Recently I really got ticked off about the current set of joysticks availabe that match my use pattern for D3. Since using a M$ Sidewinder 3D Pro with my computer is nearly impossible (due to a bug in the XP/2000 3DP driver affecting high FSB machines) I spend the last three years going through aprox. 20 sticks from different manufactors. IMVHO the top two sticks from that period are the Logitech Freedom 2.4 and the M$ Sidewinder FF2 -- unfortunately both have some major drawbacks:
The F2.4 potentiometers have a half-live period of 3 months at best (if you don't break the hat assembly 1st..), the FF2 is not manufactured anymore and NIB spares run at $300 on eBay. The FF2 also has a weak hat assembly (not too bad if you're carefull, I just wore out a set of switches yet over 6 months) and a Rz pot w/ a D3 half-life of approx. 6-12 months.
My best experience w/ sticks so far was the 3DP -- my personal 3DP half-life is >2yr, and no stick ever came close to its unique handling (short throw..). I knew my FF2 isn't going to last forever, so I started thinking about how to get my 3DP back. An additional soundcard isn't an option for me. Unfortunately a regular gameport to USB converter isn't very usefull -- you loose the 8-way hat (becomes a 4-way hat) and the base buttons. Additionally a regular gamport device is a nasty CPU time hog (due to the nature of the gameport)..
A while ago Ferno pointed me to the MJoy project
and someone here posted a link the the linux 3DP driver source in a stick related discussion (my appologies for not remembering your nick -- I'm getting old..
). After letting all settle a bit in back of my mind, I finally decided to try building a 3DP-to-USB converter (the Rz on my FF2 getting weak helped a bit here..
After some struggles w/ some \"minor\" details about the hardware and software, I finally got a prototype up and running:
So far I used it only for about an hour in D3, seems to work well. The software needs some cosmetics, I have run more extensive tests, and put together a \"real\" circuit diagram plus a BOM. I was thinking about having a few boards made but I'm sort of unwilling to pay for 20 or so boards and using only one or two
So before I decide if I just build another proto or look into having boards mad (assuming I won't encounter a showstopper) my questions are, 1. who would be interested in a 3DP->USB converter that retains full 3DP functionallity (10bit X/Y/Slider, 9bit Rz, 8 buttons, 8-way hat) and does not require an additional 98SE/2000/XP driver, 2. anyone here w/ some mil-type board prototyping (please speak up
), and 3. what would be the maximum you would spend on it ?
To give you an idea cost-wise, here're a few items I use/plan to use (DigiKey single quantities prices):
3.66 - ATmega8
0.58 - 12MHz Quartz
0.98 - LM556
0.72 - 2x 3V3 Z-diode
2.00 - misc. R & C
2.11 - USB B Fem/PCB
5.95 - D-SUB15 right angle female (ouch)
An enclosure would be nice too, maybe a 3x2x1 box from RadioShak will do -- $4.00 IIRC. Makes $20 already. Plus whatever the board will cost..
I'd probably just put together a kit of parts at-cost for ppl to assemble themselfes (I'd program the mega8 of course
) or optionallt load & test the board for a fee (no idea for how much yet).
If you want to put that thing together all by yourself, be my guest. I can provide you w/ the schematic and software.
Now, comments please