The Joystick Project

The idea here was to build an arcade style joystick for playing MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) and other games such as William’s Arcade Classics and the Microsoft Arcade Series. Keep in mind that MAME requires that you buy the gameboard of the games that you play, You may also play them if you own them in the other packages mentioned above. I like the MAME interface best, so even though I own the William’s and Microsoft titles, I play the games through MAME. After looking at many projects that others have posted on the net, I decided to give it a go. See the “Cabinet Pics” and “Controller” sections of Arcade @ Home for more details. The first thing I decided on was to use a keyboard interface instead of a joystick (gamepad) interface. This was done using the controller from an IBM keyboard. The connectors for the flat plastic switches (flexible circuit board) were removed and wires were soldered in place.(see picture below)

Keep in mind that IBM never intended for these to be soldered on. They were wave soldered at the factory. In you are not careful, the traces will lift right off the board. (Been There, Done That) I connected (most of) the wires through Radio Shack’s “European-Style” Barrier Strip part number 274-679A. This allows for quick and hassle free changes in the layout of the switches. The switches are from Happ Controls. Their controls are simply superior to the similar Wico controls. I have had alot of various problems with the Wico products. They also do not use the Cherry Brand of switches, that Happ Controls does. If you think there’s no difference, use half Cherry switches and half of the switches that Wico uses. You’ll feel the difference! The Red-ball joystick is Wico, however I’ll be replacing the switches with my next order to Happ Controls. The joystick was NOS (New Old Stock) from a local operator. (link soon!) The box is oak plywood sprayed with a light oak polyurethane stain and then 20 or so coats of clear polyurethane. The box was made with lots of help from a friend. Ok, he built it but I designed it. Thanks Ken!

I have played it many hours and in that time I have decided the fire buttons should be in a straight line. I have also tried the “Defender style” curved layout that puts a button under each finger. While it may be more ergonomic, it’s not real comfortable. Next time I build one it’ll be the JAMMA standard 3×2 layout. Three wide and two high. Also there needs to be more room under the fire buttons so your hands have a place to rest. I also think that the box should have been shorter.

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