This is the DJ MAX Trilogy Muse-On controller, manufactured by GAMMAC. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Konami's beatmania IIDX controller, but it uses microswitches rather than rubber membranes to trigger the buttons. The Muse-On is a Windows USB device - when plugged in, it identifies as a myriad of keyboard, mouse, and game controller devices. The default button mapping is presumably designed to function with DJ MAX Trilogy without configuration, but a downloadable program can change the button configuration as needed.

The Muse-On controller is available for purchase at Play-Asia, as Regular and Limited editions. The Limited edition is out of stock at the time of this writing.

This article is intended to document the internal components of the Muse-On controller.

This is the back of the controller.

To open the controller, remove the eight screws on the back. Four of the screws are under these rubber pads; simply peel them back a little to get to the screws. Opening from the top is possible given you have the correct screwdriver bit, but this is not recommended, for reasons I will illustrate in the next photo.

The controller, opened up. With the backing removed, you have complete access to the controller's internal components. Note there is little to no slack on the wiring; opening the controller from the top without disconnecting the wires from the main PCB probably wouldn't get you very far.

Here's a good look at the button mechanisms as they sit in the controller. Each microswitch has two wires leading directly to the main PCB, sitting under the turntable.

The microswitches are held in by nothing but plastic and snap right off. The manufacturer name printed on the switches sounds like a Chinese company to me.

The other side of the stock microswitches. They're rated at 15 amps.

A view of the button mechanism with the microswitch removed. Note the gigantic spring is visible. If you'd like to remove the button mechanism from the controller, the two V-shaped projections can be pushed inwards, after which the button will slide out the top.

It's a little hard to tell without seeing it in motion, but the plunger has two tabs that serve the dual purpose of keeping the plunger in the bezel and triggering the microswitch when depressed.

Here's the main PCB. Note the fantastic glue job keeping the wire pin headers in place.

The turntable mechanism. No real surprises here. I opted not to further disassemble it, but that PCB probably houses an optical sensor.

The button, removed from the controller. The mechanism, measured from surface to bottom, is about 5cm tall. I have an Omron MS-O-3 microswitch test-fitted here. It actually made the button feel even stiffer.

The reverse side.

To remove the microswitch, GENTLY push out the plastic tab supporting the bottom of the two holes, and tilt the microswitch out.

Once free from the plastic tab, it should fall right out. To put a microswitch back in, just reverse the procedure; line up the microswitch's top hole into the support, then tilt it back into the plastic tab. The plastic feels pretty flimsy, so be careful not to break it.

Here is the entire button mechanism disassembled. Again, the microswitch pictured is a spare Omron and not the ones that come with the controller. The mechanism is little more than a plastic plunger, a plastic bezel to go with it, a spring that is twice as long as it should be, a microswitch, and some lubricant.

If I had any Sanwa or DAO parts on hand at this point, I would try putting them into the Muse-On controller. Unfortunately, I have none, and I'm not sure if I would like to invest in some without knowing for sure they would fit.

The Muse-On Controller, while being pretty on the outside, looks quite cheap on the inside. The button mechanism, while simple enough, fails to provide a comfortable playing experience; the spring is far longer than necessary and results in a remarkably stiff button that takes more strength than what should be necessary to press it. Microswitches with less resistance, such as Cherry switches, can be swapped in to slightly improve the stiffness, but the spring is really the problem. The spring can't be completely removed as it would result in the plunger getting stuck when pressed, thanks to the plastic tabs pushing against the bezel. The designers appear to have applied lubricant to combat this, but it doesn't really seem to help; the button illustrated in these photos actually got stuck the very first time we pressed it out of the box.

At perhaps half or even 75% of the cost, this controller might be worth a purchase, but at nearly $120 before shipping for the controller alone, I can't really recommend it. IIDX players would be better off with a DJ DAO controller or even Konami's own arcade-style controller.

-StarCreator, May 16, 2009