Retro VS The Controllers

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by MUTMAN, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    A simple 'FAQ'/place to aggregate links, tips, tricks, community reviews for controllers of all types.
    If it can control a retro system, or it's a retro flavour controller for a newer machine it's welcome here.

    1. What - Joy Sticks, Pads, Power Gloves, Fight Sticks, Flight Sticks, Assorted Oddities; What's your favourite goto controller ?
    I know a lot of peeps love their PS dualshocks but they are not the only game in town

    2. Why - Looking to buy a new controller for an old system can be a stroll through a craptastic minefield of plastic pain.
    I've been down this rabbit hole on a few occasions. And while there's a ton of information out there, I trust the learned retro crowd here most for what to expect IRL and not just a paid youtube clip saying its awesome and nothing bad at all with this product

    3. What ?- Looking into throw, pressure, switch style and clickiness, button shape, input lag, cool factor, etc. Ha! the mechanical keyboard warriors thread thinks they have options. Yer, Nah !! ;)

    4. No, Wha .. - It's not just old arcade sticks and weird pointer controllers. There are new retro solutions like 8BitDo and RetroBit .. and little nuggets like Logi's F710 pad.
    Also, the software that goes with them .. I have serious questions about SCP toolkit ..

    Anyway, on with the show. Post your links, pics, your own mini reviews/thoughts etc on any controllers you love or hate.
     
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  2. OP
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    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Arcade Sticks & Buttons

    Sticks
    Ball Tops or Bat Tops ?

    upload_2021-10-23_13-55-49.png

    More Important in some ways, what's inside?
    The gate and the stiffness is what. Throw is another consideration.

    The gate (or restrictor) is the movement limit of your stick.
    It can have various forms and change the use of what you want to do with it.

    Some choices:
    upload_2021-10-23_13-57-11.png

    upload_2021-10-23_13-57-28.png

    the "original" is the square
    ball top sticks like the standard Sanwa JLF have this, and it's what loads of arcade cabinets are likely to have.
    turn that gate 45 degrees and you have a diamond
    diamond gate is not what you want if you're playing fighting games. but some arcade hits absolutely need this though. dont play Donkey Kong with anything other than the diamond gate


    Get stiff for stiffness ?
    upload_2021-10-23_14-3-30.png

    AKA, how much effort/force is needed to push the stick through to activate the switch.
    the stiffer the spring, the more it wants to bounce back to the middle 'deadzone' or neutral.
    a Sanwa JLF stick feels 'loose' compared to the JLW stick. There's no right or wrong, some people prefer one over another, others associate a style of stick to a particular arcade game/series

    Thrown by throw ?
    How far does the stick tilt before hitting the switch.
    A LS32 stick has a shorter throw than a JLF


    Buttons

    upload_2021-10-23_14-19-0.png

    Leaf or microswitch ?
    Again, there's no right or wrong, some people prefer one over another, others associate a button to a particular arcade game/series


    A good '101' video


    and a good stick comparison vid (slowmo is always cool)


    https://www.slagcoin.com/ is an epic resource, well worth the visit
    Here's their breakdown on sticky stickness of sticks

    upload_2021-10-23_14-26-9.png

    Special Mention
    The golden lever is one one to rid yourself of cash/bitcoin/NFT's
    Why use a cheap easily available spring when you can use a silicon pad as the spring ?
    When you find out, let us all know :D
    https://goldenlever.shop/
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
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  3. OP
    OP
    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Console and PC Controllers

    Console
    Whats your favourite controller ? I guess its tied heavily towards the console ?
    If your a Sega kid the 6 button megadrive controller or that uber Dreamcast controller might be the pick of the litter.
    But if your a Nintendo nerd than it might be a WiiU controller or a good old DogBone that floats your boat.
    Sucker for Sony ? The good old Dual Shock 2/3 are darn hard to beat. I love my 3 :)

    upload_2021-10-23_14-30-40.png

    I'd be keen to see/hear about any weird cross over devices that people had

    PC
    15 pin Gameport, PS1/2, USB, 2.4G wireless, Bluetooth, and more. There are more different connector options for PC than some consoles had different controllers :lol:
    upload_2021-10-23_14-36-36.png upload_2021-10-23_14-37-3.png upload_2021-10-23_14-40-36.png upload_2021-10-23_14-41-33.png upload_2021-10-23_14-42-33.png upload_2021-10-23_14-43-42.png upload_2021-10-23_14-45-5.png

    But PC really does have the biggest range of random 3rd party controllers.

    I'll continue to expand this bit by bit. if anyone wants to pound out a trillion words to fill in the spaces, please do :)
     

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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
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  4. OP
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    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Random Oddities

    I'll continue to expand this bit by bit. if anyone wants to pound out a trillion words to fill in the spaces, please do :)

    Build Your Own Controller

    In it for the fun ? Me too. Never finish projects ? Me too :)
    These days, however, I do remember to save links to other peoples projects :D
    Here's a few interesting links;
    The well known and finely honed code, DaemonBite, leads the pack

    https://github.com/MickGyver/DaemonBite-Retro-Controllers-USB


    but there are others in the mix...
    https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/Retro-Controllers-USB-MiSTer/tree/master/PaddleTwoControllersUSB
    https://github.com/jmtw000/Arcade-Spinner/blob/master/Arcade_Spinner.ino
    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4368740


    PC Software

    Often we try to mix'n'match controllers to PCs. Here's some software that's well know to help (confuse and annoy?) with your endeavors

    Joy2Key https://joytokey.net/en/ - JoyToKey (or Joy2Key) enables PC game controllers to emulate the keyboard and mouse input, so that windows applications and web games can be controlled with your favorite joysticks! Whenever buttons and sticks are pressed on the controllers, JoyToKey converts them into keyboard strokes and/or mouse movements so that the target application will work as if a real keyboard and a mouse were used.

    SCPToolkit https://sourceforge.net/projects/scptoolkit.mirror/ (i've read reports this is loaded with malware ?? I have NFI. Feel free to chime in below) - ScpToolkit is a free Windows Driver and XInput Wrapper for Sony DualShock 3/4 Controllers. Installation is fairly simple and straightforward, but does require a few things. .NET Framework, Microsoft Visual C++, DirectX, Xbox 360 Controller driver, at least one supported Sony DualShock 3/4 controller.

    AntiMicroX https://github.com/AntiMicroX/antimicrox - One for the Linux crowd (wait, linux plays games now :confused::confused:)

    ControllerMate https://www.orderedbytes.com/controllermate/ - and one for the Mac munchers
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
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  5. OP
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    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    My fav controller as of right now is this nugget
    upload_2021-10-19_21-56-33.png

    wireless 2.4ghz to my MiSTer and life is good.
    the good - its chunky and takes a bit of a beating. battery life is sensational. the stick is great. I cant 'feel' latency in this, but I havent tried over BT so .... apparently the stick and buttons are user replaceable- great for when the time comes
    the bad - the buttons arnt anything to write home about, a bit meh. the macro buttons (P1,P2) can only be combos of existing assigned buttons. bah. never mind

    8BitDo are rocking my world, so much so I hardly use my hard wired Sanwa JLW stick and Happ style buttons deck I built.
    I have a couple of more bits of there kit on the way :thumbup:

    edit - in the Amiga core I was able to set this to LS (left stick) for one of the games I was playing and 'it just worked' .
    I didnt look into it too much, but they've done their homework on this one
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
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  6. OP
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    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    So a little while back I ordered one of these
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002191876432.html

    upload_2021-11-9_18-10-28.png


    And a couple/few weeks later this turned up

    upload_2021-11-9_18-12-14.png

    upload_2021-11-9_18-12-34.png

    upload_2021-11-9_18-13-0.png

    upload_2021-11-9_18-13-15.png

    The donor - You served us well :)

    upload_2021-11-9_18-14-51.png

    looking at that pic, I could of cleaned this up a touch more :tongue::tired:

    upload_2021-11-9_18-16-47.png


    What the offical what now ?!?!?!
    It doesnt fit ....
    upload_2021-11-9_18-17-16.png
    upload_2021-11-9_18-17-25.png

    Seems Sony made some different revisions of the original controller. Mine are super early versions and the PCB doesnt quite just drop in.

    Time to bring out the big guns

    upload_2021-11-9_18-19-26.png

    OK, now it fits ...
    Nope. need to cut this tiny little tab or you too can crush the micro usb port shell on the PCB :tongue::tired:
    Warning Will Robinson that PCB is covered on both sides by massively heavy copper layers. Cutting away the excess PCB material isnt a walk in the park :(

    upload_2021-11-9_18-20-33.png

    The included destructions

    upload_2021-11-9_18-21-56.png

    upload_2021-11-9_18-22-4.png




    Dont lose that cable, that tiny little plug is ... well, tiny

    upload_2021-11-9_18-13-24.png


    Summary:
    Its nice to have an original controller with a more modern interface, it shows up in windows game controller as a Bluetooth XInput Controller as expected and feels really responsive as far.
    I'm just charging it up a little bit and some laps on this months retro racing game are in my sights :)

    Is it worth $33 ?
    Well retro value is very subjective area.
    8BitDo product are usually very good. I love my 8bitdo arcade stick, but would not buy this controller mod again. edit - after playing around with the old PS1 controller again, I do like this kit more now, and I would buy the kit again.
    But go in with your eyes wide open knowing its not quite, undo 8 screws, drop in new PCB, do up 8 screws, play.

    To be fair, there are not any other solutions like this, and 8BitDo should be congratulated for providing these mod kits.
    I'd say if you really really love your original PS1 controllers then go for it.
    Otherwise, just invest double that amount in a SN30 pro or other 8bitdo wirelss controller :thumbup::thumbup:

    edit - Usage Note
    It stays connected while charging. Brilliant :)
    I cant recommend playing anything too exciting though. That charging plug is super tiny and I imagine is prone to breaking easily if in use at the same time as being inserted

    edit2 - impressive battery life for such a little unit. I dont know the actual numbers. guesstimating i'm past 6 hours of play time now (1st charge). modern BT is so far removed from BT1 its not funny

    edit3 - turns out this is a great NVShield remote replacement when you manage to kill your second shield remote in 2.5 years :tired:
     

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    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
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  7. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Cracking thread MUTMAN , tonnes of great info here.

    One good resource I'll throw in - often in the modern sphere of USB and emulation, the concept of lag or input latency starts to crop up.

    All talk of screen/display lag is in the display thread, and is off topic for here. See that thread if you want to know more about that stuff.

    In here, I'll reserve discussion to latency of the controller itself. This comes down to a few factors:

    1) Emulation or system latency - i.e.: the overhead of a bulky OS and it's own driver/HAL/HID stack, or the emulator and/or software/game itself that you're running. Again, this is a little off topic, as it varies software to software. You can see some scientific results for that here - https://inputlag.science/engine/results

    2) The input latency of the gamepad/joystick itself - i.e.: how long the device itself takes to convert a button press to a valid signal to send back to the system you've attached it too. This is what I'll concentrate on here.

    Again, this varies greatly due to lots of reasons, the biggest one being the encoder on the input device. Very old computers and video game systems tended to have direct-wire input. i.e.: a button was a wire directly into the console or computer's internal bus, and a button press completed a circuit directly as a switch.

    Some systems even early on didn't do this, but rather had an encoder. For example, the Nintendo NES - a button press is converted into a serial signal that represents a "state" of the entire controller (a certain amount of logic bits that are high or low), and a clock pulse, and the whole thing is sent to the console on a regular basis. Add to that the fact that very old computers and consoles could only read these inputs (direct switch or serial) during a certain time frame (for old consoles, during the blanking cycle between frames drawn to the screen, along with other game logic that needed to be calculated).

    Modern systems of course use things like USB or bluetooth to send serially encoded data down a wire, so now on top of the serial conversion there's also a USB/bluetooth encapsulation at one end, and decoding at the other end. Again, the remote end's decoding is a little out of scope, and the following values concentrate on the chips on the controllers themselves.

    Pork Chop Express is a manufacturer of the boards for the open source MiSTer project, itself an FPGA device emulator that runs a small Linux system on board to pass USB and bluetooth connected controller device information into the FPGA so it can see inputs from controllers. Pork Chop devised a small testing rig that has VERY accurately measured the input latency of any given controller. It's made up of:

    1) A game device that is dismantled and wires soldered to the metallic pads that are the inputs

    2) Wires are connected to an Arduino that starts a timer and closes the circuit on the inputs, like a human pushing a button. It also sends a signal to the FPGA over low latency IO connectors (sample rates of 100MHz typically) that the button has been pushed.

    3) A custom low latency core running on the DE10Nano's FPGA that is 1ms accurate (1000 samples per second, or 1KHz), that detects both the arduino's signal that a button has been pushed, and the signal from the controller.

    4) The difference is measured, up to 1ms accuracy. The small FPGA core and the ARM processor on the MiSTer's DE10Nano controller do nothing else, so the complete overhead of the entire system is whatever the device encoder is adding. Again, the DE10Nano's small ARM chip plus embedded Linux have a USB and bluetooth poll rate of 1KHz (1000 times per second) maximum, so that's as accurate as it can get. The GPIO is much more accurate (almost 100,000 times more accurate), so it's latency is negligible.

    This is an incredibly accurate, scientific and reproducible system of measuring controller latency. It has nothing to do with screen refresh rates, so methods like frame counting that are around 10 times less accurate are null and void. There's also almost no processing overhead in this method, so CPU/processing lag is also nullified.

    The results can be view as:

    A Google sheet:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...qg6qCJzGuhyGmXaOIUrpfncXIM/edit#gid=625269346

    An RPubs document:
    https://rpubs.com/misteraddons/inputlatency

    Same data, just two different ways of viewing it.

    When viewing the data, also remember that 1 frame is about 16ms (1s is 1000ms, 1000ms / 60FPS = 16.666 ms per frame). We're using 60 here as the most common frame rate of retro video game systems in NTSC regions. PAL is 50Hz so the frame time is a bit higher, and even if games run at lower framerates internally, the image is still refreshed 50 or 60 times per second regardless if there's new information to send, or it's a repeat frame, and during this time inputs can still be read.

    So ideally you want as low a latency value as possible, but also with 16ms as your absolute upper bounds for fast moving games.

    Things get very different for some modern 3D titles where games don't need to be frame-accurate. Likewise if you're playing slow moving strategy games or JRPGs, frame-perfect latency isn't a massive issue. But given the focus of retro gaming often being fast moving games with very few frames of animation and fast reflexes required, if you're playing classic platformers, fighting games, arcade shmups or other action-heavy titles, definitely try to find yourself a controller that is has the lowest possible latency (in addition to all the other things, like low latency emulation, low latency displays, VRR/FreeSync/GSync if possible, etc).
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
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  8. OP
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    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    Thanks for the epic write up on controller lag elvis, top notch :thumbup:

    this one is down right now, but I'll check back in sometime soon


    as far as Pork Chops work goes, well some of us need excuses for shithouse gaming abilities, and this is only removing hidey holes :D
    seriously though, he's a great asset to the MiSTer community and its great to see his work reaches out past that project too :thumbup:


    I'll drop a mini review in on the M30 if I ever get it ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
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  9. Grant

    Grant Member

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    I assume with a 1000Hz poll rate they get sub-ms measurements by just running a lot of tests and taking the ratio of results that returned after N vs. N+1 polls.

    Also I'm disappointed in Nintendo, I really like the ergonomics of the Switch Pro controller, but I'll never be able to look at it the same way again...

    I saw it earlier, it's the same data as the spreadsheet but presented in a nice sortable/filterable interface.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    why is that mate ?
    I assume it is a high quality setup, Nintendo are normally on top of their controllers. So i'd be super surprised if it was flawed in some way.
    Whats the deal ?
     
  11. Grant

    Grant Member

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    The Switch Pro controller has ONE WHOLE FRAME OF INPUT LAG ACCORDING TO A SPREADSHEET I SAW ON THE INTERNET.

    Unusable (actually it just means I get to blame it for all of my issues :tongue:)
     
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  12. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I think the poller counts up until it sees a signal, so you can't get "0". If they're all sub-1ms, they all measure "1", and the averaged result is 1.

    Unless that's what you're saying and I'm just being thick...

    All of those results are bluetooth it seems. It looks like it was never tested in wired mode maybe?

    But even then, Switch bluetooth looks consistency worse than other console controllers in bluetooth mode.
     
  13. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    :thumbup: Lots of interesting stuff. Mrs asleep. Engage minimal quiet typing mode. https://github.com/MickGyver/DaemonBite-Arcade-Encoder what the hell is this beast - me makey asap. "MS Sidewinder gamepad" - oh yeah baby latency city. Back tomorrow. that's also what the sidewinder's button signal said

    Also, now I know what "Zero Delay" means in ye olde standard cheap arcade controllers. Pro tip, it's ain't zero! :weirdo:
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
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  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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  15. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Like many things these days, the premade options are out of stock. A not uncommon reality of class-leading cutting-edge enthusiast builds made by one-or-two-man-bands on the side, even without global supply chain panic mode. I'd build them anyway, I'm just hoping the Tiny arduino boards are still readily on shelves. I don't want to start looking sideways at the one in my GBS-control unit and getting temporary deconstructy ideas, nor do I really want to dedicate full size Arduino's (the only type I currently have on-hand) to it.
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    So a little while back I ordered one of these
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000833859818.html
    and one of them
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000837305869.html


    Many frustrating interactions with aliexpress and store reps and eventually a stinky sticky tape package arrived.
    You know the stuff. Horrible plastic baggy with that stinky clear, but somehow yellow, tape all over it.
    It's got to be life span reducing just standing near it.
    But I digress, I'm not here for the packaging :)

    On to the the packaging :lol:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's not as long as I thought it would be ... (I can hear the sniggering !!)
    [​IMG]

    But it has some girth ;)
    [​IMG]

    Super comfortable in the hands. I like this controller (a lot) already :)

    Retro eyes need bigger writting than this. At least its the same combo as the PS1 mod kit I wrote about previously
    [​IMG]

    The top side
    [​IMG]

    The bottom side
    [​IMG]

    A USB C cable. the cable feels soft touch and not all rigid like some cheapo cables. Nice
    [​IMG]

    The destructions. I tried the 'switch off' long press on the PS1 controller and it works on that one too.
    [​IMG]


    And the other half of the purchase, the Sega SMS/MD receiver
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Ugggh. A bloody micro cable :(
    Why 8bitDo, why ??
    Also, why does it need a seperate charger. Doesnt the port provide enough juice to run ?? Apparently not. And after a short consideration, I'm really happy they went this way. I'll be using this on my C64 via a little converter and I'm not sure how much juice the C64 ports have.
    [​IMG]

    The back of the receiver box is all the destructions you get
    [​IMG]



    edit - In use, this is a lovely controller to hold. The D-pad is sort of loose like a Xbox360 controller, but with a nice 'clickiness' to the membranes (assumption on whats inside there). More clicky than a Dual Shock.
    The six action buttons are also clicky. They feel like they are those collapsing disc type buttons. Hope they hold up ....
    And the top triggers are a bit of a mushy membrane.... Not sure how I feel about them just yet.

    In game, I've fired this up in a wired config to my laptop and given this months retro racing game a quick bash.
    And while I didnt set any PB's for lap times, it is comfortable and I think this controller might be my one of my 'goto' units for bashing around in MiSTer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
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  17. OP
    OP
    MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    I promise my next write-up/review wont be 8BitDo. I have some other gear to 'show and tell'
    :D
     
  18. Grant

    Grant Member

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    I assume the USB poller on the test rig is running at 1kHz constantly like a PC.
    • At some point in between polls (a 1ms window), a button is pressed and the MHz timer (1us) also starts.
    • At some point after that the controller is ready to respond to a USB poll with the button report. If it's too slow, it's perhaps missed one or more polls already.
    • Some time after that (depending on when in the 1ms window the button was pressed), a USB poll is sent to the controller and it responds at a baud rate of at least Full Speed USB (one would hope).
    So you need many repeats of the test to get good coverage of that 1ms window. There's presumably variance in the controller's response time due to internal polling or processing paths, but let's assume it's constant. If the native controller lag was always 0.3ms, you'd see a smooth range of results between 0.3-1.3ms. The results between 0.3ms and 1ms hit the first USB poll, and the results between 1ms and 1.3ms missed the first poll and got the second.

    The "ratio" I guessed at in my post above isn't needed with the MHz timer, but if you didn't have it you can still count the USB polls, and see that you get the first poll 70% of the time. I guess the MHz timer is good for correcting any jitter in the USB poll rate.
     
  19. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    As we get older we need our devices to have less latency, because we ourselves have more. :leet:
     
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  20. power

    power Member

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    i bought the 2.4GHz version to use with my MD Mini - love it to bits.
     
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