Dirty Sticks of Joy

One of the job lots I bought included a dK’Tronics interface (Kempston compatible for those in the know), and a couple of Cheetah joysticks.  I’d been dying to find out if they actually worked, but I had to wait until I proved the Spectrums worked first!  With that done, I could get down to the serious business of cleaning my joysticks.

The interface was part of the collection which smelled a little bit like chip fat, not sure if it had been kept in someone’s kitchen for a while.  I haven’t cleaned the 48k Spectrum up yet, but I did already clean the Spectrum 128k +2 (see here!), and it was time to wipe down the joysticks and the interface.  Didn’t take long to be honest, seemed like mostly just surface dust sticking to grease, but the interface went from this,

to this,

so I was quite pleased.  The joysticks had some kind of vaguely white dust/powder build up on them, which didn’t take long to clean off either, no photo’s because who wants to see photo’s of a guy cleaning his joystick, really?

The dK’Tronics interface seems to be about as well constructed as most peripherals in the 80’s, by which I mean the edge connector is at a weird angle.  You can just about make it out in this shot.

Still, on with the experiment, whacked the interface into the known ‘best working’ Spectrum (which happens to the one it came with, so you’ll see I was being honest about not having cleaned it),

and the next question was what to play.  I knew I could load Manic Miner from MP3 after having tested that already, but Manic Miner doesn’t support joysticks.  My go to game in this instance was Bomb Jack.  Man, I loved that game.  You’ll be as cringingly embarrassed to learn, as I am to admit, that I wrote letters to some of the team that did the Spectrum conversion.  Anyway, a quick 10 minutes with OTLA and I had Bomb Jack on MP3.

I loaded it up, chose the Kempston joystick option from the start screen, and … nothing.  No movement at all or response to the first joystick.

I was fraught!  In desperation I tried a different joystick option (after waiting for the game to kill me three times, this is the 80’s folks, no quit option)!  That didn’t work either, so I went back to Kempston, and this time it worked, mostly.  I can only assume the joystick is as cruddy inside as some of the rest of the stuff was outside.  I’ll clean it out later, going left is hit and miss, a few buttons are hit and miss, but it seems okay.  The other joystick is much better although I wouldn’t describe it as smooth, but hell, that might just be how it was in the 80’s, this stuff has come a long way.

There we have it, the dK’Tronics interface and two joysticks both working, sadly, it’s only a single input interface, so there won’t be any two player head-to-head fun for me, and erm, me.