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"Drum Stick"
January 21, 2006

My friends Mike and Daphne bought Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) for me for my PlayStation about a year ago. One day, while playing the game, I had the idea that a DDR-like game would be relatively trivial to implement on an Atari 8-bit computer.

The problem is: the dance pads. The DDR pads I have contain special circuitry and a PlayStation connector, meaning connecting them to the Atari's joystick ports would be non-trivial. (At least, for me!)

I then remembered something I built 8 or so years ago, for the next door neighbor's little 3 year old daughter to play with: I took a flat surface (part of a PC case, I think?), an Atari joystick cable, some wire, tin foil, a pencil and Scotch tape, and constructed a simple "drum pad" for the Atari. Ground connects to the pencil (the "drum stick"), and the wires for the stick directions and fire button connect to areas of foil taped to the surface. Tap the pencil on a surface and check STICK(0) in Atari BASIC, and you're set! ;^) So, I decided my first DDR-like game will be more of a drum-machine-like game. Tonight, I spent 30 or 40 minutes constructing a similar "cheap-ass" controller. Enjoy the photos!

The top of the device. Being right-handed, I created a layout that could be easily reached as though I was drawing. I then divided it into 5 sections: four are the directions, with Fire being the wedge at the lower right.

Drumming away in Atari BASIC. The screen flashes too, of course!

Close-up of the cruddy assembly. The joystick I disassembled had metal connectors, which I didn't remove, and you can see showing throw the foil.

This time, since I didn't have any loose wire handy, I decided to use some of the loose connectors I had handy! A phono-to-3.5mm adapter works as the connector. For now, a 3.5mm extension cord acts the "drum stick" itself. (The female end obviously connects to the drum controller, and the male end is what you touch it to the foil.)

I call this the "Drum Stick." Get it? It's a drum pad made out of a joystick! Har-har!

Underneath you can see the wiring.

A close up of the phono-to-3.5mm adapter.

The joystick was not harmed. If I want to resurrect it, I simply need to reattach the connectors. (The board inside the stick even has labels for which colored wire goes where!)

Most of the Atari BASIC program I whipped up for testing. Each of the four direction pads controls a different voice which acts as a different instrument in a drum set (i.e., they sound different.) As the program runs, the volume of each voice continuously decreases (different instruments at different rates than others). Tap the 3.5mm extension cord (the 'stick') onto one of the pads and the voice is raised up to 100%. Fire silences everything.

100 OS=S:S=STICK(0)
110 IF S=7 AND OS<>7 THEN VR=15
120 IF S=11 AND OS<>11 THEN VL=15
130 IF S=14 AND OS<>14 THEN VU=15
140 IF S=13 AND OS<>13 THEN VD=15
150 IF STRIG(0)=0 THEN VR=0:VL=0:VU=0:VD=0
210 SOUND 0,0,8,VR
220 SOUND 1,100,12,VL
230 SOUND 2,20,0,VU
240 SOUND 3,255,12,VD
310 POKE 708,VR
320 POKE 709,80+VL
330 POKE 710,160+VU
340 POKE 712,192+VD
810 VR=VR-2
820 VL=LV/2
830 VU=VU/2
840 VD=VD-1
910 IF VR<1 THEN VR=0
920 IF VL<1 THEN VL=0
930 IF VU<1 THEN VU=0
940 IF VD<1 THEN VD=0
999 GOTO 100

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