TI-99/4A KSP Controller Has A Handle On Vintage NASA Styling

[MelkorsGreatestHits] had an extra USB MAME board burning a hole in his parts bin, so he turned it into fuel for this far-out Kerbal Space Program controller. Cool your jets — no fully-functioning TI-99/4As were harmed in the making of this baby. Besides, this is a KAL 9000 from Kexas Instruments. See the badges?

After donating the usable parts deemed unnecessary for space exploration, [MelkorsGreatestHits] had even more room inside the case for the throng of toggles that make this controller so touchable. We love the two tiers of toggles here — the important ones are separated with 3D-printed Space Shuttle-style switch guards, and the super-important toggles have flip-up covers to protect them from errant flicks of the hand. The vintage embosser labels are an impressive touch, and make us wish we had one that stamps vertically.

[MelkorsGreatestHits] modeled the combo throttle/roll handle and the joystick after the Apollo 11 command module controls. Unfortunately, the MAME board didn’t like his 3-axis analog joystick, so both are 2-axis and give WASD control. Good enough to get to the Mün!

We’ve seen more than a few KSP controllers around here, but none so overdone as this wonderful stand-up command station.

Via r/DIY

22 thoughts on “TI-99/4A KSP Controller Has A Handle On Vintage NASA Styling

    1. Art? A TI-99/4A? Not even close. Besides, the guts from that one had already been taken to bring life to a more deserving TI-99/4A. Might as well use the case for something rather than letting it collect dust on some shelf for the unlikely event that someone would ever need it.

      And I’m a big fan of the 99/4A, having had 2 of them back when they were new.

      1. I need it right now smartass, my 99 got busted to hell in shipping and its a beige model, meanwhile someone shit all over a minty case that they obiously didn’t want … thanks

        its not even a hack, its just electronic lego shoved in a box

        1. It never ceases to amaze me how some people feel such resentment toward repurposing old gear. You need what, smartass? Someone else property? Do you belive you deserve it more? I hear people misuse the term entitlement a lot… I think your example actually fits the actual definition.

          1. If you needed something to repair your own unit, you might think differently.

            You should hear the antique radio collectors. Constant grumbling about previous owners who modified their commercial or WWII sureplys equipment.

            They have a point, now, but seem to forgegt that people modified equioment to make it more yseable. They’d spend what they could, often stuckwith not so great equipment, and modify it to improve things. Or get vastly better equipment cheap as surplus and modify ut for running off the AC line instead if a battery, or mod it because it didn’t cover the right frequencies or because in some ither way it was less useful for hobby purposes. Things were built to be used, not sit in museums.

            But this “repurposing” isn’t new. About 1971 innelementary school one teacher took AC/DC radios and painted the chassis in dayglo paint, and put them in plexiglass cases. Anityer teacher scrapped an Atwater Kent radii to use the wooden case as a liquor cabinet. Awful. Except at the time few had an interest in old radios, nobody wanted them for their original use, and thus were very cheap.

            It is different doing such things today when numbers have been dimish, and there is interest in the old.


        2. There’s some on ebay right this moment.
          When you pay for the thing you can do whatever you’d like with it.

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to throw one of my many TI 99/4a’s into a fire, as is my yearly tradition.

          1. ‘Some’ is an understatement…they may not be as plentiful as an Atari or Apple II, but they’re hardly rare. I counted 94 on the first page of ebay results with more than a dozen being the beige model, and even more than that still in their original box.
            I’m pretty the nasties in burning TI smoke will get you long before you run out of systems to sacrifice. ;)

            Someday I’ll see if the ones I have still work. I’m curious to see what the keyboard is like. This certainly gets my mind going on possibilities if they don’t.

            Also interesting to learn that silver isn’t the only option.

  1. This is a great looking, and quite compact little KSP controller! I LOVE it! I love your creative implementation of the throttle and roll control. The retro embossed labels also feel very “Kerbalish”! This is a work of art!

    If you have the time and inclination, you should possibly consider creating a thread over on the KSP forums documenting your build, and consider submitting your build to the Custom hardware and Simpit Repository thread under the Fan Works section. The KSP forums work nicely with Imgur hosted images, so you can use what you’ve already posted at Imgur to illustrate it. It’s a great community, and we even have mods that will allow KSP to export data, incase you ever want to create a companion device that features meters, readouts, etc, in the future.


  2. i pilfered one of these from the closets of the high school i went to. it was way under capacity so the school district used it as their dumping ground for old apple 2s, and other ancient hardware. maybe pilfered wasn’t the right word, one of the teachers said it was cool but to be stealthy. he was trying to clear out one of the rooms for student use against the desires of upper management within the district. i wasn’t the only one who walked off with hardware either. one guy pilfered a couple 8-inch drives and a pile of discs. they wouldn’t give up their apple 2s though even though it was the mid 90s and half of them weren’t even functional. anyway it came with parsec, a basic interpreter, and speech synthesis module and a couple really bad joysticks. it then sat in my shed and eventually either got chucked, abandoned, or sold at a yard sale. im not entirely sure.

  3. A few years ago I found a box of Ti994a’s and Atari 520ST’s in a box by the trash. I cleaned them up, fixed a couple and sold them to a loving home. It didn’t hurt that I made some cash too.

  4. Vertical Dymo lettering can be done by swapping the embossing wheel. Most of them have a piece sticking down on the side, under the middle of the wheel. Pull that down and the wheel slides out. Search for dymo embossing wheel to find them.

  5. This was my first computer back in the days. I have been coding my own space games so many nights on it. And in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined to see something like this one day. It’s brilliant. I love it <3

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