Building Arcade Controls for my PC Part 1 — Intro

Like almost every kid of the 1980s, I played video games. In 1995 I found out about MAME, a program that uses dumps of the actual ROM chips from video games and emulates the logic chips–to reproduce the exact game on my own PC. It was cool but then I started grad school and found an interest in cars, so I put it aside.

Sometime in 1998, I checked back into the “emulation scene” and found that not only had MAME grown to include several thousand arcade games, but that most older home computers (Commodore 64, Atari 800, etc) and older video game consoles (Atari 2600, Nintendo, etc) were emulated.

Now, emulation wasn’t a new idea then. People have written programs to emulate CPU chips using other CPU chips for a while. And, emulating an entire computer system also was not new. Back in the late 1980s, I had programs for my Atari ST that could emulate a Macintosh and an 8088 PC clone. They were neat toys but were either buggy, not very compatible, or uselessly slow. What was new, however, was the ability of emulators in the late 1990s to finally emulate systems perfectly (or close to it).

So, I collected emulators and ROM files for them. One problem– playing the games with my keyboard ruined the experience! And typical PC joysticks and gamepads, well, suck. So I found out about building arcade controls for my PC and went to work. There is nothing really revolutionary here–it’s been done about a zillion times (see the arcade controls link)–but here’s my version…

Right now I’m just building a control panel. I might build a complete stand up arcade unit later on, but for now that’s out of my budget. After looking at what games I play most, and what other people have done to their control panels, I came up with this list of requirements:

  • Enough buttons for most emulators (looked at a Playstation controller lately?)
  • Trackball
  • Two players, separate box for each
  • Buttons and joysticks laid out in a logical and ergonomical fashion
  • Sturdy box with easy access to the electronics inside
  • No key “ghosting” problems

Preview of the the final product:

Player 1 finished-close

Next part ->

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Posted in Video Games on Sep 30th, 2013, 9:35 pm by Dennis   

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