Atari CX30 internal Paddle Potentiometers

How to cure Atari CX30 Paddle Cursor shaking!

With years of use, you will find that Atari CX30 Paddles develop a known problem.  As you start a Game like Atari Breakout or Super Breakout, you will notice that the white cursor / paddle near the bottom of the screen will shake and jump side to side as you move it.  Gone is the smooth scrolling action of the cursor when your Atari CX30 Paddles were New.  You can play these Atari paddles game with this shaky cursor problem, but is it very annoying.

This Known Atari CX30 Problem can be very easily cured.  Basically it requires you replace the two Atari CX30 Paddle Potentiometers (Pots) inside the Atari Paddles case halves.

Skill Level:             Requires the basic ability to solder and unsolder.

                                 Basic Mechanical ability (change a tire or battery on a car)

Tools Required:   25 – 35 Watt Pencil type Soldering Iron

                                 Rosen Core Solder

                                 Philips screwdriver

                                 A Pair Of Pliers or 6 inch or larger crescent wrench

                                 Optional Solder sucker / Solder Wick

Time Required:  30 to 45 Minutes (first time)

          

 1.   Place each Paddle controller so that each Paddle knob is sitting down on a flat surface, the orange fire button is on the right side and the backs of the Paddle cases are facing you.  Remove the 2 Phillips heads screws that hold each paddle back to the front case.

 2.    Hold the sides of the Paddle front case half and carefully and slowly lift / remove the back Paddle case(s) off.  Note how the Orange fire button is attached to the Paddle switch and how the Paddle switch (with wires) is installed / oriented behind the paddle orange fire button.  Please note, it is possible to reinstall the paddle switch (behind the fire button) in 4 different positions / rotations 0, 90, 180, 270 degrees / directions within the top case half.  Since this CX30 Paddle switch assembly with orange fire button, floats (nothing holds down) between the front and back case halves (and can fall out of the paddle cases as you are replacing the Paddle Pots), it is best to note how the Paddle switch back end with the two wires is located over a small aligning notch / tab in the front case that sits between the two Paddle switch wires before you remove any Paddle Pots.   Sometimes if the black Paddle switch(s) are not installed back to stock original direction / orientation, you will find the Paddle buttons will bind (when pressed) when you reassemble the Paddles case halves.

 3.   Locate the bottom of the Paddle Pot inside the top paddles case.  On the bottom side of the paddle Pot, you will find three connector Pins or Lugs that point toward the bottom of the paddle case and that have two wires soldered to them.  Note (write down) the color code of wires and which two Pot Pins or Lugs they are soldered to in each separate paddle controller.  Best Tech Tip:  The Yellow wires on both Paddle cables are always soldered to the far left Pin / Lug on each paddle pot (on stock Atari made paddles).

 4. Take your soldering iron and heat up each solder Pin / Lug with a wire attached.  You can remove the Heated up solder from the Pin or Lug with Your Solder sucker tool.  If you do not have a solder sucker tool, just heat up the lug / pin / solder and pull the wire out / off the pin / lug.  Repeat this 4 times on both paddle halves.

 5.  Next turn over each paddle assembly and face the top of the paddle knob.  Pull on the paddle knob, until it pulls off the Pot half shaft.  Note:  there is a small “D” Shaped metal clip that sits between the paddle Pot shaft and the Knob.  Most of the times this small metal clip will stay in the bottom of the paddle knob shaft hole.  But sometimes it does pull out the paddle knob and ends up on the Paddle Pot shaft or fall out of the Paddle Knob.  Do Not lose this metal clip, the Paddle knob will NOT press / stay on the Pot shaft without this interface metal clip.

 6.  Using your Pliers or Crescent wrench, remove (counter clock wise) the locking nut that holds the paddle pot to the top case half.  As you are removing the Old Paddles Pots (from the inside of the top assembly), note that the Solder Lug / Pin brown PCB section of the Paddle Pot sits between two black plastic Pins (top case), that keep the Pot for rotating around in a circle (should the Paddle Pot locking nut become loose). Replace both bad Paddle Pots with new Pots and reinstall the locking nuts.  Press on each Paddle knob back on the Paddle pot shaft.

 7.  Turn over the paddle top half assembly and solder the two color coded Paddle wires to each Paddle Pot Lugs / Pins on inside each Paddle controller.

 8. Before you close up your repaired Atari CX30 Paddles, check to make sure no wires are shorting against each other around the Pot solder Lugs / Pins.  Also make sure the two female slide on metal clips on the ends of the Paddle switch wires are not shorted on the backside of each Paddle fire button switch and are properly installed on each male pin on the Paddle switch.  Before you install the CX30 back case half, make sure no Paddles wires are sitting over the Paddle screw holes (thread plastic bosses / female studs) or outside of the Paddle case halves.

 9. Reinstall the 2 Phillips screws back into the backside of the Atari CX30 Paddles.  If you get some binding on the Paddle fire buttons when you use them, back off the top and bottom Phillips head screws about a ¼ turn counter clock wise.

 10. Test your rebuilt Atari CX30 Paddles using 2600 Atari Breakout, Super Breakout or Circus Atari Game cartridges.

Atari CX30 Paddle Replacement Parts:

Best's New 2016 CX30 replacement S5 Super Paddle Pot CO10464-S5  $12 ea.  Min. sale 2 pots

Buy 10 Best S5 Super Pots  $10 ea.

Read about the original Best CX30 Super Pots

Read about the new 2016 2nd Gen. S5 Super Pots

Atari CX30 Paddle Pot Nut CB103109           $0.50  

Atari CX30 Paddle “Y” Cable CO10810        $4.95

Atari CX30 Paddle Knob CO10457                $4.50

Atari CX30 Paddle Knob internal metal Clip CB103110 $1.25 (finally back in stock!, no more Qty limits anymore)

Atari CX30 Paddle Label CO12766                $2.95  (Limit 2)

Atari CX30 Paddle Back Case CO10738       $3.50

Atari CX30 Paddle Fire Button CO10739       $1.50

Atari CX30 Fire button Switch CA011620      $1.50


     

Atari CX30 Paddle Potentiometer Break thru News!

History

When Best Electronics cleared out the local Sunnyvale Atari Parts warehouse about 12 to 15 years ago, one of the thousands and thousands of pallets Atari OEM Parts we got, was a 1/2 Pallet (typical Atari pallet size 5 X 5 X 6 foot high) of Atari CX30 Paddle replacement Potentiometers (Electronic Industry nick name for them is Pot or Pots).  At that time we thought we had a lifetime supply of the Atari replacement Paddle Pots. 

As time marched on, the high volume of Atari replacement CX30 Paddle Pots (an analog rotary variable resistance device, or what the Atari CX30 Paddle Knob is connected to) we sold over the years surprised us, we knew sometime in the future we would sell out of them. 

So about 6 to 7 years ago, we started to actively search to find a new supply of replacement CX30 Paddle Pots which we thought was going to be a easy project.  About the same time, the Electronics Industry was starting to phase out of the general use of variable resistance rotary Pots in all Electronic Equipment and started to switch over to a slide (little lever slid side to side or up and down) type of variable resistance devices.  Later the Electronics industry again phased out the slide lever resistance devices for Electronic Digital resistance devices / circuits that only required you to hold down a button or buttons to increase or decrease lets say a TV sound Volume.   Where years ago the same type of TV Volume control was done by using a rotary Pot with a Volume knob attached.  

This Electronics Industry Pot phase out, meant that all of the US Manufactures of Pots stopped making any Rotary Pots and move onto other devices.  The only companies that were still making Rotary Pots were in the Far East. 

The Search begins!

Attending many Asian Electronics trade shows over a 15 to 17 year period, we had been gathered a lot of company flyer information on different Asian Rotary Pot Manufactures that we might need to contact for replacement Atari CX30 Pots in the future.   

We slowly started to contact those Asian Manufactures one by one that still made Rotary Pots.  To our surprise, but none of those manufactures had a Pot that would work for the Atari CX30 Paddles.  As the Internet slowly spread world wide, it became much easier to search out and find the smaller Asian Pot Manufactures.  After starting a dialog (sent Atari Pot samples) with each new Asian Pot vendor we contacted, we keep getting the same story we do not have a Pot that will work for the Atari CX30 Paddles.   With the same exact story from many different Asian Pot manufactures we worked with over a 4 to 6 year search, we started to get very discouraged after searching for so long and not having any luck finding the CX30 Paddle Pot replacements.  Many different Pot Samples were sent to us over the years and were rejected over and over (wrong shaft type or length, wrong shift width, too short thread length on shaft and so on).  Our pile of Asian rejected Asian Pot samples was growing higher and higher.    

In mid 2009 we know for sure, we were going to sell out of the Atari OEM made CX30 replacement Pots in the next half year.  We again we redoubled our efforts to find a replacement CX30 Paddle Pot manufacture.  We again contacted about 15 to 20 new / different Asian Pot manufactures and after months of work with all of them, we only found one new Asian Pot Manufacture who said they think they could make a replacement Pot that should work on the Atari CX30 Paddles.  It came down to one custom Die Cast component that our last Pot Manufacture could not locate in the Far East.  Basically all of the Asian Die casters had phased out that component years ago.  Hundreds of E-Mails back and forth and after 6 months of work, we ended up giving up on the one and only Asian Pot Manufacture that would even work with us. 

About mid 2010 we did finally sell out of the Atari OEM CX30 Paddle Pots.  With our backs against the door, we figured we would give in one more final try to locate an Asian Pot manufacture.  If we could not find one this final try, we would give up the 6 to 7 years of searching / work we put into this Atari project and write it off.  We again found a new single Pot Manufacture that said they could supply a replacement Pot to us for the Atari CX30 Paddles 

After the normal back and forth, samples sent and rejected we again came down to the same hard to find die casting component that the Atari Pots require.  Months of efforts were on hold until that elusive Die cast component could be located.

  

Something New Pot wise

During all of the years searching for replacement Atari CX30 Paddle Pots, we leaned some very interesting regards to Rotary Pot Life.  The Mean Time Between Failures (MTF) or basically how many cycles a part would run before it failed (on the Atari Paddles a shaking or jerking of the cursor across the screen) on the Atari made Paddle Pots of that early era was about 9,000 to 10,000 Rotary cycles.  Like the Atari CX40 OEM Joystick PCB boards Best Electronics ran tests on, that showed they prematurely failed (rated at 1 Million cycles per CX40 PCB contact but failed only after 300,000 cycles) we feel that the CX30 Paddle Pots are in the same boat based on the high volume of replacement Atari OEM CX30 Pots we have sold over the years.  Our last and final Pot Manufacture we contacted said they could supply us with an extended life version 30,000 cycle version of the Atari Paddle Pot or 3X the life cycle of the standard OEM Atari Paddle Pot.  We at Best call these new upgraded extended life pots ”Super Pots”.  For the average Atari CX30 Paddle user who installs the Best Super Pots in an old worn out set of CX30 Paddles, will turn them into a lifetime set of Atari Paddles.    

Click here to see the Best Electronics Free Atari Tech Article complete with pictures, on how to do a proper Atari CX30 Paddle rebuild using new replacement Atari Super Pots.  

Buy a new set of Atari CX30 Paddles and Best will upgrade them to the new CX30 Super Pots for $7

Finally some Good News!

After months of waiting (in hind site 6 to 7 years of waiting), we got some good news from our new Asian Pot Manufacture!  They had located the Die Cast part they required.  New Pot samples with the correct die cast part were on the way to us.   We did functional tests, assembly tests on them, checked all critical dimensions on the new Super Pot samples.   We were very Happy to say after a 6 to 7 year search, the last new Pot samples we received finally passed all of our Atari CX30 POT specifications and were approved by Best Electronics.   

 

New Best Super Pots!

The Best extended life Atari CX30 replacement Super Pots are a form and fit replacement for the Atari OEM old CX30 Paddle Pots.  They do have a Metric extended threaded Die Cast boss, which has a slightly smaller Diameter than the US threaded Atari OEM CX30 Pot threaded boss.  So each New Best Super Pot is supplied with a new Metric threaded nut and metric washer.   You must use the new supplied Metric nut and washer with each replacement Best CX30 Super Pot.  Also because of the slightly smaller Super Pot threaded boss, you will find the Best CX30 Super Pot die cast threaded boss will slightly float within the Atari CX30 top case Pot larger mounting hole.  When installing the New Best Super Pots you must make sure the slightly smaller Metric thread die cast boss is centered in the CX30 Paddle top plastic case pot mounting hole before you tighten down the metric thread Super Pot locking nut.  If you do not center the New Super Pots threaded boss in the CX30 Paddle top case POT hole, there is a possibility that the Paddle knob will drag on the CX30 top case Knob hole inner lip.  You can correct this situation by just backing off the Super Pots locking nut and centering the Super Pot threaded boss within CX30 Paddle top case mounting hole and retightening the CX30 Locking nut again.

 

Atari Tech Tip.   To get the new Best Super Pots centered into the CX30 paddle top, cut a 3/16 wide by 4 inch strip of masking tape.  Wrap this thin strip of masking tape around the bottom 3/16 inch section of the Super Pot thread boss, leaving about 1/4 inch or less of top threads exposed.  Insert the Pot into the CX30 Paddle top, install the washer and locking nut.  Tighten down the CX30 Super Pot locking nut.  Install the Paddle knob and test for any dragging feeling.  If you still get some dragging feeling add some more masking tape to the threaded Pot boss.  Repeat the same taping procedure for the second new Super Pot installation

 

Another Super Pot great feature!

All of the new sample Pots we received over our many year search, all had some  common features.  Most had a Metal dragging feel, made a noticeable metallic  noise or had a hollow cheap feel when the Pot shaft was rotated.  Even the different Manufactures that supplied OEM Paddle Pots to Atari, most had the some kind of feel or noise to them.  A great feature of the New Best Super Pots is they have what we call a Buttery smooth almost noise less feel when the Pot shaft is rotated.  Some of the old timers here say, the new Best Super Pots have the same buttery smooth / precision feel as some old time High End Pots on 1970 and 1980’s era very expensive ($,$$$) audio equipment.  

The new Best Super Pots do require a little more torque (because of the extended life feature) to turn the Pot Shaft / Paddle knob compared to the stock Atari made Paddle pots.  Most Atari Upgraded CX30 Paddle users will not even notice this slight difference once the Atari Paddle game starts and they see how smoothly the new Best Super Pots cursor moves across the display screen. 

Best's New 2016 CX30 replacement S5 Super Paddle Pot CO10464-S5   $12 ea.  Min. sale 2 pots

Buy 10 Best S5 Super Pots  $10 ea.


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