New Atari Jaguar Controller In Development

Jag Pad Profile

One of the main criticisms levelled at Atari's Jaguar system is that the controller is an absolute mess. Waiting in line behind the lack of decent software, unconvincing 64-bit graphics (even though it is a true 64-bit system on a technical level) and poorly marketed CD add-on, the controller takes a lot of unwarranted flack.

Gamers who have wielded the Jaguar's controller will attest that it is actually rather comfortable to hold and, contrary to visual perception, doesn't have much weight. Furthermore, the D-pad is solid. There are also a lot of fantastic games on the system, but I digress. Sure, the lack of shoulder buttons on the stock controller is inexcusable but the Jaguar Pro Controller remedies that omission.

It appears that Jaguar modder 10p6, creator of the the Jaguar/Jaguar CD combo the Jaguar PlayOne also has the same opinion, and has set about creating the ultimate replacement: a Jaguar/Atari 5200 compatible controller with a built-in 'spinner' that can be used with titles such as Tempest 2000. Also featuring a fully integrated keypad, dual analogue sticks, shoulder buttons and a D-Pad, this could be the ultimate controller for Jaguar enthusiasts and the peripheral to finally silence the naysayers. In his own words, 10p6 describes the new controller design:

"The idea of this project is to make a controller for the 5200 and Jaguar that is ergonomic, innovative, functional and very reliable using off the shelf parts when possible. The case for the unit will be initially 3D printed, but it has also been designed so it can easily be duplicated in resin. The keypad is designed to use a Jaguar Numeric Membrane, or possibly a custom one of the same size and similar speck.

"Innovative parts of this controller are the analog sticks and spinner. The sticks are off the shelf parts that are reliable and functional, and are included to replace the awful 5200 analog stick, but hopefully could be implemented for Jaguar games.

"The spinner / rotary controller is something that has been done on the Jaguar numerous times. I did this on a previous controller where I made a removable spinner that could be placed in the center of the D-Pad. Even though this was functional and cool, it was a little impractical; others have done spinners that are either huge, crammed in an awkward space, or sacrifice a controller just for rotary control.

Jag Pad Top

"My spinner is innovative as it is located around the D-Pad in a way that does not effect D-Pad functionality, but allows the spinner to be easily turned with a thumb or fingers. The hard part is designing controls that allow the D-Pad to rock, and the spinner to spin, but not to impede each other. In the photos you will see I used an approach that makes the D-Pad effectively appear as a pivot in a large circle, of which the spinner is then sandwiched between the spinner and the case; this allows the spinner to have horizontal rotation, while allowing the D-Pad to have vertical pivot. The notches in the Spinner are designed to allow a twin photo-interrupter to work.

"This is the same system as used in old ball mouse’s. Here it allows for very accurate rotation, is very reliable, but reduces friction compared to systems that use mechanical potentiometers. Not shown on the renders, but included in the finished controller will be a simple slider switch that locks the spinner in place when not being used.

"The case is also partially designed (not for a specific screen) to allow the numeric KeyPad to be removed and replaced with a touch screen, maybe hooked up to Arduino or Raspberry Pi system board. This could allow for custom button mapping, electronic 5200 and Jag overlays, video input, handheld games systems, wireless functionality and so on. Note that this is a big controller, it is as long as a Lynx 2 and a little wider. It Is designed for comfort and function over design."

There is no solid release date for this new controller as yet, but the Pro Controller certainly has some competition on its hands.

Jaguar Controller Prototype Video 

Last Updated ( 05 September 2015 )  

Tom Charnock

A true connoisseur of failed and obscure console hardware, if Tom isn't extolling the virtues of the Jaguar CD's texture smoothing abilities or the Dreamcast's vast array of useless peripherals he's usually on Twitter asking where all the Super A'Can games are.

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(Link to this comment) ChuckieDoll 2015-09-13 22:59
Why keep the phonedial buttons? I never owned a Jag game they were paramount for - wouldn't mapping them to a second set of shoulder buttons be more contemporary?

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