From: (Gregg Woodcock)
Subject: Re: Questions: Atari Assault
Date: 1 Aug 1997 16:24:40 GMT

Brian Johnson ( wrote:
: > No need to; I already typed one in a while back!
: Is this archived anywhere? Wiretap, WWW, etc.? I didn't find any
: such document on Deja News ...

I dunno but I merged our 2 files into 1 big one so somebody should
archive it somewhere besides my hard drive!

Thanks to Daniel M. Barton <> for the meticulous
instructions on disassembly.

Required tools:
Nut drivers, pliers, or wrench set
Vise (optional but really helps)
Security Allen wrench
Phillips screwdriver
Wire cutters
1/16th inch finishing nail setter
(a 1/16th inch diameter nail with a blunted tip should work)

Required parts (1 set per stick):
2 small guage "wire nuts"
1 "picture hanger" nail
1 12P 3.25" nail

Estimated repair time: 30 to 60 minutes.

If your problem is that none of the directions work but the trigger
does, skip to step 11. I recently had a problem where one of the
Battlezone style (I say style because they are TOTALLY different but are
similar in duty) joysticks on my Assault had come loose so that it could
spin around. As you know, the sticks on Assault should NOT rotate but
eventually, they will get loose and wiggle and shortly after that will
spin freely which causes gameplay inaccuracy and can lead to breakage of
the trigger wires. When comparing it to the other one I noticed that it
had "sunk" about 2 cm and if I pulled the handle up firmly into the base
where it used to sit, it wouldn't spin.

For both of my sticks (the other one broke soon afterwards) the problem
was that a locking rod had broken. There is a cube with a cylinder cut
out of it so that it will slide onto the stick shaft. This cube has
concave surfaces forming 6 socket joints and looks almost like a sphere
with all 6 sides pushed in. Anyway, this cube also has a cylinder cut
out of it perpendicular to the shaft so that a rod can be put through
the cube and through a hole in the shaft to hold the cube in a
particular spot along the shaft in order to provide an anchor against
which the centering spring can push. The part of the rod that sticks
out of each side also serves to keep the sticks from "spinning" by
slipping into 2 slots cut out of the base which hold it in place.
This is the piece that breaks.

WARNING: This job is likely to be messy depending upon how much lithium
grease is inside the joystick; keep a rag handy.

1. Remove the control panel from the game.

Open the coin door, reach inside and release the latch on each side of
the panel. Cut the two wires which extend from the bottom of the shaft
about 1 foot from where it enters the shaft. Tie a loose knot in the
middle of the foot of exposed wire. Each of the 2 wires should be on an
opposite side of the locking pin so a knot will keep the wires from
being pulled out (the knot will hit the pin). Disconnect the rest of
the wiring harness and lift the panel up and out of the cabinet.

2. Remove the plastic grips from the joystick.

This must be done before the joystick can be removed from the control
panel because the grips will not fit through the hole in the control
panel. Place the control panel on a flat surface so that the handles
are facing upwards. You'll need a security Allen wrench to remove the
four machine screws (two per side) that fasten the plastic handle pieces
to the joystick shaft. Next, remove the two Phillips head screws at the
top of the joystick. Separate the two halves of the handle and set them
aside along with the red fire button. The trigger switch will be left
dangling from two wires that run down the center of the joystick shaft.

3. Remove the joystick assembly from the control panel.

Next, remove the four carriage bolts that fasten the joystick assembly
to the control panel and lift the joystick out.

4. Remove the four retaining bolts.

Hold each base nut with a nut driver, pliers or crescent wrench and
loosen the bolt with a Phillips screwdriver inserted from the top of the
joystick assembly. Remove the metal cap (this may be missing), the
black plastic retainer, the white plastic piece with the rubber ring and
the black plastic housing that contains the microswitches from the
joystick shaft.

5. Remove the end cap from the shaft.

NOTE: This step IS NOT REQUIRED if the only repair you wish to make is
to replace the rotation locking pin! In fact, I'm not sure why you
would ever actually want to disassemble past this point unless for
cleaning/lubrication which should only be necessary after being
subjected to very unsanitary and abusive conditions. If there is no
reason to disasseble any further, skip to step 9.

If you are proceeding, untie the knot in the trigger wires and pull the
trigger (and its wires) out from the top and set it aside; we want those
wires out of our way. Place the bottom portion of the shaft (bottom
side up) between the white end cap and the white plastic cube in a vise
at a 45 degree angle. Take a 1/16th inch nail setter (the kind used to
set finishing nails into wood) and carefully, but firmly, tap out the
metal pin that secures the plastic end cap to the joystick shaft. Be
careful not to split the plastic cap while doing this. You won't be
able to fully tap this pin out, just get it started. Next, take a
pliers or vise-grip and pull the pin out of the shaft and remove the end
cap. Remove the joystick from the vise.

6. Remove the plastic cube from the joystick shaft.

Hold the joystick vertically (bottom side up) gripping it where the
plastic handles are normally attached. Place the metal pin that secures
the white plastic cube in the jaws of the vise and tighten it down, but
be careful not to crush the pin. Continue to holding the joystick while
tapping the shaft with a hammer away from the vise so as to remove the
pin. Lift the white plastic cube/off of the shaft. This pin may be
partly or completly broken so the extraction method may need
modification if there are no protruding ends to grab with a vice. The
good news is that if it is broken, you can be rougher since you will be
replacing it anyways!

7. Remove the remaining pieces.

Lift off the black plastic joystick housing, the white plunger piece and
the two small springs from the shaft. The only pieces remaining on the
shaft will be a C-clip and the round, black dust guard.

8. Clean everything and regrease all the parts.

9. Reassemble up to the cube; replace/repair the locking rod.

The first time I repaired this, I went to the hardware store and bought
one of those drywall hanger kits. You know the ones that have the "V"
shaped thing that unfolds into an "I" shaped thing after you push it
through the hole you drilled in the wall forming a base into which you
can insert a screw. Anyways, these things come with a long screw with
no head which seemed perfect to replace the original rod. I didn't even
have to cut the screw down at all but I did have to slightly widen the
locking slots in the base where the rod sits (made of thin plastic so it
was easy). It lasted about 6 months and then broke again!

The next time I used a regular nail and cut the pointy tip off (I left
the head) with a rotary cutting tool. While this is not an
"off-the-shelf" solution, it should be sturdier since some of the
diameter of the screw was taken up with non-strengthening thread whereas
all the diameter of the nail (which was chosen to *just* fit the hole)
is SOLID adding significantly to the strength. This is still holding
out well but it has only been a few months. Whatever you use to replace
this locking rod, it needs to be between just over 3 inches long and the
stronger, the better. I chose to use a 12P 3.25" nail which required me
to slightly enlarge the holes in the shaft and the cube. If you don't
want to enlarge them, use the next thinner nail size and it will fit
just fine; I chose to add some strength (diameter) to the rod because I
never want to have to repair this again.

10. Reassemble up to the end cap; replace pin you destroyed.

Remember that first pin we removed that required it be destroyed in the
process (this is the step you might have chosen to skip)? Well we now
need to replace it! Go to your junk drawer and get one of those nails
you use for hanging up pictures. Use your wire cutters to clip off the
point so that it is the required size (don't worry about clipping off
the head; it won't be a problem). It is OK if this nail is quite a bit
thinner than the original pin because it needn't fit tightly. The piece
surrounding it when the stick is completely assembled will hold it in

11. Repair rubber cushion so switch contacts are made.

I had another problem with the sticks, too. The black rubber cushion
ring which activates the switches had slipped down and wasn't coming
into contact with the switches. I tried simply pushing it back into
place, but it soon slipped back down. I had the exact same problem with
my Cyberball (this stick is 95% identical to the ones used in factory
Cyberball, Gauntlet and Pac-Mania machines except that the "knob" is
different and most of them use leaf switches instead of micro switches;
they make a great source for spare parts). I used a glue gun (which
heats up and dispenses hot glue) to glue the rubber rings in place
around the underside. The ring, when new, has enough tension to hold
itself above the ledge in the base but as it gets old, it gets loose and
will no loner grip itself into place and can (and will) slip over the
ledge. I use hot glue because it is somewhat reversible but any kind of
durable glue including super glue should be fine.

12. Finish Reassembly.

Be sure when you are reassembling the stick so that the lower half of
the base is properly oriented. It looks square but it is actually
rectangular. You want the 3" long sides to be the top and bottom and
the 2.5" long sides to be the left and the right. If you put it
together incorrectly, you will find that after you mount your sticks in
the control panel the holes in the shaft are aligned facing up and down
so that the fire button will be on the left or right side (your choice)!
Since the shaft does not rotate (you just fixed that), you will have to
remove the 4 screws again and rotate the bottom of the base to rotate
the shaft.

One final thing about the Assault sticks. On mine the four screws
holding the handle sides to the shaft were definitely NOT the original
screws and they *just* barely fit (almost too long). The two wires
running through the shaft to the fire button can easily be mangled (mine
were completely cut) by such screws when the stick is reassembled if you
are not careful. What I did (after some rewiring) was screw the outer
half of the stick (use the outer half because the fire button assembly
fits firmly into this side) onto the shaft and then used a blunted
toothpick to push the wires around the sides of the screw and away from
the tip. You can easily get at the wire through the (still uncovered)
screw hole for the other half of the stick. Now when you screw the
other screw in, it will not crush the wires against the first screw.
The best solution is to go buy a few of the next shorter screw but hey,
I am a cheap son-of-a-gun and I was in a hurry.