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Taking Control - The Atari Times

Taking Control

How to build a T2K rotary controller
by Kevin Manne

February 3, 1997
Basically the reason I decided to start this project was boredom. I had seen all the talk of a rotary controller for Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar, and decided it was finally time to attempt to make my own. So, I went about finding all the information that I could about it on the net, using search engines. I got most of my information from the Jaguar FAQ and from Mezmaron's (now defunct) Jaguar page. A lot of credit goes out to them, for without their documents, and help, I would have had no idea of what I was doing. :-)

Supplies and Such

You can expect to invest a little money in this project if you want a quality product. I'd advise to not go the cheap route if possible (not that I spent over $30). The first item I went after was the 2600 driving controller (not the tennis ones). Make sure they are the correct ones by seeing if the rotary knob stops at any point. If it does, you have the wrong kind. If it doesn't, you are on your way to T2K heaven. I picked my driving controller up from a local flea market for $1, so look around and you should be able to get one pretty inexpensively.

Next, I decided that I would mount it in a casing, rather than on the back of the regular controller as Mezmaron did. So, I headed down to the local Radio Shack for some supplies. I picked up an 'Experimenter Box' to mount everything in, three 'Momentary push-button soft -feel switches' for the action buttons, 2 regular push button momentary buttons for pause and option, some wire (you'll need 13, so different colors help), a soldering iron and some rosin-core solder, small 'telephone' wire crimpers, and rubber feet for the bottom. This is just what I used, and you can substitute any other functional parts. I'm just trying to give you a feel for how I did it.

Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Once you have your supplies you can get started. The first thing you will need to do is take apart the 2600 driving controller. This can be achieved by unscrewing the 2 screws on the base of the driving controller. The bottom will come off and you will see the 'innards' of the controller. These consist of the one button and the encoder with 3 wires coming off of it. Now you have to pull the knob off the top of the encoder's shaft. It is on quite tightly, so pull hard! But, be careful not to damage anything in the process. Then take the wires off the encoder,and remove it by unscrewing the nut on the top of the casing.

Next you need to open the Jaguar controller. The screws are behind the little rubber feet on the back of the controller, so you need to take them off. Inside are 2 circuit boards. The top is for the d-pad and action buttons, and the bottom is for the keypad. They are connected by a ribbon of 13 wires, which is gray. Unscrew the 2 screws that are holding the keypad circuit board, then cut the ribbon, disconnecting the 2 boards, and leaving enough wire for you to work with. You will be using the keypad board for the internal workings of the rotary controller. What I did was to melt the plastic ribbon off of the ends of the wires with a soldering iron, while leaving the original connections intact with the board. That way it kept a good connection with the board and it was a lot easier for me. I took the crimpers that I bought and connected the 13 wires I had bought to the now exposed ribbon ends, labeling the wires with tags as I went. This eliminated soldering of these wires altogether, and once again simplified the process.

Now that the wires were connected, I went about mounting the buttons and rotary encoder to the plastic case from Radio Shack. I used a regular-old hand drill, but I sprayed the drill bit with WD-40 to help prevent the plastic from cracking. Drill slowly! All of the buttons I used specified the hole sizes required, so that was no problem. I attached the circuit board to the metal bottom of the case with screws, separating the board and the bottom with the rubber feet that I had taken off of the Jaguar controller.

Now comes connecting the wires. I had attempted to play Tempest with the controller a few times before soldering the wires to the button's connections, but it was very glitchy and didn't serve the purpose I had intended seeing if I had hooked everything up right. Consult Mezmaron's World for a diagram of what wires connect to which buttons. The diagram is more helpful than words in this case.

Once you know where the wires go, its just a matter of soldering the wires to the correct place, closing up the case, and firing up T2K! You may also want to weigh the rotary knob down with some lead fishing sinkers, to give it a sturdier, and more arcade-like feel.

Credit, Thanks and Conditions

Once again, I'd like to thank Stacy J. Dunkle and Andy Light for their documents, and Andy for his help via e-mail. Also thanks goes out to JAG! for his interest and support of this project, and for providing space on his web page for little old me. A BIG thanks to all the Jaguar freakos on the net, especially on Jaguar Interactive, for their interest also (Wes!).

I (or The Atari Times) will not be held responsible for any damage done to any of your possessions as a result of reading this. You are responsible if your Jag explodes or something, not me. Attempt at your own risk.

Happy Hacking!

Enable rotary controller in Tempest 2000:
At the Game Options menu, press pause on both controllers to activate the Controller Type menu.

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