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About Vectrex Controllers
and Digital Conversions

by Rob Mitchell

There are several reasons for placing aside your original Vectrex analog controller and substituting a modification controller in its place ...

1. The Vectrex Controller is subject to wear...Several parts inside may break over time rendering your controller useless...

A. One is the self-centering spring of which there are two inside the rheostat joystick...If this is broken, the joystick will still work but not bounce back into the center position in either the up/down or left/right directions...This can be repaired by finding and removing a similar spring out of an Atari 2600 Combat cart and modifying and bending to work in place of the original.

B. Another is the plastic lever of which there are two inside the joystick. These are subject to breakage and replacements are impossible to find unless you harvest intact ones from another Vectrex Controller.

C. The rheostats of the analog joystick get dirty over time...resulting in jerky motion. These can be cleaned with alcohol.

D. The four buttons get dirty over time...

E. The coiled cord can get stretched out over time...

F. The thing is difficult to open and repair...The black overlay must be pealed back, or small holes punched in it to access the five screws underneath by which the case is opened...Either way the overlay is marred...Some attest to using a small knife by which to access the screws in such a way as to show no evidence of opening...

G. The three Vectrex controllers that I have show evidence of other ways people have tried to open...chiseling! This does not work and resulted in one controller being given to me in many fragmented pieces!! All because the plastic joystick lever broke! And two consoles that I now have were mistreated and left in a barn all because the controllers broke!

2. Most Vectrex games do not take advantage of the analog capability of the Vectrex Controller.

A. Most Vectrex games are programmed to give an all-or-nothing joystick response during gameplay...This means that you have to push the analog joystick knob so far to get a response...a digital response to your action...

3. The games which do use the variable capability of the original analog controller are few in number.

A. Analog means that you push the stick a little bit, the Vectrex console responds a little bit. You push alot and the console responds alot. Currently there are only three games that use this capability: Version 2 of Star Hawk, Hyperchase and Moon Lander. The former two are dogs, the third is brilliant!

4. Many conversion circuits have been published by which to adapt a digital stick to work with the Vectrex...

A. Digital means push the joypad botton and the game responds.

B. The Sega Genesis 1650 pad has four buttons and can be modified internally to work with the Vectrex. This controller works well and you will see higher scores in Minestorm right away! Note: Do not try to convert a 1650 made in China...Impossible!

C. Jay Tilton's Digital-to-Analog adapter circuit will permit you to plug your favorite Atari stick into the Vectrex...more difficult to make than the Genesis conversion...

D. Either of the above requires electronics soldering...So if you have not done it before, get a friend to help you...or in one guy's case, he got his girlfriend to do it! Both are found on here on Spike's Big Page.

5. There are conversion circuits that permit the use of IBM and Radio Shack Color Computer analog sticks to work with the Vectrex...but I don't care...

Conclusion: Bottom Line...Preserve your working Vectrex Controller for Clay Cowgill's brilliant game, Moon Lander, and the other two dog games. For the others use a digital stick conversion to enjoy the rest!

And if any other analog games show up, decide for yourself if they are worth wearing out your original Vectrex controller over.

Rob Mitchell 23-OCT-99


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