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Oscar Vortex Spinner: You Spin Me Right Round, Baby...


5" x 4" x 1 7/8" depth


$ 57 for spinner (without knob)
$ 9 for USB mouse interface
$ 6-19 (approx.) for knob

Total: $ 69-82

Quick Summary

A fast, smooth reproduction spinner with a heavy "feel", the Vortex was built with frantic Tempest gameplay in mind.


The Oscar Vortex is closely modeled on the spinner used in Atari's Tempest arcade game — so closely, in fact, that it can be used as a direct "drop-in" replacement in original Tempest machines. It's a dual bearing design, but unlike the SlikStik Tornado, it doesn't use ball bearings, but rather nylon sleeve bearings (nylon 642 for the curious). This is in line with the original Tempest arcade design, which results in smooth, short spin times (about 10 seconds, compared to 3+ min. with the Tornado).


Installation of the Vortex is very simple — drill a hole into the control panel, insert the spinner, screw into place from underneath, and attach the knob. There are no adjustments needed and it's ready to go as soon as you attach an encoder. The Vortex has a fairly large installation footprint (5" x 4" x 1 7/8" deep, almost as big as the Oscar Up/Down spinner), which makes it a tough fit if your control panel has a lot of controls or is tight on space. The shaft on the Vortex is adjustable for use on either metal panels or 3/4" wood panels.


The Vortex is a beautiful design, both structurally and aesthetically. The welded steel-box structure gives the spinner amazing rigidity, ensuring that the spinner shaft will always stay properly aligned. The stylish black oxidized coating provides both corrosion resistance and that ever elusive "cool" look.

The Vortex uses a steel flywheel instead of the aluminum flywheel used in the original Tempest spinner. In order to keep the mass the same as the original spinner, the steel flywheel is thinner than the original flywheel, but the same diameter.

Tempest Flywheel (top) and Vortex Flywheel (bottom)

The Oscar Controls web site mentions that since the flywheel weight and the bearing type are identical to the original Tempest, the feel is identical. I didn't find this to be the case — while the two spinners are indeed similar in feel, the Vortex definitely felt "heavier" when spinning, and had a much stronger sense of mass.

The overall fit and finish of the Vortex is excellent, with no wobble and a very smooth, quiet spin. It's an excellent spinner — about the only complaint I have about the Vortex is that the aluminum reproduction Tempest knob has some sharp edges and was not as comfortable to use as the original plastic Tempest knob.


  • Long spin times
  • Smooth, quiet spin
  • Accurate and sensitive tracking
  • Extremely solid steel construction


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