Having all of these arcade parts sitting around, and a couple of old home-built Asteroids controllers got me thinking... why not combine the two? Like chocolate and peanut butter. Two great tastes, that taste great together! Plus, it wouldn't cost me anything.

So I took one of my old controllers, gutted out the old innards, and put arcade fire buttons on it instead. What I ended up with is a bit shoddy looking, but it worked great!

rebuilt controller

One of the main reasons I did this, was to test out some new 7800 games: Asteroids Deluxe and Space Duel (both masterful hacks of Atari's 7800 Asteroids).

However, since Space Duel's raison d'être is two-player action, I decided I'd go ahead and update the other controller as well. Given how well this one was working, I knew the other one would never get used in its current state anyway.

If you have an old 2600 joystick lying around, enough tools and scrap wood to build a box, and can plunk down a few dollars for some arcade fire buttons, you can make one of these yourself!

First, I had to mark out where the buttons went. This is really important, so it's comfortable to use. Just lay your hands on the top of the box, and mark out where your fingers go. Be sure to leave enough space for the buttons to clear each other.

box marked

Next, you'll need to drill out the holes. A 1-1/8" hole saw is actually the single most expensive part of this project, but you'll need one to do it right.

box drilled

The top of the box isn't very thick at all. (I think it's actually an ancient piece of bakelite). But it's very sturdy stuff. Pretty much any material will do, but you should use something that's smooth (no splinters). The white box's top is 1/8" masonite that used to be an old dry-erase whiteboard.

Next up, is installing the switches. They just have a screw-on retaining ring, and microswitches that snap into place. Then you just use crimp-on solderless terminals to attach the wires.

buttons wired

You'll have to tie all the grounds together, so you can't just hook up an old joystick wire without adding some additional wires. You could probably connect them all with a wire nut, but I soldered mine.

From here, I decided to needlessly complicate the project, by soldering the wires from the switches onto an old 2600 joystick circuit board.

circuit board

Why go to this trouble? Well, if you're using an old 2600 joystick cable, this will allow you to drill a hole through the box, and feed the wires through it, then just attach them to the circuit board. So you can easily replace the cable later if you need to. Also, it keeps the installation neater, than just having the wires loose.

box wired up

Once that was done, I screwed the circuit board to the inside of the case, and ran the wire out through the back.

circuit board installed

To keep the wire from pulling through, I wrapped a zip-tie around it. After that, I closed up the bottom, and presto! Another spiffy arcade-quality controller for two-payer Space Duel action.


Now all I need is a second player... and some place to dump this stuff.


And in case you're wondering... I used black buttons because I ran out of white ones.


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