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What purpose does the 2nd keypad serve in the CX-53 Trak-Ball controller?


CZroe
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So you can use your right hand or left hand with the Trak-Ball.

 

..Al

LOL! They duplicated fire buttons on the CX-52 but, thankfully, they didn't duplicate the right keypad column on the left in the name of handedness. ;)
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My guess was Atari got complaints from left handed people about the 2600 joystick only having a fire button on the one side they can't use, so they made buttons on both sides on controllers made in the early 80's.

 

When the NES debut with the now standarized gamepads it was back to "our way or the highway" design.

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My guess was Atari got complaints from left handed people about the 2600 joystick only having a fire button on the one side they can't use, so they made buttons on both sides on controllers made in the early 80's.

 

When the NES debut with the now standarized gamepads it was back to "our way or the highway" design.

That explains the buttons, but not the keypads. Putting it in the middle like they did in the CX-52 controller would be cheaper and serve the same purpose. It's just about as silly as making a left ball and a right ball with no functionality difference!

 

If they allow some games to have more functions available without needed to toggle the keypad mode the. I would understand.

Edited by CZroe
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  • 2 weeks later...

The reason for the duplication was Dan Kramer wanted both left and right handers to enjoy the Trak-Ball. Although he did design left and right handed versions per Atari management's requests. They ultimately made the right choice and made a single unit to accommodate all players.

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The reason for the duplication was Dan Kramer wanted both left and right handers to enjoy the Trak-Ball. Although he did design left and right handed versions per Atari management's requests. They ultimately made the right choice and made a single unit to accommodate all players.

 

But I see the point that CZroe is making. If they had just put a single keypad in the center and bought the trak ball just a tad bit higher on the controller it would have worked for both with less material and costs? And we all know Atari was all about getting stuff out there for as little cost as possible so it does seem odd.

 

It could also be that Dan designed it this way to take up the space. See, the thing with this trak-ball is that the entire housing needed to be large to accommodate the thing when using it. If you put the keypad in the center under the trak-ball then the entire housing would have looked really odd to be that large. So from a design standpoint I can see how it made sense to fill that in by using two keypad setups and allowing the trak-ball to be completely in the center. Putting it into a smaller housing might have made too unstable when using it?

 

Another though is that when using the trak-ball, if the keypad were centered under it, it could very well be possible to accidentally press keypad keys you didn't mean to while using it. I'm sure there is way more into the design and I'm merely speculating here.

 

Mr Kramer?

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I guess there was precedent with the duplicated fire buttons in the CX22 and CX80 but action buttons make a lot more sense when it comes to left vs right handed. The keypad was for auxiliary functions.

 

Having two fire buttons on either side and a keypad in the middle of the CX53 would be just as appropriate as the same setup was for the CX52. If's it's a matter of symmetry then they still could have shaved expense by giving it a pass-through for a CX52 where the controller could slot into either side. This would've also made the CX53 a great backup Robotron 2084 dual controller holder. ;) Also would've made the cable management a bit more useful (normal controllers don't need this but having one rigidly attached to another could definitely use it). As for the weird look to have a single keypad on a unit that large: it would not have needed to be that large, especially if the keypad was a small protrusion out of the bottom (instead of extending the entire bottom edge).

Edited by CZroe
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According to the book Atari Inc. Business is fun:

"Dan's issue and argument with the mechanical design team had been over the design of the case for the 5200 Trakball. While it made sense to have both left and right handed player fire buttons on either side of the trakball, as he wanted to, what Dan had an issue with was the inclusion of two separate keypads on the case. There was no reason to have two keypads except for aesthetics and he would argue insistently that the design only needed one, that what they were proposing was adding cost to the product and made no sense."

It also mentions that the controller uses actual pool cue balls.

 

Great book by the way. I can't vouch for it being 110% accurate but there is TONS of interesting info.

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According to the book Atari Inc. Business is fun:

"Dan's issue and argument with the mechanical design team had been over the design of the case for the 5200 Trakball. While it made sense to have both left and right handed player fire buttons on either side of the trakball, as he wanted to, what Dan had an issue with was the inclusion of two separate keypads on the case. There was no reason to have two keypads except for aesthetics and he would argue insistently that the design only needed one, that what they were proposing was adding cost to the product and made no sense."

It also mentions that the controller uses actual pool cue balls.

 

Great book by the way. I can't vouch for it being 110% accurate but there is TONS of interesting info.

Interesting. I'll have to check that out. Love the fly on the wall perspective in matters like this. :)
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According to the book Atari Inc. Business is fun:

"Dan's issue and argument with the mechanical design team had been over the design of the case for the 5200 Trakball. While it made sense to have both left and right handed player fire buttons on either side of the trakball, as he wanted to, what Dan had an issue with was the inclusion of two separate keypads on the case. There was no reason to have two keypads except for aesthetics and he would argue insistently that the design only needed one, that what they were proposing was adding cost to the product and made no sense."

It also mentions that the controller uses actual pool cue balls.

 

Great book by the way. I can't vouch for it being 110% accurate but there is TONS of interesting info.

 

The cue ball part is totally accurate. Though I've not done it, I've heard of collectors changing the cue ball out with other billiard balls. The #8 ball being the most favorite to pop in there.

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ffUJa5y.png

 

There are probably some major engineering problems with my designs but I thought I'd visualize them anyway. :) I'm sure it's possible to design something similar with that much room!

Edited by CZroe
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ffUJa5y.png

 

There are probably some major engineering problems with my designs but I thought I'd visualize them anyway. :) I'm sure it's possible to design something similar with that much room!

 

Very nice layouts! I would prefer the option with the controllers going in from the top. This way the joysticks themselves wouldn't have the possibility of getting in the way when using the trak-ball. Not a fan of the fire buttons having to go on the low end of the case doing that though..but I also understand it.

 

To get the external controllers to still be used, you would also have to create a passthrough for all of this to function right? But I think the games that are TB compatible have to detect it when they are powered on. So you would need to create a switch on something like this to allow that to happen. I think the bottom case design would have worked best bitd to allow you to use the controllers for dual control games like Robotron and Space Dugeon. I would have still put a central Start - Pause - Reset row of buttons along the top above the trak-ball so you didn't have to rely on the controllers for that since we know how awesome those early carbon pads and alum traces on the controllers worked back then as they do now...

 

But seeing as how they already had the joystick coupler for those games...it should have been easy enough to mold that into the case for the controllers like you have set here in your diagrams.

 

But I think making it any smaller wasn't really an option due to making sure the damn thing didn't move around all over the place sliding on your coffee table when trying to use it. I have that issue already with larger joystick controllers that came out bitd and had suction cups on them to hold them down. Never really worked very well.

Edited by -^Cro§Bow^-
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Thanks. I'm torn between that one and the small centered one with the built-in keypad. Yeah, that too-loading one probably works best since it also lets you eliminate the expense of including Start/Pause/Reset buttons too. I'm not sure how much clearance would be needed below the controller for the fire buttons. Looping the controller cord back to plug into the base might be a little awkward.

 

0tkgf6r.png

Fixed an error (accidentally deleted Start/Pause/Reset from the bottom-loading design).

Edited by CZroe
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But I see the point that CZroe is making. If they had just put a single keypad in the center and bought the trak ball just a tad bit higher on the controller it would have worked for both with less material and costs? And we all know Atari was all about getting stuff out there for as little cost as possible so it does seem odd.

 

It could also be that Dan designed it this way to take up the space. See, the thing with this trak-ball is that the entire housing needed to be large to accommodate the thing when using it. If you put the keypad in the center under the trak-ball then the entire housing would have looked really odd to be that large. So from a design standpoint I can see how it made sense to fill that in by using two keypad setups and allowing the trak-ball to be completely in the center. Putting it into a smaller housing might have made too unstable when using it?

 

Another though is that when using the trak-ball, if the keypad were centered under it, it could very well be possible to accidentally press keypad keys you didn't mean to while using it. I'm sure there is way more into the design and I'm merely speculating here.

 

Mr Kramer?

 

I'm not Mr Kramer although I did see him at Pin-A-Go-Go on Sunday. :)

 

As for Atari [inc] being cheap on parts, yes, every business likes to save money but let's not be savage about it and put them in the same category as their competing contemporaries [or contempt-oraries] Coleco or Commodore in terms of extreme cheapness.

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Thanks. I'm torn between that one and the small centered one with the built-in keypad. Yeah, that too-loading one probably works best since it also lets you eliminate the expense of including Start/Pause/Reset buttons too. I'm not sure how much clearance would be needed below the controller for the fire buttons. Looping the controller cord back to plug into the base might be a little awkward.

 

0tkgf6r.png

Fixed an error (accidentally deleted Start/Pause/Reset from the bottom-loading design).

 

 

The removable joysticks would be what Coleco did with their inferior Roller Controller that doesn't even operate like a real trackball/Trak-Ball.

 

There are pics of the right and left Trak-Balls on the net. If I recall correctly, Dan still has a couple of prototypes he hasn't sold... I think he posted about it last year in the Trak-Ball Fans group on Facebook. Join the group and you can ask him because he's heavily involved in that group vs. logging in here.

Edited by Lynxpro
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I'm not Mr Kramer although I did see him at Pin-A-Go-Go on Sunday. :)

 

As for Atari [inc] being cheap on parts, yes, every business likes to save money but let's not be savage about it and put them in the same category as their competing contemporaries [or contempt-oraries] Coleco or Commodore in terms of extreme cheapness.

 

As an original Vic-20 and C64 user, I 2nd this. Great while they work, but made from the cheapest junk on earth.

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I'm not Mr Kramer although I did see him at Pin-A-Go-Go on Sunday. :)

 

As for Atari [inc] being cheap on parts, yes, every business likes to save money but let's not be savage about it and put them in the same category as their competing contemporaries [or contempt-oraries] Coleco or Commodore in terms of extreme cheapness.

 

I think on the 5200 Atari was in the "Premium" state of mind more than the cost cutting one.

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The removable joysticks would be what Coleco did with their inferior Roller Controller that doesn't even operate like a real trackball/Trak-Ball.

 

There are pics of the right and left Trak-Balls on the net. If I recall correctly, Dan still has a couple of prototypes he hasn't sold... I think he posted about it last year in the Trak-Ball Fans group on Facebook. Join the group and you can ask him because he's heavily involved in that group vs. logging in here.

Yeah. I'm already there but I signed up to ask something else and I don't want to bombard them, so I'll ask in due time. Thanks. :)

 

 

I'm not Mr Kramer although I did see him at Pin-A-Go-Go on Sunday. :)

 

As for Atari [inc] being cheap on parts, yes, every business likes to save money but let's not be savage about it and put them in the same category as their competing contemporaries [or contempt-oraries] Coleco or Commodore in terms of extreme cheapness.

Pretty sure his last line was asking Dan to weigh in. ;) Edited by CZroe
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