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Twin Stick Mod Guide - New 5200 7800 Coupler Test Review

by CRTGAMER Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:01 pm

New 5200 7800 Robotron Couplers
The Atari 5200 has a coupler designed to hold two controllers for twinstick games Robotron and Space Dungeon. 7800 Robotron also has twinstick capability, but an official coupler was never released.


Over at Atari Age, amiman99 has built a set of couplers. One for the 5200 and another for the 7800. In the design phase and looks to be almost ready for selling!

amiman99 wrote:

Atari 5200 joystick coupler

It is of my own design, different from the original or the one on Thingiverse, which is based on the original. I'm willing to sell these couplers and I'm wondering if there is any interest in these. I have a nice 3d Printer that I can print them on demand. It take about 6hrs to print one, so probably I can do one a day.

I don't have a price set for that, but I'm thinking between $10-15 plus shipping.

I'm also working on Atari 7800 coupler for the original joysticks. If more people requests Black color then I can print in Black. Right now I print using PLA plastic which is easier to work with. I have one roll of black ABS plastic that I did not touched yet, so I could use that.

I haven't decided yet <on selling STI File> if I want to go this route, but probably yes.

5200 Robotron - 5200 Space Dungeon
I have the 5200 coupler, definitely the best way to play Robotron and Space Dungeon. The 5200 replacements look solid, anyone with a 5200 should buy a set to discover the twinstick mode.

7800 Robotron - 7800 T:ME Salvo (Atari Age)
For the 7800 version, a question of the more forgiving free float of the 5200 analogs vs the stiffness of the 7800 sticks. If a trade off in plastic strength, then perhaps "stick" with the grey plastic? Color not important if it compromises a base cracking later on. The wider base designed looks great, a question how it holds up for on the lap or in hand game play and if the stiff sticks causing the entire assembly to shift around. Placing on the table not idea, though one could easily place the pair of sticks with the coupler on a lapboard flat tray.

2600 Twinstick Games
Additional twinstick games that work with the 7800 sticks matched to the coupler.

Defender 2 - Stargate
Eli's Ladder
Extra Terrestrials
Radar Lock
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Riddle of The Sphinx
Spy Hunter
Star Voyager

STL File
Compared to DLC in games, this is one of the few times a "digital download" might be beneficial. The STL from what I gather is a standard for most 3D plastic printers? This important that the dimensions be exact as produced on your printer. A concern of the STL file getting resold and that would not be right.


Different design - Free 5200 7800 Coupler STL Files
These are different from the couplers above and are "freeware". Download and print up on 3d printer locally. Many Libraries and Colleges can print up for a nominal fee.

Thingiverse 7800 Coupler STI File


Thingiverse 5200 Coupler STI File


ABS or PLA: Which 3D printing filament should you use?

ABS has a high melting point, and can experience warping if cooled while printing. Because of this, ABS objects must be printed on a heated surface, which is something many at-home printers do not have. However, while PLA might seem like a better overall choice at first glance, it features a far lower melting point than ABS. This means that using printed parts for mechanical operations, or even storing them in high-temperature locations, can result in the part warping, cracking, or melting. The material is also weaker than ABS, though, it can achieve a superior level of print detail and is less prone to errors while printing.

Both ABS and PLA also smell while printing, as heating the thermoplastic gives off fumes. That said, it’s the print temperature that primarily affects intensity of said fumes — not so much the material itself. Yes, ABS will smell like hot plastic and require ventilation while PLA will smell mildly sweet, but the strength of these smells is going to be dependent on your printer.

There are also major differences between the two thermoplastics. ABS is going to give your projects better structural integrity and will be more suited to mechanical use given the material can better withstand the elements, but it will also require specific types of printers and printing surfaces. On the flip side, PLA will give you more precise prints and better aesthetic quality, as well as more flexibility with printing conditions if you can do without the strength and resilience of ABS. In simple terms, PLA is for hobbyist printers while ABS caters to those looking to produce commercial-grade parts that need to endure more rigorous wear and tear.


7800 DanthWader Coupler Printed! 8)
I downloaded the "freeware" 7800 Coupler STL file from Thingiverse and had it "cast" at my local library 3d printer for a nominal fee.

Couple minor issues :!:
The 3d print took around 24 hours and this was at 10% hollow default! Library staff was gracious to let it run by itself overnight.The plastic base warped a bit at the top right when cooling. This probably due to the printer did not have a heated base. The clips do get in the way from sliding the 7800 controllers in.

Fixes :idea:
After breaking away the excess "casting" supports, I left ridges inside the controller pocket cavities to allow for a snug fit. A heat gun (hair dryer can also work) warmed up the plastic allow to flatting out the warp at the base. I also warmed up the clips and bent the tips out just enough to clear the controllers. HAVE CARE THE PLASTIC HAS LOW MELTING POINT AND DO NOT LEAVE IN SUN! I left support tiers in the holes and kept the bottom base peel ribbons intact for added strength. Instead of black, I went with grey as a nice contrast matched similar to the aluminum name plate of the controllers.Take a close look at the picture below, I glued a piece of white plastic wall underneath for added strength and stability. The plastic leftover from bathroom repair and can be purchased at Home Depot.

Any loose coupler could be easily repaired by:

1. When removing excess plastic supports, leave rough ridges intact reducing size inside the pockets.

2. Heat gun used to soften plastic just enough to bend in slightly. Remove heat gun, insert wedge of 7800 controller not quite fully in and collapse just a tiny bit. After cool down, the controller can be shoved all the way in for the snug fit.

3. Add layer of electrical tape inside the pocket gummy side against the plastic. This reduces the pocket size slightly allowing for snug fit.

7800 Gameplay :mrgreen:
Due to leaving just a bit of the "casting" ridges inside, the controllers a nice snug fit. The coupler assembly best held as an oversized PS1 controller using thumbs just like the dual shock. 7800 Robotron is so much better played twinstick with the coupler, now matched gameplay to the 5200 twinstick coupler. I plan to keep the 7800 controllers in the couplers to prevent wearing out the snug fit. I have plenty of better quality 2600 Joystks (WICO, EPYX, Genesis ) for the other games.



amiman99 5200 7800 Coupler Review
The 5200 and 7800 Couplers came in, gave both a test run. Both outstanding accessories to enhance game play and rediscovering twinstick capability for each console. The couplers can be printed in any color. As the first customer, I went with the silver grey already manufactured.

5200 Coupler
Though thin plastic, holds up well with the free float of the analog sticks. The coupler is more compact then the original Atari factory coupler. A small concern of the plastic pocket being just around the stick instead of the entire base support of the original. Perhaps build up on the thickness of the plastic? A compromise of added strength vs added cost to justify twinstick for just the two games.Robotron and Space Dungeon.


7800 Coupler
The plastic is thin which at first gave me the impression that it might break. Has held up and works out well as a light weight housing. I had suggested earlier to make the bottom lock clip wider to prevent breakage. Now I see with the clip being narrow an easier flex to snap in the 7800 stick. That clip has to bend down then snap back; if it were wider might break the bottom side of the pocket. The clip could be wider if kept the same thickness, but only if the main pocket is thicker plastic. This puts the flex point at the clip and not the pocket holding the 7800 stick. Adding a screw in the clip not really needed though it can help locking in the controller.

The design though thin material is solid; the 7800 stick not as stiff as a 2600 joystick. Thicker plastic will add strength though how much added has to be weighed cost justification for just one 7800 twinstick game Robotron. On the other hand, there are a few 2600 games that support twinstick gameplay. This leads to an advantage of this design over the other larger DanthWader design. THE FIRE BUTTONS ARE EXPOSED ALLOWING EASY ACCESS. Even for Robotron, the fire button needed to start a game. Unlike twinstick Robotron, the 2600 twinstick games still utilize the fire button during game play. The controller assembly can be held in one hand operating the fire button and other hand to select operate each stick.


Conclusion - Well Built 5200 7800 Accessories :mrgreen:
See Atari Age link above for purchasing the latest revision

Both couplers are best played holding the two stick assembly as an oversized Playstation duel shock controller; each stick operated with thumbs. Slippage is nearly non existent when held this way with hands wrapped around the coupler. Both couplers ergonomically rounded inviting the duel shock approach. If either attempted to play as a table top controller, this would increase the breakage risk and slippage. The only change I would make is making the each design in a bit thicker plastic for strength. Not really critical, the couplers actually more fragile if stored without controllers inserted. One just have to be wary not to store in a box with controllers and cables winding around laying on top due to crush risk. Adding thickness will have two disadvantages; added cost and less flex for inserting the controllers. Great design, lightweight thin, non obtrusive and works very well.

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Twin Stick Mod Guide - 5200 7800 Coupler - Atari Age Game

by CRTGAMER Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:13 am

T:ME SALVO - $30 Atari Age Store

:mrgreen: A home brew twinstick game exclusive at Atari Age

Wow, back in stock, after contacting Albert. I immediately placed an order. I have been wanting to play this game on the 7800 to take full advantage with the Twinstick Coupler reviewed above. This game comes full circle DECADES later for me.

1. Played Robotron Arcade when first came out, so wanted the twinstick play on home systems.
2. In search of a twinstick game for the Vic 20, discovered obscure game by Sierra called Crossfire.
3. Keyboard "twinstick" only, contemplated modifying Vic20 to accept two Wico joysticks wired to the keys.
4. Got Commodore 64 version also keyboard "twinkey control", but just one joystick even with two joyports.
3. Finally got decent twinstick Robotron versions for Atari 5200 and Atari 7800 consoles.
4. Discovered home brew T:ME SALVO which combines Robotron and Crossfire!

:idea: As an epilogue note of sorts concerning a decades later solution for Crossfire. I did manage to "mod" the Atari 800 Crossfire version keyboard with Blaze Twinshock Arcade stick picking up the keys. The Atari 800 computer games emulated thru the Dreamcast, true Robotron twinstick game play!

Crossfire (1981 video game)

Crossfire is an Apple II video game created by Jay Sullivan and published by Sierra On-Line in 1981. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, VIC-20, Commodore 64, and IBM PC (as a PC booter). A cartridge version of Crossfire was a 1984 launch title for the IBM PCjr, announced in late 1983.

In Crossfire, the player uses the IJKL keys on the keyboard to move and ESDF to shoot left, right, up, and down[3] among an array of blocks, avoiding incoming fire and dispatching enemies. The playing area consists of 42 blocks (7 rows by 6 columns), through which there are six vertical alleys, five horizontal alleys, and 30 intersections. The player can move and fire in any direction, but can only stop in intersections. On e.g. the Commodore 64 port, the game optionally be played with joystick, but this is harder to control than using the keyboard.

Softline called Crossfire "a new twist on arcade games with delightfully colorful beasties and smooth animation", which "offers hours of challenge and enjoyment for the dedicated and persevering gamester". BYTE called Crossfire "one of the most difficult and challenging arcade games to play. The reflexes take a long time to master, but, once you get the hang of it, it's addictive".


Imagine playing Robotron with corridors to hide behind, shoot and duck. Rescued humans do not disappear, but follow behind you. Instead of just one human such as Williams Arcade Defender, all follow behind just like another vintage game Serpentine. This brings in a whole new strategy staying alive for both you and the band of rescued people running down the maze.



Serpentine is a 1982 action computer game developed by David Snider and published by Broderbund The gameplay and visuals are similar to that of the Konami arcade game Jungler, released the previous year. Serpentine was originally written for the Apple II and ported to the VIC-20, Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit family. Eating the tail segments of serpents makes them shorter, and a red or orange serpent turns green when shorter than the player. Hitting a green serpent headfirst eliminates it, and causes the player's serpent to grow an additional segment.

Image Image

Icing on the cake to find the new homebrew 7800 game combining not two, but three games I enjoyed in the 8 bit gaming era. Even a forth game inspiration of the "Pacman power pill" in collecting the smart bomb to destroy enemies. Try the 7800 game emulated on your PC to see what all the fuss is about.

SALVO Thread -

@ RevEng - Thanks for coding this beautiful game and the heads up back in stock!

Atari Age wrote:Image

Your goal is to shoot all of the Morlock enemies, avoid being shot, and protect the four humanoids that eventually appear in each level. If you happen to lose all humanoids in a level, the lights will go out. In the dark the enemies will become more agressive, and an invincible hulking enemy will tirelessly hunt you down, until the level is complete. Shooting at the hulk will push him back, but only a little.

If the brain enemy manages to touch a humanoid, it will be converted into a killer prog. The prog will race through the battlefield after you until you shoot it, or it kills you. Periodically you'll need to reload ammunition. An alarm will sound when you have ten bullets left, and you'll see a pack of replacement ammunition appear on the battlefield. Touch the ammunition to reload.

A destroyed enemy will sometimes leave behind a smart bomb. If you touch the smart bomb before it disappears, each enemy on the battlefield will be destroyed. Every two levels you'll encounter the challenge stage, where four waves of enemies will race across the screen in differing patterns. If you manage to shoot all of the enemies in the challenge stage, you'll earn an extra life!

8) Dual Joystick Support
If you have two joysticks that are suitably anchored, you can switch T:ME Salvo into 2 Stick mode at the title screen. When using this mode, the left stick moves the player, and the right stick controls the shooting direction, similar to the arcade game Robotron 2084. (Swap Sticks in coupler to change movement fire option)

Additional Information
T:ME Salvo includes a game cartridge and full-color, 8-page manual.

Number Players - 1
Controller - 1 or 2 Joysticks
Cartridge Size - 48k

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