Apple //e Joystick Button Repair

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by aXLe, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. aXLe

    aXLe Member

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    Lately I've been getting back into some Apple ][ gaming, thanks to 4am's excellent Total Replay ProDOS image:

    [​IMG]

    I'm running Total Replay from a wDrive floppy disk drive emulator that I purchased recently from KbooHK. wDrive is a lower cost alternative to the Floppy Emu (although Floppy Emu also supports Macintosh whereas wDrive currently does not), and supports multiple image formats including John Morris's WOZ files which preserve the underlying disk structure at the flux level. You can read more about WOZ files here.

    With Total Replay 2.0 running on a 128k Apple //e with a joystick plugged in, there are 217 games that be run from 4am's front end menu system.

    In the interest of software preservation, 4am cracked all of these games (and many more) and has made individual images available via the Internet Archive collection here. More recently 4am has also been creating WOZ files of original disks - keeping the software protection intact. His WOZ A Day collection can be found here.

    Anyways, it didn't take long to realise that both of the Apple joysticks that I have had issues with the fire buttons - to the point where it made the gaming very frustrating.

    It turns out that button switch replacement is very easy and quick to do. Best thing is that the switches they used in these joysticks 35 years ago are still available brand new today!

    I have two different models of joystick - the older A2M2002 with the orange buttons, and the later A2M2012 model with the beige buttons:

    [​IMG]

    Opening these joysticks is a matter of removing the self adhesive rubber feet from the top left and bottom right positions (relative to the rear label) and then removing the screws that are recessed below the feet:

    [​IMG]

    The back will then lift off revealing the innards:

    [​IMG]

    Once open you can access the switches. The A2M2012 joystick that I show here is using Omron B3F switches - specifically the B3F4000 part which is rated at 3,000,000 switch cycles. I found that the older A2M2002 joystick I have uses Alps TACT series switches - the SKHCBFA010 part which is rated at 1,000,000 switch cycles.

    I'd be surprised if either of these joysticks had seen anywhere near that number of switch cycles but perhaps the switch contacts don't age well. In any case they needed to be replaced.

    The Omron part and the Alps part are interchangeable - they are the same physical size with compatible pinout.

    I found that a longer life Omron part was available - the B3F5000 which is rated at 10,000,000 cycles. The price was similar to the standard part (actually it was slightly cheaper!), so why not upgrade? I ordered a pack of 5 B3F5000 switches from RS (part number 686-6878) and they arrived the next day.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Installing them was pretty straight forward. I started by carefully unclipping the existing switches from the joystick housing ...

    [​IMG]

    ... taking extra care not to misplace the tiny actuator springs from the bottom of the button behind the switch:

    [​IMG]

    I then clipped two new switches into position ...

    [​IMG]

    ... and then simply swapped the wiring connections from old to new, including the resistors:

    [​IMG]

    Once completed the wiring can be tidied, and the joystick can be reassembled for testing.

    Here are the repaired joysticks with the original switches - the A2M2002 and Alps switches on the left, and the A2M2012 and Omron switches on the right:

    [​IMG]

    For testing, what better tltle than Choplifter :)

    [​IMG]

    Both joysticks are now working perfectly - a nice cheap, simple repair which was well worth doing!
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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  2. Pierre32

    Pierre32 New Member

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    Dig this :thumbup: I once converted an IBM joystick (the ones with a similar boxy form factor) to USB, by installing a Gameport-USB PCB inside. Your post gave me the flashback; cracking it open to see the simple, accessible wiring and off the shelf components. It's like working on an old Holden.

    I'm only disappointed that you didn't give the cases a hot soapy scrub before reassembly!
     
  3. OP
    OP
    aXLe

    aXLe Member

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    Hehe - yeah - good analogy. I did end up cleaning the cases later, but you are right - when they are all apart is the best time to give them a thorough clean as you can pop the buttons from the housings and clean in around them as well. Word of caution though - if you pop the buttons out (through the top of the housing), remove the small actuator springs from the underside first and put them safely aside. And then be aware that there is a spring behind the button as well that could go flying off somewhere as you are releasing it - losing those springs could ruin your day :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
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  4. power

    power Member

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    oh wow, i remember these things. they made my best mate so jealous of my TAC-2, lol.
     
  5. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    4am does incredible work, and gives it all away tirelessly without the usual scene ego attached. Truly an amazing individual.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    aXLe

    aXLe Member

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    Indeed he does. I love that he truly preserves these titles - no crack screens added. The Woz file images take that a step further - the original copy protection is kept intact. If you have an Applesauce you can actually write out these images to a floppy - making copy protected disks. I haven't actually tried this yet but it is on my TO-DO list! Maybe this weekend if I get to it :D

    Why would you want to make a protected copy of the game I hear you ask? Well, for me it's the drive noises - the funky head stepping sounds that some of these copy protected titles produced as the drive head is stepped in unusual ways over the surface of the disk. Half tracks, quarter tracks, spiral tracking - you name it, they tried it! The sounds of various titles booting can be quite unique. A look at the visual flux images that John Morris creates in the Applesauce software can be very interesting indeed (if you are into that kind of thing!). I think 4am includes the visual flux images with each Woz file he creates, but a google image search for "applesauce magnetic flux images" will turn up a few. Actually, a collection of these can be found here :Pirate:

    The positional accuracy of these flux images is all made possible by the sync sensor that you install inside your floppy drive as part of the Applesauce kit - a sync pulse is fed back to the Applesauce unit on each disk rotation, which allows an accurate flux map of the disk surface to be recorded. The original Apple 5.25" disk drive did not have a sync sensor, but the people creating the original titles probably would have had one as part of their mastering system.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
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  7. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I'm glad you explained it for the greatest good, but personally speaking, I totally get why. :)
     

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