TRON arcade game joystick research

  • 2014/01/28: Updated information on 4-way restrictor for flight stick.
  • 2015/02/18: A note about the HAPP joystick, and restrictor plates being made for it.

A friend of mine is in the process of building a custom arcade controller for home use. Here is some of the research that may be of interest to others trying to replicate the 1982 TRON arcade game controls. (A flight stick with a trigger button, and a paddle spinner controller).

The TRON handle can be bought from Groovy Game Gear. They claim they are using the original molds and also used the original color key chip to match the color as close as possible to the originals that were made in 1982:

http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=319

This handle is designed to replace the one for an original arcade stick, but folks have been modifying other types of joysticks to make it attach. No details on this, yet.

Next, there is a low-cost trigger stick from RetroCade.us. It is available in several places:

$20 – Paradise Arcade Shop in Hawaii:

http://www.paradisearcadeshop.com/imported-joysticks/299-import-flight-stick.html

They also sell it on Amazon.com, for $22, but shipping is cheaper there (currently $26.83 for the stick and shipping):

http://www.amazon.com/Arcade-flight-Joystick-joystick-buttons/dp/B00F1YQ5HW/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1388078024&sr=1-1&keywords=arcade+flight+stick

RetroCade.us also sells it direct through Holland Computers:

http://www.hollandcomputers.com/store/pc/Arcade-flight-yoke-stick-Joystick-eight-way-joystick-with-two-fire-buttons-and-firm-grip-p8069.htm

The stick is incorrectly described (on Amazon and at Holland) as a 4/8 way switchable stick. It is not. You need a restrictor plate to make it 4-way like the arcade TRON stick is. I have not located a restrictor plate for this joystick yet, but Paradise Arcade Shop says they may be able to custom make one.

Update: There is also a higher priced HAPP joystick commonly used for TRON:

http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=78233.0

That stick is also an 8-way, but my same friend who is building the custom arcade controller now has a 3-D printer and has designed a 4-way restrictor plate for this. He will be offering them for sale, so contact me if you are interested.

As for spinner controllers, there seems to be two candidates. One is sold by Groovy Game Gear. It is the Turbo Twist 2 and it runs about $70:

http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=268

Ultimarc also sells a spinner for the same price called the SpinTrak:

http://www.ultimarc.com/SpinTrak.html

No details on which one is better for this purpose.

More to come…

36 thoughts on “TRON arcade game joystick research

      1. Adam Grimm

        I realize this is now a bit old, but did you ever sort out the restrictor plate?
        I’ve been searching the interwebs for some time now and it seems like the
        holy grail of arcade parts!

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Allen Huffman Post author

          My friend got a 3-D printer and printed one for his flight stick and we can do the same for the cheap $25 stick. I need to get my control panel built and that will motivate us working on one. Which flight stick?

          Reply
          1. Adam Grimm

            Awesome!
            I have two of the MiniGrip Sticks from Ultimarc:
            http://www.ultimarc.com/controls.html

            I then got 2 of these “universal” restrictors and attacked them with a dremel:
            https://www.focusattack.com/seimitsu-ls-32-triple-restrictor-plate/

            Not the best of solutions, but it kinda sorta helps with the Lightcycles.
            Well, not really that much but better than nothing, I suppose ;-)
            I even tried to match the Tron restrictor by dremelling out the corners just a little. Again, not the best solution…

  1. Adam Grimm

    Hello again!

    Think I rambled a bit in my earlier reply.

    If possible, I would be mega-stoked on a restrictor plate for the
    Minigrip Stick.
    It’s the same cheap $25 stick as the Night Mission Mini Flightstick.

    If it’s possible, please just let me know what you need from me…

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Rich

    I’m curious what the results were for the restrictor plate from the 3D printing. I’m looking for the ideal Joystick to get to fit GGG’s Tron handle. I know it’s been a few months but I know there’s going to be others out there looking for the same.

    Reply
      1. Rich

        Awesome. I know this is an obscure topic but the people who want this (like me) obsess over trying to find a solution to recreating a Tron stick. I want to do it the right way that doesn’t cost over $200. This page has been a lot of help towards my goal.
        Has anyone actually used the Night Mission Sticks yet? I’m curious about how they perform…
        Do you know what the dimensions are of the restrictor plate? I may have some resources as well.

        Reply
        1. Mitch

          I too am looking for a true 4-way restrictor for the Night Mission/Trigger Stick/Flight Stick joysticks.

          It’s a great joystick, though with very clicky micro switches. The base looks like it’s made to take a restrictor, but I can’t find one.

          If anyone can make them (even 3D printed), it would be like a license to print money for lot of us. Take my money, please!

          Reply
          1. Mitch

            Yep – That’s the one.
            I’m looking for a pair of these restrictors.
            I’m quite sure he does have a ton of them with a pinch of advertising on Reddit and other forms!

  3. Allen Huffman Post author

    The plates are different depending on the joystick. Mike recently bought a dead TRON machine so he now has parts from an original to try to get working. But, the plate he made was specifically for the HAPP stick or whatever $$$ one I mention in the article.

    Reply
  4. DeL's Arcade

    Reviving this topic. I’m looking to get a buddy to 3D print the Tron restrictor with rubbery plastic to emulate the original. Allen, any chance your buddy wants to share the file? I’m curious to take a peek at it instead of starting from scratch.

    Reply
  5. Scott Alexander

    Looking for restrictor plate to convert Happ model 50-9970-00 (8 way HD trigger joystick) into 4 way restricted joystick for Tron. Anyone 3D printing them?

    Reply
    1. Allen Huffman Post author

      If that’s a different model from the one my friend did, not that I know of yet. Can you get me a good scan or picture of the current plate? I have a printer of my own now for taking in this project.

      Reply
      1. DeL's Arcade

        Yeah, it’s the same Happ joystick that has the fire buttons on top. The one you linked to has no fire buttons on top. But I believe the innards are the same. Here’s a topic where a guy modded the stick. I’ve done this mod in the past and it works great. However, the guy no longer sells the restrictors (slightly rubbery) since the mold he used no longer exists. Here’s the topic (with pics) on the mod: http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=78233.0

        Reply
        1. Scott Grabowski

          I have seen the article and it looks relatively simple to modify. However, I do not have the actual (4-way Tron) restrictor to install. I understand that theses are very hard to get. I have considered buying material and trying to cut/create a restrictor but would prefer to buy one as I know it would probably work better than any one I could attempt to fabricate.

          Reply
          1. Scott Grabowski

            Sorry .. Brain freeze I (Scott) not connected with Dels’ Arcade. I am new to this forum.

          2. Scott Grabowski

            I believe that Dels’ Arcade made his/her post in response to my inquiry to purchase a restrictor plate. Their comment linked me to an article on how to do the conversion with the proposed 50-9970-00 flight stick and they let me know that they have modified a similar flight stick 50-9975-00 similar to the one I want to purchase. I am not sure if they would be interested in purchasing a restrictor plate or not, but I would be.

          3. Allen Huffman Post author

            I may have missed this message (or accidentally re-marked it as Pending). I am up and running with my 3-D printer and could try to get the plate from my friend to see if we can print some now.

      2. Scott Grabowski

        Yes that is the one or the 50-9975-00 which is identical except has 2 additional fire buttons on top.

        Reply
          1. Scott Grabowski

            That sounds good. Any info you could provide on that would be great. I have been holding off on purchasing the flight stick until I get the restrictor plate issue resolved or at least the part located.

          2. Allen Huffman Post author

            Just spoke to Mike, and he has the other stick installed with his plate and says it works great. He even added an additional button up too, apparently. Let me see if I can get him motivated to make some.

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