Digital Joystick Related

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info from MacDeath...

The Amstrad Joy port is some kind of limited keyboard.

It can also support LightGuns or Lightpens, and mousescan be achieved using it too.

Somehow related info ...

Some modification occured in the "Atari" standard Not problematic most time on a CPC old as ALL oone button joysticks will fit.

But may put some difficulties with the PLUS range.

Amstrad aimed the console market (GX4000) and used some kind of politic of "Exclusive Hardware" (like all console manufacturers of the time).

Not that it was changed compaired to Old CPC generation (yet few CPC games actually supported the 2 button feature, despite available).

And of course the Atari standard was originally a 1 button solution (Atari 8 bit 2600 consoles) but cxould easily be improuved to more buttons.

Sega Megadrives managed easily 6-8 button (Street Fighter 2 standard).

The most notable differences with other consoles using the Atari specs is with Sega systems (Master System and Megadrive) as the Atari standard became Sega standard (most sold console using this standard)

Yet simple re-cabling can be achieved thanks to get a proper adapter made simply :

  • a pair of "Atari / 9 pin serial" connectors (one male and one female)
  • and simply rewire between both as fit.

This allows to keep the original configuration of Sega compatible Pads/joysticks and benefit from the higher quality level from them.

A clever move too may be to put such converter as a box with wires easily removable/changeable (not soldered, but inserted thank to proper solutions). (A clever move from Amstrad may have been to use SEGA standards).

This would allows to configure more easily different configurations depending on the Game controllers you may find.

  • Sega Master system or MegaDrive/Genesis
  • Mais even be suitable with Sega LightGuns or Atari/Amiga mouses if you can find a proper Power source and perhaps cables with a bit of electronic composents integrated (diodes, resistors ?).

As a result it may be a problem to find proper Joysticks for your PLUS/GX4000 with benefit from 2nd button, as Sega models won't often fit entirely but are often of a better quality/availability.

Megadrive paddles use Start button as Amstrad fire1 and Button 1 as Amstrad Button 2.

Other noable differences are compaired to Atari ST as the mouse can't fit unless powered. As a result, different Mouse standards appeared on Amstrad, using Joystick port Or Extension port. The same goes with lightphaser solutions.

Both could use Joystick port (added power suplly) or Extension port, or even the special LightGun port on Plus range (Is it powered ?).

by adding a power derivation on their Joystick port, Amstrad could have standardised it's technology and ease the CPC community.

Getting more buttons

Amstrad CPC does sport only one Joystick connector, yet a simple montage allows to dispatch 2 joysticks on the same connector.

The Plus range features this internally.

But as a result it is theorically possible to customise some kind of 6+ buttons Joystick quite easily, if only softwares would support this.

  • Simplest way : using the 4 directions of the second Joystick (on a plus or using a Y-double connector/cable on a CPC) as additionnal Fire Buttons, easy to use in 1 player games : you then put one joypad in each hand (the "nunchaku" technic).
  • Meaner way : re-cable a modern joystick/paddle/game controller sporting a shitton of buttons...a Playstation gamepad may be re-wired a such to allows a total of easily 10or12 buttons

Explanation : 4 directions per joysticks (8), and 1-2 buttons per joysticks (+2 or +4)...

Perhaps even more as the Fire3 is undocumented yet seems used in AMX mouse... but did it used such integrated joystick doubler...?

Such a custom device would need 2 controllers connectors to be used on an Amstrad plus, but may be implemented directly for a CPC (old) usage.

Finding proper joysticks

It is not that easy, especially for the PLUS range which may make full use of the 2-buttons features (Cartridges games) or when dealing with modern CPC/Plus games including this feature in gameplay.

Some old CPC era games included a more flexible "redefine keys/controls" option so you could use the second button but post 1990 games rarely did actually... mostly because the gameplay was rarely conceived to include more than one button. Even games with a second button needed often relied on keyboard and you couldn't even re-define the 2nd button's function if you have the chance to get a compatible 2-button Joystick.

And even some Cartridge games where stricts "CPC to cart ports" and didn't even featured the 2 button option in their gameplay.

Or unless you properly rewire a modern Joystick (completly possible and not even that hard, just find a proper connector and rewire all thoses with some diodes or resistors perhaps...

Not that Amstrad was uncompatible with most Atari Standard joysticks.

Most traditionnal controllers (with 1 button) working on Amiga 500 or Atari ST will work just fine on a good old CPC.

But few games made use of the possibility to have a second button, yet some controllers did feature this alongside Autofire.

Even 16bit comuter such as Amiga or Atari ST rarely made use of a 2-button per joystick gameplay (often you had to add some Keys with the keyboard to complete the gameplay...for Pause or Quit game, but also for alternatives firing sometimes, just like on some CPC games...)

The "not that easy" part comes from the fact one of the simpler way is to use SEGA joysticks and paddles.

Sega ranges of consoles (Master system and Genesis/megadrive) were the most common Atari Standard 2+ buttons user Hardwares.

In a way the "9-pin Atari standard" had become the "IBM PC 9-pin serial" (mouses) or the "Sega Joystick standard"

The commonest available "retro-vintage" 2+ buttons joysticks remains the sega ones.

They may need some kind of adaptator then

(to be done here or in a DIY page).

Sega Controlers

Source :

  • Sega Genesis (MegaDrive too?)

It' used a slightly different approach in joystick connection than Atari. The Sega joystick pinout seems to be the "standard" 2-button joystick configuration where pins 6 and 9 are used for buttons which ground the pin when pressed. The only strange thing is that the joystick seems to also want +5V at pin 5. Sega has added a 6-button model in addition to its original 3-button configuration. The 6-button joysticks use essentially the same interface, but add more buttons by using extra circuitry that multiplexes the new button signals with the existing joystick signals, using the control bit in connector pin 7. The chip inside the controller is a 74HC157. This is a high-speed CMOS quad 2-line to 1-line multiplexer. The console can, with help of the Select pin, choose from two functions on each input.

Pin No. Name (Select=GND) Name (Select=+5V)
1 Up Up
2 Down Down
3 Gnd / Left
4 Gnd / Right
5 +5VDC +5VDC
6 Button A Button B
7 Select Select
8 Ground Ground
9 Start Button C

The genesis Paddle can be used almost unchanged on an Amstrad.

Directions work well.

Fire buttons A becomes Fire2 on Amstrad, and Select button becomes Fire 1 on Amstrad.

Not always practical, yet usable. Also if the game allows to re-define joystick/controls (not only keyboard) with enough flexibility, and if it can stand with the 2nd button, then it is 100% compatible...really, just "redefine keys" each time you run the programm.

Also the 16bit SEGA paddle is a lot better than the poor and faulty Amstrad Pad, so it remains a nice choice for every gamers, and quite often easy to find.

You may even also get your hands on the rare "Amstrad Megadrive paddle" thx to the Amstrad PC with the megadrive inside (Amstrad Mega-PC ?), a must-have to all of us...

  • SEGA Master System

The SMS gamepads are almost exactly the same as normal Atari standard.

Pin No. Signal Name Description
1 Up
2 Down
3 Left
4 Right
5 Power
6 Button 1
7 N/C
9 Button 2

Each button (left, right, button 1 ect.) is in fact a voltage(very small), this voltage is grounded to result in movement, fire, jump ect. For standard master system controllers this is directly feed to the system via wires only (some other controllers use a micro chip) they also are not connected to voltage, while some others do. The Sega Genesis (in Europe sold as Sega MegaDrive) pads are an extension to the Sega Master System pads. They use more buttons (3+1, 5+1, 6+1). They use the one usnused pin as a select pin for reading more buttons.''

Those SMS standard controlers may be used alsmot unchanged on a CPC if the software allows to redefine controls.

The only change is that the button2 on CPC is button 1 on SMS.

So you may use only one button, the use of 2 buttons would need a "re-wiring" solution (a "flexible" modular adaptator may be fine) so it can't always fit unchanged on Plus range.

It seems the "Power" button on SMS controlers is used when the controler is fitted with AutoFire option (needs to be checked) or when using the Lightgun.

But an external adapter may include such power-supply feature too so may works well with some mouses or Lightguns if softwares support thoses.

Nunchakus technique

As said above, it is possible to achieve 8 buttons control (directionnal+4 or 2xdirectionnal...even more) with a pseudo Nintendo WII feeling by using 2 paddles, one for each hand.

If the game allows to redefine controls and the use of 2 joysticks, then you use :

  • left hand as directional one, using an amstrad paddle turned 90° Clockwise.

Left = Up

Right = Down

Up = Right

down = left

(using your thumb)

  • Right Hand as firing one (direction+2 buttons), with a second paddle turned 90° Counterclockwise :Access to fire 1 and 2 with the thumb.

By this mean, the cables don't mess with your hands... Also it is a nice way to deal with the "shitty" Amstrad Plus controllers size/quality. Yet this works only with 1 player games and/or need a custom connecting cable/box, a "reversed Y-cable", or even the game to allow a proper "redefine controls" option.

  • Right hand easily achieve a 4 fire button config by using directional pad from the 2nd joypad (one for each thumb yet the cable would be a nuisance)
  • or a fixed Joystick (any hand, directions) + a paddle (other hand, fires) may be fine too...

(pictures to come soon)


As explained in Connector:Digital joystick page...

Amstrad Joystick connector :

Pin No. Amstrad CPC Joystick Port Atari 2600 and Commodore C64
1 Up Up
2 Down Down
3 Left Left
4 Right Right
5 Fire 3 (undoc) Pot 0 (analog)
6 Fire 2 (default) Fire
7 Fire 1 (extra) Supply +5V
8 COM Supply GND
9 COM2 Pot 1 (analog)

All implications with Sega joysticks used on CPC may be more completly explained.

The fact that some Pin are used to establish a difference between Joy1 and Joy2 (com1 and com2 on CPC ?) mais be perhaps used too with Sega joys to achieve some additionnal buttons (presing Button 2 on SMS put the Com2 on so the control may be switched to to be verified).