Controllers through the years

I didn’t really get into gaming until the Saturn came along. However, I was pretty familiar with almost every console controller before that and since. The joysticks of the Atari, the cramp-inducing pad of the NES (although if you were young, it was a much better fit). The much more ergonomic pad of the Genesis. The Saturn controller was pretty good, but it felt so lightweight.

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite controllers through the years. I’ll be sourcing pictures off the internet, so if you’ve followed your image here and don’t want me using it, please just say so and accept my apologies. I will have sources for it, but I won’t be hotlinking and using your bandwidth.

Playstation. Sony’s entrance in 1995 took everyone by real surprise how successful it was, most of all Sega. The controller hasn’t changed much over the years, being more of an evolution (Xbox changed a bit more to me). There’s a really cool gif of both at Mashable. What really changed the game for me was when Logitech came out with their cordless PS2 controller. Cordless wasn’t a thing yet, and the design was so much more comfortable than what Sony had done, and would do for years. It was comfortable, it was cool (blue!), it was cordless. It was a winner, and I still have one.

The Xbox version was almost as cool, except it had that ridiculous dongle.

This was when Logitech made great products, which in my opinion, they don’t do quite as well outside of keyboards and mice. But I digress. For the first time I could game without being physically connected to the console. There might have been some before that, but I didn’t own them. The Logitech Xbox controller was light years ahead of the Duke (never used) and the S controller, in my opinion. Best controllers of that generation, as the GameCube was awful, and the Dreamcast was decent, but not great.

When you look at the seventh gen consoles (PS3/360/Wii), only the Wii sucks. The only thing I liked about those controllers was playing the classic games on them sideways. Only way those really spoke to me. Otherwise, I had to strap on a classic controller to the Wiimote to be satisfied. The DualShock3 was pretty good, but nowhere near as comfortable as the 360 controller. To me, it looks like they took the best parts of the Logitech controller above and built theirs around it. The comfort is absolutely great. The only thing that kills it is the proprietary charge port.

Now, the eight generation is where it seems to all come together. The Xbox One took the 360 controller and had it slightly evolve. The battery is no longer a bomb sitting under a Dauntless, but is now tucked into the controller itself without making the controller any bigger. It also now uses microUSB to charge and connect, which is very nice. I don’t like how they removed the standard port for mics and headphones, but they are about to come out with a new version that brings that back. The dongle you need now isn’t too bad though, at least I can change volume with it easily. The DS4 is a bit different than the DS3 in that the handles have been elongated and there is a touch area at the front top of the controller. Handles are better, touch area isn’t thoroughly evaluated yet. The controller also lights up, for reasons I’m aware of but don’t really understand. The charge port also evolved from mini to microUSB – yes, you can use the same cord for both Xbox and PS4 now. Yay!

The Wii U is really where you see a lot of change. The Wiimotes are still used somewhat, but the big deal is the tablet-esque controller now included. Unfortunately, there’s only ever one paired to the system, but it’s pretty neat. I thought it was a real gimmick at first, but I love being able to play games (or have the kids play games) solely on the tablet while I watch something on the TV. It’s really rather well done. The controls are pretty good as well. There’s some games that also take a unique take on immersion with having to look at the smaller screen, like ZombiU. A recent addition to my personal stable is the Wii U Pro Controller. This controller is extremely similar to the 360 controller, has a super long battery life and charges via miniUSB. I can’t wait to give this a go, but I can already tell I will love it. Very ergonomic.

Soon, Valve will release it’s own controller for the PC, and it looks very intriguing. I might have to get that as well, even though I really don’t game on the PC. When I do, I use one of the 360 controllers and a dongle. Other than that, I drive. I’ve had several wheels – Wii ‘wheels’ (just controller holders, really), the Xbox 360 wheel, and a couple of Logitech wheels. The Driving Force Pro wheel was good, but I am absolutely in love with the G27 wheel. Three pedals, six speed H-gated shifter, good grip on the wheel…it’s awesome. Unfortunately not yet compatible with the PS4, and not compatible with anything Microsoft has done. I wish I could use this wheel on every single driving game. It’s fantastic when playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 on the PC. Yes, I own that game and it’s actually really good.

It’s hard writing things that aren’t woodworking or shop-related for some reason. I’m just as passionate, however the thoughts and ideas don’t seem to flow so smoothly. Hopefully I can develop a better gameplan about my topics soon.

Vita 2000 charging stand

I love my Vita 2000, but I didn’t like the charging dock/stand that Sony put out for it. It looked entirely too lightweight for my needs. As I was searching for a different solution, the idea came to me to try the stand I modified for my phone.

18308118049_63da9a71a2_z.jpg

It’s a perfect solution for me, even better than charging my phone. I got the idea (I think) from an XDA topic on docks for the 2014 Moto X, but I sure can’t seem to find it again. So I disassembled mine again and took some pictures for this quasi-tutorial.

What you’ll need:

  • A Moto HD Dock. The model number for mine is CSD-8109. You can find it at Amazon, eBay and I’m sure elsewhere. Pick your poison at the price level you want, but mine was $10.
  • A small Phillips screwdriver. – Computer/jeweler preferred. If you want to be really specific, I used a #0 Phillips screwdriver with a decently long shank. Bit driver not recommended.
  • About ten minutes

The dock is made for a couple of Motorola smartphones with HDMI-out capability. That means that we’ll have to remove that port in order for your Vita to sit properly and charge. It’s a very simple process. Don’t worry that all the pictures have the ports offset to the right – the big knob on top loosens the port mechanism and it can slide over to the very middle.

On the bottom of the stand there are four rubber pads. If you want to retain the pads, you’ll need to carefully peel back the corners that are oriented to the front, and outside of the stand. There is some black plastic that the rubber adheres to very well, so we’re only going to peel the rubber back just enough to try and guess where the Phillips screws are under the plastic. If I had to guess, they are a couple of mm inset from the front and outside. You can probably use your Phillips screwdriver to poke holes as I did to have the rubber still adhere well.

Front hole: 18492443962_53f59d58dd_z.jpg

Rear hole: 18310603219_5388d11ee7_z.jpg

Best part about leaving the black plastic under the rubber on is that you don’t have to remove the screws, just undo them. They’ll be ready to go back on when you are done.

When you remove the bottom of the stand, you’ll be looking like this. Note how a majority of the weight is in the bottom base.

18496807615_58cce78f8d_z.jpg

You’ll now remove the screw you see in the dead center of the upper portion of the base there, and pry up the retention clips around that piece.

This is what the interior looks like AFTER you have taken out the HDMI board. Since I couldn’t find the original tutorial, and I did this months ago, this is as best I can do.

17874110864_88ccba7f33_z.jpg

Going by memory, there is a board to the right of the remaining board, that has a cutout for the plastic housing. That’s the one you need to remove, as the HDMI ports for front and back are connected to it. There is a screw at the front you’ll need to undo, just to the right of where you see the black cable in the picture. Other than that, you just pry out the board and the front and rear HDMI ports, snug that last screw you took out back in, and reverse the procedure. The male HDMI (pretty sure it is micro, but you get the idea) may take a bit of fiddling to remove, but it isn’t too hard. Once you’re done you should be looking like this:

18497191141_0228aa3073_z.jpg

The end result is as you see up top. The big silver knob adjusts both the lateral movement of the remaining microUSB port and the back support. The microUSB port is oriented correctly for the Vita 2000 and many other devices like the 2014 Moto X. The red line does not light up, at least after this modification. As you can barely see in this pic, it does indeed charge because we’ve not modified the microUSB portion at all.

17876442953_142f81d04f_z.jpg

Hope you enjoy your new Vita 2000 stand.

Back to gaming

With the awful prospect of mostly being chained to my desk for this summer and fall, I decided to get back into gaming a bit to help break up what my mind was having to do. Namely, I started really playing the Vita I bought two years ago and barely touched. It’s a really good system stymied by some really stupid decisions by Sony. The memory card is exhibit A. My 8GB card is maxed out, and 64GB (the highest available) is $90. Yes, $90. In a world where a 64GB SD card is a third of that. That’s one big area where Nintendo got it right, and DS/3DS games don’t take near as much room either. I actually have a Vita project that I’ll post about soon.

I took some money from the new shop build to buy an Xbox One, and joint the next generation (aside from the Wii U). Unfortunately, it doesn’t have analog out for audio, so using it at my desk is tricky. I’ve picked up quite a few games as well, and I might be talking about those at some later date. I don’t know, I usually try to go for really, really good sales.

The other thing is, I really don’t know how to end blog entr