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 »


Reviving Saturn 3D Control Pad

December 22, 2009

Few days back I was planning something quite different but ended up fixing a broken Sega Saturn 3D Control Pad – the analog variant of Saturn controller that came bundled with Nights into Dreams.

The magnet (circled in yellow) should not be here, but insidethe other trigger's plastic cradle

This one was only slightly broken. It was otherwise ok, but the other analog trigger did not response at all. I remember opening it up in the past, but now that I took second look inside I realized what was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »


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