Happ Controls Rotary Joystick
Review by Kevin Steele
The Happ Controls Rotary Joystick
Modeled closely after the Happs Controls Super, the Happ Controls Rotary's main claim to fame is the unique rotating joystick handle. Armed with a 12-position rotary switch on the joystick shaft, the Happs Rotary is the ideal solution to playing games such as Ikari Warriors.
The Happs Rotary features a light spring action and microswitches, and provides for relatively light, quick control.
The Happs Rotary joystick is, in essence, a Happs Super joystick with special modifications to allow for the rotary feature. The rotating switch is attached to the bottom of the joystick shaft by means of a plastic sleeve, which also acts as the actuator for the microswitches. A long metal rod extends from the joystick base and prevents the actual rotary switch from rotating along with the joystick shaft.
The rotary assembly is a relatively simple and effective way of adding rotary functionality, and it works well.
The unique plastic mounting sleeve/bushing system makes installing the Happs Rotary a bit different than most of the other joysticks in this roundup, which use a metal "E" spring clip to hold everything together, and this is a good thing.
The sleeve is removed by loosening two small set screws with a torx bit, and then the entire rotary switch assembly and joystick shaft both simply slide off. Once you've mounted the joystick base in your panel, you slide the joystick shaft back in and re-attach the rotary assembly. The entire process is quite painless.
As far as interfacing the actual rotary switch, you'll need a custom interface board, specifically the LS30 Rotary Joystick Interface. This $45 board will interface two rotary joysticks.
Note that for this joystick roundup review, I did not have an LS30 board available for testing, and this joystick evaluation is primarily for how the Happs Rotary functions as a normal joystick. Hopefully in a future review I can test the LS30 board.
Like the Happs Super joystick, the Happs Rotary has a light spring, and was very easy to push around. The feeling is almost identical.
I say "almost identical," because there is one important difference — the assembly to support the rotating switch, particularly the metal support rod and the plastic armature that keeps the switch from rotating both cause some interference in diagonal movements, particularly to the left.
The rotary switch support assembly does cause greater resistance to diagonals, especially on the left side of the joystick, leading to a somewhat "lopsided" feel when moving the joystick around in a circular motion. It's not a major problem, just something you should be aware of and adapt to when using the joystick.
Other than the diagonals, the feel is almost identical to the Happs Super. One nice additional touch is the metal sleeve on the joystick shaft, giving the Happs Rotary at least one distinctive "style" difference as compared to the Happs Super.
Sound and Size
Like all other microswitch-based joysticks, there is a distinctive "clickiness" to this joystick. Sound-wise it's roughly equal to the Happs Competition.
The joystick at 2.625" tall is the same as the Competition, and the Rotary handle is just a hair wider than the Competition (1.3" vs 1.25"). The handle is shaped almost identically to the Happs Super joystick, a hybrid "ball/teardrop" shape which fits comfortably in the hand.
Much like the Super, the Happ Controls Rotary joystick provides a light, fast gameplay. The joystick engages after only about 5 degrees of motion, meaning that very little pressure must be applied, even though the joystick has 15 degrees of travel from the perpendicular. Even a small hand motion will activate it.
Diagonals were just a bit difficult to hit precisely, primarily because of the slight interference of the rotary assembly. Luckily, there is a fairly generous 20 degree range for diagonals, which helps to compensate for the resistance from the extra hardware on the bottom of the stick.
The following chart lists the joystick test results, current as of this review. The chart will continue to fill in with data as the "Joystick Roundup" continues.
Basically a modified Happs Super, the Happ Controls Rotary joystick is a good choice if you are a big fan of arcade games that used a rotary joystick. It's not my first choice for a gaming joystick, but it certainly wouldn't be bad even as a primary joystick on a control panel. It is a bit expensive ($43 + $45 for the interface board), but it's practically the only game in town if you're looking for a rotary joystick.
Special thanks to SlikStik for loaning me the joystick used in this review!