A few summers ago, I was lucky enough to exist in the right time and place to be able to regularly play TEMPEST. The summer wasn’t meant to last — the realities of aging vector hardware in a busy bar led to TEMPEST disappearing a few shorts months later.
Attempting to simulate a spinner with a keyboard or gamepad with MAME is an exercise in futile suffering, so what’s a TEMPEST addict that can use a drill and knows how to plug wires into things and measure to do?
Why, build a very weird mouse in essence, which I did last September. This was a pretty easy project: I just grabbed a TurboTwist 2 spinner (an ultimarc spintrak would probably work equivalently), the mouse encoder board for it, a few buttons, and stuffed it all in a reasonably sized project box from the craft store.
I used a bit of openscad to make a template and ended up giving the box a light sanding and a few coats of spray paint that I had lying around.
I set MAME to interpret the third mouse button as both coin and start, so it’s all self contained for TEMPEST. It plays great after calibrating the turn count and making sure to totally disable mouse acceleration for the spinner.