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ikonsgr's DB9 controller adapter for the 5200


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Prior to assembling my Atari 5200 SuperSystem setup, I did a little homework into the infamous 5200 controller issue. Based on the what I heard on The Atari 5200 Podcast and Wired-Up Retro, I decided early on to order the DB9 controller adapter for the 5200 made by AtariAge user ikonsgr (he also sells on ebay but I can't find his ebay link right now).
 
Atari 5200 Podcast
 
Wired-Up Retro
 
 
The adapter arrived a few days ago from Greece (it's times like this when I love how technology has brought us closer together to share a hobby). Today, I got a chance to use it with my Atari 7800 controller (made by Retrogameboyz) and a few games. Now I was aware that 7800 controllers would not work perfectly with this adapter and the 5200, but that's the DB9 controller I had on hand (Genesis arcade stick on the way).
 
I tried three 5200 games (via AtariMax cartridge). Berzerk didn't like it -- the man wouldn't move and continuously fired shots. In Moon Patrol, the joystick worked well, and the fire button too, but both 7800 buttons registered to fire the gun only -- no jump button. Pac-Man worked flawlessly.
 
The conclusion of my limited testing? I'm very happy as I had expected. Since nearly all 5200 games do not require analog controls, the ikonsgr adapter is a very affordable solution to enabling digital joystick/gamepad on the 5200 platform. Once the Genesis arcade stick arrives, my 5200 setup will be complete. Atari 5200 controller issues are really overblown and overstated IMO and shouldn't stopped anyone who wants to experience arcade action at home on the beautiful Atari 5200 SuperSystem.

DSC07101.JPG

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I picked up the Genesis arcade controller yesterday to use with the DB9 adapter. I tried it out with Moon Patrol and Pac-Man and it worked perfectly without any fuddling around. Initially I was a little concerned about the softness of the joystick (I've gotten used to leaf switch sticks) but it felt great and was responsive.

My 5200 controller setup is now complete 🙂 and in my 5200 controller stable are controllers rebuilt by Best Electronics, trak-ball, Wico joystick, and now the Genesis arcade joystick.

DSC07110.JPG

Edited by socrates63
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A 5200 controller with a paddle knob? Sounds very intriguing, and yes, please do share a pic when you get a chance. What games do you use that with? Tempest?

Yes, all these 5200 and 2600/7800 controllers are taking up a lot of space. Fortunately, I have a large display cabinet/shelf right next to the TV and consoles but I do need to reshuffle things a bit.

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26 minutes ago, RickR said:

The paddle controller works with the "side to side" joystick games (Super Breakout, Space Invaders, Galaxian, etc). 

 

 

So a paddle controller would work with this adapter? Intriguing. Well, if I ever get a 5200 you know what I'm getting.

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1 minute ago, HDN said:

So a paddle controller would work with this adapter? Intriguing. Well, if I ever get a 5200 you know what I'm getting.

No, that's not what I meant.  I have a 5200 controller where the joystick has been removed and an extender and knob added to the horizontal movement potentiometer.  I'll try to get a picture after work today.

 

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12 minutes ago, RickR said:

 

No, that's not what I meant.  I have a 5200 controller where the joystick has been removed and an extender and knob added to the horizontal movement potentiometer.  I'll try to get a picture after work today.

 

Ah. Thanks for clarifying.

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I love that Sega Genesis Arcade Stick. I've been wanting to get one to use on the 7800 with the Edladdin Seagull 78 Adapter, or rewire it entirely. What I like even better than the Genesis Arcade Stick is the original Neo•Geo Gold Arcade Stick. For the longest time I've been tempted to get one and rewire it with a Happ or Sanwa joystick and buttons wired into a 7800 cable. That would be a real dream.

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5 hours ago, RickR said:

I've got that same Genesis arcade stick modified for use on a Vectrex.  It's kind of a wild story...I bought the stick as part of a Vectrex lot via Craigslist, and in researching it a bit, I discovered I knew the guy that modified it!  I had no idea he made those sticks. 

Cool story @RickR! How does it perform on Vectrex? And doesn't Vectrex need 4 buttons?

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On 8/22/2020 at 11:26 AM, socrates63 said:

Atari 5200 controller issues are really overblown and overstated IMO

   The 5200’s native controllers are prone to failure, and they hurt your hands when used as intended.

   The fact that you have to buy a cable from Greece and hook up another consoles controllers, though worthwhile, is a giant kludge inconvenience. 
 

   Many players have abandoned this console due to the controllers. I’ve rebuilt two myself. They are fully functional yet horrible. Honestly, I don’t see how these controllers got past play testing at Atari.

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On 8/22/2020 at 11:26 AM, socrates63 said:

The conclusion of my limited testing? I'm very happy as I had expected. Since nearly all 5200 games do not require analog controls, the ikonsgr adapter is a very affordable solution to enabling digital joystick/gamepad on the 5200 platform. Once the Genesis arcade stick arrives, my 5200 setup will be complete. Atari 5200 controller issues are really overblown and overstated IMO and shouldn't stopped anyone who wants to experience arcade action at home on the beautiful Atari 5200 SuperSystem.

I should report that I got my adapter from Greece as well, and my experience matches yours.  It works really nicely IMO.  I will admit it feels kind of flimsy and I wonder how long it will last.  I was thinking of putting a plastic case around it, but the clearance needed for the plug that goes into the 5200 makes that more difficult. 

5200 sticks aren't the best things in the world, but they are fine once you get used to them.  I like them more than Intellivision controllers, and less than Colecovision controllers.  The fact that all those systems use a similar design tells you the "why" for Atari.  True controller innovation didn't come in a big way until the NES. 

Edited by RickR
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@Airshack I completely agree that the native 5200 controllers are problematic on multiple levels. As clunky as the ikonsgr adapter is, it works very well, and I saw it as only a minor inconvenience that opened up a great console and its library. For sure, it is a barrier to entry into the world of the SuperSystem. Whether it great or minor hindrance is up to the individual's motivation 🙂

@RickR I also thought about putting the ikonsgr adapter in a case and actually ordered two to have one as a spare (or for player 2).

Good news is that a new controller alternative surfaced. After much lobbying from customers, Retro-game-boyz recently designed a digital 5200 controller, and I got one. I haven't actually used it yet but it feels good, just like his 2600/7800 controllers that I have. It has a connector to allow the use of the native 5200 controller for keypad functionality (shown in photo below). He also makes a matching keypad that mounts on the controller base near where the cable out. You can see the bracket for either left or right side positioning. I ordered the keypad a couple of days ago. The joystick and keypad combo goes for $110 according to his website. Compared to what a Best Electronics refurbished 5200 controller costs, that's a very reasonable price, I think. This is definitely a step up from the ikonsgr adapter in terms of both price and function.

I know Edladdin is working on a 5200 controller, and I have no doubts it will be beautiful and magnificent as Ed's controller are. I believe he will release it soon? It'll be good to see another 5200 controller option on the market.

1833625563_File_000(24).jpeg.e4830d65ca1635ffa202ffdc8e0d8496.jpeg

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