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CX40+: Replacement Board Prototype


CX40_Plus
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Wanted to share a prototype I've been working on and get your thoughts.

 

CX40+ is a drop-in replacement board for the classic Atari joystick that ditches the flaky dome switches of the original with new, tactile switches similar to those found in the Neo Geo Pocket. The replacement is easy, requiring only three minutes and screwdriver.

 

This more modern approach gives a much more positive, "clicky" feel while being considerably more durable and responsive.

 

I would love to be able to save one or two CX40s out of the trash, so am considering a short production run in the future. The photos below are of the first version and I expect a couple of revisions before I'm happy.

 

What does everyone think?

post-47496-0-38190300-1470520978_thumb.jpg

post-47496-0-34555000-1470520983_thumb.jpg

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Very cool! I have a box full of malfunctioning CX40s that these would be great to fix up with. Keep us posted on these!

Any idea on a price point for these if/when you get to production?

EDIT: Welcome to AtariAge! :)

Edited by BassGuitari
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Thanks for the kind words!

 

Any idea on a price point for these if/when you get to production?

 

I haven't yet costed them. My hope would be to keep them under $25USD shipped. However a lot depends on if I assemble or have them assembled, size of the batch and final components.

 

I'm still testing different switches. There are currently two prototypes that use different tact switches, but I don't think either are perfect. Which I decided to go for and who can supply them will have a big impact on the cost.

 

I'd love to try a couple out when you're ready to release them...

 

I'd like to get some of the next revision prototypes in to the hands of AtariAge members for review!

 

Do you think there's specific people I should be talking to in the community about the project?

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Honestly I never understood the appeal of buying replacement PCB's. All you need to do is pull up the old tape clean the board and contacts than just tape back down the dome switches with packing tape. I've done this to a half a dozen CX-40’s over the years and they always function like new afterward. Even if the dome switches are worn out it's not hard to find replacements.

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/w/wholesale-metal-dome-switch-tactile.html?spm=2114.01010208.0.52.cKB2Hf&site=glo&SearchText=metal+dome+switch+tactile&g=y&SortType=price_asc&groupsort=1&initiative_id=SB_20160807081704&shipCountry=us

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I and many people have tried that and if you use them after a short time they end up moving and having issues . The Best electronics boards are the best quality and solution .

Never had that happen to me. I did most of mine in the early 2000's and they're still perfect. I've seen guides that say to cut out squares around the domes in the original tape and that definitely would cause movement and poor adhesion of the new tape. You need to remove all of the original tape and re-wrap the the board, Also adding a thin layer of dialectic grease will held retard future corrosion of the metal contact surfaces.

Edited by thecrypticodor
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Thanks for the feedback everyone - it's been super helpful.

 

Seems like the thoughts are:

 

  • The price would have to be more comparable to dome switch solutions on the market
  • The primary decision to pick one up would be as a repair than a feel / performance upgrade

 

Also, I notice that Best Electronics require the purchase of two boards. Would people be okay if these board were only available as pairs?

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Best Electronics sells their brand new gold boards for 8.75 each so I guess I don't see a point to putting money into doing this .

Microswitches, that's why. Sure, you can mod existing boards if you want, but if there's a brand new board that has them from the get-go and you don't feel like/have time for modding old ones yourself, why not?

 

Would people be okay if these board were only available as pairs?

Wouldn't bother me!

Edited by BassGuitari
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Microswitches, that's why. Sure, you can mod existing boards if you want, but if there's a brand new board that has them from the get-go and you don't feel like/have time for modding old ones yourself, why not?

 

 

Wouldn't bother me!

Another thing to consider is the normal microswitch contacts typically sit about 3-4mm above the board while the classic dome switches are handle one mm high. This will drastically change the feel of the joystick and require modding of the joystick housing and/or actuator to compensate for the height difference.

 

There are special low profile microswitches do exist, but these are more expensive and only marginally better than the domes.

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Another thing to consider is the normal microswitch contacts typically sit about 3-4mm above the board while the classic dome switches are handle one mm high. This will drastically change the feel of the joystick and require modding of the joystick housing and/or actuator to compensate for the height difference.

That's part of the reason I haven't bothered to fix up spare broken CX40s this way. Lots of filing and fiddling around. Which is why I like these boards; those microswitches look pretty close to the height of original dome switches.

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There's no modification of the existing joystick plastic required. The switches in the current prototype are surface mount, so very low profile. The tact switches are slightly higher than the original dome switches, which means the throw of joystick is much shorter. This makes the stick (and the fire button) feel more responsive.

 

I've attached an image below.

post-47496-0-84579800-1470605322_thumb.jpg

Edited by CX40_Plus
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Looks good! Throw might be a lot different than many people would expect though. Might actually *want* to file down the nub/nipple off the actuator, huh? Don't want too great a throw either, but that nipple filed down might just be the ticket to feeling as "natural" as possible for such a mod?

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I would rather have a bit shorter throw with snappy response than a stiff joystick that's difficult to actuate. I'm wondering if these will make the original joystick better than the FB2 sticks. The FB2 have silicone rubber pads with carbon dots. It's way better than a crunchy CX-40 but the button response feels spongy.

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Yeah, don't care for the FB sticks at all. Liked them at first, but on extended play, the flaws are obvious.

 

The original plastic actuator on the CX40 stick (by design) has *some* give to it and coupled with the dome design, is always going to feel superior to the repro's and the FB sticks of today IMO. And with the way the actuator wears (the whiter the corners/stress on the plastic, the more give they have), some sticks will exhibit more mushiness or a longer throw than others. A few different variables to observe here for sure!

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Might actually *want* to file down the nub/nipple off the actuator, huh? Don't want too great a throw either, but that nipple filed down might just be the ticket to feeling as "natural" as possible for such a mod?

 

That's very possible. To me the stick feels significantly better, as you get much more immediate feedback and less wiggle, but it's certainly not the classic CX40 feel.

 

It would be great to get some other people play and feedback once I have my next revision.

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