Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

discuss both original and modern hardware for the bbc micro/electron
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sourdust
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Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by sourdust » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:25 pm

Hello all,

I come seeking guidance on a frustrating "circular" hardware niggle. It's fairly obscure so I'm not expecting miracle solutions, but I'm an Acorn newbie so any and all pointers welcome. I promise I have already browsed this board, and Boobled extensively, without success.

I have two Electrons (after downsizing - I sold one!) both with Plus 1 interfaces. Deciding to learn more about them after keeping them in boxes for a decade or two, I invested in one of Ramtop's ElkSD+1s and a 9-pin digital joystick converter.

Here's the thing: I can't make any joystick work properly, nor can I make one fail consistently. Pretty much every game I load misbehaves in a different way. I'm going to focus on "Arcadians", because that's one I can load from SD or from an original cassette copy. Played with the keyboard, the game works as expected and all controls respond correctly. But with a stick... The game will start normally, and the joystick will respond correctly MOST of the time, except LEFT occasionally sticking... until I lose my first life. After that, neither LEFT nor RIGHT work at all (FIRE is okay), until the machine is hard reset. The player death sound effect no longer sounds on subsequent lives, although other sounds continue to work. Sometimes - not always - garbage text appears at the bottom of the screen at the same time as the partial joystick freeze.

So much, so annoying. But here's where the real head**ck starts. The behaviour described above is not altered by ANY of the following:

* Changing the joystick: An Altai Acorn-compatible stick (direct into the analog port) behaves as above. Using the 9-pin converter, Atari CX-40, 7800 gamepad, and ProSystem contollers; Quickshot II Turbo; Quickshot Maverick (microswitched); all misbehave in the same way described above - including the intermittent sticking LEFT before the full freeze. All (Altai excepted) check out on other hardware.
* Changing the software source: "Arcadians" loaded from ElkSD, or from tape (with ElkSD unplugged), behaves the same.
* Changing the interface: Both of my Plus-1s behave the same way, with and without the ElkSD inserted.
* Changing the Electron: Both Elks behave the same way, including when the Plus1s are swapped around.

I seem to be missing something, because by my logic I have eliminated every link in the chain? Unless either BOTH my Elks, and/or BOTH of their Plus1s, have the exact same fault? WTF is going on?

Thanks for reading this far, if you have. Even more thanks if you can help rescue a fragment of my dwindling sanity...

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CMcDougall
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by CMcDougall » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:56 pm

Try cleaning both electron gold finger's on expansion port, spray with contact cleaner , then insert plus1 on/off a few times to also clear plus1 tarnished connector.

Do also with joystick port on back of plus1 & joystick plug...

worth a try, I never use joysticks, am a keys man 8)
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Ramtop
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by Ramtop » Fri Mar 20, 2020 9:43 pm

Hmm. That's certainly a puzzler. Given how much hardware you've managed to eliminate, the first answer that comes to mind is some form of interference. ADCs like the one used for the joystick port are notoriously sensitive. Are you using the same PSU to test both Elks?

I guess there's also the possibility either the a joystick or the joystick adapter is faulty and has managed to damage the ADCs in both Plus 1s.
Gary

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1024MAK
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by 1024MAK » Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:14 pm

@sourdust

Hello

Welcome to StarDot :D

You may wish to say hello in the introduce yourself section.

Forgive me if you’re already said, but which other games have you tried, and are the symptoms similar in those as well?

Mark

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daveejhitchins
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by daveejhitchins » Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:35 pm

I second Col's recommendations ^^above^^

Separate you Plus 1 from the Electron - remove the four screws holding the Electron together - remove the four screw holding the main board - remove the power connector (front right hand side) - remove the two gray wires (back right hand side) - remove the speaker connector (back left hand side) - You can now remove the main board and clean the gold fingers on the back. Use an eraser (rubber to us brits!) on the gold fingers and finish off with some IPA or a soft 'damp' cloth. If you're brave - let me know on this one - you can clean the contacts of the ULA. But try the gold contact fingers first.

Do let us know the results.

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ARA III, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by tricky » Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:57 am

It sounds to me like a software incompatibility with the plus 1, but then I have no experience of the elk.
Can you do the equivalent of CTRL-BREAK and print adval(1) after it goes wrong and without power cycling - please can someone translate into elk+plus1 please.

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1024MAK
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by 1024MAK » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:32 am

ADVAL works in a very similar way on both the BBC Micro and an Electron fitted with a Plus 1, as the OS or Plus 1 ROM is dealing with the hardware differences ;-)

Lifted from a post by Lee:
leenew wrote:if you type this quick and dirty program:

10 CLS
20 P.ADVAL(1),ADVAL(2),ADVAL(3),ADVAL(4)
30 P.ADVAL(0) AND 3
40 GOTO 10

You should see 4 numbers hovering round the 32000 mark.
moving your stick left/right/up/down should increase/decrease these numbers from <100 to more than 60,000. (the first 2 are for player one and the second 2 are for player 2 - or joystick 2).

Under the 4 numbers you will see another number.
This is 0 for no fire button pressed.
1 for player 1 pressed
2 for player 2 pressed and 3 for both fire buttons pressed.

This may help you narrow down the source of the problem.

Hope it helps,

Lee.
[From this thread]

Mark

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sourdust
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Re: Electron Joysticks (and Creeping Madness...)

Post by sourdust » Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:37 pm

Wow, lots to try there, thanks everyone - Cmc, Ramtop, 1024, daveej, tricky!

Will have a go with your advice tomorrow and report.

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