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TOM rev2 USB to DB9 converter review for XEGS, 800XL, 2600 and 7800


Swami
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The first thing to mention is that this is designed to use USB mice, gamepads, joysticks and keyboards as gamepads on the Atari ST and TT, the Amiga and the C64/128 and the Polish company electronica4u says these are the only supported devices. I do not have these computers to test it on. I am testing it on some other Atari computers and game consoles. I saw some videos and video comments that suggested it may work on these machines, so I decided to try it out. There were many other mouse games I would have liked to try and did not really test the TOM2 Amiga mouse mode for Atari 8-bit applications that support the Amiga mouse, but the review has gotten long enough, so, maybe later. The TOM rev2 is available from electronica4u on eBay. Here is the review of the TOM rev2 with the XEGS, 800XL, 2600 and 7800:

 

 

Summary:
I recommend the TOM2 only for those
1. who want to use it on the 2600 or 7800 for one button games using USB mice/trackballs, gamepads and joysticks, with the exception of games like Pitfall, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, etc., as discussed below. Two button gamepad/joystick on 7800 with Seagull 78. With the Harmony cart it will not work unless you plug the TOM2 adapter into the 2600 after it is turned on. I did not have this problem with the Concerto on the 7800.

2. who don't mind the issues with USB mouse (varying degrees of glitchy movement) and gamepad shortfalls (glitchy left/right jumps from a standstill) compared to the advantages for XEGS and 800XL.

3. for which glitchy movement of the mouse may not be a problem for puzzle or office type programs where speed and precision are much less vital.
For more control with XEGS and 800XL games that require speed and precision, the original vintage mice, trackballs and joysticks are often significantly superior. In general, they are superior, but the shortfalls of the TOM2 only show up in certain applications and moreso with the mouse compatible games and are about four times worse on the XEGS than the 800XL. Mostly, it is nice to have it for games that work well with a gamepad for all the systems mentioned here and for Atari Mouse/CX80 hacks on the 2600.
I believe this is probably the third generation of such devices, and it was designed for the ST, Amiga and C64/128 computers, not the XL/XEs and game consoles. It does show much protential for the 4th or possibly 5th generation of converters for USB to XL/XEs and game consoles. High quality ST and Amiga trackballs are becoming difficult to find and the same thing is becoming true for high quality ST/Amiga mice. PC/Mac emulation is an option, as well, for using modern USB mice and gamepads for games and applications, but it is often preferable to use the original 8-bit computers and game consoles.
Details for XEGS, 800XL, 7800 and 2600:
Games tested in TOM2s ST mouse mode on XEGS:
Mouse smoothness and precision is to some degree dependent on the game, although the motion is always flawless with the original ST mice because it communicates better. Minesweeper games work best with the TOM2, indistinguishable from a real ST mouse, Tommingi is worst. ranging in behavior from the cursor having had too much caffeine to being in a druken stupor. With an actual ST mouse, they are all very good.
Minesweeper I and III: mouse works really smooth and fairly precise.
Missile Command Plus: A little jittery and imprecise with mouse. Very smooth with a real real ST mouse or CX-22. I can score at least twice as high with the real ST mouse vs. TOM2.
Click!: Mouse moves fairly well, a little jittery. Seems to be about clicking/shooting a bunch or Christmas gifts before they fill the screen. (Also work with light gun or joystick)
Numblines: Mouse is a fairly jittery and jerky, like in missile command.
Tommingi: Mouse cursor is shaky even when "not moving" and fairly bad control, much worse than missile command. Tommingi's mouse control, which is horrible with the TOM2, is super-smooth with an actual ST mouse. Other games like Numblines and 'Click!' are also very smooth and precise with real ST mouse.
Just about any optical mouse will work. For some mice, such as the Expert Mouse 7.0 trackball, I had to configure the TOM2 to ST or Amiga mode with a standard mouse and then swap in the trackball. The Kensington Expert 7.0 trackball mouse worked better in action than the Kensington Orbit mouse. Most any other PS2 mouse will also 'operate', from the Kensington Expert 5.0 trackball clear back to the original Personal System 2 and Note mouse, if you use a PS2 to USB *converter* by Belkin (Not an adapter, which just changes the pinout. The converters have the PS2 protocol that was built into mice after ~2000, but not necessarily before.). The TOM2 will not recognize the serial Expert Mouse 4.0 trackball, even with converters for the serial 4.0, which will crash the TOM2 firmware.
Gamepads and Joysticks on XEGS:
One advantage of the TOM2 is you can hot swap controllers, such as when a mouse must be used in port 1 and you need to use a stick to navigate a multi-cart menu. The other is that you can use gamepads, such as the Logitech 310, 710 and Rumblepad2. You can also use Playstation1/2 gamepads (and possibly other peripherals, such as the trackball) with a simple PlayStation to USB adapter. There is also the TOM+, which I do not have, that is a similar device to the TOM2, except it also has a standard DB9 joystick port next to the USB port so you can use both the mouse and standard joystick in port 1 of the machine without swapping. Back to the TOM rev2: On the XEGS, both the dpad and left joystick work with v3 of the TOM2 firmware, but not v5. Not sure about v4. Also wireless gamepads do not work with v5, but do with v3 on the XEGS. On some games like Pitfall, where you have to jump left or right from a stand-still by pressing a direction and fire button at the same time, you may find only one or the other happens. I also had some problems with bouncing off the vines in Pitfall. Be aware Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers will not work, even though they seem plug and play on a PC. I had to roll back the firmware from v5.0 to v3.0 to use the wireless logitech F710 gamepad. However, since then, I have not been able to connect to the firmware updater, which is internet based. This may be from the rollback or from the various crashes of the TOM2 and subsequent factory resets I had to perform due to it crashing when trying to use serial to USB converters to use the old serial Kensington Expert mouse 4.0.
I believe the USB gamepad and joystick issues are due in part to the gamepads themselves. When I hooked up a CX-22 40 joystick to the TOM2 through a 2600-daptor2, it worked flawlessly.
Atari 800XL:
The mouse issues with jitter and jerk and the directional jump issues with gamepads are about a quarter as bad on the 800XL as they are on the XEGS, such that they are only slightly noticeable on games like Missile Command Plus, 'Click!' and Numblines.
Atari 2600 and 7800:
The joystick and gamepads work about as well as they do on the 800XL. Also noticed with the gamepads an occasional issue in Joust when flapping and try to change direction at the same time, I sometimes wouldn't fly left or right. Although the manual says there is 2-button fire support on the TOM2 for the ST, Amiga and C64/128, this does not work on the 7800 unless you also use the Edladdin Seagull 78 adapter. The TOM2 with USB mice works really, surprisingly well on the 2600 Atari Mouse/CX80 hacks for games like centipede and missile command. Although the movement is a bit fast, the smoothness and precision are very good. With the Harmony cart it will not work unless you plug the TOM2 adapter into the 2600 after it is turned on. I did not have this problem with the Concerto on the 7800.
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A couple other observations:
The auto fire on the gamepads is the left trigger, the same side as the dpad and analog stick that works. This can be a bit awkward.
Configurable buttons: This is mentioned in the ad but only seems to apply to the CD32 according to the manual.

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Thanks for the review, Swami. Do you or anybody else have tested the TOM2 with a 130XE (PAL) ? (Oh, and I also have a Logitech 310 controller)

 

After consideration, I would guess the gamepad and mouse would work about the same as on the XEGS. It should be great for the gamepad, except for the games that may involve left/right jumps from a stand-still position.

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