Would ya believe Cheep Technology is almost 20 years old? Well would ya? My video game obsession goes back a long ways...

Back in the early 80's, I took my hard-earned money and bought an Atari 2600. Well, actually mine was a Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade. Same thing.

Most people bought theirs because of Space Invaders. I bought mine because of Asteroids. It had just come out, and given the state of 2600 cartridges at the time, this was the hot ticket item. Actually, it still holds up pretty well, all things considered. (I never liked the ice-cream colored rocks, though.)

2600 Asteroids

The trouble with Asteroids, was trying to play it using the 2600 joysticks. No matter how good you got at it, you never could get into the same rhythm that you could with the arcade version. The joysticks just didn't allow it. At least one enterprising company though, was selling Asteroids-style controllers that you could plug in to your Atari. But $29.95 was just too much money. At least for me. I'd rather spend that much buying a whole new game! Or, of course, blow it all down at the local arcade. Ah... those were the days.

So I decided to build my own Asteroids controller. I got together with a friend of mine who had a soldering iron (and was also a video game addict), and set about the task. At the time, I had no idea where to get arcade fire buttons, and nothing that Radio Shack had looked any good. So, we made our own out of some chair glides and strips of brass. We threw together a box out of some scraps, hooked the contraption up to the cable from a broken Atari joystick (there were plenty of those around), and presto! Our very own Asteroids controller!

Of course, a great deal of the fun of owning an Atari was having friends over to play. So, we went ahead and built a second one a little later, for two-player action.

In retrospect, I should've picked up the Space War cartridge for the 2600, but for some reason, I never did. Still, these worked great for the 2600 versions of Asteroids, Gravitar, and later the 7800 version of Asteroids. They both still work to this day!

Now, there wasn't any Cheep Technology as such back then. It was just me, Wes, his soldering iron, and a bunch of chair glides. But that's where it all started.

So fast-forward nearly 20 years.

After I stumbled across MacMAME, and became a hopeless addict, I had to find a spinner control for the Mac, so I could play Tempest (and other games, but mainly Tempest). Mice and trackballs just didn't cut it.

I looked through the various online plans, but didn't see anything that I wanted to build. So I decided to look into designing my own. I figured I'd start out by modifying an Atari 2600 Trak-Ball controller to work with a mouse interface first. I assumed that would be easiest. Then I'd figure out how to build a spinner using the bearings and encoder wheel from the Trak-Ball. I never got the Trak-Ball to work though (I found out later that it was because of the mouse I was using).

Eventually, I decided to try again. This time though, I'd build everything from scratch. No arcade parts - everything had to come from local stores. After a fruitless trip to a hobby store, I went over to Home Depot - one of those gigantic hardware store/warehouse places. I grabbed a basket and wandered up and down the aisles for probably two hours. Looking for bearings, knobs, discs, shafts - anything that might possibly work for a spinner. Periodically inspiration would strike, and I'd grab a promising looking part off of some shelf.

When I finally left the store, I had found all the parts I would need. After a couple of prototypes, and a few different mice, I ended up with the Cheep Spinner. My goal was to not only make a spinner control for myself, but to publish free plans so that others could do the same.

So that's what this site's all about. And if I sell a few along the way... well, that works too.

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