Wireless Hot-swappable Trigger Stick Mod
Wireless Hot-swappable Trigger Stick
As covered in the TRON stick wiki certain games require a joystick with one of more buttons attached. These are often called flight sticks, trigger sticks and specifically the TRON stick. The inclusion of a TRON stick on one's control panel allows the player to enjoy several games that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to play; however, the unsightly appearance of the dedicated TRON stick on the control panel has lead to the often derogatory term of Frankenpanel, which is to say a control panel that has sacrificed style and simplicity for maximum playability. To combat needless Frankenpanels a solution has been developed for the player who wants to play trigger stick games without a dedicated or periphery trigger stick build on his cabinet. That solution is the wireless hot-swappable trigger stick.
Summary of Project
The wireless hot-swappable trigger stick is a blue tooth enabled battery operated dual button trigger stick handle capable of being rapidly secured to and removed from a joystick shaft without the aid of tools or disassembly.
Parts & Tools Required for this Project
A balltop joystick with a screw top shaft - depending on anticipated use the joystick can be 4way, 8way, or dual restricted. Also digital style joysticks will work for this modification. The Groovy Game Gear Omni II and the Ultimarc Mag-Stik are both recommended as they are physically restricted joys capable or rotating between 4way and 8way restriction and both styles have successfully undergone automation modifications.
A TRON stick housing or other after market trigger stick - The style of trigger stick is subject to personal preference as nearly any trigger stick can be modded for this project. It is recommended that the trigger stick have at least a trigger and one thumb button to maximize game compatibility. Trigger sticks with digital or analog directional inputs are not recommended as this mod does not support that functionality currently. The example build uses a Max Fighter F-23U purchased from Amazon.
A blue tooth enabled presentation clicker - The core of this project relies on the hacking and integration of a wireless battery operated presentation clicker. Due to size constraints in most trigger stick housings it is recommended to get the smallest and thinnest clicker available. A two button clicker commonly sends a page-up and page-down signal. For the example build a generic Wireless USB Presentation Clicker Remote was purchased from Amazon.
A #14-20 (.25") brass female screw insert. Available online or at most local big box home improvement retailers.
A two part slow dry malleable putty
22g insulated stranded wire
Superglue and/or hot glue
The following are optional items that will improve battery life and the ease in which the hot swap is executed:
22g brass sheet metal or a metal spacer from a bic or skilcraft style clicker pen.
QTY 2 .25" rare earth barrel magnets. Available at multiple online retailers the .5" length magnet is recommended to maximize hold.
Small on/off push button
Drill and bits
Safety Advisory: Assembly of the wireless hot-swappable trigger stick requires soldering of switches and a simple circuit board. Please review all necessary safety guidelines and utilize appropriate safety equipment when dealing with and soldering electronics.
This assembly walkthrough will assume that the builder is creating a magnetic hot-swap system with battery interrupt.
Step 1: Disassemble the trigger stick housing and cut the button wires at the base of the handle. This will allow you to set the trigger stick assembly aside. Discard the base, it will not be needed for this project. You can also remove the unused switches but may need to patch and fill the plastic faceplate.
Step 2: Disassemble the wireless clicker removing the component board. Detach the red laser pointer housing and discard if applicable. It is a major battery suck and will not be used. To facilitate battery mounting in the trigger stick housing it is recommended that the clicker housing be trimmed down to only what is needed to hold the battery leaving the rest exposed. It's a tight fit in the trigger stick housing.
Step 3: Remove all trigger stick boards that are not related to the two buttons you are going to use and solder the wires from those buttons to the click board. At this time stop and test the connections making sure that you have a pg up and pg down signal from your new buttons. The old buttons can be removed from the clicker board before soldering of you can solder directly onto their contacts, ensure that you identify the ground and solder accordingly.
Optional Step: At this time if you want a battery disconnect sever the positive lead to the battery and wire it through an on/off switch mounted to the trigger stick face plate.
Step 4 Screw on Build: Superglue or hot glue the clicker board into the trigger stick housing and using the two part putty secure in the female screw insert into the handle so that when screwed to the joystick handle the base of the trigger stick ends a cm above the base. Allow to dry and assemble. At this point you can screw off your ball top from the joystick and screw on this trigger stick. This concludes the screw on build.
Step 4 A Magnetic Build: Drill out the threads on the ball top joystick attachment and drill the plastic down a additional .5 inch or less depending on length of your magnet. Super glue magnet into ball top. Using the sheet metal or pen spacer fashion a small collar to remove the wiggle from your ball top. Place ball top on joystick with collar over the joystick threads. You should be able to remove ball top cleanly from handle with an upward pull but ball top should not come off even under vigorous play.
Step 4 B Magnetic Build: Drill the threads out of the female screw insert. Superglue or hot glue the clicker board into the trigger stick housing and using the two part putty secure in the female screw insert and rare earth magnet into the handle so that when placed on the joystick handle the base of the trigger stick ends a cm above the base (wrap joystick handle in plastic to facilitate removal once putty is cured). Allow to dry and assemble. At this point you can pull off your ball top from the joystick and pop on this trigger stick. This concludes the hot swap build.
Operation and Programmatic Interaction
The presentation clicker dongle can be left in an USB port continuously and will register the signal from the presentation clicker after the initial signal to synch the device. One only needs to set the trigger and button values to pg up and pg down in the emulator or game is being used.
Below are some examples of specific implementations for a wireless hot-swappable trigger stick:
Le Chuck's Darkade http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=116602.0