PSA

Revisiting the Hyperkin Cadet Controller (NES)

Back in July, I reviewed Hyperkin’s Cadet Controller, a controller in the style of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controllers; depending on which model you purchase, the controller is designed with different cables for use on the official NES and compatible clone consoles, the NES Classic Edition (Wii connector), and computers (USB connector). I posted both a detailed video unboxing the Cadet, trying it out, and opening it up, as well as a written summary with pictures. TLDR: I loved it.

I was surprised, nay shocked, given Hyperkin’s terrible RetroN 5 controller, and the track record of third party controllers in general–typically, the main thing companies fail at is in replicating Nintendo’s D-pad. No matter how faithful the recreation (I’m looking at you, 8Bitdo), they just can’t get it right even though it’s a little piece of plastic that has been around for more than 30 years. On the other hand, most companies can’t manage to fix the same audio, video, and compatibility problems plaguing “Nintendo-on-a-Chip” knockoff consoles that have been around for decades either.

What’s the problem with the D-pad? It seems the biggest issue is the size and shape of the pivot in the center of the D-pad. Without one, you can press the D-pad down and trigger every direction at once. With a crappy one, you will still trigger unintended diagonals, which is devastating to your performance in games requiring precision, i.e., pretty much NES game that isn’t an RPG, sports title, or board game adaptation–particularly in platformers and shmups that have tight controls. My usual test: Can Mario slide under blocks in Super Mario Bros. 3 easily?

The Hyperkin Cadet controller I reviewed in July, which I still use regularly, passed that test with flying colors. I liked the design, which is comfortable in my hands, and the A and B buttons are also snappy and responsive. When I opened it up, I found that the PCB was much higher quality than virtually every other third-party controller out there; where most use glob top on their board, that controller had an actual chip. I loved the controller so much, it actually replaced the Hudson Soft Joycard Sansui SSS as my favored NES controller, for a time. The only issues I had with the Cadet were the tight fit of its plug in an NES (it fits fine in a Hyperkin RetroN 5, which sounds about right), and the buttons were a little louder, which is only a problem when I’m live streaming.

Then a few weeks ago, user zedeighty commented on my YouTube video that the Cadet controller packed in with their RetroN 1 (Grey) didn’t work, and upon tearing it down they discovered it had a different board with a glob top!

I wish I had something positive to say about this controller but unfortunately the pad I got with my Retron HD was broken out of the box. I can’t get it to work with the clone it came with or a genuine NES (weirdly, the select button works but nothing else). Interesting thing is, I took one apart for curiosity’s sake and found that the circuit board inside mine is totally different to yours (it even has a glob top instead of a proper chip).

They linked me to a YouTube video that showed a PCB from another controller identical to theirs, posted by Gam3Tat0 on July 3, 2017, a couple of weeks before I posted my video. (So much for being the first!)

Source: Gam3Tat0 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8dUT90-qr8QQ4Ck_QAZc_Q)

Source: Gam3Tat0 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8dUT90-qr8QQ4Ck_QAZc_Q)

No black glob here! Just a real chip and a pretty clean looking PCB.

The PCB from my first Cadet controller.

Note the glob top and different circuits on the button pads! It seemed clear that there were different production runs on the controller or a change in manufacturing. Perhaps the pack-in controllers with the consoles were cheaper versions for some reason, or earlier production models, or they’re made in different factories…???

But no. I happen to have a second Cadet controller; I had liked the first so much, I was planning to buy the black model when it was released in August, but then I won a contest on Twitter so Hyperkin sent me one for free! When it arrived, I had no reason to believe it would be different from the first one, so I didn’t do another teardown, and in fact I didn’t even bother testing it and didn’t have a chance to use it. So, inspired by all this new information, I cracked the seal on the black controller, opened it up, and discovered it does not have a glob top! It has a chip just like my first Cadet controller; however, it has an entirely different D-pad from my other Cadet. :-o

At first, everything looks okay and consistent with my other controller.

At first, everything looks okay and consistent with my other controller…

This is perhaps even more significant, because when I reassembled the black controller and finally tested it, I found it performs completely differently from the first controller: The D-pad on the black controller is so awful, it is basically unusable. Not only did it fail the slide test in SMB3 miserably, but I couldn’t even hold the Down button to make Mario duck for long. He kept walking to the right instead! That’s no good.

D-pad from the black Cadet controller. Note the extremely narrow pivot in the center.

D-pad from the black Cadet controller, received for free from Hyperkin. Note the rounded pivot in the center, which actually looks like the one in an NES controller, and most third-party knockoffs.

 

D-pad from the white Cadet controller, produced at least a few months earlier and purchased from Castlemania Games. Note the narrower, almost pointed pivot.

D-pad from the white Cadet controller, produced at least a few months earlier and purchased from Castlemania Games. Note the narrower, almost pointed pivot. This is definitely a different mold.

 

Silicon conductive membrane from the black Cadet controller.

Silicon conductive membrane from the black Cadet controller.

we need diverse books

We need diverse books because the only book character that looked like me when I was a kid was Claudia Kishi.

We need diverse books because the only book character that looked like me when I was a kid was Claudia Kishi, who admittedly is awesome.

Happy May Day, everyone!

Today is the first of three days of online campaigning for more diverse books! It seems appropriate to begin this on May 1, because May Day has become known in the U.S. as a day for promoting change. “Mayday” is also an internationally recognized distress signal, and we do need help. Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.

The call for diversity in books means we want to see books written by and about people of all races, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, cultures, religions, shapes, sizes, and more. Traditionally, diversity has been underrepresented in publishing, because supposedly diverse books don’t sell. It’s hard to sell what isn’t there or is hidden. We need to change that too, so we not only need to see more diverse books, but we need to buy and promote them too.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks has been trending for the past couple of days on Twitter, and we hope it continues to generate interest, along with the other phases of the campaign. Today, check out http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com and share and submit photos telling everyone “We need diverse books because…”

Visit Facebook for more info on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and find out how to spread the word and get involved. And follow along on Twitter and Tumblr from May 1-3. Thank you!

the hunt for read october

I've "borrowed" a TARDIS for October so I can make it to all these events. It's the only way to travel.

I’ve “borrowed” a TARDIS for October so I can make it to all these events. It’s the only way to travel! Don’t worry, I’ll bring it back before anyone even notices it’s gone…

I’ve just updated my events page with some of my upcoming signings, conventions, and other appearances. Next month marks the one-year anniversary of Quantum Coin being published(!), and it looks like I may be even busier this October than I was for the book launch! I also expect to be busy working on various new writing projects while all that’s going on, plus there’s always the day job, so I’m thinking I’ll probably need to go into hibernation after this for the rest of the winter.

My next appearance is this Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Woodbury Fall Arts Festival in Woodbury, N.J. I’ll be reading excerpts from my books and/or from my recent YA fantasy short story, “The Grimoire Girls”, in two 15-minute blocks, as well as selling and signing books nearby. So stop by for my readings at 11:45 a.m. (at the Broad Street Stage) and 1:15 p.m. (at the Railroad Avenue Stage), and catch other authors this weekend, including YA authors Jennifer Walkup, Kristine Bowe, and Phoebe North and middle grade author Rita Williams-Garcia.

Do check my schedule for details on all my other appearances; I’ll be all over the place, including the PA, NY, and DC areas. Here’s a short list:

Be seeing you!

2013 Teen Author Festival!

It’s here! This week is the annual Teen Author Festival in NYC, consisting of author panels, readings, signings, and performances. I’m thrilled to be participating in one panel this year, on a topic I know a little something about:

“Alternate World vs. Imaginary World”:
Of these authors, some have written stories involving alternate or parallel versions of our world, some have made up imaginary worlds for their characters, and still others have written books that do each.  We’ll discuss the decision to either connect the world of a book to our world, or to take it out of the historical context of our world.  How do these strategies help in telling story and developing character?  Is one easier than the other? Is the stepping off point always reality, or can it sometimes be another fictional world? With authors:

Sarah Beth Durst
Jeff Hirsch
Emmy Laybourne
Lauren Miller
E. C. Myers (that’s me!)
Diana Peterfreund
Mary Thompson
Moderator:  
Chris Shoemaker

Friday, March 22, 2013 | 4:40 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

New York Public Library
Steven A. Schwarzman Building (the one with the lions)
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
Bergen Forum, 2nd Floor

While I won’t be in this year’s big group signing at Books of Wonder on Sunday, the store still has signed copies of Quantum Coin, so just ask if you don’t see it on the shelves. And if you’re hoping to get something signed or just say hi or want a bookmark or some gummi bears (really!), I’ll be lurking around the Festival from Thursday to Saturday, either attending panels and events or writing in the beautiful Rose Main Reading Room. I hope you’ll drop by!

The full Festival schedule is below and you also can join the Facebook page for the latest information:

http://www.facebook.com/NYCTeenAuthorFestival

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adopt a writer

Zombie Writer by http://aelur.deviantart.com/

In the summer of 2005, I joined a group of other writers of science fiction and fantasy in Seattle for a six-week boot camp for writers. One house. Six instructors. Eighteen students. Four bathrooms. It sounds like the setup for a reality show or a Chuck Palahniuk novel, but most people know it as the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this experience changed my life. I went into it a promising but unpublished writer and came out of it a good, more publishable writer. I met a lot of amazing people, and I count many of my classmates among my closest friends. I learned discipline at Clarion West. I learned what makes a story good and how to tear a story apart and put it back together better, stronger, faster. I learned the value–nay, the necessity–of persistence and revision.

Almost immediately after leaving the workshop, I started selling my short stories. I joined a professional writing group, Altered Fluid, which I was graciously introduced to through my classmate Kris Dikeman. And I worked even harder at improving as a writer. A couple of years later, I wrote Fair Coin.

A significant portion of the first draft of my first novel was written during the Clarion West Write-a-thon, a challenge in which writers commit to a daily or weekly goal for the duration of the six week workshop in Seattle. Some people participate to show support for those poor souls, in solidarity for our shared experience. Some participate out of sheer envy. Many of us want to push ourselves to accomplish more than we typically think we can in our normal lives; six weeks of dedicated writing are sadly beyond the reach of most of us, which makes the workshop such a rare, exhilarating, transformative time. But it is also a way to give back to the workshop, by raising money to continue and expand this vital program so it can benefit more generations of writers to come. We’re investing in the future of our fiction.

Anyone can sign up to participate in the Write-a-thon, which takes place from June 17 through July 27, and I encourage you to do so. Help yourself and help CW! Anyone can also pledge a donation, in any amount, to sponsor one or more writers. Please do!

You can sponsor me for instance. I haven’t set any fundraising goals, but I would welcome your support, anything you can spare. I had to sit out last summer’s Write-a-thon, but I’m eager to return and use it to reinstate a semblance of a normal writing schedule. I also have to complete a manuscript revision by the end of July, so that works out nicely.

I’ve committed to working on that revision for two hours a day, every day, no matter what other things I have to work on. This wouldn’t have been hard for me before, but my work, job, life, and writing demands have changed significantly in the last couple of years, so I’m finding my way back to the discipline I need to move forward. I’ll be working on a contemporary young adult novel tentatively titled Understudy. You can see an excerpt on the site, but don’t judge it too harshly–I have to revise it, remember? You can help!

You can also sponsor a bunch of other talented writers. I won’t take it personally if you choose someone else, really. They’re all awesome, I like them. And all the money is going to the same place: A workshop that I believe in strongly, because I know that it works. Please consider making a donation or participating in the Write-a-thon and writing for six weeks along with brilliant writers from all over the world. (Bonus: If we reach 200 participants by June 16, the Write-a-thon gets $2000 from a generous donor.)

Thanks!

Best,
Eugene