The Story behind the 2nd Generation Atari CX30 Paddle Super Pots and how they almost did not get made several times!
Thousands and thousands world wide Atari CX30 Paddles owners have found the original Best CX30 upgrade Super Pots (Pot, the Electronics Industry shortened name for Potentiometer, a variable resistance device) takes a gone bad (shaky cursor on the Atari game screen) set of the original Atari made CX30 Paddles and turns them into a new set of lifetime Atari CX30 paddles.
The original 30+ year old Atari OEM CX30 Paddle 1 Meg pots were rated back then for a max. MTF (Mean Time between Failure) of 10K test cycles an industry wide standard back then.
When Best Introduced the 1st State of the Art 1 Meg Atari CX30 Super Pots rated at 30K MTF or three times the original Atari cycle life, all of the Atari Paddle users / owners wanted to upgrade their old failing CX30 Paddles. After 5 to 7+ years of selling the Best CX30 Super Pots, we knew we were going to finally run out of the Best CX30 Super Pots late 2014. We went back to our original Super Pot manufacture. They said they could only make a new production run of 30K Super Pots with plastic threaded boss vs the Die Cast threaded boss on the old 1st generation Best Super Pots. We told them we could not use Pots with plastic threaded boss. So early October of 2014 Best again started to search for new Pot vendor. See the information on the original / 1st 7+ year search to find the original Best 1st CX30 Super pot. Even back 7 years ago, the Pot industry was a shrinking industry, with major equipment manufactures switching to variable resistance electronic type of circuits instead of the old technology of the variable resistance Pot adjustments. Think of an old tube TV with volume (Pot) control knob vs a newer solid state newer TV with on screen (sliding volume bar display) digital electronics volume up and volume down functions, so you can see why the Pot industry was shrinking
Best 1st Generation CX30 Super Pot
(less and less companies making pots any more) and getting smaller every year. So we knew were going to have an even harder time trying finding a new Super Pot Manufacture in the ever-shrinking pool of world wide Pot Manufactures. Mid October 2014 Best traveled to Far East to go to 3 different large Electronics trade shows to search for new Pot manufactures. Thousand and thousands of vendors at those 3 very large Far East Electronics Trade shows, we only found 2 total Pot vendors (sales representatives companies for pot vendors, Pot manufactures stopped going to the large Far East trade show, about 10+ years ago) who said they might be able to make the Super Pots for us. In the end both of them ended up saying they could not make our Best CX30 Super Pots for us because the quantities needed were too small for them to produce. Basically they wanted Best to buy a 20 to 25 year supply of Super Pots before they would make a new production run of them and there were not interested in small qty buys at all.
Best Electronics has buying and having new Atari replacement parts made from the Far East for over 27+ years now. The way most Far East vendors do business have evolved (before the Internet and Internet age) over those many years. Now most companies now hire in new house sales people to do business over the Internet with very little background in technical knowledge or sales experience. In the old days Far East companies would hire technically educated sales people like sale engineers who could answer all of your product and technical questions (via Telex, International Phone Calls, next Fax or even snail mail) very easily and could tell you right off, if there company can make the product or item you want. Now any person or small Far East company with Internet access can try to get your business even though they have never made the item or product before. They put up 20 to 30 different web sites with pretty pictures of everything under the sun, hoping to get any order off the Internet. Many of them will take your order and then end up subcontracting out the job to another company that actually makes the product you are looking for. Hence the time delay (weeks to months) to your technical questions, Engineering prints you request or getting any kind of 1st article samples out of the in a timely matter. In the old days, you could place an order with a Far East company within weeks of 1st contacting them. Now that interface time is now stretched out to months and months of sorting thru and dealing with potential new vendors and want to be vendors before you narrow down your final vendor choices. So when searching for a new Far East vendor, Best has now learned to ask enough questions of a potential new Far East vendor to tell if Best is dealing direct with a major part manufacture or want a be person / small company with absolutely no experience making the item you want. Sorting thru the different price quotes you get (from so low there is no way you they can possibly make them for that price and expect any type of Quality, to price quotes higher that what you retail them for). Then there is dealing with minimum amounts of parts (60K, 100K, 1 Million) the different manufactures require before they would even talk to you. Any new tooling required for that part much be paid for up front. In the old days most Far East companies would send you any amount of no charge samples you asked for. Now all Far East companies make you pay up front ($$ to $$$) for any samples you want and also the air freight shipping costs to ship them you on top of that.
So now when you contact a Far East company for the products they make or list at their web site, the non-technical sales people will tell you any thing you want to hear from them (sometimes you think they are paid on the volume of quotes they send out and not on actual orders placed). Yes we can make that item for you. You send prints, product specís to them, pictures and ask 20 to 50+ questions over weeks / of months of correspondences back and forth with that company and you get close to placing an order with that Far East Company, and the sales people finally talk to the Engineering department, sales managers of the company or sub contractor about the new order you are about ready to place and then that company decides they can not make that product for you.
Best had contacted at least 2 different pot companies late 2014 and went thru the normal dance with their sales departments only to find they could not make the Super Pots we required. We went thru this same dance at least 12 to 16+ times with other Far East Pot vendors for most of 2015.
Mid January 2015 Best thought we found a new Pot Manufacture we could work with. For the next two months we worked with them, sending technical Information, samples sent to us and rejected and then some final samples we accepted. So early in March that Far East Pot Company sent us an E-Mail Invoice for the new production run of Super Pots we required. We had our bank, wire transfer funds to their company bank account. About a week later that Pot Company contacted us and said their E-Mail server had been hacked into and the information on their invoice was changed. The company bank account number had been changed. Long story made short, Our bank would not due any thing to try to get our funds back and the new Pot company would not do any thing for us also. So after 3 months wasted work with that new Pot vendor, another 1Ĺ months trying to recoup the lost funds, we had to finally give up and write off the funds as gone forever. Best had to start to search for a new Pot vendor all over again!
One good thing did come out of this Major set back for Atari CX30 Paddles owners and Best. Talking to all of the different Far East vendors we talked to for most of 2015, we got hints, that there was a New Super pot internal resistive material (State of the Art) that would extend the useful life of a pot from the industry standard of 10K to 100K test cycles. We would say about 95% of the Far East Pot Manufactures Best contacted over the last 19+ months either do not know about this new long life Pot Material or was not interested in making an upgraded long life Pots for Best. Most still only wanted to produce their standard 10K pots only.
Again the original Atari CX30 Paddle 30+ year old pots were rated at 10K MTF. So the original Best 1 Meg Super pot was rated at 30K test cycles before failure. The new 2nd Generation extra long life Best CX30 Super Pots was hearing about was a 3 times increase in MTF and about 10 times increase over the original Atari CX30 OEM pots. Best had planed to call this new super Pot S3 (Super, 3X) Paddle Pots.
In our 2015 search Best found a couple of Pot Vendors who could of made another production run of 30K 1 Meg CX30 Paddle Pot and possibly had them back in stock mid 2015. But knowing there was something better, Best always pushes / holds out to get the very best Atari replacement parts as possible even if takes more time and money.
After close to searching for a new Pot vendor for 11+ Months and not having too much luck, end of October 2015 we found two new Pot vendors who looked like they could make a new production run of CX30 Paddle pots for Best. Both pot vendors were almost the same in pricing and all most the features on there extend life 1 Meg pots.
After a couple of more weeks corresponding with both Pot Companies, we decided to go with one Pot vendor. So the writing was on the wall which New Pot vendor Best would buy the New Generation S3 Atari CX30 Paddle pots from.
To get started with this new Pot Vendor, they 1st required Best to pay up front ($$$) for the long life internal sample Material to even make any long life Pot samples for us. (again this new long life pot resistive material is State of the Art New material and No Pot vendor in the Far East has it on the shelf ready to make up any new sample Pots, basically a special order material). Once they purchased this new material, they could make up some new 1 Meg Pot samples and run the long life cycle tests on. They also required us to pay up front ($$) for shipping costs to send the new long life 1 Meg pot samples to Best.
This long life continuous cycle test rotates the sample pot shafts to about 340 degrees (to 1 Meg resistance) and back to 0 degrees (0 resistance), then 340 degrees again over and over. To get to the 100K cycle test mark, requires about 3 Ĺ weeks (the same time frame the 1st Pot manufacture we found January 2015 required to run their long life cycle tests) of 24 hours per day, 7 days a week of continuous cycle testing. Think of it as using an Atari C30 paddle for over 1 month solid non stop 24 hours a day of continuous play. Pot electrical tests parameters are measured on the newly assembled 1 meg pot samples and the same 1 meg Pot samples are again electrically tested after the 100K cycles tests have been completed.
About a month and half talking to the latest potential super pot manufacture, they informed us that they could not supply the exact diameter threaded die cast boss part of the long life pots we asked them about. When we 1st talked to this new pot vendor, one of the very 1st things we confirmed with them, is they could make the pots with the exact larger pot threaded boss we required and they said yes. The 1st generation Best CX30 Super pot had a smaller diameter metric threaded boss / post that fit thru the top CX30 paddle top case hole. So when you tightened down the pot locking nut (on the top paddle case), there was a good chance when paddle knob was installed, the sides of the paddle knob would drag on the inner lip of the CX30 paddle top recess because under sized pot threaded boss was off center in the larger paddle top case mounting thru hole. So Best was determine to correct this undersize threaded boss on the 2nd generation Super Pots we made. When Best started to talk to this new Pot vendor about placing an order with them, they started to check to see if all of the very very old tooling (probably had not been used for 10 to 15+ years) to make all of the Long life 1 meg pots different components was still in useable shape. They discovered the metal die cast mold to make the larger diameter pot threaded hub Best required was damaged and was no longer serviceable or repairable. The only die cast tool that was still useable was the exact same undersized threaded boss / hub as the 1st generation Best CX30 Super POT. For Best this was not acceptable and we considered starting all over and again search for a new pot vendor again.
Both the new Pot Suppler and Best both looked into making a new die mold that would make the exact diameter thread boss we required. All of the new tooling quotes that came in from the different die cast mold makers that were contacted in the Far East, said $,$$$ for a new mold and Minimum new production run of die cast hubs in the 50K to 60K part range. Again an extra cost that would make the new long life 1 meg CX30 Super Pots not cost effective to make or sell. Best studied this latest new long life Pot problem for a couple of more weeks. Then one day the Engineering solution to this latest pot problem was arrived at and would avoid starting to search for a new Pot vendor again. The Engineering compromise Best came up with was to make a slide over adapter metal bushing that would fit / slide over the undersized threaded Pot die cast boss and outside diameter of the adapter bushing would be the correct larger diameter to properly center the new long life pot thread hub into the Paddle top case thru hole. We asked the new pot vendor if they would find a local vendor to make this slide on adapter bushing. A couple of weeks later they said they found a local machine shop to make the adapter bushings. But the problem was the price per bushing that they came back was about 4 times what the bushing should cost. Again another extra high cost that would have to be added to the final cost of the new long life 1 meg Pots. Best has had much experience dealing with different Metal component suppliers here in Silicon Valley and we knew what this adapter bushing should cost. So Best decided to find a CNC Machine shop on our own who could make the 1 meg pot bushing we required. After a few weeks of searching thru many different CNC vendors, we find one who could make a new Stainless Steel bushing (aluminum bushing was to thin and would crush easily, a steel version would a second plating process cost, so Best decided to go with Stainless Steel version) required at a cost effective price.
So months and months dealing with this new and final Pot vendor, about mid March 2016 Best finally received the new Long life Super Pot samples to run to our Engineering and functional tests on. All of the sample Long life Super Pot 1st article samples passed all Atari CX30 Paddle tests, but there was one critical Atari CX30 Paddle Pot Dimension that was not to the Engineering print the Pot company sent to us in early January 2016. We brought this out of print specification to their attention. They said the print was wrong and they could not correct that last critical dimension problem without Best spending more money $,$$$ for another new Pot part mold. Best spend the next couple of week trying to finding a Engineering fix for this latest pot problem. In the end around April 1, 2016 Best made the decision to blow off this Pot vendor and start to search for another pot vendor all over again.
About the second week in April 2016, after sorting thru more potential Pot vendors, one caught our attention. Their fast E-Mail responses to our E-Mails, answered all of the standard 25 to 35+ list of questions Best has learned to ask all new pot vendors for the last 19+ months of searching before we would even consider them as a possible new Pot supplier. One of the final critical questions we ask this new pot vendor, is if they could supply the new Long life Pots with the critical dimension that the last pot vendor could not. They said Yes! So we asked them what the sample charge was going to cost. To our surprise their sample charge was about was about 1/10 (including the incoming sample shipping charges to Best) the cost of all of the other Pot vendors quoted us we have been in contact with for the last 19+ months. So in less than a half month of talking to this new Pot vendor, we sent the funds to the new vendor for some sample pots. With a week this new Pot vendor sent Best some pictures only of the 1st article sample pots that had just assembled up. We noticed a few features and some major dimensional problems on their 1st sample pictures (see picture below) they sent us. We asked them correct them.
Second sample picture sent (no physical samples sent or received yet) of a new batch of sample pots. These samples were closer to print, but Best still noticed 2 minor problems that had to be corrected.
One of the upgrade feature this new Pot vendor offered Best Electronics that no other Pot Vendor ever offered us in the last 10+ years of searching for CX30 Pots, was the ability to upgrade the soft black plastic pot shaft (1st Gen. Super Pot) to an all metal stronger version. An unknown fact about the 1st Generation CX30 Super Pot black plastic shafts. The original CX30 Super pot manufacture could not find the right plastic diameter half shaft to fit the Atari CX30 Paddle knob. The only black shaft they could supply was too thick and the CX30 Paddle knob would not fit onto the half shaft diameter. Best almost had to give up on that 1st generation CX30 Super Pot, until we came up the fix for that problem. We asked the Pot manufacture to sand down (on a belt sanding machine) each half shaft to required half shaft diameter to fit the CX30 Paddle knobs.
A second feature Best always wanted to upgrade on the original 1st Generation CX30 Super Pots was the torque force to turn the Super Pot shaft / Paddle knob. On the 1st Generation Best CX30 Paddle Super pot, the torque force to turn the pot shaft / paddle knob ranged from very loose turning paddle knob, to a smooth turning knob, to a very buttery smooth turning Paddle Knob, like on a very very old expensive vacuum tube type of audio equipment volume control knob. Not a single Pot Vendor Best contracted for the last 8 to 10 years of searching for a new 1st and 2nd generation Pots, none said they could control the Torque force to turn the Pot Shaft / Paddle knob and we would have to settle for what ever varying torque forces they could produce. When we asked the New Pot Vendor, they said Yes we can offer the Long Life Pots with different torque forces to turn the Pot shaft / Paddle knob. Best choose the very best feeling (torque force) / turning Super Pot shaft of the very 1st article pot samples we received. So all the new S5 Super pots will all have a constant buttery smooth turning pot Shaft / Paddle Knob.
One of the other items on the 1st Generation Best CX30 Super Pots that Best has always wanted to correct was the under sized (metric) die cast threaded boss the CX30 Paddle locking nut fit onto. So this undersized thread situation required the original Atari Super Pot owners to wrap some masking tape around the bottom of the under sized (metric) threaded boss, so it would properly center in the top plastic CX30 Paddle top case larger mounting hole (and not allow the CX30 Paddle knob bottom lip to drag on the CX30 top paddle case inner extended lip) during the upgrade process. All of the original Pot vendors Best contacted 7 to 8 years ago and all of the new Pot vendors Best contacted for the last 19+ months of searching, not a single one could correct / get the right US larger diameter threaded boss to properly fit the Atari CX30 top case. But the latest new Pot Vendor said no problem, they can get the right size US threaded die cast boss (which means the New S5 Pot mounting hardware is now 100% compatible with the existing 30 year old Atari CX30 Pot mounting hardware) and US threaded locking nut (as supplied on the Atari CX30 OEM Pots), that will fit into the Atari CX30 Paddles top case without any adapter spacers required.
With the second sample Pot pictures (see picture below) that our new Pot vendor sent us, also included the full Electrical and technical specís on the long / extended life Pots. One important engineering feature that caught our attention right off was the total cycle life of the long life Pot. We were expecting the extended life 100K to 120K total cycles that a few of the Pot vendors offer Best in the last 19+ months. To our surprise the new Pot vendor rated their long life pots at 150K test cycles. So we have upgraded the new proposed S3 Super Pot name to the Best S5 (Super, 5 times the original / 1st Super pot cycle life and 15X compared to the original OEM Atari 10K Pot) Super pot!
On May 31, 2016 Best received the above 1st article 1 Meg long life pot samples.
On June 1st, 2016 Best placed the order for the New Best S5 CX30 Paddle Super Pots
So a little more than month of 1st contacting this new final Pot vendor, the order was placed. So after a 19+ month search for the Best CX30 S5 Super Pots was finally over!
Best Electronics now feels this new 2nd Generation S5 Super Pot, is now 125% more we could ever hope for in an Upgraded / Extended life replacement Atari CX30 Paddle Super Pot and almost made the 19+ month search worth it.
Because of the first 7 year search for the original / 1st generation Best CX30 Paddle Super Pot. All of the problems, like the lost Bank TT funds, hundreds and hundreds of hours spent searching and corresponding with POT vendors, International travel costs, varies 18 to 22+ Pot vendors contacted and 19 months time involved to find this New 2nd Generation S5 Super Pot manufacture, the shrinking nature of the over all Pot Manufactures world wide, Best was worried what would happen when we would have to make a New / Next production run of 1 Meg S5 Super pots 5 to 7 years from now. So Best made the hard decision and extra cash investment to buy at least a 3 times the original quantity of the original Super Pots that lasted about 5 to 7 years of Atari sales in the past. So basically we hope a lifetime supply of the new S5 long life CX30 Super pots for all worldwide Atari CX30 Paddles users and we will never have to go this type of Atari CX30 Paddle Pot supply problem ever again!
New S5 Super Pots CO10464-S5 are $12 ea. Min. sale, 2 Pots
Buy 10 S5 Super Pots, price is $10 each.
Atari CX30 Paddles upgraded with S5 Lifetime Super pots. CX30-S5 $38.95 pr.
Best Electronics in the Atari business since February 1, 1984.
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