Controller slot 1 button 1 getting finicky

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By wyrdwad

Paladin (827)

wyrdwad's picture

29-09-2019, 16:41

Hey all,

I've got a Panasonic FS-A1WX MSX2+ system, and recently, I've found myself having a lot of issues with controllers plugged into controller slot 1. I thought it was the controllers themselves at first, but when all three of the controllers I own displayed the same exact problem, I realized it was the controller port.

Basically, any controller I have plugged into slot 1 will work fine... except for button 1, a.k.a. the trigger button, or button A. Under normal circumstances, it's not registering button 1 *at all*... but if I jiggle the connection a little, or unplug the controller and plug it back in, I'll then be able to use button 1 without any trouble.

...Unless I set the controller down on the floor, which I guess pulls on the cord JUST ENOUGH to once again cause the problem to occur, meaning I have to jiggle the connector again, or unplug and replug it again, in order for button 1 to respond.

It's not a huge deal, since it's easy enough to circumvent (and only applies to controller port 1), but I worry that the problem may get worse over time, and wanted to check with the community to see how common an issue this is, and how easy it is to fix. I'm assuming one of the pins -- whichever pin corresponds to button 1 -- in controller port 1 is dirty or loose, and if it's just dirty, I assume dabbing the controller port with an ethanol-dipped cotton swab or something may be all I need to do to clean it (is that safe to do?). But if one of the pins is loose, I'm a little concerned that it may break off completely at some point, or stop functioning, and I have absolutely NO IDEA how I'd go about fixing that -- I have no hardware skill whatsoever, and have never soldered anything in my life.

So yeah. Just figured I'd ask around and see what you guys think! If need be, I can provide photos of the port, for whatever that may be worth.

Thanks!

-Tom

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By Meits

Scribe (5809)

Meits's picture

29-09-2019, 17:20

Heat up the solder of the 9 pins one by one until they become liquid. As soon as it gets liquid, go to the next one until you're done.
It might feel intimidating cuz it's a nice and somewhat rare computer, but it's as easy as putting dots on a paper with a marker.

By wyrdwad

Paladin (827)

wyrdwad's picture

29-09-2019, 17:37

I don't actually own any soldering equipment, though. Nor can I afford any such thing right now.

I mostly want to know if cleaning the pins on the outside of the port with alcohol is safe, and if that may possibly help, or if I'd just be wasting my time doing so.

And if soldering will absolutely be necessary, in which case I can look into possibly buying some equipment in the future. But I'd be more inclined to just... pay someone else to do it for me, honestly. Wink

-Tom

By hamlet

Scribe (3043)

hamlet's picture

29-09-2019, 18:02

Cleaning the pins will not ease tis pain. You have to use a soldering tool, Tom. But it is no big deal.
Usually I did not say that but the cheapest one will do. Or maybe you know somebody who might help you out?

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3258)

sd_snatcher's picture

29-09-2019, 18:44

I've never seen Panasonic machines having cracks in the solder like those from Sony, Sanyo and Philips, so it might be worth a shot to try to clean the joystick connector with a good contact cleaner spray.

If that doesn't work, then just melting the old solder isn't a good idea. At least always add a bit of new solder in the process. Ideally, all of the old solder should be sucked and replaced by new solder, but since not everyone has the skills for that, just adding a bit of new solder is acceptable.

By Grauw

Ascended (8905)

Grauw's picture

29-09-2019, 22:23

At least the good news is that it’s quite easily fixable Smile.

If cleaning does not do the trick, repair cafés are popular nowadays so you may have one around locally which can quickly take care of it, otherwise maybe find a local hobby computing or electronics club? On the one hand many people have soldering equipment, but on the other hand people don’t have an “I have a soldering iron” flyer on their door so the trick is to know who they are Smile.

p.s. You can get a cheap soldering iron for as little as 10-20 euro, also it’s not very difficult to reflow and add some solder so it’s a nice DIY electronics repair project for a novice.

By wyrdwad

Paladin (827)

wyrdwad's picture

29-09-2019, 23:40

OK. I'm living in Japan, and not too far from Akihabara, so indeed, there are options if I decide to take the system in for repair -- I'm quite certain Beep would be able to do the job for me, though I rather loathe the thought of lugging my system into the city on a crowded 30-minute train ride, so it may be worth trying to grab a budget solder set and trying this myself at some point.

It's also not super-urgent just yet, since I am still able to use the controller at the moment -- but of course, I wonder how much longer that will last before things get worse.

Thanks for the responses, everyone!

One last question: what is the problem, exactly? I'm trying to understand how cracks in the solder would result in something like this happening. Can anyone give a basic explanation as to what's happening, from a technical standpoint?

-Tom

By wyrdwad

Paladin (827)

wyrdwad's picture

30-09-2019, 00:30

OK,so quick update:

I had a little bit of extra time this morning, so I decided to clean the connectors on port 1 and do a little test with Bosconian to see if the problem persisted. It seemed to have improved, as I was able to move the controller around a lot more than I had been and still get trigger 1 to register without any trouble. But if I pulled the cord taut, trigger 1 still cut out -- though I noticed this time that when I pulled the cord taut, the connection on port 1 actually moved, physically. Since the controller ports are on the side of the system, when I pulled the cord taut, the right side of the connector actually came partway unhooked. And sure enough, when this happened, trigger 1 stopped responding in-game!

If I pushed the connector back in all the way, though, trigger 1 would start responding again without any trouble.

So yeah. I'm not sure the problem actually stems from cracks in the solder within the system, but rather from a loose connection. If the controller isn't plugged in firmly, the pins on the right side don't completely make contact, resulting in trigger 1 presses going unregistered. And the reason it's the pins on the right side that don't completely make contact is because when you pull the controller cord taut, it's naturally going to come slightly unplugged on the right side of the port, because of where the ports are located.

This probably was always the case, I'd just never pulled the cords taut before, as my old apartment's layout had me sitting closer to the MSX itself than my new apartment.

I don't know if this is a design flaw, or if it's specifically an issue with my system, but it does make me think that there's probably not any technical problem occurring here. What do you guys think?

-Tom

By Meits

Scribe (5809)

Meits's picture

30-09-2019, 01:31

If you have the controller plugged in as firmly as possible, the touch between pins and controller connector doesn't change when whiggling the connector. You move the complete connector around on the mainboard instead.
The through hole pins of the connector are still through the hole, but the shiney cone of solder on the other side of the board has a crack.
Of course it's best to do what sd_snatcher said. That's the clean and elegant way. As a quick and easier fix just reheating the existing solder will do for quite a while as well.

If you regularly use your MSX and in combination with a controller, those pins will stay clean enough. My turbo R rarely ever sees a controller/mouse. The pins are rusty as hell, but that doesn't isolate enough to keep it from working just fine.

Cleaning won't hurt, but I'm quite sure it won't be the fix either.

If you have to do it yourself (ie, no one is able to do it for you), go to a good will store for some cheap 80s/90s piece of electronics and practice a bit on it. You'll see it ain't the biggest challenge.

By gdx

Prophet (3428)

gdx's picture

30-09-2019, 02:10

MSX2+ and Turbo R pins of joystick ports are a little thin. So sometimes the contact is bad using an old joystick whose pins have widened a little over time. I have this problem with a joypad. I fixed it by putting a small piece of aluminum foil in a connector hole three years ago but the contact fails again just recently.

http://www.msx.org/forum/msx-talk/hardware/help-with-wavy-70...

By wyrdwad

Paladin (827)

wyrdwad's picture

30-09-2019, 02:43

I'm not sure it is the solder, honestly -- as I said, when I have the controller plugged in all the way, it actually DOES move on my system. If I pull on the controller, the connector actually moves a noticeable amount in the port, shifting to the side a bit. I confirmed this morning that this doesn't happen if I plug the controller into port 2 -- even if I pull on the controller, the connector doesn't move at all. So I think there may be a loose connection in port 1 on my system, which I don't think can be solved by re-flowing the solder.

Since it's only a problem if I pull on the cord, it's not the biggest issue, but it does suggest that port 1 on my system may be in a very delicate state right now. I confirmed this morning that I was able to play Bosconian with the controller plugged into port 2, and I know there are a number of cassette games that work with a controller in port 2 as well. Is it common for single-player MSX games to recognize controllers in either port, or is that something that only happens on a game-by-game basis?

-Tom

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