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Friday, July 06, 2007

Planet Harriers' Analog Joysticks

Ok, so first thing to fix on my Planet Harriers cab were the analog joysticks. The ones that came with the cab were completely destroyed. One of them even had its metal shaft bent at a 15 degree angle, probably from some pissed off punk getting his revenge.
Upon opening the control panel, I found a large pile of shredded rubber and small white plastic pieces everywhere. It looked like both sticks literally exploded. After taking things apart, I found that the plastic bits were from a sleeve that fits around the central joint of the joystick, connecting to one of the analog pots. I can't imagine this holding up to the abuse in American arcades. The shredded rubber was from the stopper at the end of joystick shaft, used to regulate the throw distance. There was also a ton of dried up grease which was supposed to prevent the shredding, but didn't seem to do a good job.

I called a local distributor to get a quote for replacement sticks, and best he could do was $175 per stick for Happ replacements. I didn't even want to guess what Sega would have changed for replacing these with original ones. Anyway, I found what looked like the exact same Happ sticks on ebay (marked new/overstock) for much cheaper (thank you ebay!) I got the new sticks in the mail, and they felt pretty stiff, this is actually a good sign, as I wanted accuracy, not loose analog sticks thats don't return to the center.

The mounting points on the plates were exactly the same, so no problem fitting them to the control panel. The only difficulty was in the proprietary Sega connectors. I rigged my own connectors and started up the machine, only to find they would not calibrate correctly. Apparently not all 5K pots are the same. So I then decided to pull out the original Sega pots, put them in the Happ sticks, using the original connectors, and low and behold it works!

Here are pics of the original stick, then the Happ ones I bought, and then what it looks like mounted in the control panel. I may try to attach the rubber boot to the Happ sticks, but it would require me to drill holes in the mounting plate...not sure if I feel like doing that at this point. I also have to tweak the center line of each pot to get the game to accurately perform the extreme left/right dodge maneuver, vital to playing the game accurately. I really can't imagine American arcade operators going to these lengths to make the game this playable...which also tells me why some people found the controls lacking.

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1 comment:

  1. Hey i read on the forums a post you helped with concerning connecting a sega dreamcast to a arcade monitor. i know this is the wrong place to leave this, but unfortunately its not letting me subscribe to that forum and your email address was hidden otherwise i would of emailed you this. i had a few question concerning connecting a DC to a monitor. if you wouldnt mind emailing me at id greatly appreciate it. thanks