>> Thursday, April 21, 2005
Bet you weren't expecting to see a new piece of CD-i hardware in 2002 huh!! Well you can imagine my surprise at finding this bit of kit through the CD-i News Group (rec.games.video.cdi). The hardware in question is the CD-i Gamepad Adapter and the site Paul Hackmann's Electronics, the mastermind behind the technology. CD-i Gamepad Adapter and PC PROPAD The package includes a comprehensive instruction sheet which is also available on-line at the following link, the adapter itself and a PC PROPAD (model SV-230) so it's playable straight from the box (pictured left). Apart from a minor problem slotting the PC PROPAD into the adapter the set up was straight forward and the connections all fit correctly. The adapter is not only compatible with the PC PROPAD, any analogue joystick/gamepad should work as long as it is a PC analogue controller.
So why on earth would you want to buy this adapter opposed to the official peripherals such as the touchpad or game controller. After all they work perfectly well and provide the best experience in gameplay value...don't they? Well, not entirely, now that i've had a chance to give the adapter a full play test it actually has some interesting enhancements over the standard controllers.
All the standard buttons are present and work perfectly including the directional pad, button 1, button 2 depressing both 1 + 2 emulates button 3 as with the official controllers. The adapter itself contains a variation on a feature that comes in the form of cursor speed control which is completely variable compared to the few settings available on the official gamepads. By rotating the speed control you can either make the on screen cursor move faster or slower. On face value you wouldn't have thought it would make that much difference and if you just use your CD-i for VCDs, educational or reference software then it won't. This feature really comes into its element with games, especially shooters like "Mad Dog McCree" and "Chaos Control". If you felt the cursor was to slow in these games a small rotation of the speed control will make the cursor zip across the screen, rotate it in the opposite direction then it will move at a snails pace. Certainly a feature that should add new elements to the gameplay value of various CD-i titles. Even the auto fire option on the PC PROPAD functions which should save some wear and tear on your thumbs!!
The beauty of this adapter is that any PC analogue controller will work with it. As the instruction sheet states "With the CD-i Gamepad Adapter, you can enjoy CD-i gaming with the controller of your choice". So I put this to the test with a PC QUICKSHOT JOYSTICK (QS-209) which has always been a pain to calibrate on a PC. Initially I was skeptical about it working with the adapter but surprise surprise after connecting it up with no problem, it functioned perfectly first time. Even trying to upset the calibration then re-booting the CD-i had no effect, time after time the adapters automatic calibration was flawless. A complaint commonly recieved from the readers of CDi Magazine (UK) was that the CD-i had no Joystick controller. When I was doing a little research for this article, I came across a CD-i Joystick advertised in CDi Magazine (UK) Issue 20, on the back page which can be seen by clicking on the following link. Apparently it wasn't particularly that good and didn't add much to the gameplay of CD-i software. With this adapter you can finally link up your nice new PC Joystick for a better gaming experience than Philips official controller could provide!!
At $35 the CD-i Gamepad Adapter doesn't come cheap, but considering it is made by Paul Hackmann in his spare time and at his own expense the price is hardly surprising. The adapter is professionally made robust and shows quality workmanship.
As CD-i collectors or new enthusiasts should know the official gamepad is becoming increasingly difficult to find, even through the on-line auction sites. This adapter provides the perfect solution to this problem and gets "The Black Moon Projects" seal of approval.
Unfortunately, as of 2005, the controller is no longer available. Paul's own reaction: "Well...it's been a loooooong time since I have made changes to the site. I have rearranged the home page a bit(not quite done). Furthermore, the CD-i Adapter is no longer available. It was getting hard to get the parts I needed. I tried a USB version of the adapter, but there is no such thing as a common controller interface for USB Joysticks. Every manufacturer seems to follow their own rules in that regard. So, unless I have a brilliant idea, the Adapters are off the market. Sorry.
The CD-i Gamepad Adapter is a cable designed to connect an analog PC joystick or gamepad to a CD-Interactive (CD-i) player. The cable handles the necessary calibration of the PC joystick or gamepad, and converts the data from the joystick or gamepad to a format understood by the CD-i player. With the CD-i Gamepad Adapter, you can enjoy CD-i gaming with the controller of your choice.
NOTE: I am currently OUT OF STOCK of the CD-i Gamepad Adapter. At this point, I don't expect to be making any more of them. I have had requests to release the design for public use. I have decided to open some of the documents to the public. There should be enough here for someone to recreate a working adapter (thought not necessarily exactly the same as mine), assuming they have the ability to make circuit boards and compile some software. You can download a zipped version of the documents here. Also note that it lists the PIC16C710 on the schematic, but I actually used a PIC16C715. They are pin compatible."
Reviewed by Devin