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Author Topic: Sega Saturn Virtual On controller modded to work w/ my MAME cabinet  (Read 3415 times)

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jasonbar

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 Howdy-

Despite having what most would consider to be a Frankenpanel, I somehow never accommodated for a pair of "tank" sticks with thumb buttons and/or triggers on top.

A pal of mine always waxed poetic about Assault, a game that I always liked too, but something about the high frame rate, smooth scrolling, & clean rotation always gave me a headache, so I never could play it very much. Apart from that, a quick bit of research showed that a pair of tank sticks w/ buttons would also come in handy for:

Battle Zone
Sarge
Tank 8
Ultra Tank
Vindicators
Vindicators Part II
Warrior

Well, Warrior uses 2 8-way sticks for 2 players. Not really tank-like. And Assault uses 4-way tank sticks. All of the others use 2-way tank sticks. So, a pair of 4-way sticks with triggers & thumb buttons would be great.


When I was on vacation in Korea in 2010, my wife & I found a big out-of-the-way basement set of video game stalls, many with classics, in the Yongsam electronics shopping district. Apart from a big big load of Saturn games, I picked up a new-in-box Sega Saturn Virtual On twin stick set.

It took about 3 years to get around to it, but I finally converted the twin sticks to be a plug-in attachment for my MAME cabinet. Frankenpanel-haters will be pleased to know that, rather than add this controller permanently, I instead wired in an accessory port (DB25 connector) & adapted a bar clamp to hold the controls to my panel temporarily whenever I want to play those 8 games properly.


Picture captions:

1 - Top of the controller. Looks stock except for the DB25 (PC parallel port) cord, adapted from a Belkin parallel-to-SCSI cable (I think).

2 - Bottom of the controller guts, showing the ASCII sticks & my wiring. Note that I used the same wire exit & strain relief wiggle. The black blob on the right is a piece of Gorilla tape & a baggie holding some stock parts that I removed, saved in case I wish to undo some of my hacks in the future.

3 - To turn the 8-way sticks into 4-way, I removed the restrictor plate, reattached it upside-down & clocked 45 degrees, & I had to replace the conical actuator with a stack of Nylon washers that I was fortunate enough to have on hand. I had to swap the killer strong compression spring also. Result: great 4-way action! The microswitches are awful clicky for my tastes, but these are an odd breed of switches that are not only wired but also secured via 2 fat tabs fatly soldered to the stick PCB. Oh well, I can live with clicks.

4 - A little Sharpie scribbling & a couple of strain relief cable ties round out the PCB hack on this side.

5 - On the other side of the PCB, I scraped across all of the traces between the switches' connectors & the little encoder chip (which I also popped off, also making a good solder point for the Start button), & I wired 14 of the 25 wires on my cable to the solder pads on the PCB. Some ugly hot glue acts as good strain relief.

6 - The stock bottom of the controller is a piece of sheet metal with some holes & a few other features. Taking a page from the PC steering wheel handbook, I wished to be able to clamp the controller to my control panel's front lip as needed. This Craftsman bar clamp ( http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00966731000P Item # 00966731000P Model # 87506 ) did the trick, & the color scheme works with my cab! I slotted the back of the sheet metal to bury the clamp within its perimeter, drilled & tapped a couple of holes in the clamp, & threaded some screws in to attach the jaw to the sheet metal base. The 2 semi-silly nuts on the ends of the screws are just there sort of as jam nuts to prevent the screws from backing out.

7 - Bottom side of base. I shortened the clamp bar quite a bit & put a screw & nut on the end to act as a stop. The original had a rivet through it near the bottom of the bar, to keep the side from falling off the end. Because I shortened the bar a lot, I needed to add a new bump stop. 3 bumpers act as feet to keep this from marring my control panel & to clear the buttons & trackballs that occupy the same space as the tank sticks set: McMaster 8926T39, "Load-Rated Bumper, High-Temperature Rubber, Hard, 5/16"-18 Hole Thread Size", $7.05 ea.

8 - Same thing, different side.

9 - My MAME cab's control panel, naked.

10 - Underneath the control panel, I added a DB25 female-female connector, which is attached to a standard PC sheet metal mount thing that was originally intended to be used to screw into your desktop/tower PC case back wall.

11 - On the inside of the panel, you see another Belkin hacked cable plugging in to the inside side of the female-female DB25 connector. Black marks are spray paint, painted from the inside, to paint the walls of the drilled/filed rectangular hole, so it looks prettier from the outside (if you lie down on your back on the floor & look up at my control panel...it could happen...).

12 - Inner cable goes to my IPAC4, where it's wired in parallel with some existing control wires.

13-16 - Ready to play! Clamped to control panel!

17 - Feet prop the sticks' housing up enough to clear the trackball.

18 - Assault, anyone? So far, no headaches!

19 - The underground Korean shopping mall where I found the Saturn Virtual On sticks.

20 - Me sifting through boxes of classic games. I ended up just buying the entire Saturn box & had to find a local post office to boat-ship it back to the USA--too big & heavy to fit in my luggage!

21 - The sticks, in my NAMCO bag, another box full of games, & luggage full of games, from the 2 weeks total in Korea & Japan. Last picture before checking my bags at the Tokyo airport. What a trip!


Thanks. I hope this has been interesting and/or educational!
-Jason

jasonbar

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Re: Sega Saturn Virtual On controller modded to work w/ my MAME cabinet
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 12:52:58 pm »
More pics

jasonbar

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Re: Sega Saturn Virtual On controller modded to work w/ my MAME cabinet
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2013, 12:53:58 pm »
More more pics

jasonbar

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Re: Sega Saturn Virtual On controller modded to work w/ my MAME cabinet
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 07:59:41 pm »
GONE!!!

PS: Free Sega Saturn Virtual On Twin Stick Japanese/Korean box w/ some internal packing.

No bites on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=111131087217

Pay shipping & I'll send it your way. I'll collapse it flat & then slip it into another, slightly larger, collapsed box for shipping. Or, I'll just flatten it & slap a mailing label on it, if you prefer...perhaps unglue the seam, flip it inside-out, mail it, then you flip it back outside-out...?

Thanks,
-Jason
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 03:13:56 pm by jasonbar »

jasonbar

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Boring round dust washers are gone. Exciting gear-shaped dust washers, made for the rest of my cab's sticks ( see http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,138708.0.html for details).

Exciting pics attached.

Thanks,
-Jason