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#1 2015-07-07 01:56:06

bbraun
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Registered: 2014-05-29
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][ Joysticks and USB adapter

I've got several Apple II joysticks, but the potentiometers in all of them are pretty bad.  It looks like most of the ones I've got have the pots molded into the plastic, so replacing them isn't very awesome.  I ordered one of these USB joystick interface boards and currently waiting for it to arrive.  Does anyone else have one of these?  What do most folks use for joysticks?  I've had bad luck with original '80's off of ebay.

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#2 2015-07-07 02:04:29

uniserver
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From: Sf, Mi
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

joystick was essential for apple IIe     

pretty sure this is the one i have.
il_570xN.188863148.jpg


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#3 2015-07-07 17:04:02

mcdermd
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From: Corvallis, OR
Registered: 2014-05-12
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

I have the Apple IIe/IIc stick as well as the old black and the beige and orange paddles. They work well enough that I haven't looked too much further. They're what I remember using as a kid.


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#4 2015-07-07 18:03:46

Eudimorphodon
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Registered: 2014-09-02
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Holy smokes, $50 for that board... is probably fair, but still seems a little rich.

I have a joystick that looks a lot like Uni's, minus the stick-end button, that came with my ][+, the pots seem to work okay, but if the joystick ever had auto-center springs they're gone, which makes it awkward to use in most of the games I've tried. When I have the time to muck with it I have two ideas for dealing with it:

A: I have a pair of new-in-box PC joysticks; unfortunately PC joysticks use a different value pot and their button wiring is different, but there are ways to re-jigger them to work, or:

B: Here's a circuit for using a joystick like those built into a Playstation or Xbox controller. Build cost is about $10, so I might give that a go.


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#5 2015-07-07 18:48:56

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Yeah, I'm a sucker for these low volume electronics projects.  I'll give it a shot after it arrives.  That (B) option with the modern thumbstick controller looks neat.  It'd be fun to build, but I'm not sure how practical it'd be for fun playtimes.  Let me know if you build it!

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#6 2015-07-07 19:26:06

Eudimorphodon
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Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

bbraun wrote:

It'd be fun to build, but I'm not sure how practical it'd be for fun playtimes.  Let me know if you build it!

My thought was if I could find the right hand-friendly box to stick it in it might actually be more natural for the kid that's already gotten used to the same kind of joystick in the Xbox controller hooked to the computer she plays emulated stuff on. wink But yeah, I'll totally write it up if I build one. I'll have to figure out where to find the DIP-cable connector you need for a ][+'s joystick port and adapt the pinout appropriately but that shouldn't be too awful.

(Perhaps my favorite Atari-compatible joystick when I was a kid was this itsy bitsy "Amiga Power-Stick" which wasn't a whole lot bigger than one of those Playstation analog controllers. Maybe I need to find someone with a 3D printer and churn out a case like that.

If it wasn't for the fact that cheap game controllers tend to have lousy components another thought might be to get a knockoff Wii Numchuck and use the case, stick, and buttons from one of those? They can be had for under $10...)


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#7 2015-07-07 19:36:29

Eudimorphodon
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Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

... actually, wow. The Wii Nunchuk interface is apparently dead simple to hack. I don't suppose the design of that USB interface is open-source, is it(*)? In theory at least the ATMega controller that's the heart of it should be able to handle the i2c protocol used by the WiiMote expansion port without needing the USB component, which would cut the cost a lot. That'd limit your choices of controllers, obviously, but in addition to the Nunchuck there's that gaming pad thing they sell for using with the virtual console stuff...

(* EDIT: Never mind, it is. If only I had the time and talent to actually muck with it.)

Last edited by Eudimorphodon (2015-07-07 19:43:59)


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#8 2015-07-07 19:52:07

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Oh man, now that's a project I can get into.  The A2 side of things is pretty simple, so I'd probably just use it for reference more than try to adapt the same design to the wiimote.  Neat stuff!

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#9 2015-07-07 20:03:55

Eudimorphodon
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Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Mostly what I'm curious about on the original design is how they designed the D/A converter, but... yeah, this looks like something that could be really fun to tinker-toy together.

If you do decide to churn something out put me on the beta-test list. wink


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#10 2015-07-07 20:30:43

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

I picked up a couple wiichuck boards from sparkfun.  I'll have to see how much time I've got when they arrive.

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#11 2015-07-09 04:27:47

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

I haven't gotten any parts or the USB adapter yet, but looking at the design, it's using an SPI digital potentiometer.  That seems pretty straightforward, get a 100k ohm digital pot, and essentially just bridge the wiimote's i2c values to spi for the digital pot, and done.  That's pretty much all the USB adapter is doing.  It does have a trim pot to "center" the digital pot, but that's pretty much it.
The USB host shield thing they're using seems to run about $25, which seems to be where most of the cost in that USB adapter comes in.  The wiichuck thing is like $2.

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#12 2015-07-09 16:44:21

Eudimorphodon
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

bbraun wrote:

The USB host shield thing they're using seems to run about $25, which seems to be where most of the cost in that USB adapter comes in.  The wiichuck thing is like $2.

Yeah, I was guessing that USB host module was probably the lion's share of the cost; sort of looks to me like the rest of it might come to about $10? (Plus the circuit board.)


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#13 2015-07-09 16:51:21

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Yeah, pretty much.  ~$3-4 for the digital pot, a couple bucks for the processor, trim pot, sockets, a cap, and PCB, some shipping added in there for the parts, and it's probably in the $10-15 range depending on quantity.  The $50 includes shipping and assembly, although assembly looks to be pretty easy with all through-hole components.
You can also get that USB host adapter for about $15 if you get the chinese ebay version, although for that you can get a processor that has USB host capabilities built in.  But that ups the complexity, and it's nice not having to think about the USB side, so I can't fault 'em too much.  It's still a neat little hobby project.

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#14 2015-07-10 20:16:34

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Woo.  wiichucks arrived today, and have it setup on a breadboard talking to an arduino, using other folks' code.  The nunchuck's joystick ranges from about 30-40 to about 230 in the number of steps with center being in the 120-130 range, which kinda sorta approximately matches the Apple II's joysticks.  Now I guess I just need one of those digital pots.

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#15 2015-07-10 20:57:39

Eudimorphodon
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Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Cool!

I really wouldn't worry too much about "accuracy"; the Apple II's joystick is technically 8 bit analog but most games treat it like a 4/8 direction "atari style" joystick anyway. I'd probably say you'd be fine if you just had a reasonable "dead zone" in the middle to correct for jitter and only did, I dunno, perhaps as few as 2 hard-coded steps between neutral and maximum in a given direction. (IE, "centered", "slight push", and "hard over"; most games will only act on the ballpark of "hard over".)


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#16 2015-07-16 00:01:25

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

An MPC42100 digital pot arrived today.  I hooked it up to a tarduino mini pro I had already hooked up to the wii nunchuck.  It mostly works as is, just feeding the i2c thumbstick values directly to the digital pot over spi.  However, because the digital pot is 100k ohms, and the Apple II joysticks use 150k, I don't get complete range of motion, particularly on the top end.  Essentially at this point, I have a PC joystick, and need to do the PC to Apple II conversion, using the 0.01uF capacitor to increase the range of motion to match the 150k pots the AppleII's use, and maybe a trim pot like the retroconnector adapter uses.

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#17 2015-07-16 16:42:21

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Well, I happened to have some 4700pF capacitors laying around, so threw those on, and it now it's almost 1:1 with the wii's nunchuck thumbstick values.  So that's cool.
I only briefly tried to get the buttons working, but not much luck there.  I've only got the thumbstick working at this point.
Here it is, in all its glory:
wiicjoystick.jpg

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#18 2015-08-05 02:16:38

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Kind of for my own notes before I forget, I haven't gotten buttons working and I'm not really sure why.  Electrons: how do they work?
I've tried connecting a diode between the GPIO pin and the AppleII's button pin, and doing a 270 ohm pulldown on the pin, but it doesn't seem to actually recognize any toggling of the pin.  I'll need to play with it some more.

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#19 2015-08-21 21:57:50

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Well, I got the USB joystick adapter thing yesterday and set it up today.  Just like in my own experiments, I can get the directions working just fine, but the buttons don't seem to register with the Apple][ at all.  I suspect it's because both this and my design are trying to use GPIO's of the uC drive the button lines, but they're supposed to be switches between ground and power.  I'm thinking a fast relay might be a better approach.

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#20 2015-08-23 15:21:27

techknight
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Registered: 2014-05-22
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

bbraun wrote:

Well, I got the USB joystick adapter thing yesterday and set it up today.  Just like in my own experiments, I can get the directions working just fine, but the buttons don't seem to register with the Apple][ at all.  I suspect it's because both this and my design are trying to use GPIO's of the uC drive the button lines, but they're supposed to be switches between ground and power.  I'm thinking a fast relay might be a better approach.

Or a 4066...

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#21 2015-08-23 16:07:48

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Wow, I didn't know about those.  That looks like exactly what I need.  Thanks!

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#22 2015-08-24 21:17:58

Eudimorphodon
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Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

bbraun wrote:

Well, I happened to have some 4700pF capacitors laying around, so threw those on, and it now it's almost 1:1 with the wii's nunchuck thumbstick values.  So that's cool.
I only briefly tried to get the buttons working, but not much luck there.  I've only got the thumbstick working at this point.

Sweet! Are you planning to write it up and publish a schematic?


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#23 2015-08-24 22:06:45

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Yeah, although probably not before those 4066's that techknight suggested show up.  Once I have something working (with buttons!  What good is a joystick without them?) on a breadboard, I'll probably make up a simple PCB and make everything available.

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#24 2015-08-24 23:07:11

Eudimorphodon
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Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 522

Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

Oh, of course, pending the buttons working. wink

Knockoff (or real) Wiichucks are so cheap this could really be a genuinely useful thing. Have you experimented at all with the Gamepad accessory yet? wink

(You could set that up so the joystick's analog inputs are passed though as analog whilst presses on the digital directional pad trigger the D/A converter to output 8-way "atari style" coordinates...)


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#25 2015-08-24 23:28:36

bbraun
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Re: ][ Joysticks and USB adapter

I haven't tried the gamepad accessory yet, although I've got quite the stack of wii junk that I'll give a try once I've got it conceptually working and can demonstrate I actually know how to make this go.  smile
Since they're all i2c, I wouldn't expect too much trouble being able to support different kinds of accessories, since I'm able to talk to the wiichuck now.

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