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  1. I’m talking about opening the microswitches themselves, not the joystick. Already done that! They pop out of the black tray, but it’s moulded for those humpy shoulders, while modern switches all seem to be rectangular.
  2. Does anyone know if stick microswitches contain/require lubricant? I have a few Japanese Sega Arcade Power Sticks which, unlike the UK/US ones, have microswitched sticks. I've cleaned up and regreased the sticks and they're pretty good, but some of the stick switches occasionally fail to register, and I suspect they need an internal clean. The microswitches are old matsushita ones which are a non-standard, humpy-backed shape and fit into moulded plastic, so I don't think replacing them is an option, which means restoring the existing ones. I saw one restoration video online where a guy soaked the switches in WD40, but generally speaking 99% IPA is better for electronic cleaning, as WD40 is about 25% mineral oil. However, if microswitches need some kind of internal lubricant, then I'm worried that soaking them in an IPA bath will strip this and make things worse, so maybe WD40 would be good. I've seen pages where people disassemble microswitches (not possible in this case, without drilling out the screw) and clean them out with just IPA or DeOxit with no mention of lubricant, so perhaps they don't need it?
  3. Alexlotl

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2

    Holy shit, the new 1.5.0 challenge mode lets you beat the shit out of Tatsu. If I hadn’t already bought the DLC, I’d be in the restore right now. Oh yeah, and Shulk + Fiora as blades, or something.
  4. Alexlotl

    Super Nintendo Appreciation Thread

    Yup, best solution for anything with an external PSU is just to find an alternative with the same specs. The MD1 PSU is a bit of a Rosetta Stone - works for Famicom, SFC, PC Engine etc. Step downs are only really necessary for internal PSUs, and even then you can sometimes splice in a UK PSU pretty painlessly (works for Saturn and PSX). Don’t make the mistake of trying to use a UK SNES PSU though - it’ll cook your SFC as it outputs AC not DC.
  5. Alexlotl

    Currently playing...

    Zak McKracken & The Alien Mindbenders, the original C64 version, in ScummVM. I played through Maniac Mansion prior to this, my first time playing through the C64 games (I've played the hell out of the later Amiga, PC and FM Towns ports). It's pretty rough, to be honest. Zak was always the flakiest of the Lucasarts games, but got away with it due to the charm and silliness of the whole setup. While Maniac C64 oozed charm despite the limited pallette, probably because Gary Winnick (Lucasarts' only artist back then) was the co-lead, Zak just looks rough as arseholes - the characters have sub-Playmobil levels of expressiveness, lots of the backgrounds are just flat colour, etc. As with Maniac Mansion though, the C64 music knocks the spots off the PC Speaker versions I'm more familiar with. Gameplay wise, it's way more ambitious than Maniac Mansion in some ways (it spans several continents and two planets, with four playable characters), but much less coherent as a result, and it has unforgivable (if not ultimately too hard) mazes. The only ones I like are the jungle mazes between the airports and some tropical locations, as they're literally a joke - provided you never double back on yourself and just keep advancing, regardless of which route you take, you'll get to the destination. It's also much more possible to get stuck than it was in Maniac Mansion, where you you pretty much had to kill one of the kids to get irrevocably stuck. It's also pretty linear compared to Manic, with few/no alternative solutions and a lot of trial and error required. Thankfully the keyboard shortcuts for the various verbs work in Zak C64 - they didn't in Maniac C64, and as a hardcore SCUMMer, it was unbearable. I still can't believe people used to play these moving the cursor with a joystick.
  6. Alexlotl

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2

    What does everyone make of the Story DLC then? Sounds very substantial, to the point where they're also giving it a physical stand-alone release, which also includes a download code for the season pass (but the season pass includes the DLC? Confused). Quite hard to discuss it without spoiling the main game, but it's a prequel set during the Aegis War. Spoiler-filled (and confusingly Japanese character-named) trailer below: Looks pretty decent, and certainly justifies the cost of the Season Pass.
  7. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    Well, thanks to Rowan’s old Volcas, my journey has now begun. Grabbed the Tony Horgan guidebooks for them, as the manuals are pretty inadequate. I can’t help but be amused at how each Volca has made necessary UI compromises to fit the form factor, but those compromises seem to be completely different on each unit, so there’s almost no transferable knowledge. I’ve mainly been playing with the Beats so far, it’s stupidly fun. Step programming is really intuitive, and it’s just great fun layering a rhythm up. It’s also capable of being surprisingly melodic, if you tune the toms and give them a long decay, or individually motion sequence the speed of some of the PCM sounds (Claves and Agogo in particular). The snare is a disaster, though. Found this article which shows the waveform with/without the C78 fix, which shows why it’s so damn crackly. They also advocate replacing a bunch of resistors, but that seems to be about making it more 808-like - no need for that, I’m happy for it to have its own character, provided that character is not a mouse farting down an old telephone. Time to buy a soldering iron. Oh, and it turns out kids love drum machines.
  8. Alexlotl

    Nintendo Switch

    Naked joycons all the way! Interesting about the signal being better with the attachments, though. Could be that gripping them tightly attenuates the signal, and the extra breathing space provided by the pointless bumpers reduces this issue. I seem to recall Apple’s solution for the iPhone Death Grip was to give people a free, non-conductive case.
  9. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    Does anyone use the cheapo Kenable MIDI cables from Amazon? Are they alright? At £2 a pop for a 1m one, they're a lot cheaper than the amazon competition. MIDI's digital data, so I know cable noise and all the audiophile hokum here isn't an issue - more interested in things like the din plugs fitting properly and the cables not wearing out. Although I guess decent shielding might be a good idea to prevent them causing audio interference, even if the MIDI signal itself is unaffected. I confess being slightly tempted by the fancy orange and black Roland cables with the lifetime guarantee, which are only £1 more than Amazon's best-selling cheapish cable.
  10. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    …and just like that, I have a midi controller. Boxed with all the cables and manuals. Dude even delivered for free. Haven’t had a chance to plug it in yet (still getting my kids to bed), but it looks and feels mint, if a bit dusty. EDIT: All working. Nice action, need to tinker with the velocity curves a bit. Setup looks utterly bewildering. EDIT EDIT: Just spent half an hour bashing out buzzy two-hand versions of Rydeen in Helm, this thing is lovely to play, even if I don't understand 90% of it.
  11. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    All this talk of bargains on Gumtree just made me check on spec, where I found a just-listed mint Roland A300 Pro for £45. Looks like a pretty superior compact midi controller which I could use with Volcas or other desktop bits, and quite a bit cheaper than a new Keystep.
  12. Alexlotl

    Nintendo Switch

    I hate opening the kickstand. You have to apply so much force to get it started that it then jerks out and I worry it’ll snap off. I bought the Hori fold-out stand instead, which is lovely.
  13. Alexlotl

    Mega Drive. Yeah!

    Much better - basically the Saturn pad without the shoulder buttons. There’s some variation in 3-button pads, but none of them are great.
  14. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    Yeah, poking around YouTube I've been very impressed by what the Keys can do, and it seems to be something that sticks around in the mix even when people are using vastly more expensive hardware. Regarding the Beats, I thought it sounded pretty good, apart from the crappy snare, which is fixable by soldering in a missing cap. Can be made to do a fairly creditable impression of an 808 kick, and the UI seems pretty straightforward. This video impressed me, but then I am a sucker for Kaiju. Part of the appeal of the Volcas to me is the portability - I don't have a fixed office space at home at the moment, so this is going to have to be stuff that lives in a cloth box on an IKEA Cube shelf until the kids go to bed, whereupon I'll commandeer the dining room table. Although the possibility of noodling away on the sofa is also appealing, as is the potential of letting my daughter join in on one (despite being 5¾, she's a big Kraftwerk fan). The Monologue has that portability too, but it's hard to find anyone using it for anything other than setting up an techno loop in the sequencer then twiddling the filter, which is a bit dull for me, and I've heard people say the output is a bit limited (of course, the Keys is even more limited, but it's half the price). Conclusion: I dunno. Probably best to just buy something cheap and see if I actually use it.
  15. Alexlotl

    Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread

    Well, this week I've gone from "definitely a Monologue" to "perhaps an MS-20 Mini" to "maybe a Volca Keys + Snare Modded Volca Beats, perhaps add an Arturia Keystep later". There's a lot to think about in this hobby.

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