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Building an Arcade Golf Trackball? 22

SparafucileMan writes "Ok, I'll admit it. I've spent way too much time at the pub drinking... er... playing these arcade golf games such as Golden Tee 2004. However I'm annoyed by the lack of features, graphics quality, and courses and figure that playing golf on my computer, where there are several outstanding titles available, would get me a lot more bang for the buck. However, what's the fun in playing arcade golf with a mouse and keyboard?! I want to invite some people over to hammer the bejesus out of a huge trackball, just like at the arcade. Anyone have any suggestions on where I can find such a contraption, or how I could build one myself (with USB hook-up, no-less)?" We've previously covered the cult of Golden Tee, and the inevitable injuries that result from the mixing of beer and trackballs.
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Building an Arcade Golf Trackball?

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  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @07:49PM (#8243817) Homepage
    Just search on google for arcade parts, there are plenty of places that sell them.

    Trackballs are expensive though, the one for my Centipede cost me $115. Ouch.
    • Ebay is definitely the place to go for inexpensive arcade machine parts. Just take note of the categories where such things are found, such as "collectibles/coin-op".

      You can take most any trackball from an arcade machine and interface it to a PC using the parts mentioned in other posts. If you're really cheap, you can just hack an old mouse (you just need to wire in the LEDs and optical sensors).
  • Go all the way! (Score:5, Informative)

    by lubeboy ( 669348 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @07:55PM (#8243884)
    Get's not cheap!
    Optional: Control Panel []
    Get the USB Trackball interface []
    Get a trackball! [] And... FP!
    • even at like $300 it's not as bad as say 9 holes of golden tee 3 times a weekend for a year(as I recall it's like $4 for 9 so that totals like $624). If your habit is worse than that, as I'm almost certain it is, you'll make it worth your while real quick.
  • by dendyjm ( 93650 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @07:56PM (#8243887)
    There are a ton onf sites regarding arcade cabinets and controllers for your PC. Check out or for controllers.
  • by KyolFrilander ( 730272 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @08:00PM (#8243932)
    The best place, bar none, to go is Build Your Own Arcade Controls []. Hint: Happ is spendy. Consider Imperial/Betson. Google for them, and you can find TBs for $30-ish. Oscar Controls [] Sells a nice TB Harness->USB adaptor for around $12.

    Now, can you use a circular saw without losing important bodily appendages? _that's_ the real trick, you bet.
  • Big trackballs. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @08:23PM (#8244160)
    If all you need is a big trackball, there are two products that come to mind:

    * Microsoft Easyball
    * Crayola Kids PC Trackball
    * Infogrip BigTrack []

    The Easyball would have been most suitable (as it was huge - I remember seeing one in the store, there are a few pictures here []), but that and the Crayola trackball are no longer being sold as far as I know. From pictures, the BigTrack looks like the exact same model as the Crayola one. Although both are smaller than the Microsoft trackball, you can still buy the BigTrack direct from the manufacturer for $80 (link above, although I think that's at least $30 more than the crayola trackball was selling for).

    Of course, you might still be able to find an Easyball on Ebay [] or Froogle []

    However - neither of these might be suitable for the purposes you're thinking about. They're plastic devices made for kids, not necessarily designed to be smashed around by grown adults as the arcade devices are.
  • by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @08:25PM (#8244175) Homepage Journal
    Instructions on making your own trackball:

    1. Turn your mouse upside-down.
  • Logitech Trackball (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zevets ( 728720 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @08:28PM (#8244205) Journal
    My friend has this monstrous Logitech trackball he bought off eBay. This thing is a bit bigger than a large grapefruit and smaller than a mellon. It went for about $75 and is a USB connector. Otherwise there are a lot of specialized dealers that the other posters have linked too.

    I am not a fan of golf games, and have never played one, but do many golf games allow for the control set up of a trackball. Aren't most just timing your clicks on a meter. Good luck!

    • Unfortunately, those things were not built for the abuse a typical Golden Tee track ball takes. Sure, it might be fine for Centipede, but the glass-shattering pounding that Golden Tee players are known for will surely pulverize any Logitech or Kensington trackball.

      Besides durability, the other problem is that consumer grade track balls are all designed for the ball to be removed, typically without any locking mechanism. Commercial grade track balls are semi-permanently bolted into their motion detection f

  • laser golf (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    saw a fairly cool laser golf game at the australian game development conference this year.

    Was pretty fun. You got to swing an actual golf club.

    Have fun! []
  • You should try it some time.

    Rob (Though I admit that it's not as fun at a party as a big trackball)
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:10AM (#8245912) Journal
    There are a couple of ways to pull off producing your own input devices.

    As others have pointed out, the Build Your Own Arcade Controls site is clearly the right way to do things for this. If you're aiming for building a MAME box, this is the right place, or if you're interested in just plain official arcade-style controls.

    Happ Controls is a good place to get components. The BYOAC site heavily recommends them. You may be able to salvage trackball mechanisms from an old arcade machine -- these things are expensive, generally $70 and up.

    Note that arcade-style trackballs are generally either 2.25 inches or 3 inches. 2.25 inches is pool ball size -- one can actually use pool balls. This is the size that Kensington uses on their (pricy) computer trackballs.

    Another way is to build your own system by simply modding an existing device. I've been trackball shopping recently, and have looked at most of the input device vendors. Logitech forces you to use wireless if you want a trackball with lots of buttons, and Kensington devices have mechanical trackball inputs (and are pricy). I picked up a Q-Ball from MacAlly, a USB trackball that runs about $5. (Ironically enough, this devices does not use pool balls.) The Q-Ball isn't made with the greatest tolerances in the world (and comes with a ridiculous "glitter ball"), but it has five buttons (plus up and down on the scrollwheel). It also uses the same Agilent sensors that all current optical mice use -- labeled H2000, these things are all-in-one cameras and image recognition and movement measuring on a chip. They go as the HDNS-2200. Anyway, if you want to build something to suspend a high-quality trackball, you can easily physically modify the thing and reuse the electronics (the HDNS-2200 and the USB interface) on the mouse, since all the sensor does is measure movement of something passing in front of it -- in this case, a trackball -- and you can hook up the buttons to arcade-style buttons. You just need a smooth ball and a casing that allows it to turn smoothly, and hang it right above the HDNS-2200's lens.

    If anyone else has one of these, I just replaced the red LEDs on mine with IR LEDs (so that the thing doesn't flash red constantly). The thing then gets a bit cranky about waking up from sleep mode, as the illumination is much dimmer, so I removed the transistor on the same PCB as the H2000 and ran a lead from the collector to the emitter point, which disabled sleep mode. It still doesn't track as well as it did before, so I'm going to try replacing the 950 nm peak IR LEDs with 880 nm peak IR LEDs.

    I've been looking at commercially-available small-run USB interface boards, and I've been less than thrilled. I like buttons, and lots of buttons. For MAME use, having one, two, or three buttons is fine -- and if not, people sell cheap USB interface boards with Happ trackball interfaces with interfaces that adapt a *ton* of buttons -- but they make them appear to the computer as a *keyboard*. This is fine for MAME use, but not good if one wants to produce a high-quality trackball for one's own use, since most software prefers to have mouse button clicks rather than keyboard impacts. There *are* USB interface chipsets available and there *are* trackball encoders, but basically you need to learn PIC or another microprocessor, and have at least a decent amount of circuit design experience. This is terribly frusterating to me, as all I want to do is pay less than fifty bucks for a board that can plug into USB, can advertise up to, say, eight buttons (six buttons plus up and down on a scroll wheel!) with simple old button interfaces, and an interface that I can connect a Happ-style ball and encoding mechanism to without needing to write PIC code or do more than add a resistor or two. That would let non-CEs build extremely high-quality input devices for general-purpose use.

    If I could get my paws on a schematic for something like this, it'd be awesome. Or maybe I just have to bite the bullet and pick up more CE knowledge. Sigh.
  • Not to troll, but why was this posted? A simple 2 second search on google pulls up a lot of info on everything one would need to either buy a trackball, or make one. Once again, the slow news week continues (CNN just posted an article on two sea turtles who are joined on the side who are getting separated) yea!! :)
  • For the lazy... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:51AM (#8246848) Homepage Journal
    For the extremely lazy, the X-Arcade [] folks are taking preorders on their trackball unit, which I believe includes a 3" trackball. They have not traditionally used happ buttons and joysticks in the past, so it's doubtful this ball will have the same feel as the happ balls on most golden tee machines.

    If you do want the "real deal" you can get a 3" trackball from Happ Controls [] and to interface it you can buy an OptiPAC from Ultimarc [], a usb interface from happ (a bit more expensive, though it supports 3 buttons unlike the OptiPAC) or you can even hack apart an old ball mouse and interface through that. Personally, I am using the Ultimarc OptiPAC with a Happ 3" ball on my own cabinet [].

    Incredible Technologies (makers of Golden Tee Golf arcade machines) used to publish a version of Golden Tee for the PC [], though they themselves do not sell it anymore. You can get a copy from ebay for about 3-5 bucks, and there are some addon courses for sale also. The courses are from the arcade games Golden Tee 3D Golf and (the addons) Golden Tee Golf '97. The game supports network, modem, and internet play.

    Though it's dated and the graphics are not as good as some of the newer titles, the price is right, and the experience is as close as you can get to the arcade if you want to practice your Golden Tee at home. I bought golden tee pc from ebay last week and have been having a lot of fun with it on the cabinet.
  • by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @11:40AM (#8249118)
    I want to invite some people over to hammer the bejesus out of a huge trackball, just like at the arcade.
    Can't find it anywhere, but I read an interview recently that quoted a Golden Tee champion (perhaps it was Chris Eversole?) saying that slamming your hand into the trackball was 100% useless and had no affect on the game, other than making players who do it look like idiots. YMMV.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    but seriously folks. Do PC games even support trackball input in the same way as Golden Tee does? I would assume NOT. Most PC golf games use a multi-click system or a drag and release system.

    So dude, go ahead and spend the bucks building your home trackball interface. In the end you won't be able to use it for golf. But just for old emulated arcade games.

    (Check Ebay for "HAPP" or "WICO" trackballs. Sometimes you can get one used for about $20)

  • About 6 or so years ago I saw a children's trackball at the local CompUSA. It had maybe a 5" ball (painted to look like a basketball) and just one button. Probably PS/2 connector given the times. They carried it for about a year and then stopped. Of all the input devices in the kids area, this one must have been pretty indestructible because it was the only one I never saw broken, and the wear on it suggested heavy use.

    Unfortunately, I can't remember brand names or anything. Perhaps someone else reme

  • hyperbowl! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @09:55PM (#8255403) Homepage Journal
    go email these folks [] and ask how much a replacement ball+mount costs. its for a bowling game. they have a full size, but light weight, bowling ball floating on an air cushion with normal trackball sensors (mechanical) below it.
  • []

    thats a driving range simulator. you could connect a microcontroller for measurement. that would be a really great input device.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.