The beauty of simplicity

February 4, 2012

You know the classic Suncom’s Totally Accurate Controller MK2, right? Better known simply as the TAC-2. The favourite Atari-standard joystick of countless people, with the reputation of being indestructible. Other than durable, it’s also a very good game controller. The design is simple, you can hold it in your hand very comfortably, no matter if you’re left or right-handed. And the feel and tactile response is top-notch.

While not completely fail-proof, at least TAC-2 withstood abuse much better than most other joysticks that were commonly used with Commodore 8-bits, Amigas and Atari computers.  Both the durability and usability are result of very, very simple yet functional design.

I mean, have you ever looked inside of that controller? It appears that there isn’t anything that could ever fail.

Here’s a picture of TAC-2 dismantled. You can completely take the stick apart and put it back together without using any other tools than a screwdriver, which is needed for the three screws that hold the case together.

The buttons and directional switches are nothing but robust construction where metal part presses against another when you press a button or the stick into some direction. In its simplicity it’s ingenious.

But in fact there are some common issues with TAC-2. The buttons tend to become unresponsive over time. As with any switch, metal oxidation is the main reason. Or plain dirt. Eventually this may happen with the directional stick too. But in fact, you could try to rub the contact surfaces clean to make better contact without even opening up the controller. Just wiggle the stick around or rotate the button with your thumb while pressing it. You know you used to do that! Read the rest of this entry »


Brilliant picture from Amiga with RGB-SCART

January 25, 2012

I wanted to be able to hook up an Amiga 500 to TV with decent picture quality for an upcoming gaming session. Instead of using the lousy composhite signal or the dreadful RF antenna cable I wanted something much better because modern TVs don’t forgive low-quality video signal. In fact, flat panel TVs tend to make old systems look really bad. Low resolution and sharp, pixelled graphics (in contrary to e.g. real life video) transferred using blurry and noisy signal, and then displayed stretched and processed on a HD panel. You know it ain’t gonna be pretty! The best way to prevent the worst eyesores is to use high quality video signal at least.

So, off to make a RGB SCART cable for that Amiga. Read the rest of this entry »


Music podcasts of my choise

May 31, 2011

Something about music for a change.

Many times I prefer music podcasts over Internet radio. Instead of listening to seemingly random tunes it’s nice to listen music that has been selected around some theme. Or even better – mixed together. One important thing for me is also that it’s not allowed to stress the network with streamed music at my workplace. So music podcasts and arranged sets come handy for me.

These podcasts and other shows have helped me along the day countless hours and I’m glad to promote them a bit.
 

BitJam Podcast

This has been a very regular scene music podcast by BitFellas. There’s well over hundred podcasts online. All done over a certain theme or topic. Have a look – I’m surprised if there is nothing that catches your interest!

 
 

Hardread Podcast

Another scene music podcast. BitJam’s roots comes from Hardread but Hardread is still living on its own. Too bad te activity has been dropping lately.

Read the rest of this entry »


Last of Commodore: Amiga CD32

October 18, 2009

Amiga CD32 system

Some time ago I got myself this piece of Commodore history. The Amiga CD32 is a CD-ROM based 32-bit game console from Commodore released in 1993. As it turned out, the CD32 ended up being the last machine from Commodore before the company went bankrupt.

Made in somewhat similar manner as the infamous Commodore 64 GS, the CD32 is basically an Amiga 1200 with CD-ROM drive dressed up as a game console. This made the CD32 quite powerful platform by the time of its release – at least compared to its 16-bit console rivals. According to various Internet sources, the CD32 sold well at first. After all, it was the first 32-bit console and the first CD-based games system in the Western countries. However, CD32 was doomed to failure even without Commodore going out of business only half a year after its release for various reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


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