MAME Input Controller

After doing a bit of research, I’ve decided that I will be using I-Pac from UltiMarc to handle the interface between the joystick / buttons and the computer.  I’ve spent about a week or two researching the different options.

For those of you that have no clue what I am talking about, here’s a little better description.  Each joystick has 8 wires and each button has 1 wire.  Each of these need to be able to send a signal to the computer when they are moved or pushed.   This is not a simple solution once you think about it, because where are you going to put these wires into the computer?  This is where teh I-Pac comes in.  You can plug each of the wires up to this controller, and then the controller plugs into the computer in the PS/2 port (where the keyboard goes) or can be plugged into a USB port (which is what I am doing).

I went with the 28 keyboard controller, which is enough for a two player system like the one that I am building.  The inputs will be for 2 joysticks, 6 buttons each player, coin slot 1, coin slot 2, player start 1, player start 2, sound up, and sound down.  That will leave me with 2 open buttons that I can use later if I find a use.

Here are some of the benefits that set this controller apart:

  • It has a fully programmable key code set which is stored even after power off unlike some other interfaces which lose all data when powered off.  This is nice for setting up the buttons to correspond to certain keys once and never have to worry about it again.
  • All joystick/button connections easily made via screw tag strip, the connections are marked on the board.  This makes life easier so that I won’t need to use a solder to get each wire on the board.
  • Does not use a matrix, so there will be no ghost keys.  This is a huge benefit.  If you hit a bunch of keys at once on a keyboard, you will notice only two or three keys will register at once.  This is a problem if playing games with two players (joystick movement x 2 + button presses x 2).  This allows for as many inputs to occur simultaneously.
  • Does not use a scanning method which causes a variable delay, each input has it’s own dedicated connection to the on-board CPU.

Once this part comes in, I will have all the pieces needed to start building the control panel.  I plan to build the control panel first, before I start building the rest of the cabinet.  This will make life easier since I can start working on the interface and the front end, without having the big clunky cabinet until more of the house is done to store the cabinet.

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