In February of 2004, as a birthday present for my then Girlfriend (now wife), I organized a joint gift from all her friends so that we all donated money to a large gift. In this case, it was a CobaltFlux DDR pad. They were, and are, the best home dance pads for DDR/Stepmania you can get. They take a few weeks to build, and are all built to order, so a few weeks later, I got the pad.
The pad is pretty cool, and still works great after over 5 and a half years. However, I have never been overly happy with the control box (the thing that takes the input from the DDR pad, and translates it into something a PSx can understand.
The problem, is it just seems kinda janky. Mainly the short pigtail that connects to the pad’s pigtail. It always seemed very out of place with how well constructed the pad is. The box just ends up kinda laying on the ground, asking to be stepped on, and the buttons for Start/Select are too small to be “foot buttons” so it’s placement just seems wrong. On the end of the cable out the other side is just a male PSx connector. Which leads us to our other adapter…
Then there’s the whole getting the PSx output to something you can use in Stepmania. Luckily, I was able to purchase the best converter box ever produced before the company went out of business (I think that’s what happened), the PS Joy, made by Boom (picture on the right).
It is just a little converter box that has a female USB-B connector on one side, and a female PSx connector on the other. The games don’t need any tweaking, it just works. Or at least it did, until about 3 weeks ago.
So, 3 weeks ago, my wife goes to play DDR, and the pad doesn’t work. Neither do the buttons on the control box. I fiddle around, grab a PS2 controller (which ends up working), and determine that the control box has died. So, I go online, and order the new V5 control box (after confirming that my pad does in fact have a 15pin connector). About a week goes by, and the new box shows up at my door.
I have three words for what I think: “Night and Day”. This new box is more like it. Not only is it well built, but as you can see in the picture (on the left), it has a PSx output, Gamecube/Wii output, AND USB!!!! The USB is intended for PS3 compatibility (and with an adapter, “should” work on an Xbox), but it works flawlessly on a computer. Not only that, but CobaltFlux seems to have figured out that the buttons on the control box are really for hands, so lets put the box where someone can reach it without bending over. So, between the box and the pad, they include a removable 8′ 15pin male to male (basically VGA) cable. So you can put the control box up on the surface that holds the TV, and actually reach it.
The new box is, from what I can tell, perfect. It’s what the box should have always been. We’ll see what time does, but all and all, I’m extremely happy, and would recommend anyone with a version 1 15-pin control box to pick up one of these, or add them to a wish list somewhere. My only complaint, and it’s not much of one, would be: It would be cool/nice if there was one or two LEDs on the controller box to signify power being received from the host device, and maybe one to indicate a button being pressed on the pad itself. This would make it a lot easier to troubleshoot issues should they arise. But, other than that, definitely a 4.9 out of 5 stars.