Thursday, 9 April 2015

Atari / Commodore 9 way D USB Joystick adapter

A while ago I designed a board which allows you to plug in one or two Atari / Commodore style joysticks and use them on a PC or Pi with modern games or emulators.
I used this on Spectrum +2's, Commodore 64's, Atari etc., poking out the holes in the case originally used for the joystick connectors. 
I've had a few requests to add this to Spectrums, but there isn't space inside, so I took what was designed to be an internal board and made an external version, the same board in an ABS project box. It looks a bit ugly, and it's a pain to file out three odd shaped holes, but it does the job. 
There has been more interest in this, so I thought I'd design a proper external one. I wanted something that would fit into an existing case, without modification. I initially looked at using a 9 way D connector hood. 
The board had to be very small, only 17mmx17mm. I decided this was just going to be too fiddly as it ended up with components mounted on both sides of the board.
I did look at 3D printing a case, and got some way into designing that. I then found an easy solution staring me in the face on my desk. The case used on the USBtinyISP, was actually designed for a 9 way D to RJ45 adapter. The USBtinyISP uses the RJ45 hole for USB, which fits fine, and the other side was designed to fit a 9 way D connector.
These cases are the Pac Tec CNS-0407. I found they were available (without the LED holes) from Mouser, so I got some and designed a board to fit in there.
One end has the full size USB connector, and the other end a 9 way D connector. Plug in any Atari or Commodore style joystick with a 9 way D connector and it will show up in Windows or Linux as a USB joystick.
The board fits snugly into the case, which tapers at the 9 way D end. There is a bit of space on there, so it's spread out a bit to fill the gap between the two connectors.
The case snaps shut and makes a neat enclosure.
This can just sit inline between the PC and the joystick.
Testing here with a nice microswitched zipstick.
These will make a nice addition to any of my vintage computer USB keyboards, available from my Etsy store. You can buy these singly, or as a pair, or until I run out, with a refurbished vintage joystick.