Sunday, July 24, 2011

OutRun Controller Project

The aim of this project was to have a fully playable OutRun PCB in my lounge, without the overhead of the original controls or cabinet. As an extra requirement, I wanted to be able to swap the original control panel in if desired without any complex rewiring.

The original hardware consists of three analog controls: the accelerator, brake and steering. A perfect replacement pad appeared to be the Dreamcast controller. It contains two analog triggers, which we can map to acceleration and braking plus an analog thumbstick for the steering.

Unfortunately, the original Dreamcast pad uses hall effect sensors for the analog controls and would be unsuitable. Thankfully, many of the third party controllers aren't made to the same standard and instead use cheaper potentiometers, just like the original arcade hardware! In addition to this, there are plenty of digital buttons we can map to things like the gear change and the start button.

I plumped for a Madcatz Dreamcast pad. It's a nasty piece of work, but suitable for rewiring. I cut the original cable off, bypassing the pad's logic circuits and soldered wires directly onto the necessary components. One problem is that many of the components are connected via the pad circuity in a way that makes them unusable. For example, the buttons share a ground connection and the pots are also connected. You'll want to use a continuity tester and cut the PCB tracks between the components.

Thanks to some forum assistance, I found out that the connectors on the OutRun wiring harness are 'Amp Mate N Lok' which can be bought from Swallow Amusements. Using these connectors, I was able to create a wiring harness that would plug straight into the original OutRun wiring loom. It's possible to create your own plugs without buying an official (and expensive) crimping tool. You can simply add solder to the wire, press it into the crimping pin and hope it makes a firm connection. When it does, crush the crimping pin around the wire with some pliers. It might take some time to get it right, but you can still achieve decent results.

One other thing to note is that the OutRun 50P controller connector requires 5v to be sent to pins A24 and A25 or your controls won't work. An odd design decision on behalf of Sega it would seem. The pinouts for the ports can be found below; I've used brackets to denote pins that I didn't wire up:


Pin A1 Coin Sw #2                     Pin B1  Coin Sw Ground
Pin A2 Coin Sw #1                     Pin B2  (Ground)           
Pin A3                                Pin B3  (Ground)
Pin A4 Shift Switch                   Pin B4  Shift Switch Ground 
Pin A5 Start Sw                       Pin B5  Start Sw Ground
Pin A6 Service Sw                     Pin B6  Service & Test Ground
Pin A7 Test Sw                        Pin B7  (Ground)               
Pin A8                                Pin B8  (Ground)
Pin A9                                Pin B9  (Ground)
Pin A10                               Pin B10 (Ground)
Pin A11                               Pin B11 (Ground)
Pin A12                               Pin B12 (Ground)
Pin A13                               Pin B13 (Ground)    
Pin A14                               Pin B14 Ground
Pin A15                               Pin B15 Ground
Pin A16                               Pin B16 (Ground)                
Pin A17                               Pin B17 (+5V)
Pin A18                               Pin B18 (+5V)
Pin A19                               Pin B19 (+5V)
Pin A20                               Pin B20 (+5V)
Pin A21 (Start Lamp Ground)           Pin B21 (Start Lamp)
Pin A22                               Pin B22 (+5V)
Pin A23                               Pin B23 (+5V)
Pin A24 +5V                           Pin B24 (+5V)
Pin A25 +5V                           Pin B25 (+5V)


Pin A1 Accel Pot                      Pin B1 Steering Pot
Pin A2 Accel Pot Wiper                Pin B2 Steering Pot Wiper
Pin A3 Accel Pot                      Pin B3 Steering Pot
Pin A4                                Pin B4 Brake Pot
Pin A5                                Pin B5 Brake Pot Wiper
Pin A6                                Pin B6 Brake Pot 
Pin A7                                Pin B7
Pin A8                                Pin B8
Pin A9                                Pin B9
Pin A10                               Pin B10

Here's a video of the final setup in action!


DarrenF said...

Hey! Great project. If this you're the same guy who did DCPhoenix (about 10 years ago)... perhaps you'll remember me. I'm the guy who did JABAWAPE. I'd love to chat about OutRun, but I can't find your current email address on anywhere. -Regards, Darren

yt said...

Hey Darren!

Long time no speak. I can't believe it's been 10 years!

Try this one:

I don't like to post my e-mail online due to spam :)