I'm using Andy's I-Pac which I can highly recommend. This
easy reprogrammable interface acts like a keyboard and is connected via USB
or PS/2. If you use the PS/2-connection, you can plug your normal keyboard on
the I-PAC additional - very nice!
Two versions are available, one with 28 inputs (perfect for two-player controls) or a bigger version with 56 inputs if you wanna make a big 4-player controlpanel.
The I-PAC. Picture is courtesy of Andy Warne, find everything you need to know at his site http://www.ultimarc.com.
To have an
easy detachable controlpanel, I made two little PCB's to get easy support
featuring all I-PAC inputs, some Opti-PAC inputs I need, three LED-drivers (see
LED-page) in one cable.
Of course you could just get some cheap SCSI extensions-cables with 50 pins and cut them apart, but I wanted to go a bit more elegant and not hassle around with measuring out fifty cables and such stuff.
So I came up with this solution - I've circuit-diagrams made for this so I can always find out which cable has which meaning.
Controlpanel: Here you see the behind of the controlpanel. This picture is the updated version of my panel with leafbuttons and much better wires. The two lamps are lighing up the startbuttons and are sticked with hotglue.
Note the very small PCB! This is the old version - I renewed the PCB with a slighty bigger one to fit 4 scews. With the two above it cracked one day.
Controlpanel-PCB -near view
This is all I have to do for each panel again - this small predrilled PCB hold a 50pin-flatcable socket. I pulled the plug for the picture, but normaly this would always be attached. I could also just have soldered the flatcable directly to the PCB, but this way I only needed to crimp the plug to it and didn't need to rip all the wires apart.
All together - worked perfectly at first try :-) Note: This were the old wires I first used - don't go with tiny solid wires, they easily break and don't have a strong hold in the quickconnectors.
Okay, lets start from the left, you already know the controlpanel with the little PCB. The grey flatcable leads to a female SCSI-plug - you can buy them readymade. After that there is a male-to-male SCSI-cable. At this point you would plug the controlpanel out.
The other end of the SCSI-cable goes to the ribbon-cable (crimped a you guess what -female plug on it), this cable leads to the I-PAC, and later to the Opti-PAC and a small PCB with the three LED-drivers (see LED section).
Why so many connections? Whenever you should break the plug or the cable behind it, I only need to get a new one - they are readymade and very cheap. I also like the easy and stable 50pin-centronics plugs that the SCSI 1-system used.