This is my first custom arcade-stick which was purposely built for a videogame named "Sensible World of Soccer
" (the name should ring a bell in those of you who were around during the "8~16 bit computers" era). The game dates back to the early 90's however it's still played to these days (the next World Cup will take place in August in Germany) due to its unbelievably balanced, meritocratic and skill-oriented gameplay.
Granted, It's no keypad
(actually it ain't your typical arcade-stick either, even though I've snuck in it enough buttons to play comfortably any beat'em up) however what has driven the choices I've made design-wise was the gap I felt joystick players (such as myself) have always had toward Keyboard/Keypad users (who can use up to 4 fingers for directions - which means much faster, smaller and tighter movements - and generally don't have to deal with throw and engage distances since every input gets through pretty much instantly - you're clicking a button which is tigtly connected with a sort of microswitch after all) when it comes to responsiveness.
Let's take a look (albeit it isn't 100% finished yet, it still needs a paintjob, a brand new 9 pin cable and a few decals
...yeah, that's a pillow my fiancee sewed for me haha.
The thing is heavy enough to sit steadily on my lap so I can now use both hands to play (something that has never been done with joysticks in the 15 years long history of SWOS), basically one of the sticks aims whilst the other one quickly adds the aftertouch
(Dino Dini docet), a feature that shortens my input speed and improves greatly my accuracy.
The sticks are also quite different from each other: the shorter one (a slightly modded Seimitsu LS-32) is great for quick movements such as dribblings (I also tend to use it a lot while defending) whereas the black one (a Sanwa JLJ-PL2-8V) is perfect for long shots and headers: I could've never achieved such versatilty with a single stick set-up.
6 months ago I knew very little about custom controllers, arcade parts and DIY in general (I've always used "stock" controllers, the first stick I modded was my previous SWOS
joystick which was a Thrustmaster Flightstick USB/Quickshot Apache hybrid, nothing too fancy though and used to fall apart every other day) so I had to put a lot of time into researching stuff, basically relied upon a "trial and error" approach the whole time and had to make a ton of experiments before achieving the "right" feeling (I've actually badly damaged a Quickshot Apache QS-131 handle and a Seimitsu LS-32 joystick in the process).
It was definitely worth every effort tho (and luckily I could use my dad's laboratory tools for cutting, painting and wiring stuff)!
The stick is Playstation 3/Windows and Commodore Amiga 600/1200/Atari ST 520
compatible (via USB and DB9 cables respectively).
Apparently it works better on Amiga though because either the PCB that handles the PS3/PC compatibility (Toodles' Cthulu, it's unlikely though since it's a top-notch interface) or the Amiga emulator for Windows (WinUAE, most likely the one to blame here) add some tiny lag which, albeit imperceptible for the most, was pretty noticeable to me (Sensible World of Soccer
gameplay is even more unforgiving than modern beat'em ups when it comes to input delay/lag).
That being said, I still nonetheless strongly believe that Keyboards/Keypads are the best all-around controllers for SWOS
(closely followed by oldschool joypads), I just can't use them effectively (even though I've tried, props to those who play with them) since I've grown up as SWOS players with joysticks (the Quickshot Apache was my stick of choice back then), so I tried my best to come out with a different, out-of-the-box solution which would suit my playstyle and habits.
EDIT: ...and this is another project I've been working on as of late
Many thanks to Toodles, Romeo Bianchini, SRK tech forum posters, [b]slagcoin.com, English Amiga Boards and Jan @ arcadeshop.de for going out of their way to help me out.
btw, I'm currently loaded with Seimitsu/Sanwa spare parts (basically leftovers of my previous project) so if you liked what you've seen above and wanted something similar made I could probably provide it at a reasonable price, just PM me (keep in mind that I live in Italy tho).