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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 Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:09 pm

The 7800 Game arrived from Atari Age. Updated this post. :mrgreen:

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".


Cross Fire itself appears to be an inspiration of the Arcade Targ.

Targ (video game)

Targ was a successful 1980 game by Exidy depicting vehicular combat in a future world. It was followed by a more elaborate sequel, Spectar. The locale, described by the game cabinet as "The Crystal City", is a simple 9x9 grid of roads demarcated by rectangular buildings. The player, piloting the Wummel, which looks like a small green car, maneuvers through the maze trying to shoot enemies and avoid collisions. Most of the enemies consist of angry-looking red wedges, or "Targs". Occasionally, a small cyan-colored "Spectar Smuggler" appears; shooting it scores a significant bonus.


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.


Sweet to find the new homebrew 7800 game combining not two, but three games I enjoyed in the 8 bit gaming era. Even a fourth 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:T:ME SALVO - $30.00



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

Image Image
Image Image

The 7800 game cart and game manual came in. The 7800 cart does not appear to be a recycled shell and looks brand new. It has a nice glossy label and the game manual as well has glossy durable pages. Nice professional done, and even has Atari Age "Store Seal" easy removable sticker on the plastic "comic book protector" envelope.

Single Stick vs Twin Stick
The 7800 stick and any 2600 joystick can be used. the 2600 EPYX 500XJ joystick very solid with this game. Salvo can be played with one stick moving and firing in the same direction. Stop at an intersection, hold rapid fire button and directing the shots with the stick.

T:ME SALVO is perfect matched with either 3d printed twinstick coupler and two 7800 sticks. Two 2600 sticks such as Wicos can also be used. Rapid fire with one stick while moving with the other stick. Stop at an intersection, shoot any direction simply by pushing or holding the fire stick. Escape an enemy shot by moving with other stick while still shooting with opposite stick.

Crossfire Game Improvement
As posted earlier, this game has a long history with Salvo improving so many aspects. Inspired by Crossfire, unique as a twinstick shooter with corridors. Unlike the arcade Targ, the player stops at each intersection just like in the game Crossfire. Salvo improves by allowing a faster movement of your player vs the slow plodding of the original Crossfire. The rapid fire so much better vs single volley shot delay of Crossfire. To keep the difficulty at an even pace, the shots have limited ammo requiring a pickup placed randomly in the maze.

Adding the rescue human, pickup ammo and smart bomb aspect encourages traversing the maze instead of just hiding in a corner. So far in the levels I have played, the humans rescued are unaffected by the shots. Only if an enemy touches them do they get killed. Every few levels completed, there is a bonus round of shooting scrolling enemies similiar to the arcade Galaga bonus rounds.

TM:SALVO Hidden Level - Maybe more surprises?
Trebor wrote:While I haven't played the TI version, the Atari 8-bit and C64 ports play exactly the same (albeit a little slower) regarding the tiled movement experienced under the 7800 port; including, tiled direction for those three ports: Atari 8bit, C64, and 7800, can be changed midway and reversed instantly. Tried two other ports of Crossfire: Vic-20 and Apple II. Vic-20 controls like its younger sibling, C64, and the Atari 8-bit port. The Apple II version, interestingly enough, appears to continuously move in the same direction last pressed, until it can go no further in that direction (Reaches playfield border), the player never seems to stop at any point. I have a feeling analog joystick (settings) may play a role in the behavior though. If Keatah catches wind of this thread, he may be able to offer more insight, as I believe he's a pretty hardcore Apple II fan with much of the original hardware and peripherals on-hand.

Anyhow, has everyone unlocked Santa? He has a lot of free time available since Christmas has passed...


Games Elements in T:ME Salvo
There are a few features in Salvo I see that appear to be inspired by other games.

1. Targ (Arcade) / Crossfire (8 bit Computer) - The corridors and game inspired by both of these games.
2. Robotron (Arcade) - Graphics of all the characters and brain wave change humans into enemies.
3. Defender (Arcade) - Smart bomb destroy all enemies and landscape blank when all humans destroyed.
4. Pacman (Arcade) - Ammo reload and smart bomb pickup in maze while avoiding enemy.
5. Jungler (Arcade) / Serpentine (8 Bit Computer) - The rescued "tail" of humans follow player.
6. Galaga - Bonus level of shooting wave of enemies scrolling thru corridors.
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