Projects & Hacking Toys

Making old joysticks from new ones…?

I have a reasonable collection of 80s home computers and consoles, many of which use the “standard Atari” joystick port. Those Atari CX40 joysticks, which is where this standard comes from, are particularly crappy though, so most gamers at that time would use something else with the same wiring, like a classic Competition Pro. You can get Competition Pros on ebay, but they are upwards of £30 – so what alternatives are there?

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I have a Speedlink USB Competition Pro that I bought from Amazon last year (for much less than £30!) with all-microswitch switching but a USB port – so I opened it up. Inside it’s actually a not-very integrated circuit, which is good news for un-USBing it. There’s a little wiring harness for the microswitches, all going back to a tiny PCB where the autofire switch is. A new small wiring harness, a DE-9 socket and a 8-core shielded cable, and we’re in business, with a brand-new moulding and switches! (or the cable from a dead CX40 or similar). People like Digikey will sell you a 6ft ribbon cable with a DE-9 connector already attached at one end for a few pounds, so then it’s just the wiring.

Here’s some pictures of the insides, in case anyone else was wondering – just a small blob (presumably a PIC or similar) and the wiring connector, really:

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