Wiring Push Buttons and Conventional Digital Joysticks

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The most numerous controls on your Control Panel will most likely be Push Buttons. They are comprised of two parts: the plastic button and the Microswitch. Since the plastic button is, well, just a plastic button we are going to focus our discussion on the Microswitch. However, understand that whenever we refer to pressing a Microswitch, we are also referring to pressing the button.

The second most numerous controls on your Control Panel are likely to be Joysticks. However, you need to understand that there are different kinds of joysticks. One type, referred to as Conventional Digital Joysticks, utilize the same Microswitches used by Push Buttons. Unlike Push Buttons, which utilize only 1 Microswitch, each Conventional Joystick will utilize 4 Microswitches – 1 each for up, down, left, and right. This 4 Microswitch layout is the same for both 4-way and 8-way joysticks – the diagonals (e.g., upper right) in 8-way joysticks are activated when 2 of the 4 Microswitches (e.g., up and right) are activated at the same time.

Wiring Microswitches for Push Buttons and Joysticks is done exactly the same. There are no significant differences. Since we are going to be talking so much about Microswitches, you should go learn generally about Microswitches.

Installing the Ground Wire

The Ground Wire will carry electricity from the Encoder to each Microswitch. People usually use black wire for the Ground Wire.

For start you need to attach the Ground Wire to the Encoder. Now, how exactly you do so will depend on your particular encoder. Read the documentation for your particular model. However, it will probably involve you stripping the end of a piece of wire, twisting it if it is loose, folding it over, sticking it into a hole marked “G” or “GND” and then tightening the screw to secure the wire.

Next you need to attach the Ground Wire to your first Microswitch (and no, it does not matter which Microswitch you decide to consider your first, second, third, etc). Here is the trick, so listen carefully. You will be working with TWO pieces of wire at once:

  • The first is the other end of the wire that is currently attached to the Encoder. Go ahead and strip that end.
  • The second is a brand new piece of black wire that will, eventually, run from your first Microswitch to the second Microswitch. Go ahead and strip one end of that wire.

So now you should have two wires, both with stripped ends. Take those two wires, twist them together, fold them over, and insert both of them together into a Female Quick Disconnect. Once they are both snugly inserted, go ahead and crimp them with your pliers.

You can now attach the Disconnect to the Common prong on your first Microswitch. Just stick it on there, it should slide on and hold tight all by itself. Congratulations, one down, a bunch more to go.

To attach the Ground Wire to the second Microswitch, you just repeat the procedure. However, rather than starting with a wire with one end attached to the Encoder, you are starting with the wire with one end attached to your first Microswitch. You strip it, strip a new wire, twist them together, fold them over, stick both into a Disconnect, crimp, and attach to the Common prong on your second Microswitch. Guess what - for the third you start with a wire with one end attached to the Common prong on your second Microswitch. Rinse, lather, repeat until you get to your last Microswitch.

By the time you get to your last Microswitch, you should have a black wire that you can follow from your Encoder to the Common prong on every Microswitch on your Control Panel except one. Here is the trick to this last Microswitch – it just ends here. It does not loop back to the Encoder. It does not attach to the computer. It does not plug into a wall socket. It just ends with the last Microswitch. So simply strip the wire, twist it, fold it over, stick it all by itself into a Disconnect, crimp it, and slide the Disconnect over the Common prong on your last Microswitch. You are done with the Ground Wire.

Installing the Hot Wire

Installing the Hot Wire is much simpler than installing the Ground Wire, simply because you are only running one wire from each Microswitch to the Encoder. Start by taking your piece of wire, stripping one end, twisting it, folding it over, inserting it into a Disconnect, and attaching it to the Normally Open prong on your Microswitch. Now take the other end of the wire, strip it, twist it, fold it over, and attach it to your Encoder.

Here is the only tricky part – you need to determine where on your particular Encoder to attach it. That will depend first on which control you want to attach and second the design of your particular Encoder. I know what you are thinking – how hard can it be to determine which control I am working on at any particular time? Well, sometimes it is a little harder than you think. Remember, your control panel will probably be upside down when you are working on it, so on a standard 2 player layout Player 1 will be on the right and Player 2 on the left. Plus you will have been hooking up bunches and bunches of these wires, so they all start to look pretty similar after a while. So just take your time and check your work. Of course, if you do mess up, that is why we are using Disconnects which can be easily removed.

On your Encoder you will need to find the correct hole to which you will attach your wire. This is only a little challenging. While an Ultimarc encoder may have a slot for “Player 1 Start” labeled “1Start” the KeyWiz Max might have one labeled “I” – but do not worry. Either way, your Encoder will have a diagram to let you know which slot to use.

Once you figure out where to attach the wire, you basically just strip the end, insert it into the appropriate hole, and tighten the screw (no Disconnect this time). If you did everything correctly, that Microswitch should be ready to go. Again, take your time and check your work. If you do mess up just unscrew the wire and move it into the correct hole.

Once you are done connecting the Hot Wire, pat yourself on the back. You have just installed your Push Buttons and Conventional Digital Joysticks. They are ready to go.