DIY Atari 7800 Arcade Joystick

DIY Atari 2600/7800 Arcade Joystick

This is an unglamorous project with great results.

You will need: an old Atari 7800 Pro Controller, a Happ Controls Joystick and 2 Arcade buttons and some kind of project box.

This is the exact project box I used (I get nothing for linking this).
Most of the Happ Style joysticks and buttons are counterfeit but the ones at Microcenter are excellent.
Any of the top-rated 28MM hole saws will work. I used one from HSS. Looks like this:

uxcell 28mm HSS Drill Bit Hole Saw Cutter for Metal Alloy Wood
28MM DIA Hole Saw

I gutted a real Atari 7800 Pro Controller because most of the cables out there are for Atari 2600, so they are missing the second button wiring. You can get them cheap off of ebay. I believe since you are going to gut it for the wires and the resistors on the circuit board, cosmetics are beside the point. I saw some controllers on ebay in the $6-$8 range.

Atari 7800 Pro Line Joystick Controller OEM CX-24|NOT TESTED
Atari 7800 Pro Controller

Here’s what I did:
Put some masking tape on the top surface of the project box and using a sharpie, layout your controls, the middle hold and mounting holes of the joystick and the center-lines of the buttons.
Drill the joystick & button holes using the 28MM Dia hole saw. Then drill your screw holes. I think a 1/8″ drill will do it. Now peel off the masking tape and mount your controls.
Then you will take apart your Atari 7800 Pro Controller and carefully remove the wires from the circuit board. You might need to clip off the terminals from the Atari 7800 joystick and crimp better terminals. If you really don’t care what this thing looks like and you are brave, you could solder the wires right to the micro-switches. Who am I to judge? (Don’t do this.)

This is a wire map of the Atari 7800 Pro Controller:
Brown / Left
Green / Right
Blue / Down
White / Up
Button 1: Top Orange, Bottom Yellow & Resistor to Black
Button 2: Top Orange, Bottom Red & Resistor to Black

Using this wire map and the picture above, solder the wires and tape it up. The tricky part: you desolder the (2) 620 OHM resistors from the Atari 7800 Pro controller circuit board but you can can also buy new ones. These go between the ground wire and the ground terminal on the two buttons. You can clearly see this in the image above. Test it out and if you get it right, put the box together and ENJOY. Atari is much, much more fun with Arcade controls IMO.

Caveat: Before you drive yourself crazy like I did when testing: the difficulty switch on the front of the 7800 actually makes a difference with the 2 button games in some cases. For instance, when testing Xevious, both buttons launched missiles AND bombs simultaneously. I remembered that one should send a bomb and the other a missile. Well…”LEFT” difficulty does that. *slaps forehead* I ended up ripping the joystick apart driving myself crazy as to what went wrong when really nothing was wrong. UGH 😉

Pi-hole DNS Server

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Network-wide Ad Blocking

I have had a Pi-hole set up near my cable modem for at least 1-2 years now? Time moves differently for me for the last 18 months. Regardless, my Pi-hole device just sits there, filtering out ads from the network. I highly recommend setting up a Pi-hole for your home. It’s cheap, easy, effective and efficient!

What is it?
A cheap Raspberry Pi computer with an SD card. Gets power from a phone charger and connects with a simple Ethernet cable. Runs passively without any fans at about 37 degrees C.

How do you use it?
You can set it up as a Wifi source, or you can add the IP address in your wifi settings for DNS server. Use the same IP address in your web browser to see a web interface. From there you can modify the whitelist/blacklist and see in real time how many ads are being rejected.

Pi-Hole on Docker using OMV Raspberry Pi 4 "Network Wide ...

How do you set it up?
There are many guides. Here is a good one:

Essentially, what is involved?
You flash a linux OS for Raspberry Pi onto your SD card using something like the Balena Etcher. I prefer “dietpi”, which is a low resource Debian distro.
A simple 8GB or higher card will suffice. Then you install Pi-hole on it.

How do you maintain it?
Every now and then, it’s good to log into it with SSH and run a “sudo apt update/upgrade” (if you choose a Debian distro). That’s it.

I have over 4 million domains on my blocklist and it makes a HUGE difference when I load websites without Pi-hole DNS configured in my wifi settings.

Bonus: You can SSH into it and install lynx, mc and any other useful linux terminal programs and have fun with it. As a double-bonus, you could even host web services like subsonic or ftp using it!