The Joy of Sticks.
June 27, 2005 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Using an Apple IIGS joystick on a Mac?

I recently found an old Gravis joystick that, long ago, I had attached to an Apple IIGS. I believe it's a Mark IV. It looks like this. It has what appears to be a 9-pin male serial connector on the end.

Can I (1) use a Keyspan serial-->USB adapter to hook the joystick up to my modern Mac and (2) have OS X recognize it?

I would just go ahead and try, except for one thing:

I truly doubt Apple did anything standard with their serial interfaces in the 80s. Is the wiring for an "Apple Game Port" so weird that trying to use such a device through a serial-->usb adapter would fry my computer?

I've found the pinouts for the IIGS game port, but my Layer 1 skills end at crimping ethernet cables, so I can't tell if that answers my question.

Also, (I don't know if this is important) since both the joystick and Keyspan adapter have male DB-9 connectors, I'd have to use a gender changer adapter, which is readily available.

Searching through previous AksMes produced one question about wiring a programmable push-button by using a RadioShack USB Game Port Adapter. But I'm wary of that; it's DB15, not 9, and was Apple's Game Port compatible with early PC Game Ports?
posted by jbrjake to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
It is not a serial device. Do NOT try to hook it up with an adapter. The answer to your question is probably best expressed as "cheaper to buy a new USB joystick".
posted by plinth at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2005

Well, I guess that settles that. Thanks for your speedy response, plinth. I'll hold off on doling out a checkmark for the moment, just in case someone can pull some amazing kludge out of their rear-end, but consider the "best answer" yours.

BTW, I know it'd be cheaper and easier to buy a new joystick, I just hate to see a fine piece of retro-gaming electronics gather dust in a lonesome corner.
posted by jbrjake at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2005

The cheapest "gotta use it" solution then is to wire up the switches and stick to an existing joystick, but I doubt the analog parts would work especially well since Apple II series joysticks used 150K potentiometers.
posted by plinth at 9:39 AM on June 27, 2005

I have this exact same joystick. Should it work on a PC, plugging into the joystick port of a sound card? I haven't been able to get it to function under windows XP or 2k.
posted by Four Flavors at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2005

It would be possible to rewire this to work with a 15-pin PC joystick port, which you can then convert to USB. I found some instructions here -- see section 005.

Also, some very enterprising geeks have made Atari/C-64 joystick USB adaptors. Doing one for the Apple joystick port would be possible, but I haven't seen one.
posted by zsazsa at 12:51 PM on June 27, 2005

These old Apple II devices had potentiometers - variable resistors - that hooked directly to the pinout. (I still have a pair of original Apple ][ paddles around somewhere, not to mention my TG Products joystick that was possibly the hardest working piece of hardware I've ever owned.)

Anyway, processing the resistance into a numerical value 0-255 was done on the motherboard. Your serial -> usb interface does not want to be connected to a potentiometer. So it won't work.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:57 PM on June 27, 2005

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