Key Strike Manual ArcadeForge logo

The Key Strike is a programmable keyboard and game controller developed by Jochen Zurborg (hardware) and Michael Pohl (software) of ArcadeForge. It is based on the Arduino Leonardo.

Hardware Key Strike photo

You need a set of Single Pole, Double Throw (SPDT) switches, for example Arcade push-buttons and a joystick. A SPDT switch has two contacts, which are connected by activating the switch (see the Wikipedia Article on switches for more information). You also need wire and appropriate tools (side cutter, wire stripper) as well as soldering equipment or fitting push-on connectors/joystick harness.

Connect the one contact of each switch together, for example by forming a daisy chain. If using a joystick harness with one common line, connect this to the common wire. Connect this common line to the GND screw terminal on the Key Strike.

Then connect a wire from the other contact of each switch to the appropriate signal screw terminal, for example for a joystick use Right, Down, Left and Right.

Connection Diagram

Basic Usage

By default a Key Strike acts as a keyboard with MAME-compatible mappings from signals to keystrokes. There is also a second layer of keyboard mappings – the alternate mappings. This behaviour can be deactivated by using the Key Strike Manager, which also allows to set a Key Strike to act as a gamepad. The alternate mapping of a signal is used, if Select is activated simultaneously. While the alternate mappings are used, a key/gamepad stroke for Select is generated on release and if no alternate mapping was activated.

These are the default mappings from Key Strike signals to keystrokes:

Label on Device Keystroke
Signal 1 Player 2 Player Primary Alternate
Player 1
Right P1 Right Arrow Right
Down P1 Down Arrow Down
Left P1 Left Arrow Left
Up P1 Up Arrow Up
Button 1 B1 P1 B1 Left Ctrl Return
Button 2 B2 P1 B2 Left Alt Esc
Button 3 B3 P1 B3 Space F2
Button 4 B4 P1 B4 Left Shift F3
Button 5 B5 P1 B5 X
Button 6 B6 P1 B6 Z
Button 7 B7 P1 B7 Return
Button 8 B8 P1 B8 Esc
Start 1 Tab
Select 2 not available
Coin 5 9
Player 2
Right P2 Right G
Down P2 Down F
Left P2 Left D
Up P2 Up R
Button 1 P2 B1 A
Button 2 P2 B2 S
Button 3 P2 B3 Q
Button 4 P2 B4 W
Button 5 P2 B5 K
Button 6 P2 B6 I
Button 7 P2 B7
Button 8 P2 B8
Start P2 Start 2
Select P2 Select
Coin P2 Coin 6


The Key Strike works under any operating system, Windows automatically installs the drivers neccesary for operation. The Windows 8(.1), 7, Vista und XP software is available from the Key Strike Website. The applications require the .NET Framework 3.5 [1], which is installed by the Key Strike Manager setup if it is missing and the computer is connected to the internet.

Key Strike Manager Key Strike Manager logo

The Key Strike Manager is a Windows application for configuring a Key Strike. It allows for changing the mappings from signals to keystrokes, disabling of alternate mappings, enabling gamepad usage and changing a Key Strike’s name. These settings can be loaded and saved to files. If connected to a Key Strike all changes are instantly sent to the device. Additionally the signals of a connected device can be checked (in the Help menu the entry Test). The drivers required for configuration can be installed from the connection view.

The Manager supports English and German, the language can be changed in Choose Language from the Help menu.

Key Strike Helper

The Key Strike Helper is a Windows command line application for advanced users, allowing for loading and saving of Key Strike settings files to/from a device as well as resetting a Key Strike to defaults. For help execute it without arguments.

  1. The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is a software package already present on most Windows systems, which is needed by many applications.  ↩