Joystick Notes

Joystick Notes

About every 12 to 15 months I'll have a newbie email & say that the switch terminals were bent on his joystick (or buttons) when he received it. Sticks are factory prepacked and they have had bent terminals on them since their inception. Over the years they have had various packaging from the cardboard boxes that Wico use to ship in to the plastic bags used today by most mfrs, and they've always had a terminal or two bent during shipping. In every case, it has been recommended not to straighten any of these until in the hands of the end user. This was more obvious to people on the old leaf switches, since they could readily see that bending them back and forth could cause them to snap off rendering them useless. Microswitches look to be a little tougher, but they too, will break off with bending them back & forth, hence the need to leave them as is till their final resting place.

Here's one that comes in a little more frequently... my new stick catches sometimes & doesn't have a very smooth action to it. Sometimes doesn't engage a certain microswitch or hangs up on one. This is caused by placing the nylon pivot cylinder (usually referred to as a spacer) on the bottom of the shaft under the actuator* instead of slipping it onto the shaft before inserting it into the body.

* What to heck is the actuator is another Q. The actuator is the nylon piece, sometimes round, sometimes square, that goes on the bottom of the shaft and does the actual engaging of the microswitch as you push the shaft.

Will the Ultimate 4-way actuator work on my 8-way Ultimate? The 4-way has a different body than the 8-way and in reality should not work, although some people have reported that they got it to work when adding a washer.

Which joystick is the best one? Everyone has their own opinion on this and I guess that is why there are so many to choose from. Price was said to have an effect on which ones sold the most, as the Ultimate has always outsold all others combined, but after selling them all at an equal price for the past month the Ultimate did not lose ground, but the normally less expensive Competition gained on the Super closing the huge gap that it has enjoyed for many years. The once dead Competition seems to owe its resurgence almost entirely to the MAME scene.

Another problem sometimes encountered when sticks are not responding correctly, or some have said it's just too low, or too high, from my control panel is caused by improper assembly, sometimes only because they are spaced for a wood control panel & are on a metal control panel or vice versa. When installing on a metal control panel you need to use the shorter of the two spacers (pivot cylinders) remembering to put it on the shaft before inserting it to the mounted body & on the bottom of the shaft, after putting the actuator on you need to push it up on the shaft to expose the upper groove for the e-clip.
When mounting on a wood control panel you'll need to use the longer spacer, helping to raise the stick up from the control panel and after putting the actuator on you would use the lowest groove on the shaft for the e-clip.

Trying to figure out how to make the stick 4-way or 8-way... well... with all sticks the larger diameter actuator, whether it be separate ones or a flip over type, will be for 8-way operation & the smaller diameter one for 4-way operation.

Here's a recent report on Happ Pac replacement joysticks of popping & not operating smoothly. This was free hanging & not mounted... evidently Happ tossed them together "hap"hazardly knowing that you have to disassemble them for mounting, anyway. In this case the upper black actuator was installed upside down. Here's a pic of correct positioning: