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Author Topic: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads  (Read 5584 times)

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Donkbaca

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As the above title suggests I am doing a comparo of the above.  This isn't going to be super technical, because I am not a super technical guy.  Plus, I don't think reviews like that are all that helpful, so I am going to focus on what I find helpful - price, ease of use, actual perceived performance.  I know when the Lono came out, Bryan at paradise arcade touted its full USB 2.0 capability. Then there was a flurry of technical mumbo jumbo over whether any of this matters.  Personally, it might matter to some, but it doesn't to me.  I care about three things: Price, does it work well, and how hard it is to get working.  

Overview - Got my hands on a paradise arcade lono board. For full disclosure, I did not pay for this board, paradise arcade sent it to me to test out.  Its a plug and play board that windows recognizes as 4 joysticks.  It comes with a USB cable, and 4 harnesses and lets you set up 4 directions plus 14 buttons per player, with thirteen buttons per player and the 14th being a "shift" button.  The harnesses are color coded whereby half the wires have blue connector sleeves and the other have clear.  So if you want to wire up a direction, you look for, say, the orange wire with the white sleeve.  Pretty nifty.
I had a x-arcade around that I was going to cannibalize for my CP as well, so I am testing that out.  We are all pretty familiar with it, but for those that are not, its a keyboard encoder, that also has harnesses.  It has inputs for 2 players, and the inputs are harnessed in clusters of 5 where the harnesses go out to 4 buttons and have a ground.  I also have an xbox 360 in my cab so I hacked some mad catz sfiv fight pads.  Since these are USB and a MS product, you can just get the drivers from MS and plug and play them.  Okay.  So here goes.

Set-up ease of use - hardware:

Lono - 5 stars (out of 5)  Pretty simple.  Right out of the box you just plug it in and bam - 4 joysticks.  No drivers, or fancy programs, its just right there.  Wiring is a snap, all the harnesses are color coded, there is a common daisy chained ground, you just plug in the little tabs and voila! a wired functional CP in minutes.  I know a lot of people that are new to this hobby find wiring up a cp to be an intimidating task.  If that is the case, this is the solution for you.  You don't crimp, cut, screw or solder anything, you literally just plug and play.

X-arcade - 3 stars  Pretty simple as well, but not as intuitive as the Lono.  Has pre-wired harnesses, but no common ground, and the colors aren't consistent, so the ground in one cluster could be one color and the ground on another a different color.  It is also plug and play.  The reason it gets a 3 instead of a four is the switch to change modes.  That thing is kind of confusing to a noob, and the lack of a common ground.  Despite only having 2 players, its about two to three times the Lono.

Hacked SFIV pads - 1 star.  Not that this is all that hard but its time consuming and definitely the most difficult.  You need to take apart the madcatz controllers, pretty easy to do, its like 5 or six screws, and then you take out the PCB.  In terms of space, this is by far the most space consuming as you will need one PCB per player.  The best way to set this up is to solder leads to the contact points on the PCB and then screw those leads into a screw terminal. So you need wire, solder, screw terminals, wire crimper and disconnects to get going.  That being said, its super easy to do.  The solder points are large and its common ground, but its way more work than the previous two.


Ease of set up - Software

Lono - 4 Stars.  Pretty simple and straight forward.  Sets up like any joystick would, this means mapping keys or creating a ctrlr file in MAME.  Doesn't get a 5 because some programs don't let you use a joystick and instead want keyboard inputs and isn't as plug and play ready with mame as the x-arcade is.  Easy to troubleshoot, you just open up the joysticks section on your control panel and you can test inputs.

X-arcade - 4 Stars.  Set-up with MAME is super simple, there is already a ctrlr file bundled with mame.  Its a keyboard, so that makes it easier to set up certain games and emulators. Doesn't get a 5 because its harder to trouble shoot, you either need to download the x-arcade utility or open up a word pad and know what letter each button does.

Fightpads - 4 stas.  The same as the LONO with respect to set up.

Performance:

Lono - 5 stars.  Played a bunch of games, the controls were responsive with no perceivable lag, ghosting, etc.  Feels crisp, responsive and intuitive.

X-Arcade - 4.5 stars.  This could just be a mental thing, there is not really anything quantifiable about it, but it just didn't feel as responsive as the other two.

Fightpads - 5 stars. Very responsive, just like a xbox controller would be.

Price:

Lono - for 65 bucks you get a plug and play solution for a 4 player cab.  This puts it on par, price wise with an IPAC 4.  The Ipac is a different device entirely, its a keyboard encoder and is programmable and comes with software.  The Lono is also programmable, from what I gather from the instructions I read, however I didn't have   However I don't have one, so I can't compare what they do, but if you want a 4 player cab, this option is pretty nice, all the wires are included, instructions are simple. The harnesses are great, seems like a well built, quality board.  Plus shipping from PA is fast and cheap.  

X-arcade - For 50 bucks you get the BYO kit.  That's pretty prices considering you can get an ipac 2 ,a keywiz, or GPwiz for about 40 bucks, (unless you get one of the eco wiz's for 26 bucks)  The harnesses do make things a little easier, but due to the clusters and the lack of a common ground, it really isn't easier or probably and less time consuming then using one of these encoders.

Fightpads - 25 bucks a piece, more or less is about the going rate for these.  Of course if you don't have solder/soldering iron/terminals/wire that would add a few bucks to it.  Not a bad price though.

Misc Pros and cons:

Lono
Pros - Fast easy set up; Pretty tiny board; no outside drivers or software to mess with; competitively priced; performs well; prewired harnesses make wiring a snap
Cons - If you are the type that like a tidy CP, this product isn't for you.  The harnesses make for a very rats nest sort of wiring setup.

Recommended for: Noobs building a 4p panel that are terified of wiring; people building a 4 p panel that need a lot of inputs; people building a 4 panel looking for a small board; people building a 4player panel that want an easy, straightforward wiring solution
Not recommended for: People that are looking for a board that supports rotary/optical inputs as well; People that want a super tidy CP undercarriage


X-arcade
Pros - ctrlr file in mame make it easy to start using without spending time configuring the software; a whole BUNCH of adapters are available that allow you to use it with all sorts of consoles.  That's nice if you plan on using real console hardware in your cab
Cons - Pricey compared to other options.  The harnesses are not intuitive and a little short. Not a direct plug, you plug into a serial port and then plug that into a cable that plugs into your pc.  Not a huge deal, but annoying for me.

Recommended for: People that want to integrate their CP with older consoles in their cab

Fightpads
Pro- Easiest way to integrate a 360.  Fun if you like hacking stuff.
Cons - A pain if you hate hacking stuff.  Largest footprint in terms of PCB size

Recommended for: People that like to hack and solder stuff; People that want to integrate and xbox 360 into their cabs.  People building a 1p bartop.
Not recommended for: People afraid of soldering; people not intending to integrate a 360 in their cab unless building a 1p bartop.


Final thoughts:

Lono - I think its great, small, quick and easy to use.  If I were building a 4p panel, I would probably pick this up, it does everything I would want an interface to do, plus, I HATE wiring, all that measuring the wire, crimping on connectors, daisy chaining grounds, hate it.  I know it sounds funny, but to get all the wires I needed for my pad hacks - crimping all the wires, etc. - it took a good hour or two.  The harnesses are a big plus in my book.

X-arcade - If I didn't cannibalize the one I had, I probably wouldn't recommend it, unless you wanted an old console based cab and you didn't want to hack an old controller.  There are simply better solutions out there.

Fightpads - I think this is the way to go for adding a 360 to your cab.  You just plug those things in to a KVM and voila, xbox360 and Mame pc in one cab.  I think it would also be a fun way to do a 1p bartop.

Anyway, if anyone has any questions regarding this review, let me know.







fallon12345

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 04:38:46 pm »
Hi Don, great review.  I am seriously considering the Lona.

For the trackball and spinner, I should use an optipac to connect, as there are no ports for this on the Lona.  Correct?

I also have a 4 way dedicated 4-way stick.  What is the easiest way to split this and still use the harness so I can use either the 4 way (and 2 dedicated buttons) or the 8 way and it's buttons?

Thanks.
Happy Gaming.

Donkbaca

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 05:19:02 pm »
For the trackball and spinner, I should use an optipac to connect, as there are no ports for this on the Lona.  Correct?

Correct, as far as I know there are no connections.  I would just get a USB trackball and save the trouble. 

If you aren't using all 4 players, and inputs, then you can just use the left over inputs on your 4 way, otherwise you are going to have to wire it in parallel to another player.

fallon12345

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 07:37:04 pm »
Thanks Don for the quick response. 

I have the groovy game gear spinner too, and that one doesn't have USB.  So I think I will need the board, unless there is a way around it.

I could get the Paradise Arcade track ball, which is more affordable.

fallon12345

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2011, 11:55:12 am »
Does anybody have a link to the installation guide?

On the paradise website, there is mention of a pdf link, it doesn't seem to be there.  I also did not receive any documentation when I received the board.  I have sent an email, posted a comment on their website (which did not even work), and invited them to a google chat session.  It has been days, and I have gotten no response.

Donkbaca

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2011, 12:09:03 pm »
Its a small shop and they are in Hawaii, maybe they are closed for the holidays.  I think I have a copy of the pdf somewhere, I will PM you.

It really isn't that complicated though, its plug and play for the PC and you just plug the harnesses into the board and connect too your joysticks.  What issue are you having?

HaRuMaN

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2011, 12:10:41 pm »
Lono doesn't work on a 360, does it?

HaRuMaN

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2011, 12:12:18 pm »
Fightpads
Pro- Easiest way to integrate a 360.  Fun if you like hacking stuff.
Cons - A pain if you hate hacking stuff.  Largest footprint in terms of PCB size

Recommended for: People that like to hack and solder stuff; People that want to integrate and xbox 360 into their cabs.  People building a 1p bartop.
Not recommended for: People afraid of soldering; people not intending to integrate a 360 in their cab unless building a 1p bartop.

Regarding the cons / not recommended...

If only there were someone who could do the hacking for you!  ;D

Donkbaca

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2011, 12:17:50 pm »
Nope, the Lono does not, though I think Bryan was saying that they were working on some sort of xbox solution.

fallon12345

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2011, 02:20:35 pm »
Don,

What do you use to fasten the board to the wood of the control panel?

« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 02:35:41 pm by fallon12345 »

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2011, 03:28:18 pm »
Screws. I like using threaded inserts in MDF so I can use machine screws and so the screws can be removed and reinstalled without damaging the hole in the wood.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 03:30:23 pm by Nephasth »

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2011, 04:09:13 pm »
Thanks, didn't know if metal was discouraged.

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2011, 07:56:09 pm »
Looks like Paradise Arcade Shop has done it again!
(\__/)
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Nephasth

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2011, 10:20:25 pm »
I refuse to take my medication...

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2011, 08:29:00 pm »
I refuse to take my medication...

HA HA HA HA

 :laugh2: :laugh2: :laugh2:

+1

(But seriously...)
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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2011, 01:02:35 pm »
Another newbie question. What do you all use to map the pins to the keyboard buttons?  For example, pause and exit?

Is there a good way to troubleshoot the connections?  My joystick is not working, but the buttons are.

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2011, 01:06:01 pm »
why do you need to map to keyboard buttons?

Nephasth

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Re: Review! Paradise Arcade Lono vs X-Arcade vs Hacked 360 pads
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2011, 01:58:43 pm »
Another newbie question. What do you all use to map the pins to the keyboard buttons?  For example, pause and exit?

Is there a good way to troubleshoot the connections?  My joystick is not working, but the buttons are.

The Lono is a gamepad device, not a keyboard encoder. But you map it in MAME just like any other control interface; go into the MAME menus, select your command (like pause, exit, or a joystick direction), and press your desired button, direction, or combination of buttons.

As far as troubleshooting, the Lono2 features LED indicators on the board itself to help you determine if the board is getting a signal when a button is pressed. You can also go into the game controllers section of the Windows control panel to see if the computer is registering your joystick inputs.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 02:03:52 pm by Nephasth »