I have always wanted a thumbstick for Apple II gaming. It’s the form factor we are all more accustomed to these days. Also, Apple II joysticks on eBay are typically overpriced and who knows how much wear-and-tear they already have on them. So I finally got around to learning some practical electronics to build my own. I ordered some thumbsticks, capacitors, resitors, potentiometers and buttons and using some online resources, built my own joystick!
Quite frankly, it is awesome.
For many games, it greatly improves the gameplay. There are some quirks in the design, largely due to the way the 555 (556) timer circuit works and the unavailability of the exact kinds of potentiometer/rheostats that Apple originally sourced. But even with those quirks, it simply works great.
I’ve built 3 or 4 of these now. But ultimately I only kept 2 working units. My next goal is to make a PCB layout and etch that to see if I can make a nice kit project. I’ve ordered the supplies, and once I have some available time I’ll try it out.
In the meantime, I hope you like the pictures from my experiments. Once I get to finish the PCB version, I’ll try to write a long in-depth instructional article on building these yourself. But if you get antsy waiting, the information is out there. You just need to start trying things. Don’t be scared, the +5V power is supplied by the game port and can’t hurt you. It would be hard to hurt the game port either, but don’t sue me if you do! 😉
Next stop, making real boards.