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Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel
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Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Sat Jun 19, 2021 2:07 am

Hello,
I need some help in determining the correct parts for a custom arcade control panel. I’m building a 2 player “Ninja/Asian influenced” themed arcade cabinet, but the caveat is I want to incorporate an Analog Thumb Stick in the layout. Most arcade games can play fine without it, but there are some console/PC games that just need an analog thumb stick to aim a weapon or direction. like: Mark of the Ninja, NINJA GAIDEN Σ, Stranglehold, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, and Mini Ninjas to name a few.

Arcade Control Panel Layout.jpg
I went ahead and made a visual mockup to show a basic layout of what I’m describing. Final layout subject to change.
Arcade Control Panel Layout.jpg (307.5 KiB) Viewed 215 times


a-pac.jpg
So, I figure, using a PC, I’ll get the typical arcade Joysticks and Buttons attached to an Ultamarc A-PAC
https://www.ultimarc.com/control-interfaces/a-pac/a-pac/
a-pac.jpg (87.41 KiB) Viewed 215 times


Lately, console controllers are having analog stick drift. Why? I mean, my Xbox 360 controllers never had this problem. I still use them on my PC today (since my Xbox One controller had drift problems that is.). Anyway, with all the drift problems, I wasn’t sure what Analog thumb stick (setup) to get.

If drift is going to be an ongoing problem, do they make analog stick modules that don’t need to be soldered, that you can easily pull out the old and drop/snap in the new one? What ones will be durable enough to put on a control panel? What’s a good analog stick enclosure/mount? Anyone out there tried adding an analog stick to an arcade panel? Help, please.

Mulavac
 
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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by blnkjns on Sun Jun 20, 2021 9:06 am

The simplest way to hook up an analog stick is by using one of the 32U4 or M0 boards, as they are easy to setup as USB-HID device.
The reason why your Xbox thumb stick works, and the Switch one doesn't, is software (or the lack of in the case of the Switch):
Try to have your software calibrate to neutral on idle moments: the X and Y value in rest could be added to an array of say 10 items, and averaged out.
What you do then, is map the range of the stick by taking this neutral value into account:
Say X can go from 0-1023, and happens to be 530 on average in neutral.
Use the map functions to map say 0-520 to -100 to -1 and 540-1023 as 1 to 100. You keep a little deadzone in the middle, so values 521-539 all return 0.

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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:48 pm

blnkjns wrote:The simplest way to hook up an analog stick is by using one of the 32U4 or M0 boards, as they are easy to setup as USB-HID device.
The reason why your Xbox thumb stick works, and the Switch one doesn't, is software (or the lack of in the case of the Switch):
Try to have your software calibrate to neutral on idle moments: the X and Y value in rest could be added to an array of say 10 items, and averaged out.
What you do then, is map the range of the stick by taking this neutral value into account:
Say X can go from 0-1023, and happens to be 530 on average in neutral.
Use the map functions to map say 0-520 to -100 to -1 and 540-1023 as 1 to 100. You keep a little deadzone in the middle, so values 521-539 all return 0.


I’d be glad to try re-calibrating my controller, but I’m not sure what software you’d be referring to on my PC. Also could you provide links to your suggestions, as I found quite a few different versions of your suggestions.

Mulavac
 
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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:06 am

So, I'm new to the arcade build scene. I just finished restoring/upgrading my first ever, (garbage-curbside-pickup Pac-Man) cabinet. I put in a 60-in-1, flat screen LCD and a multi-button/track ball control panel. I never really tried wiring anything before. But I tackled electricity and Jamma and prevailed! Yay me!

Anyway, funny side note, I had already started working on building a custom arcade cabinet before finding the Pac-man. I had just bought wood and new tools- (even cut a lot of the wood pieces). I mean I wasn't looking forward to spending even more money on another arcade cabinet so soon, but when you find one just sitting out on the curb like that... I mean the universe is trying to tell me something, right?

Pac-Man.jpg
My Pac-Man cabinet, All I need now is a couple of cam locks for the front coin door and back door.
Pac-Man.jpg (366.93 KiB) Viewed 162 times


OK, back to my dilemma. So, as stated earlier, I wanted to build a custom control panel with the addition of an analog stick. However, in-between starting the woodwork of the custom cabinet and completing my Pac-Man cabinet, the analog sticks on my (wireless) Xbox One controller (I’ve only had for a year, with moderate uses) I use for playing games on my PC started drifting. Once that happened, I jumped on Youtube. I saw that analog stick drift has been a major issue with last Gen of consoles: Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. I saw 100s of vids with a variety of methods to fix the issue. Mostly about taking the controller apart and cleaning the modules or replacing the disc sensors in them. But if cleaning them didn't work, they said you had to replace the whole joystick module potentiometer and solder in new ones (or just chunk it and buy a new controller.)

Based on this and me never have soldered at all, the cheapest route I took was to try and clean my controller. But no dice. It didn't work and this got me thinking about my idea of adding an analog stick to my arcade panel. "If this drift BS is a problem, if I add a stick to my control panel, how can I easily fix the issue when/if it occurs?"

So, to be transparent, my research on arcade panels for use with a PC based system has been using encoder boards made specifically to support multiple buttons and joysticks. The encoders have their own software for sure, but I'm not familiar with all-things-encoders, gizmos and what-has-its.

Lastly, for those that have valuable advice to contribute on this analog stick dilemma, please give bullet points and video links when possible, as I can’t find any information on it anywhere on the interwebs. I find it hard to believe no one tried this before?

The focus of this post: To solve How To Add An Analog Thumb Stick To An Arcade Control Panel
(Please, see first post to view mock up of desired results.)

To solve this issue, please provide the following solutions:
- Are there any analog sticks out there that can be easily installed without soldering?
Just like other arcade control panels, sometimes sticks or buttons get worn out and need to be swopped out for new ones. I think I found some. Example: These N64 replacement sticks are practically plug-and-play without soldering. https://www.amazon.com/Replacement-Joys ... B0136JPKIS . In theory, these sticks would be the best example of what I’d think a commercially made arcade control panel analog stick would be like. They are plug-in-play, come in their own mountable housing and not expensive at all. How good they are, I don’t know. Also, to be honest, I don’t recall if N64 sticks have the same push-in button ability as modern analog sticks.

- What analog sticks will be the most durable for an arcade control panel? (Or, does it matter as they are they all generally the same?)
(Explain why and give links. Sometimes there are many variations of what you may suggest.)

- Suggestions on how they could be mounted.
Parameters - Ideally the stick would be incased some sort of housing to protect the unit and mounted to the underside of the wood constructed control panel. The stick would poke through a hole out the top of a panel.

- Wire connecting the analog stick to the control panel.
As stated, my thoughts are to use the Ultamarc A-PAC encoder ( https://www.ultimarc.com/control-interf ... cQQAvD_BwE ), which is a single analog/digital interface designed to literally emulate two gamepads on a PC using Windows. This conclusion came from suggestions from contacting different unaffiliated arcade product sellers. However, please offer other suggestions that might be a better solution. Remember it’s all about easily connecting a ton of buttons, joysticks and analog sticks seamlessly.

My Research
I have done - some - legwork in researching possible analog stick solutions. Here are a few examples that I found. The problem is, I don’t 100% know what I’m looking at, but they seemed feasible. These, at the very least, will give you an idea of where my head is at, and give you a jumping off point for your own thoughts. So, let me/us know your thoughts and if any of these solutions seem ideal to you as well.

1) This Phidget combo
Thumbstick Phidget - https://www.phidgets.com/?prodid=962
VINT Hub Phidget - https://www.phidgets.com/?&prodid=643
HIN1100_0_Alt2.jpg
It seems like if you had issues with it down the line, you could just replace the entire thumbstick unit for $20. It comes housed, which I think could be easily mounted (some way).
HIN1100_0_Alt2.jpg (24.74 KiB) Viewed 162 times


2) Analog Joystick Module with Case - https://www.robotics.org.za/HHG-JS
HHG-JS-1-650x350.jpg
This is crazy expensive, but the idea is there.
HHG-JS-1-650x350.jpg (28.18 KiB) Viewed 162 times


3) Joystick Module Clear Acrylic Case- https://ram-e-shop.com/product/joystick ... ylic-case/
A simple low profile case to keep things safe without a huge work around while mounting. Maybe this could be used to protect the unit while sitting in one of the 3D printed stick mounts.

4) Microbit Joystick Module Double Axis XY Gamepad Sensor - https://www.digitspace.com/microbit-joy ... pad-sensor
An inexpensive all-in-one unit, but the stick seems like one of those low-profile ones they have on a _PSP I think I’d need a full size one for a control panel. So probably not.

5) Thumbstick Joystick Case #3DThursday #3DPrinting - https://blog.adafruit.com/2015/12/24/th ... dprinting/
A simple 3d printed case that could be mounted on the underside of the control panel.

6) Mini Thumbstick for the XAC - https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=ht ... egUIARDnAQ
This link also has a few other examples.

7) Analog 2-axis Thumb Joystick with Select Button + Breakout Board - https://www.adafruit.com/product/512
It’s inexpensive but dose require soldering.

8) Sparkfun joystick mount - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:10850
A simple 3d printed case that could be mounted on the underside of the control panel.

9) Joystick Bumper/Tray - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2953897
A simple 3d printed case that could be used for mounting.

10) Thumb Joystick Panel Mount - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3740302
A simple 3d printed case that could be mounted on the underside of the control panel.

11) ANALOG JOYPAD FOR YOUR RETRO PC - https://hackaday.com/2012/01/26/analog- ... -retro-pc/
A blog showing step-by-step someone’s process building a DIY controller. My takeaway was I got ideas about materials used. I especially liked the grommet idea for that little extra finishing touch.

12) #3 Snap Together Grommet 7/16" (Black Plastic) - https://www.sailrite.com/Grommet-Snap-T ... g0QAvD_BwE
Speaking of, here’s a link to some grommets.

13) Steel Sticks - https://steelsticks64.com/
If the N64 stick would be a canadate, than heavy this duty stick upgrade might be cool. (Kinda expensive though.)

Mulavac
 
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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by blnkjns on Tue Jun 22, 2021 2:43 am

Maybe you should just buy this, USB plug-and-play.
https://www.ultimarc.com/arcade-control ... top-clone/

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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Tue Jun 22, 2021 5:29 am

blnkjns wrote:Maybe you should just buy this, USB plug-and-play.
https://www.ultimarc.com/arcade-control ... top-clone/


I've seen that sick before. and for The Main Movement Joystick for the left hand, I might even end of getting it or the Magenta Analog to Digital Programmable Joystick ( https://paradisearcadeshop.com/products ... e-joystick ). The Magenta is a contactless joystick. It doesn't use microswitches, and you can program the sensitivity of the direction zone areas. This programable & quiet stick might also be a good match with the cabinet's Ninja theme, suggesting stealth and procession. Here's a reviewer link if you are interested. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be2r-rG0y5g )

However, for the right hand, the stick has to be a thumb stick like those on modern game pad controllers. This would literally be the same set up as a game pad. i.e. Movement on the left stick and aiming on the right stick. Otherwise, just having 2 standard sized arcade joysticks on a full sized arcade cabinet would make a twin-stick shooter setup and limit playing to only twin-stick shooter games like Robotron: 2084 and Smash TV.

IMG_2714.jpeg
I'm not going for a Smash TV twin-shooter set up.
IMG_2714.jpeg (701.79 KiB) Viewed 142 times


An example game I gave earlier was NINJA GAIDEN Σ, a standard 3rd person action game with simple controls that you could easily maneuver through if you could just aim your hero in the direction you want him to go in.

Arcade Control Panel w_text.jpg
Here is my general 2 player arcade control panel layout mockup. (subject to change.) Note the placement of the thumb stick.
Arcade Control Panel w_text.jpg (310.65 KiB) Viewed 142 times


Arcade Control Panel Layout_with hands.jpg
The idea of having an analog thumb stick is to be able to keep your thumb on the stick and access the buttons at all times while playing.
Arcade Control Panel Layout_with hands.jpg (315.25 KiB) Viewed 142 times


In the end, the whole point to adding a thumb stick is to be able to play those more modern games on an arcade cabinet that would otherwise be impossible.

Mulavac
 
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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Fri Jul 02, 2021 1:49 am

So, I found this video that goes into the reason for Controller Drift... and software isn't a factor.

Check it out. It's very informative.
The REAL Science Behind Controller Drift
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm6HztfTxC4

Mulavac
 
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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by blnkjns on Sat Jul 03, 2021 5:39 am

Mulavac wrote:So, I found this video that goes into the reason for Controller Drift... and software isn't a factor.

I watched the video, and it is very rudimentary: it totally omits asking the nasty questions. It stays at elementary school level...
Unfortunately. Software SHOULD be a factor, it is the no.1 way out of this mess. It is the reason a F35 can fly uberhaupt. It is the way to fix glitching 10ct components.
It is basic first grade student material to have a totally awkward pot work reliable with some software.

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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by popo808 on Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:12 am

@Mulavac Take my advice (or don't) - do not put a thumbstick on an arcade control panel. It will provide for extremely poor usability in all use cases.

For PC-based games that can't be played from a control panel setup, use a regular gamepad of your choice. If you want to invest more funds in your control panel, consider a spinner and/or trackball to open up other gaming possibilities.

In addition, your button layout is going to induce significant RSI after even modest amounts of gaming. The action buttons shouldn't be arranged perfectly horizontally and they're too far apart from each other. Also, button overload. There aren't any arcade games that use 8 action buttons, so two of them will only be useful for macro use (like multi punch/kick in fighters). You also don't need more than ONE admin button, if any at all - having all those buttons is going to lead to guests/others pressing them and tossing the entire system into a state they can't deal with. Use SHIFTED functions. For example, COIN + START = PAUSE. COIN + ACTION BUTTON 1 = TAB for MAME, etc.

YMMV, but there are literally thousands of examples of great and poor control panel designs out there you really should consult in earnest before you start cutting.

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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by Mulavac on Wed Jul 07, 2021 6:12 am

Wow, posting on the interwebs sure can be difficult. You make a seemingly innocent straight forward post, trying to find a solution to an awfully specific problem. But 9 times out of 10, pedantic individuals give triggered responses that have nothing to do with the topic. Hence the reason for the, obviously needed, clarification in my earlier longer post.

Maybe I should re-title this post to “Does anyone want to belittle information they’re triggered by?”
or
“Hey, I’m bored, come tell me a story about whatever you want. We’re always open! : ) "

Seriously, I am only interested in sincere problem solvers that have something positive to contribute to this post. People that move forward with the narrative. Not individuals that get twitchy-eyed on things that don't compute for them at the moment, or go off on tangents because they never read image descriptions like:
GENERAL 2 player arcade control panel layout MOCKUP. (SUBJECT TO CHANGE.)

I want to hear from the “Let’s try this” people, the people who have Maybe, just maybe… have thought about doing this very thing. And AGAIN, if you have some wisdom to provide on a particular idea to try, please give concise information, links, images or whatever else you think will “HELP”. I mean the whole reason you are giving the info is to be helpful right? Not to belittle or peacock around?

There is no need for: The naysayers, The don't dos, The complainers, The… Oh Wait! I forgot where I was for a minute. THE INTERNET!!! <-- (Apparently, I got to clarify this is sarcasm.)

Can't never could do c _ _ p!

Ask yourself these questions, Is what I’m about to say:
1.) Positive
2.) Helpful
3.) Express how you think a thumb stick might mount to an arcade control panel.
4.) Express what thumb stick products you think a would work best.

If not, this post is not for you. Move on buddy. Being pedantic is less helpful than you’d think. Just because you can comment, doesn’t mean you should. I know the difference between someone giving an opinion, someone who doesn’t think before they speak, and someone just doing their troll thing.

I’ll check back on new posts, but only respond to those who truly seem to want to help. If there continues to be a lack of interest or postings of divergent responses (pretty much making this post pointless), I’ll just abandon it, and move on to hopefully find a forum or interest group that is more focused.

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Re: Adding Analog Thumb Stick to Arcade Control Panel

by popo808 on Wed Jul 07, 2021 12:05 pm

It would take me about 10 minutes to install a thumbstick onto a control panel and that includes the time to wire it to an analog interface board that makes it show up to the computer as XINPUT or DirectInput. It's easy to do and it would be solid, last forever and wouldn't need perpetual calibration. EASY.

BUT...

Just because something is easy doesn't mean it's a good idea or it should be done.

You're asking how to drive off a cliff, so when someone tells you not to do it, don't accuse them of being pedantic, just maybe, they're trying to help.

Just go ahead however and you do you.

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.