Input devices (keyboards, mices, joysticks) pinouts  > obsolete computers pinouts
Pin Description
1Keypad -- right column
2Keypad -- middle column
3Keypad -- left column
4Start, Pause, and Reset common
5Keypad -- third row and Reset
6Keypad -- second row and Pause
7Keypad -- top row and Start
8Keypad -- bottom row
9Pot common
10Horizontal pot (POT0, 2, 4, 6)
11Vertical pot (POT1, 3, 5, 7)
125 volts DC
13Bottom side buttons (TRIG0, 1, 2, 3)
14Top side buttons
150 volts -- ground

It"s handy to consider the keypad in a matrix format.

Pin # 4 3 2 1
7Start123
6Pause456
5Reset789
8*0#

For instance, mashing button 5 makes a connection between pins 2 and 6.

Analog Direction Inputs

Potentiometer inputs are 0-500kohm, linear. Directional inputs are read by a RC delay circuit, i.e. the time it takes a capacitor to recharge after being discharged determines the potentiometer positions.

  • North=0 ohm between pins 9 and 11
  • South=500 ohms between pins 9 and 11
  • West=0 ohm between pins 9 and 10
  • East=500 ohms between pins 9 and 10

The analog joystick is very much like having a pair of paddles, one each for horizontal and vertical coordinates. The difference is that while paddles use the 5V source for the common voltage, the 5200 analog stick has its own dedicated pin. This is because the stick has a definite center, while the paddles do not. To get consistent behavior with any combination of individual stick and individual console, they could have put trimmers on the stick so the user can adjust the center position. Instead of making each stick adjustable to suit the console, they gave the pots a tightly regulated voltage that"s adjustable within the console. That"s what the tiny little trimmer hanging out near the power on/off switch does. Not that big one; that"s for adjusting the color phase delay.

Side buttons are held high by the console until pulled down to ground by mashing a button.

The keypad is read one column at a time. One of pins 1-4 is pulled low, then any buttons in that column that are mashed are read as low signals on pins 5-8.

15 pin D-SUB male connector layout
15 pin D-SUB male connector
at the Atari
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Source(s) of this and additional information: Classic Atari 2600/5200/7800 Game Systems FAQ, from Hardware Book, Eric Parent; Deathskull Labs
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