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Picture of Make Arcade Spinners From Old Ball Mice
IMG_1743.jpg
If you're like me, you're working on an arcade cabinet and waiting for buttons to arrive in the mail, and thinking to yourself, "gee, I sure love Pong, but there's no way I can bring down some paddle-slicing fury with a joystick." It's a common thought. It's also why I ultimately decided to include spinners (paddles) on my arcade machine. You can too, and here's how to do it for cheap.

You'll need:

1 old ball mouse
1 peanut butter lid (yes, really)
a bunch of small coins
some old Legos:
-1 four or six-peg axle
-2 small right-angle gears
-1 large wheel
-1 beam
-some spacer bits

 
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Step 1: Cheap Spinner Interface

Picture of Cheap Spinner Interface
Old ball mice are a great cheap solution for spinners, like the ones for playing Breakout, Pong, and some non-ball-based driving games. Not only can you find them for free, but they don't require any drivers, and they come with two optical encoders (one per axis), so you can make controls for two players out of one mouse.

Just cut out the bare parts you need. That means keep the plastic that holds the encoder shaft in place, and try to leave enough extra to support the electronic bits. It doesn't hurt to have a good flat area to glue the whole thing down with either.

Step 2: Attach the Shaft Gear

Picture of Attach the Shaft Gear
It'd be nice if you could just extend the shaft, stick on a spinner, and call it done, but I tried that and it went horribly. Just not enough purchase to add on a rod. Instead, a right-angle gear will give us a compact, reliable connection.

Stick the gear on the shaft, leaving enough room for the mating gear. The tricky part is to keep the gear centered on the shaft. If you spin it while the glue is setting, you can tell what parts are off and gently correct them.
murve33.8 months ago

If you want to play original Pong and other Pong variants I'd grab the Dice Emulator. It emulates circuit-based arcade games from the 70's.

mspinks1 year ago

Nice Instructable. Atari decided not to use the Pong name whenever they were going to release the cartridge. They called it Video Olympics. My guess is because they wanted to emphasize that it did more than just play Pong. You could use MESS, which is closely related to MAME and runs a varity of hardware. Although, I would say that Stella is a much better Atari emulator. I had a lot of trouble getting the mouse inputs in MESS to work correctly.

Sam Freeman (author)  mspinks1 year ago

Good to know. Thanks!

Great work, Any chance of a video to show it in use?
GinsuVictim4 years ago
I made one a few years ago for my MAME cabinet using a laser mouse. I attached a large washer to the bottom of the hard drive spinner I was using, then positioned the laser mouse to read the rotation. It worked great. (My pics turned out horrible, otherwise I'd post them.)
Sam Freeman (author)  GinsuVictim4 years ago
That's a smart way to do it. Mechanically much simpler too. I'll have to try it out on the next one.
Yeah, when I saw other people in the community using ball mice to do it, I wondered why they weren't just using a laser mouse. It made sense to me, yet no one else appeared to have tried it.
It has since fallen apart, but 2.0 will be made soon. Here's the absolutely terrible photo I took back then:
spinner.jpg
jongscx4 years ago
You can use a Mouse-keyboard emulator if you really wanted to use this for pong... maybe something like 1 degree of rotation = 1 press of arrow key...
Sam Freeman (author)  jongscx4 years ago
Luckily the mouse works really well; one turn of the wheel moves the paddle evenly from one side of the screen to the other. But that's a handy thing to know about for the future.
fosho44 years ago
Very cool!
I actually did this a few years ago but with an arcade trackball.
Worked perfectly for what I need it for.
Sam Freeman (author)  fosho44 years ago
Cool. I'd like to see a picture of that.
D00M994 years ago
Those are very interesting...uh..."dimes" you have there.
Sam Freeman (author)  D00M994 years ago
Pennies are on the inside. 3 dimes are crammed in between the wheel and the lid.
i believe hes saying that those might be nickels..
Sam Freeman (author)  zack2474 years ago
Ah. Nope, dimes. I tried just using pennies, but they weren't thin enough. Of course, different cap/wheel combos may require all sorts of currency.
Very nice work, your machine looks really good, Kudos to you for all your efforts, I hope you enjoy playing it as much as you seem to have enjoyed making it.
Sam Freeman (author)  Dream Dragon4 years ago
Thanks! I've had fun with both, but the playing it fun is easier to share.