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goldenpp72
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Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2600)

by goldenpp72 Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:41 pm

Hey all, I have a feeling this may get a variety of different responses if it gets any at all, but I figured i'd ask the more technically inclined. One of the neat things growing up with these systems was being able to put the wrong controllers into other systems. Things like the Coleco, Genesis, etc all have a similar looking port, though I think I read not all of them work regardless as I haven't tried. Anyways, I bought a set of 4 extension cables for the Genesis with the original intent of using them to also extend the controller pad range on my other consoles that support that port, not realizing that it may not be safe or not work at all.

I've read in some places that it's entirely safe, but others have said based on how power is transferred and some differences in the pins, can result in damaging the equipment over time. I guess what i'm hoping to find out here is a definitive answer on what consoles can safely use an extension cable designed for the Genesis, differences in different consoles and limitations, and any other information from a safety or other standpoint in messing with this stuff.

If I had to think, I believe I have maybe 6 consoles that have the same looking controller port, with the primary one's i'd use being the SMS and Genesis, but I do use my 2600/7800/coleco/intellivision 2 sometimes. Any thoughts?
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Exhuminator
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by Exhuminator Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:28 pm

The only way I can see this damaging anything, is by drawing continuous overcurrent through say an Atari port into a Genesis controller. There is most likely an op amp circuit outputting voltage through the Atari controller port that is designed to travel through a set amount of ohm resistance in an Atari joystick. If the Genesis' controller's internal ohm resistance is higher (more complex PCB after all), that would cause the Atari ports to amp higher than they are designed to in compensation. Now that doesn't mean they can't do it, but it does mean they might wear out faster based on fighting resistance greater than what they were designed to. I mean things like accelerated diode degrading or the op amp itself frying.

This is just hypothetical without copious studying of actual electrical diagrams of all devices in question. But it's not outside the realm of possibility.
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TSTR
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by TSTR Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:31 pm

I don't see why using those extension cables with the OG controllers would be a problem.
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by Exhuminator Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:33 pm

Extension cables add more ohm resistance, but that's about it.
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by flojocabron Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:11 pm

I know for sure GENESIS and 2600 work okay with each other.

Been doing it for years. If something was bad by doing this, it would have come up by now.

Also you can use Master system controllers on the GENESIS when you use it with the Master system adapter.

One thing that has come up online that is bad for either system or controller is Genesis controllers on a 3D0 and vice versa.

I dont have a Colecovision so I cant tell how a controller from either gen would work on it.

Does someone here know or have a link to find out?
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pierrot
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by pierrot Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:02 am

You'll be all right. Systems with num-pads will obviously have trouble associating non-directional button inputs, but each input on the Genesis controller has a fine current limiting (10KΩ) pull-up resistor in series--as any good active low input would. No op amps in these TTL designs. The ground and 5V (tapped somewhere just after the voltage regulator) lines are the only ones coming into the controller from the consoles themselves.*

EDIT- Misspoke slightly: The multiplexer chip in the genesis controller also expects an input for the selector bit. Again: TTL, and it's not an input tied to an output. Shouldn't be anything to worry about.
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samsonlonghair
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by samsonlonghair Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:25 am

flojocabron wrote:I know for sure GENESIS and 2600 work okay with each other.

Been doing it for years. If something was bad by doing this, it would have come up by now.

Also you can use Master system controllers on the GENESIS when you use it with the Master system adapter.

One thing that has come up online that is bad for either system or controller is Genesis controllers on a 3D0 and vice versa.

I can echo these sentiments. I don't have any scientific reasoning behind this. I can simply say from experience that I have plugged a Genesis controller into any console I've come across with a DB9 game controller port. So far, so good. My mighty Genesis controller has not caused any damage in any other console. I can't speak to 3DO or Coleco vision as I have never owned either of these. I can say that Atari 2600, and Atari 8-bit computers run fine with a Genesis controller. The Texas Instruments 99/4A also works great with a Genesis controller. Genesis controller is a clear improvement over most 8-bit computer joysticks.

I read somewhere that the "experts" say not to use the Genesis controller on Sega Master System. You know what? I do it all the time. It works fine. This has caused no damage to my Sega Master System as far as I can tell.
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:36 pm

If it hurt the system itself, I'd be more worried, but aftermarket controllers are a dime a dozen. I'd say just use a crappy third party controller if you're worried, but I've been using controllers interchangeably for as long as I've had the consoles and never had a problem. That's not to say that it's not doing any damage, but I've yet to experience any issues.
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pierrot
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by pierrot Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:19 pm

After glancing at some schematics, I was about to rescind my endorsement of using the Genesis controller on other consoles, but then I re-read the OP, and realized you were only asking about controller extension cables.

You're safe. They should only be a set of wires connecting the pins of the male and female DE9 connectors. The controller and console are what will delegate the configuration of the pins. There is a negligible amount of resistance (inherent in increasing the length of the wire) introduced, which is not a concern, and consoles that don't employ EMI filters would potentially be slightly more susceptible to electromagnetic interference, but that's a pretty minor concern.
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Re: Dangers of using controllers on wrong system? (Gen/SMS/2

by Exhuminator Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:22 pm

pierrot wrote:After glancing at some schematics, I was about to rescind my endorsement of using the Genesis controller on other consoles

Do you mind explaining why from a technical standpoint?
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