This guide explains how to adapt a digital arcade
stick for use with an MB Vectrex (aka GCE Vectrex) and disability
standard switches. The Vectrex is a superb, "vector-scan" games
machine dating from 1982. Amazingly, new games are still being created, and are
readily available by mail-order.
If you're an absolute beginner, we strongly recommend that you follow "The
Basic Soldering Guide" - by Alan Winstanley.
SAFETY: Adapting equipment voids the manufacturer's guarantee, and the attempt
may cause irreparable damage. Always use adapted equipment under supervision,
and disconnect power when not in use. These adaptations are at your own risk.
Most of the components used are commonly available from Electronics stores
such as Maplin Electronics,
apart from the Arcade Stick itself. These can be found on eBay,
boot sales, and game shops.
New and classic Vectrex games for sale.
Classic Game Creations
- More new games for the Vectrex.
- Google Group of Vectrex fans.
Vectrex - Great
information and further links...
1. What you will need:
1x Arcade Stick (almost any will do)
8x 3.5mm mono 'headphone' sockets
4x 3.3K Resistor
4x 10K Resistor
1x Strip board
1x D9 lead (salvaged from a Sega Megadrive or Vectrex controller, or build your
Shrink Wrap (optional)
Soldering iron (15 to 30 Watt power); thin solder; soldering flux; de soldering
braid; thin wire (e.g. 16 strand 0.2mm).
Cordless drill with 2 drill bits (1x 1/4"; 1x 2mm); Knife or wire strippers;
small screwdriver set.
Patience. Put aside the best part of a day to adapt these controllers.
2. Open casing
Open up the controller. The ASCII stick has six screws, with two hidden
behind rubber feet.
Remove the grey plastic bracket holding the PCB in place. Remove the PCB.
Remove the small silver contacts from the sliding switches to disable these.
3. Drill 8 holes
Drill 8 holes as pictured using your 1/4" drill bit. Ensure that
your 3.5mm sockets fit neatly and do not touch one another.
That's the easy bit finished, now the tougher bit...
4. Remove original leads
De solder the original Playstation lead (top right yellow box) and the
joystick (bottom left yellow box). The PCB will now simply serve as the contacts
for buttons 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the Vectrex.
Free up the 8 wires from the joystick. You will need to connect these later
to a simple circuit board.
5. Cutting and Drilling
Drill a small hole into four button contacts on the PCB (encircled yellow
- click the image for an expanded view).
You will need to drill into the Ground track (the wide light green track that
touches all of the button contacts on one side. With an ASCII stick you will need
to make two holes (encircled in white).
Cut the tracks (marked red) using a sharp knife, drawing several times away
from you. This simplifies the circuit, and helps avoid unpredictable operation.
6. Test your sockets
As not all 3.5mm mono sockets are connected alike, you will need to find
which 2 of the 3 contacts you need to solder to.
Attach a test lamp or multimeter to any 2 contacts. Plug in your switch, then
press it. If the lamp comes on when pressed you have the right connections, otherwise
try a different combination. There's only 3 possibilities.
Attach long enough wires to reach from the holes you have drilled in the casing
to the place you intend to mount your circuit board (see later). Use shrink wrap
to insulate your soldering on the sockets.
7. Building the Circuit
If this is the first time you have built a circuit, you may find it helps
to test the circuit using a reuseable bread-board and a number of test leads (top
Once you are confident that you can get the circuit to work, transfer it to
strip board (pictured left). Try to make your circuit as small as possible bearing
in mind the room available to mount it in the Arcade Stick.
Connect up all the buttons, the joystick and the 8 sockets. Find a way to
mount the board safely in the Arcade Stick, ensuring that the board will not short
circuit on anything metal (use electrical tape to insulate anything).
8. Reassemble and Test
Put everything back together, then test. I recommend using the MB Test
cartridge which has a joystick test programme, but in lieu of this, use any game.
If you have any problems, carefully inspect the quality of your soldering,
and the accuracy with which you have followed the circuit diagram. Have fun!
D.I.Y. Text and images PUBLIC DOMAIN 2005 - www.OneSwitch.org.uk
Vectrex - (c) MB 1982
Digital to analogue circuit and text (c) 1995 Brian Holscher