5150: Setting up Joystick


The IBM PC did have a standard “Game Adapter” that is specified in the IBM PC Technical Reference (2-122) and was made available as an expansion card.

However, the IBM PC only has five expansion slots. Most users might not want to dedicate a whole slot for just a game adapter, so the game adapter may be included on various “multi-adapter” expansion cards. Also, some joysticks could be connected to a serial point, but it may be inconsistent as to which software titles support both the Game Controller Adapter interface or the serial port.

For me, I use the 15-pin game adapter that is built into the Sound Blaster.

I’ve tried out two different game controllers:

  • QuickShot X (large base and lots of adjustments)
  • Kraft KC 3 (has cable for both game adapter and serial port)
  • Kraft KC3 (note without space after “KC”)

Paratrooper is one game where having a joystick really helps. – you can aim much more quickly, and more easily fire while also aiming. Marble Madness is another game that essentially requires a joystick. The Sierra games also make use of a joystick.

Between these two, I would tend to lean towards a preference of the QuickShot X. But having the serial port option on the Kraft KC 3 might someday come in handy. But be careful, I would avoid the “other” Kraft KC3 because it didn’t seem to let me use the full range of motion, and it had a very cheap plastic 15-pin that didn’t secure to the port very well (also it wasn’t actually three button; the two buttons at the “front” were just left/right options of the same switch).

How to Test your Joystick

CheckIt V1.10 is a system test utility that includes a Joystick test option. With that, you can move a little red cursor around the screen using the joystick, which helps verify the functioning of that joystick across both axis of movement. CheckIt 1.10 can run on systems with 256KB RAM.

The min x and min y were the same for each of the joysticks I tested, which was a value of 216 for both axis. But for the max x/y range, each of these reported different values:

IBM PC JoystickMax XMax Y
QuickShot X43044368
Kraft KC 3 (15-pin + serial cable)36803592
Kraft KC324242248
  • The Kraft KC3 (with large bas and 15-pin only): this one wouldn’t let me aim the Paratrooper cannon all the way to the right, despite trying lots of adjustments.

I would assume the higher range corresponds to potentially better precision or smoother operation. Most of these joysticks also have options like letting either the x or y axis be “free movement” (i.e. no spring-back to center), or inverting the axis (such as for left or right handed). These are mechanical options by switches on the bottom of the joystick (not digital options, which would require a driver).

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