Jump to content
IGNORED

7800 Controller Repair


Scumdogg

Recommended Posts

I play SMB about equally well with a NES pad or the Advantage... but the stick really shines on Ms. Pac-Man, Tengen Pac-Man, and Marble Madness, none of which I can control at all with a D-pad.

 

I don't insist that a joystick is inherently better than a D-pad... but they're better for me, whose gaming reflexes were developed at a young age with joysticks only (I was 17 or 18 before I ever even saw a NES-type pad). If I'd grown up with the NES, I'd probably be playing Atari with a Genny pad or the Euro pad...

 

Couldn't agree with you more here. Also grew up with Joysticks, and prefer them, and I can certainly see how a joystick would help on the NES when playing a game originally designed for joystick. My argument would be, the best interface for a particular game is inevitably going to be the interface it was originally designed for. Therefore, SMB plays better with a d-pad, Ms. Pac Man, with a stick.

 

...Atari should have known better than to adopt a technology that wasn't ready for prime-time. (Yeah, I know, I'm looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, and I'm admittedly biased...)

 

Actually, the flex circuit isn't the only annoyance for me. I hate the carbon dots (which corrode, or erode, or anyway need fixing constantly.) Yes, I know they can be replaced with aluminum or gold, but they should have had metal contacts in the first place... and I hate the major pain involved in taking them apart to fix them (which has to be done way too often, due to the carbon contacts). Also, they have to be taken apart to be calibrated (would it have killed them to include a couple of trim pots like my old Radio Shack analog sticks?), and they seem to need different calibration for different 5200s (though I only own two, so it might just be that one of mine's broken). Finally, the lack of proper self-centering drives me nuts (and it's even worse if the calibration is slightly off, so you have to consciously "center" the stick in a spot that's not actually the center).

 

I do agree that, IF they're cleaned and adjusted, IF the game I want to play is properly coded to use them, and IF the rubber centering boot is in good shape, they're very usable... but that's a lot of IF's. And after all that tweaking, if I put the controller on a shelf for 6 months, it'll need tweaking again when I get ready to use it again. I end up playing 5200 games on an emulator more than I ever do on the real 5200

 

(Heh, and my other 5200 pet peeve is the lack of end labels on the carts. I had to buy a label maker just for this purpose...)

 

I agree with you about everything here, as well (well, except for the end labels. I play multicart, and all my carts are in storage, so I don't *care* about the end label issue. :) )

 

You're right about the peculiar behavior of the 5200 joysticks with self-calibration not necessarily working. I think this issue is becoming more appearant as the machines age, and I think part of the problem is that the calibration actually happens in the console, not in the stick. At any rate, 3 different sticks, on 3 different 5200 systems, you'll get 3 different results. Even a digital conversion stick like the PMP RSI 5200 stick will exhibit different behaviors, because there is STILL a digital to analog conversion going on beneath the digital behavior. An EASY way around this is an 800XL. Almost the entire 5200 library is available for the 5200 system (plus thousands of 8 bit titles NOT available for the 5200, as well), and almost all of the games benefit from a TRUE digital stick (you can use whatever CX-40 compatible stick you want, actually). The thing you lose, of course, is two fire buttons. I've still got both, and have no plans on letting my 5200 every go... but, usually I'll turn to the 800XL first to play a particular game if it exists on both. I think the exception would be Countermeasure.

 

Now that I've got a decent USB joystick, I play MOST games on most consoles on emulation as much or more often than on the actual consoles. It really makes a huge difference having a suitable stick for emulation.

 

But you're right... it is the conditional IFs on the 5200 that make it a difficult console to deal with. It is still my favorite retro video game console system, and my favorite Atari console system. But, in retrospect, the 800xl makes a *better* 5200 console system than the 5200, in most ways. IF all the stars are together, there really is no substitute for a well written game on a 5200 in good condition with a joystick that is well tuned and maintained. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurance.

Edited by Paranoid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right about the peculiar behavior of the 5200 joysticks with self-calibration not necessarily working. I think this issue is becoming more appearant as the machines age, and I think part of the problem is that the calibration actually happens in the console, not in the stick. At any rate, 3 different sticks, on 3 different 5200 systems, you'll get 3 different results.

 

Two parts of the calibration happens in the console (the trim pot and the auto-calibration code in (some) games), and one part of it happens inside the sticks (by moving the white plastic mechanical stops). I think the mechanical calibration needs to be done because the pots in the stick change value as they age, but that's an untested theory... I do know I had one stick that worked great except I couldn't go all the way left in Super Breakout, and turning the one of plastic stops inside the stick (*just* a hair) fixed it, without breaking any other games I tried it with. I didn't recalibrate the console because my other two sticks worked fine already.

 

Now that I've got a decent USB joystick, I play MOST games on most consoles on emulation as much or more often than on the actual consoles. It really makes a huge difference having a suitable stick for emulation.

 

Agreed. Ever since I started using the Stelladaptor, I've been a lot happier with emulation... and so have most of the people who come over here and play. Still, I spent $200 on a Cuttle Cart 2, so I do play a lot of 2600 and 7800 games on hardware.

 

The Stelladaptor would be perfect for MAME, even, if it supported more buttons.

 

But, in retrospect, the 800xl makes a *better* 5200 console system than the 5200, in most ways. IF all the stars are together, there really is no substitute for a well written game on a 5200 in good condition with a joystick that is well tuned and maintained. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurance.

 

...and that inspired me to finally dig my 800 and XEGS out of storage :)

 

Now all I need is a MyIDE or SIO2PC. Too bad I'm broke for at least two weeks... at least I found my 800 Star Raiders cart!

 

I also found a pack of 1K resistors in the closet... am wondering if they'll work for my Wico/7800 mod. The Proline has, IIRC, two 620 ohm resistors or some such. I bet two pair of 2 1K's in parallel (500 ohms per pair) will work fine. Actually it'd probably work with just 2 1Ks instead of 2 620's. Will find out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are tons of 9 wire controller cables out there the have the same serial port looking plug on them and actually have all 9 wires in them. Sega extension cables are $4 each around here. The Pro Line specific parts can also be had for a couple of dollars. It's been a while since I ripped one, but I think there's a couple resistors and a few contact domes inside and that's it. RSI has the microswitches, so all you need is a pair of resistors, some hookup wire and the cable and you're all set. IIRC, you don't need any arts from the Pro Line at all. That's good if you ever want to sell the system or if someone like me breaks a Pro Line and needs a replacement to buy.

I've heard that the Sega extension cables are made with that crappy copper-foil-around-cotton wire which is a pain to solder. That's why I put a DB-9 plug on the back of a Wico for a 7800 joystick. Of course I didn't think about how the cable might work its way out of the plug until after I finished the mod, but it mostly works okay.

 

 

Actually, the flex circuit isn't the only annoyance for me. I hate the carbon dots (which corrode, or erode, or anyway need fixing constantly.) Yes, I know they can be replaced with aluminum or gold, but they should have had metal contacts in the first place... and I hate the major pain involved in taking them apart to fix them (which has to be done way too often, due to the carbon contacts).

The problem with the 5200 controller buttons really isn't with the carbon dots, it's with the tin-plated contacts on the flex circuit. If they had been gold or carbon, it would have worked fine. I have one pair which I found at a thrift which were rev 8 with carbon contacts, and the buttons worked perfectly. And you're right about opening them being a major pain in the butt, but the worst part is that if you don't remove the start-row cover first, you will probably ruin that part of the flex circuit. And nobody is going to know that unless they've heard it somewhere or screwed up a stick or two already.

 

You also forgot to mention the other problem with them, which is that with fifteen wires, the chance of one of them breaking inside the cable is much higher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've heard that the Sega extension cables are made with that crappy copper-foil-around-cotton wire which is a pain to solder. That's why I put a DB-9 plug on the back of a Wico for a 7800 joystick. Of course I didn't think about how the cable might work its way out of the plug until after I finished the mod, but it mostly works okay.
The only DB9 joystick extension cable I've ever cut open did indeed use foil-around-cotton wires, and my experiences with trying to solder them made me abandon the idea for the RSI joysticks I've modified. It's a real pity that MCM Electronics stopped selling their molded Atari-style joystick cables: they had all nine wires and were just perfect for the RSI stick. Aside for Best Electronics, I don't know of anyone out there who is selling such cables anymore, and Best's supply is very limited (and thus a little on the expensive side).

 

A female DB9 connector on the back of the stick itself isn't a bad idea; it would allow you to use a common extension cable that can also be detached and used with other controllers. I'd probably do it with my RSI sticks if I could find a convenient way to cut a hole for it and mount it securely inside the controller.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A female DB9 connector on the back of the stick itself isn't a bad idea; it would allow you to use a common extension cable that can also be detached and used with other controllers. I'd probably do it with my RSI sticks if I could find a convenient way to cut a hole for it and mount it securely inside the controller.

Right. And the Wico Command Control doesn't have enough room inside for this option. In fact, that's what I really wanted to do, but there was only enough room to add an external port.

 

The Space Invaders sticks are larger and should not only have room to make an internal DB9 connection, but the large size might make them more stable for an external connector.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A female DB9 connector on the back of the stick itself isn't a bad idea; it would allow you to use a common extension cable that can also be detached and used with other controllers. I'd probably do it with my RSI sticks if I could find a convenient way to cut a hole for it and mount it securely inside the controller.

 

 

The Dremel tool is your friend. Look at the PMP RSI 5200 stick with the 5200 passthru for an example of what you are looking for.

 

PacManPlus uses a DB-9 and I use a DA-15 (he is using a Star Raiders keypad, I use an actualy CX52 joystick). With the DA-15, you need to either modify the port or modify the cable, because of the lips on the cable end of the connection.

 

If you want pictures of my finished product, I can provide them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Dremel tool is your friend. Look at the PMP RSI 5200 stick with the 5200 passthru for an example of what you are looking for.

 

PacManPlus uses a DB-9 and I use a DA-15 (he is using a Star Raiders keypad, I use an actualy CX52 joystick). With the DA-15, you need to either modify the port or modify the cable, because of the lips on the cable end of the connection.

 

If you want pictures of my finished product, I can provide them.

Which particular Dremel tool do you use? I was thinking about buying one, but there were so many different models/attachments/tips, and I wasn't sure which ones were the best for fine work with plastic. Edited by jaybird3rd
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've heard that the Sega extension cables are made with that crappy copper-foil-around-cotton wire which is a pain to solder. That's why I put a DB-9 plug on the back of a Wico for a 7800 joystick. Of course I didn't think about how the cable might work its way out of the plug until after I finished the mod, but it mostly works okay.

 

Could have used a DB-9 plug with screw holes, and a DB-9 "serial" cable that has screws on the end... would bolt in securely. You'd have to remove the screws from the 7800 end of the cable. Actually, the serial cable I used to fix my first Proline has those long metal-shielded connectors... the 7800's ports are angled downwards, so the connector ends up hanging over the edge of the shelf I have the 7800 on (or, if I push the 7800 back, it lifts the front of the console off the shelf, and the connector ends bearing load... ugh). It works, but the next time I saw a pair of Prolines, I bought them and use them instead.

 

If I ever planned to actually use that controller, I'd probably remove the metal shield and just wrap it in black tape. I still might, if I ever get around to doing the Wico mod myself.

 

Hmm, you've already done the same Wico mod I was thinking of doing. Which did you make the left fire button, the one on top of the stick, or the one on the base?

 

The problem with the 5200 controller buttons really isn't with the carbon dots, it's with the tin-plated contacts on the flex circuit. If they had been gold or carbon, it would have worked fine. I have one pair which I found at a thrift which were rev 8 with carbon contacts, and the buttons worked perfectly. And you're right about opening them being a major pain in the butt, but the worst part is that if you don't remove the start-row cover first, you will probably ruin that part of the flex circuit. And nobody is going to know that unless they've heard it somewhere or screwed up a stick or two already.

 

You also forgot to mention the other problem with them, which is that with fifteen wires, the chance of one of them breaking inside the cable is much higher.

 

Hrm. Next time I take apart one of my 5200 controllers, I'll check to see whether it's tin or carbon contacts.

 

The start-row-cover thing, I only knew about from somebody telling me about it, way back when... I dunno how he found out (probably by breaking a stick... it's good to learn from someone else's mistakes!)

 

Have been lucky with the wires... so far I haven't had any 5200 sticks develop broken wires. The first Proline I ever had, one of the wires was broken at the 7800 end of the cable, fixed it with an old serial cable I had lying around (see above).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Which particular Dremel tool do you use? I was thinking about buying one, but there were so many different models/attachments/tips, and I wasn't sure which ones were the best for fine work with plastic.

 

I'll find out the model. I've got a pretty nice one and I use it for all kinds of things... You gotta love a tool that will help you replace a floor *and* a roof on an RV, that you can also use to make a joystick for a 20 year old video game console...

 

Once you buy it, just buy one of the multi-bit sets. They're about $19-$29 and they've got an assortment of most of the very popular bits and attachments. Once you've got that, you'll start to figure out which bits work best for which job and you can just restock the bits you go through the quickest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll find out the model. I've got a pretty nice one and I use it for all kinds of things... You gotta love a tool that will help you replace a floor *and* a roof on an RV, that you can also use to make a joystick for a 20 year old video game console...

 

Once you buy it, just buy one of the multi-bit sets. They're about $19-$29 and they've got an assortment of most of the very popular bits and attachments. Once you've got that, you'll start to figure out which bits work best for which job and you can just restock the bits you go through the quickest.

Thanks for the advice. I've got a bunch of projects I'd like to do as soon as I get one, but until now it's been too intimidating because of all the different options.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 16 years later...

Old bump but have broken controller to fix and this thread was useful.

 

As for Di-pad vs stick, some games don't translate well for me to D-pad. Games like Kaboom and any games with up as jump.

 

But will still grab one of them cool new D-pads, or the Robotron one. That one is cool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, JagChris said:

Old bump but have broken controller to fix and this thread was useful.

 

As for Di-pad vs stick, some games don't translate well for me to D-pad. Games like Kaboom and any games with up as jump.

 

But will still grab one of them cool new D-pads, or the Robotron one. That one is cool.

You may not be aware, but since you're a big Jag fan thought I'd mention this... you can get a Jag pad to Atari 2600/7800 DB9 adapter from Best Electronics and paired* with something like a Seagull 78 (can build your own, purchase from the AA Store or purchase a compatible unit from one of the members here that builds them), use your Jag pads in two-button mode on your 7800. 
 

Great solution if you want to keep it Atari, and/or your hands are too big for the NES style pads. Also, miles better than using a CX-24, which if you haven't had much experience with yet... you've been duly warned.  😁

 

Genesis pads are nice too paired with a Seagull 78, but again - figured you have a few Jag controllers laying around. 



*wish Brad sold a Jag adapter with true two-button 7800 compatibility built-in. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...