Nudging and analog plunger on a budget

Posted by Frank | Posted in Controls, Pinball, Research | Posted on 28-03-2012-05-2008

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While building a virtual pinball machine you need to consider how you would like to control it. There are many many options out there. For me a requirement was nudging (not with buttons but with actually hitting the machine) and a real plunger for launching the ball. Sure some machines use a launch button (tales from the crypt comes to mind) but many many more used a standard mechanical plunger. Apparently you can use different game controllers for the analog plunger. At first I tried using an xbox controller that I soldered a usb connection to but for some reason this wouldn’t work. Not sure why, still want to get to the bottom of this. At the same time that I bought the xbox controller I also purchased a Sidewinder Freestyle Pro from ebay. This would allow the nudging. Little did I know that visualpinball can only use one controller so there went that idea. Even still the xbox controller didn’t work. After many nights of frustration (and plenty of help from a guy known as blur) I decided to try a ps2 controller. Low and behold the plunger worked! It was after I had this working that the talks of nudging came in. Apparently people will flip over the controller and glue a length of lead pipe about 11 inches long to the left thumb stick. This provides the nudging. Great, was all ready to do that until another member koadic mentioned that the ps3 sixaxis controller could support nudge as well as mechanical plunger. I set out to test this and found it to work satisfactory so I ordered a broken one from ebay and am now waiting for it to come in. Will report more on this once I have the controller in hand.