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Tag - wireless

Wireless Amiga (& C64) Gamepad Review

I spotted this wireless Amiga gamepad in an advert in the latest issue of Amiga Future magazine and ordered myself one immediately. Reading a physical Amiga magazine in 2023, seeing an advert in it and actually being able to order the item in that advert is a pretty special experience for me as a retro gamer. Normally when browsing through old Amiga magazines I see adverts for products and from suppliers that are long gone, but this was like being back in the early 1990’s all over again!

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Advert in Amiga Future Magazine.

 

It’s full name is the “TURBO 2000 Super – Deluxe Wireless GamePad Controller” which is ridiculously OTT in a loveable 80’s kind of way. I picked mine up from their eBay web store but they’re available elsewhere online from other retro retailers too.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

The box front.

 

Despite coming from Germany delivery took less than a week and I had no import fees to pay. Yippee! 🙂

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Back of the Box.

 

It came packaged in a pretty slick and colourful box that definitely wouldn’t look out of place on the shelf in your local game store.

 

Batteries Not Included

Opening up the box reveals a couple of instruction sheets, a dongle with a standard 9-pin DSub plug and of course the gamepad itself.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Everything you get inside the box.

 

They actually make four different versions of the gamepad for the Amiga, C64, Atari VCS and Atari 2600. They’re all the same physical device though, it’s just the vinyl sticker on the controller that differs for each version.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

The wireless dongle and gamepad.

 

I chose the C64 themed controller as the colours just appealed to me the most.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Bottom of the Gamepad.

 

The controller takes 2 AAA batteries (not supplied) that fit into a little compartment on the underside.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

AAA Battery Compartment.

 

Connecting the Gamepad to the Amiga

Connecting the dongle and gamepad to the Amiga could not have been any simpler. You just plug the dongle into the joystick port as normal (or in my case my Roboshift), power on the Amiga and then power on the gamepad.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Hooking the Wireless Dongle up to my Roboshift device.

 

When you first plug the dongle in and power on your Amiga, a red LED on the device flashes signifying that it is trying to pair with the controller.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

The Wireless Dongle.

 

As soon as I powered on the gamepad (which also had a small red LED above the D-Pad) both LED’s became solid red right away.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Notice the little Power/Connectivity LED above the D-Pad.

 

What’s it like to use?

The gamepad is well constructed and nicely finished in a textured matte black plastic. The vinyl sticker on the front is really well made and looks professional. The textured finish makes it easy to grip and having a set of batteries inside it means it has a nice bit of weight to it.

 

wireless Amiga gamepad

Close-up of the buttons.

 

The gamepad features 3 fire buttons (labelled 1, 2 & 3) and a dedicated ‘UP’ button which is a real boon in platform games. The ‘MAP’ button is used to switch around the fire buttons depending on your preference or system being used. It can also be used to switch the ‘UP’ button with fire button 1 should you wish. The ‘AUTO’ button toggles the auto-fire feature on and off. 4 different auto-fire speeds are configurable on the pad; 1, 5, 8 and 13 ‘clicks per second’.

The D-Pad is very responsive and easy to operate without accidentally triggering a diagonal direction unless you actually want to. The fire buttons are quite stiffly sprung and require a firm push to depress which gives plenty of tactile feedback. It did take me a little while to get used to though. Compared to say an Xbox or PlayStation controller they require much more pressure to operate.

 

Turrican 2 AGA

Turrican 2 AGA

 

Having 2 fire buttons that work on the Amiga is terrific. Playing the new Turrican 2 AGA for example (awesome game by the way) is so much better when you have the 2nd fire button to help trigger extra weapons/abilities instead of having to reach for the keyboard all the time!

 

Turrican 2 AGA

Turrican 2 AGA – 2nd Fire Button Configuration.,

 

This gamepad would be equally awesome for games that support 2 fire buttons on the C64 too. Games like Super Mario Bros 64 and Chase HQ 2 for example.

Another useful feature is that the gamepad turns itself off after a period of inactivity to conserve battery life. Turning it back on just requires a quick press of the ‘AUTO’ button for near instantaneous reconnection.

 

Final Thoughts

This is an awesome controller and I’m so glad I bought it. I have a ton of retro joysticks and gamepads now but this one has quickly become my favourite. The combination of auto-fire, configurable extra fire buttons and of course the wireless capability means it’s a no-brainer for me. It’s reasonably priced too, coming in at around the same level you would expect to pay for an Xbox or PlayStation controller. Considering this is a low volume product I think the price is very fair indeed.

Needless to say I’m going to order some more so I can leave one permanently attached to each of my Commodore machines! Highly recommended.

 

FYI

I’ve included scans of the instructions below in case anyone is curious about exactly how the button mapping or pairing works.

 

 

Adding Bluetooth Audio to a Range Rover Sport Mk1

Ranger Rover Sport Bluetooth Audio

If, like me, you were disappointed to discover that your beautiful, highly specc’d Range Rover Sport Mk1 did not come equipped with Bluetooth Audio then I have a solution for you that will cost less than £20. Once you’ve got hold of the kit the whole job should only take you about 5 minutes.

 

range-rover-sport-mk1

Mk1 Range Rover Sport

 

 

What you need to buy…

The first thing you need to purchase is a USB car charger adaptor for your rear cigarette lighter socket. The more slimline the better, I used this one which works really well. In fact I’ve got one of these in my front power socket too!

Next you need purchase yourself this little gadget from Amazon which is a bluetooth audio receiver and will convert your bluetooth audio back into good old analogue for your Range Rover sound system to play.

UPDATE: You may want to check out a new, alternative Bluetooth option I recently discovered at the end of this article as it offer a few advantages, albeit at extra cost.

 

 

 

Once the above gizmos have arrived follow the super-easy instructions below to enjoy wireless music playing in your car.

 

Bluetooth Adaptor

Bluetooth Adaptor connected to Aux rear aux socket

 

 

Installation…

First off you need to plug the USB adaptor into the rear passengers power socket (it hides underneath a flap on the centre armrest). Now plug the Bluetooth receiver into that USB adaptor . Finally you need to plug one end of the (supplied) auxiliary audio cable into the socket on the end of the Bluetooth adaptor. Plug the other end into the aux socket on the back of the centre armrest, located just to the left of the power socket. That’s it for the hardware side of things, the next step is configuring your phone.

 

Android Bluetooth Screen

Screenshot showing Bluetooth adaptor paired.

 

The next stage of the install requires your backside in the drivers seat and turning on the ignition. Get your phone out and go to the ‘Add Bluetooth devices’ part of the phone settings. I have tested this with both an Android Marshmallow Galaxy S7 and an Android Nougat Huawei Mate 9 with no issues, although the settings on all phones will probably look a little different. (UPDATE: Have also tested with Android Oreo and Pie and on two more devices; a Huawei P20 Pro and a Huawei Mate 20 X). I see no reason why this wouldn’t work for an iPhone/iPod but I don’t have access to any Apple stuff so can’t guarantee it. I’d be very surprised if you had an issue though.

Once you have got to the ‘add Bluetooth devices’ screen, make sure your bluetooth is turned on and wait for the device ‘BTR003’ to appear. This is the bluetooth adaptor – add it as a paired device (there is no pairing code) for ‘Media Audio’ ONLY and you should be good to go. Turn on your Range Rover sound system and select AUX as the input and play some music on your phone and it should come through loud and clear! I find the AUX input a little on the quiet side compared to the CD and Radio but you can easily compensate by turning the volume up on your phone and/or the sound system itself.

Every time you get in your car and turn on the ignition your phone will automatically pair with the bluetooth adaptor so you should never have to mess with the settings again – it’ll just work. Your phone will still work for bluetooth handsfree calling through the car phone as that uses a separate ‘Call Audio’ bluetooth connection.

 

Aux Input

Range Rover Stereo Aux Input

 

Have fun and if you find a better way to do this or have any questions please contact me!

I know it’s not a perfect solution as the adaptor does stick out a few cm and if you have kids in the back it may not last long… but as it’s just me and the wife in our car I’ve not had a problem so far…

UPDATE: May 2019

OK so I wrote this article a few years ago now and the above solution has continued to work well for me. I’ve changed phones a few times since then (I currently have a Huawei Mate 20 x) and it worked with each and every one of them. However recently I had my hyperactive grandson in the back and he managed to kick the bluetooth adaptor and snap it off so I needed to buy a new one. Happily Amazon still sell the exact same device I bought originally… however I also spotted one that looked like it would be even better so I thought I would give it a try. It’s not as cheap as the Justop device but in the grand scheme it’s not very expensive either.

It’s called the ‘Firefly’ and it is claimed to be ‘The Worlds Smallest Bluetooth Receiver’. Not sure about that claim but what I do like about it is that the aux cable is actually built into the device. Not only does this make the whole thing look at lot neater when installed but it doesn’t protrude as far out making it  less likely to be knocked by passengers. It comes in a range of different colours too (Black, Red & Gold) but I chose black to match the interior of my car.

 

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When you first plug the Firefly Bluetooth Adaptor into the USB power adaptor in your car the tip will flash white signifying that it is in pairing mode. The setup process is exactly the same as described above for the Justop except you need to look out for ‘Tunai Firefly’ in your bluetooth devices. It should pair straight away once selected (no code is required) and the flashing white LED on the tip will become solid white to show that it has paired successfully.

 

Firefly Bluetooth Pairing

Here you can see the ‘Tunai Firefly’ paired with my Mate 20 X as a media audio device.

 

In use I have found the Firefly to perform superbly, just like the Justop. My phone pairs with it quickly and automatically every time I get in the car and it looks terrific too.

 

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As you can see from the above photos, the Firefly Bluetooth adaptor is definitely a neater, more compact solution. Only time will tell if it proves to avoid damage better than the Justop device though. I also noticed one unexpected improvement over the Justop – the audio is louder! I no longer have to crank the volume up louder than usual which is a nice bonus.

Overall I think the Firefly Bluetooth adaptor is worth the extra money as it looks neater and more professional. It also doesn’t protrude into the back of the car as much and it seems to output audio at a higher volume. The Justop is still a great solution and is hard to beat for the price – it’s also more ‘expendable’ if it does get kicked due to it’s cheaper price.

Whichever option you choose, rest assured that both devices will do the job. I just thought I’d update the article with my new findings in case it proves useful for someone.

Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones Review

Received a pair of these bad boys yesterday so thought I’d share my findings for the benefit of anyone else that might be interested.

 

Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser RS130’s

 

Included in the box with your headphones is the transmitter/charger base, two AAA rechargeable batteries, a 1/8”->1/4” stereo jack adaptor, small power brick (similar size to a mobile phone charger) and a small multi-lingual manual.

Setup was a breeze, just power up the transmitter/charging station and hook up to your audio source. It will automatically turn itself on when it detects an incoming audio signal and off shortly after it ceases. Then you just need to open up one side of the headphones and slot in the two AAA’s. You switch the headphones on using a small on/off switch on the rear of one of the ear cups. They automatically tune themselves into the FM signal from the base, although you can also select 3 different “channels” on the base and initiate an auto-tune from a small button on the ‘phones themselves if you need to. It recommends you charge the batteries for 16 hours before first use – you do this simply by hanging the ‘phones on the charging stand. There are two metal strips in the headband that pickup the charging current from the metal stand… when it detects that the battery is charged it automatically switches to trickle-charging so no need to worry about over-charging. Being impatient I threw in a couple of Duracell’s so I could play with them right away…

The headphones themselves are well designed and constructed, lightweight for their size and extremely comfortable. The headband is well padded and has the usual vertical adjustment, the ear cups also pivot horizontally as well as vertically so you are assured of a snug fit. They are also well padded and have been covered in a suede type of material rather than vinyl which makes them very soft and comfortable and also less likely to make you sweat whilst wearing them for long periods. I was able to walk around the entire ground floor of our house without any loss of signal so you shouldn’t have a problem whilst sat on the sofa in front of your TV.

Sound quality wise I couldn’t fault them – the volume is controlled by a small thumb-wheel on the right ear cup and goes up far enough for you to be deafened by explosions in COD3 if you really want! There is plenty of bass on offer and I experienced no distortion in the sound and all dialogue and effects were crystal clear. There is a slight hiss when the volume is cranked up high during periods of silence but this is never noticeable otherwise. A welcome addition is a surround sound option you can enable – just don’t expect 5.1 effects from it… it basically seems to widen the field of sound so that you feel like the sound is coming from all around rather than just from your left and right. They do leak a bit of sound so no good for watching movies in bed, but for playing games late at night in your living room they are perfect.

I would definitely recommend these Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones for those of you who are annoying your partner/parents/neighbours/pets with noisy late-night gaming sessions!