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Easy Atari 7800 controller mod (5min DIY)


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#1 Justin

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 01:10 PM

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Here’s a quick and easy cosmetic mod that anyone can do!

 

I posted this photo of an Atari 7800 joystick on our Instagram this week. You may notice it’s a little different, and I had a few people comment asking about the controller.

 

 

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Robert has a good eye. I wasn’t even thinking about it when I took the picture. I have a small stockpile of Atari 7800 joysticks, but the one I grabbed for the picture happened to be one of my original 2 joysticks from my Atari 7800 with the cereal in it that I talk about here.

 

I was never that happy with the stock 7800 joysticks. (was anyone?) I always sought ways to mod the controller or make it better. One of the earliest mods I made was when I was 12 years old: a cosmetic change to extend the aluminum “streak” from the handle all the way through the top of the controller.

 

I thought the Atari 7800 joystick looked and felt kind of cheap, as though something better had been designed and the guys in the accounting dept. took a look at it and said “Nope, nope, nope. Too expensive. Let’s save money by cutting costs here, here, and here.” The aluminum band on the console spans the full width of the 7800, shouldn’t the aluminum band on the joystick span the full length of the controller?

 

Below is an abbreviated version of the slideshow I posted on Instagram as a response to the questions I received about the controller. Obviously this is only a cosmetic mod and won’t improve joystick responsiveness (there are other things you can do!) but this is a quick and fun DIY mod that anyone can do. It looks good and has stood the test of time. If you’re into it and up to it, here’s how to do it:

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

 

Atari 7800 Joystick (cleaned with alcohol)

Aluminum Tape (HVAC Duct Joint Foil Tape)

Q-Tip

X-Acto knife

 

 

 

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#2 MaximumRD

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 01:52 PM

Excellent, it is the little aesthetic touches I love that can really make a system stand out but you know Justin this post comes with a extra benefit for me at least. I have several Colecovision controllers of various condition but I have a couple where that aluminum sticker on the top of the joystick (much like the 7800) is either very worn or damaged or in some cases entirely missing I I had been wondering for some time now HOW I can fix this and where would I even find aluminum stickers the exact size needed, Well looking out your parts list I see I can easily make them for myself!! Problem solved. THANKS.  :thumb: Hell I might do my 7800 controllers in the same fashion you outlined here as well, looks great and I always fine it cool to be just a little different than other people as you noticed people catch on pretty quick when something looks different form stock.  :lol:


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#3 RickR

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 03:10 PM

I love this!  :wub:

I just happen to have a roll of that aluminum tape for dryer vents.  Adding this to my projects list. 

 

THANKS!


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#4 RickR

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 03:14 PM

PS - bonus points for using the fancy word "burnish".  :emoji-E420:  I may burnish mine with a ShamWow, as that will add even more fanciness. 


Edited by RickR, 20 August 2017 - 03:14 PM.

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#5 kamakazi20012

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

wwwwwwhhhhaaaaat?  That looks friggin' awesome!  I might have to do that.


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#6 Justin

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 03:20 PM

I have several Colecovision controllers of various condition but I have a couple where that aluminum sticker on the top of the joystick (much like the 7800) is either very worn or damaged or in some cases entirely missing I I had been wondering for some time now HOW I can fix this and where would I even find aluminum stickers the exact size needed, Well looking out your parts list I see I can easily make them for myself!! Problem solved. THANKS.  :thumb:

 

That's an awesome application for this, MaximumRD! This should work perfectly as a replacement for the aluminum stickers on top of ColecoVision joysticks. I hadn't thought of that but I may give that a try as well. Don't forget to burnish the aluminum tape once it's on, see below for my comment to RickR.

 

 

I love this!  :wub:

I just happen to have a roll of that aluminum tape for dryer vents.  Adding this to my projects list. 

 

THANKS!

 

That's great Rick! Aluminum tape for dryer vents is just what you need.

 

 

PS - bonus points for using the fancy word "burnish".  :emoji-E420:  I may burnish mine with a ShamWow, as that will add even more fanciness. 

 

Burnishing is the key to making this work, I should have gone into further detail about this:

 

The purpose of the burnishing is to harden the aluminum to the plastic and make the aluminum durable and more resistant to dents, dings and deformations. The aluminum is very soft and pliable, so it's easily deformed. Tossing the controller into a box with your other controllers or hardware could result in the aluminum getting marked up or peeling off. Even letting an NES controller rest against it in a box would likely leave a crease. "Burnishing" the aluminum prevents this by hardening and adhering the aluminum to the plastic more firmly. The first two times I made this mod the aluminum didn't last through the weekend. Once I figured out the "burnishing" it's lasted since 1994 and still looks great.

 

I use the side of a Q-Tip pressed firmly against the aluminum, going with the grain, but a soft cloth or cotton ball applied with gentle pressure will do the trick.


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