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WinIPAC controller software isn’t quite right — Visual Basic Feng Shui

WinIPAC controller software isn’t quite right

Filed under Arcade, Hardware, Troubleshooting

image Here’s an example of the “When software doesn’t work right, it can cost loads and load of time” type bug.

I’m using an Ultimarc WinIPAC controller board for a project I’m working on. This is an awesome little controller board that looks like a USB keyboard, and supports mapping of up to 56 switch inputs to any normal keyboard key. It also has LED outputs for driving LED’s or other applicable circuits.

Anyway, the IPAC comes with a simple keyboard mapper/programmer that you use to layout your buttons, then assign which key to which button and finally to upload the mapping to the IPAC (It saves the mapping in non-volatile ram on the board, which is even more fantastic).

Anyway, I’d mapped a particular key to the ENTER key, as shown here.

image

But when I was testing all my mappings out, it didn’t work. Actually, it’d flash sometimes but not consistently. Every other key worked flawlessly.

I spent the better part of 3 hours trying to debug what the heck was happening, swapping wires, using a test meter to verify connections, switch operation, etc.

I even pulled the latest version of their website, but still no joy.

In the end, I discovered that it’s the WinIPAC software  that doesn’t quite handle ENTER keypresses properly. I opened up NOTEPAD and just started pressing buttons and all of them, including the switch I had mapped to ENTER, worked perfectly.

<sigh>

<UPDATE> I emailed with Andy at Ultimarc (these guys get back to you quickly! Very nice support). Anyway, his comment was that the WinIPAC software isn’t intended as a test application, only for programming.

I pointed out that if that’s the case, there really ought to be a warning somewhere to that effect, especially if you map keys whose actions can’t be displayed properly in the application. My rationale was, well, it DOES properly display keyboard status for virtually all the mappable keys so why wouldn’t any normal person assume it could be used as a test app? But, in the end, it’s easy enough to use notepad for those tested, IF you know enough to realize you need to!

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