than Jaguars. Possibly some of its titles may support rotary… public domain/shareware/homebrew. Not a lot of commercial titles back in the day supported the Enhanced Joystick Ports on them even though they were on the market a good 4 years before the Jaguar and Atari sold the JagPads for the STEs first in Europe; they were gray colored. The JagPads got much more support for games written specifically for the Falcon030 but I think that's possibly 20 commercial titles in total…it was out a good 2 years before the Jaguar.

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I don't get it, why not just use a CX 22 for track ball games?

The answer is simple enough for me. I didn't have a CX22, I had a CX53, I have the skills to do the mod.

 

If I have a piece of equipment that will do the job with a minor modification, it's much more within my nature to do the modification.

 

Other people seemed to be interested in what I was doing and made statements to the effect that they wanted me to modify their CX53's. So, here we are. :)

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The answer is simple enough for me. I didn't have a CX22, I had a CX53, I have the skills to do the mod.

 

If I have a piece of equipment that will do the job with a minor modification, it's much more within my nature to do the modification.

 

Other people seemed to be interested in what I was doing and made statements to the effect that they wanted me to modify their CX53's. So, here we are. :)

 

Good points. Plus track balls take up a lot of space. I now have a CX 53, CX 22, and two CX 78's.....

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Good points. Plus track balls take up a lot of space. I now have a CX 53, CX 22, and two CX 78's.....

They do take up considerable space. I already have 4 CX53's, a modified Wico trackball and another cheapo joystick emulator trackball. I'd add a CX22 if I could find one local and very cheap, but space is running out.

 

If an apartment dweller owns a 5200 and CX53 and a 2600, they're probably out of space already. That's my big market niche. :D

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