Before and after – PC Engine Controller cleaning

A friend of mine in Japan fired across a box of goodies a while back which included some fun PCE gear:

The two controllers at the top are the original model PC Engine controllers, and they are filthy! It’s all good though, because they were extremely cheap.

Underneath them is a PC Engine multitap and a very shiny black PC Engine controller. Those aren’t the topic of this post though, it’s those dirty PC Engine controllers that are in need of some TLC!

Functionally, the PCBs and rubber pads were in great order, so it was only the controller’s plastic shell that needed some work. Isopropyl alcohol is extremely effective in cleaning off this kind of grime, but a less toxic alternative (and one that is probably more likely to be in your cleaning product cupboard) is to use window cleaner (like Windex). Because I couldn’t be bothered disassembling them I ended up spraying some window cleaner on a dish cloth and attacked the controllers with enthusiasm. Here’s the before:

And the after:

Not bad, huh? 🙂

I’ve used the same technique on other consoles and accessories – I had an old Amiga 500 that had been sitting in a shed in storage before bringing I gave it a new home, so I disassembled the casing and gave it a generous spray of window cleaner. I left the cleaner on there for a couple of minutes to start dissolving all the grime and dust, then scrubbed it down – turned out great. I’ve heard of other people using the dishwasher to clean their consoles (well, the plastic outer casing, not the whole console with all the electronic insides still intact), but our dishwasher’s getting on a bit and I’m not sure how it would go with old consoles. Don’t want to accidentally warp anything 😉

Mac serial cables make great extension cables for PC Engine controllers

So, PC Engine – great machine, nice controllers, shame about the length of the controller cables. They obviously took that cue from Sega – the Mega Drive and Master System controller cables were always a bit on the short side too. On most of my other consoles I’ve grabbed cheap third-party extension cables for the controllers and they all work a charm. The PC Engine though, that’s a different story. But the answer’s simpler and cheaper than you’d expect!

Tim over at The Retro Review Project wrote a post a couple of years back where he found that Mac serial cables had the same 8-pin mini-DIN connector as the PC Engine controllers’, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. After a false start (I bought a male-male Mac serial cable instead of a female-male cable), I’m happy to confirm that 8-pin mini-DIN Mac serial cables work perfectly, and as a bonus, they’re also really inexpensive. I can now game on my Duo-R in comfort on the couch and no longer worry if I’m going to accidentally unplug the controller or pull the whole console off the shelf. Bonus.

Just be sure you buy a female-male cable. Otherwise you’ll end up like me and have a useless male-male Mac serial cable lying around the study 😛

Oh, and for the record, this trick won’t work with TurboGrafx-16 controllers, as they use a larger DIN socket compared to PCE hardware. On the upside, it should work fine with any of the PCE hardware revisions (PCE, Core Grafx, Core Grafx 2, Duo, Duo-R)

I picked up a PC Engine Duo-R :)

Last year I became a member of the nerdy PC Engine fanboy community with the purchase of a PC Engine Duo-R pre-modded with RGB for super-awesome video output 😀

Admittedly it’s a bit late, but here are some pics to enjoy!

Unboxing the Duo-R:

Angled shot:

Front shot:

Rear shot:

NEC Avenue Pad 6 and cables:

All these and more images are up in the PC Engine gallery.