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The Cobalt Flux Mega-FAQ

The intent of this FAQ is to answer, in one location, 92.416% of the repeat questions that show up in the Cobalt Flux troubleshooting forums. Where appropriate, this FAQ will quote verbatim from answers given by forum contributors or will link to relevant forum posts.

This FAQ is split into the following sections to make it easier to find the info you are seeking:

  • Considering a Flux
  • Ordering a Flux
  • Unpacking and Setting up a Flux
  • Using a Flux
  • Maintaining and Troubleshooting a Flux

So, for example, if your question is, "What do I need to use my Flux with StepMania?", that would be under 'Using a Flux'. If your question is, "What's with the white stuff on the panels?", look under 'Unpacking and Setting up a Flux'. Some questions fit in multiple topics, but in order to conserve space, some questions appear in only one. Therefore, "Can I play in socks?" appears in 'Using a Flux', but not 'Considering a Flux'. If you're unsure where your question might be addressed, skim through the other sections.

It is likely that I have missed information or that information will change over time. I'll do my best to keep this updated as people inform me of omissions and corrections.

Ready then? Here we go...

Considering a Flux

Q: How much does a Cobalt Flux cost?
A: $299.95 for the pad. $42 for FedEx Ground shipping in the continental US. International shipping is available, but you will need to contact Cobalt Flux (sales@cobaltflux.com) in advance in order to determine the cost.

Q: What do I get for that?
A: One Cobalt Flux dance platform with 11 buttons (one disabled by default), a manual, 4 pieces of 3M grip tape, and a PS1/PS2 compatible control interface. You also get a 6 month warranty on all parts.

Q: Is the Flux better than pad x or pad y?
A: Yes. :) Honestly, every pad has its advantages and disadvantages. If you're looking for a wide source of opinions regarding various hard pads, I highly recommend the voluminous Metal Pad Discussion thread over at DDRFreak. You'll likely notice, however, that the Cobalt Flux is considered the Rolls Royce of dance pads.

Q: I'm a heavy (as in weight) player. Will the Flux work for me?
A: The Flux is rated to withstand weights in excess of 600+ pounds. It'll be just fine.

Q: Will my scores improve with the Flux?
A: That's not guaranteed, but many DDR players have reported better scores after switching to a Flux. This is largely because they are no longer plagued by ghost steps (when buttons that you didn't step on trigger anyway) or by unexpected pad movement (the Flux tends to stay firmly in place).

Q: I have heard things about bad control boxes, timing issues, and other general badness. What's the deal with that?
A: During the initial rollout of the V2 Cobalt Flux, there was a problem in the chipcode of the control box that made it somewhat incompatible with various models of PS2. In some cases, the controllers would not work at all. In other cases, this incompatibility resulted in severe game lag. Cobalt Flux was quick to troubleshoot the issue and resolved it for any affected customers by reprogramming/replacing the control boxes free of charge. All was quiet for some months. Now, however, a different problem has been reported by a number of users - buttons are triggering rapidly or not at all for periods of time. Signs point to another possible control box issue, but there is no official confirmation of such.

Q: I live in an upstairs apartment and my neighbors hate it when I play on my soft pad as it is. Is the Flux a good solution for me?
A: Probably not. If anything, playing on the Flux will be somewhat louder than playing on an Ignition style soft pad. Find a 3'x3' piece of plywood, put it on your floor, and tap dance on it. Then ask the neighbors how that sounded. If they're fine with that, you're good to go for ordering a Flux.

Ordering a Flux

Q: How do I buy a Flux?
A: There are two ways to do it. You can either place an order at the Cobalt Flux store or you can search eBay as Cobalt Flux has recently started offering pads via auction.

Q: What forms of payment are accepted?
A: If purchasing from the website, credit card, Paypal, check and money order. If purchasing via auction, Paypal and money order. To order by check, select the money order option during checkout and then, well, send them a check.

Q: How long does it take to get my order?
A: Historically, it has taken up to 3 weeks in order to have the pad built, tested, and shipped. Recently, however, ordered pads have been shipping within 3 to 4 days.

Q: I placed my order and paid via credit card, but my Order Status says "Awaiting Payment". Is something wrong? A: No. Your credit card is not charged until your order is shipped. When you order, the status will say (Being Built, Card will be Charged when Shipped) or something to that effect.

Q: Can I have my order shipped in some way other than FedEx Ground?
A: No. And if you're curious as to how FedEx Ground works over water, see this thread.

Q: I live in Utah. Can I pick up my order at the Cobalt Flux warehouse and save myself the shipping charge?
A: Yes you can. Just specify local pick-up when you place your order and make sure to include your telephone number. When your pad is ready, they'll give you a call. Then just head down with the cash/check/money order for your pad(s) and pick it up.

Q: If I have a question about or problem with my order, what should I do?
A: E-mail sales@cobaltflux.com - they will be best equipped to handle situations related directly to your order.

Unpacking and Setting Up A Flux

Q: Holy crap this box is big!
A: That wasn't a question.

Q: The manual says to remove the protective layer of the panels. What does that mean? Do I need to unscrew these things?
A: NO DO NOT UNSCREW ANYTHING!!! The white protective layer is just a thin film that sticks to the panel to keep it from getting scratched during shipment. To remove this layer, simply peel it off. The layer itself is paper thin, so don't try peeling off the entire thickness of the Lexan panel. When you peel it off, you should still have a 1/8" thick layer of translucent plastic (Lexan) beneath it which should still be attached to the base of the pad via the screws that you did not unscrew ... right?

Q: I didn't read this FAQ and I misunderstood the manual. I think I've taken off the Lexan panels. What now?
A: Find them and put them back on. You can't use the Flux without the Lexan panels. Well, you can, but it will be very uncomfortable and you'll tear the arrow decals to shreds. If you happened to throw the panels away, the most you can do is contact support@cobaltflux.com and beg them to sell you new Lexan squares.

Q: What's with all these styrofoam bits? They're all over the pad and some are even under the panels. What should I do about that?
A: Those are just pieces of styrofoam that broke off during shipping. Clean off the ones on the outside and give the pad a try with your game console. If the pad performance is acceptable, don't worry about the styrofoam under the panels - just remember to get them out when you do your first cleaning. If they are affecting performance, however, you'll want to follow the cleaning tips in the Maintaining section of this FAQ to get them out. If your CF shipped wrapped in a plastic bag, you should have no styrofoam problems whatsoever.

Q: Where do I put the grip tape?
A: Turn the pad bottom side up and then put the pieces of grip tape right underneath the outside edges of the up/down/left/right arrows. That way, the tape will be just underneath the location where you'll be applying the most force, which will increase friction, which will result in more grip.

Q: I'm ready to go. What do I hook up to what thing first?
A: Make sure your game console is turned off. Next, plug the 15 pin connector from the control box into the 15 pin connector attached to the pad. Then, plug the other control box connector into your PlayStation (or PS2, or PC adapter, or Xbox converter) and power up your console. Everything should be fine from this point on.

Q: So, uh, what should I do with the shipping box?
A: Keep it. If your Flux should require warranty repairs for any reason, you'll need it to ship the pad back to Cobalt Flux.

Using a Flux

Q: I can normally [insert grade] [insert song] at the arcade, but I just played it on the Flux and I got [insert worse grade] and [insert what the player considers an obscene number of Greats]. What gives?
A: The first part of this answer is simple - give it some time. It takes a little while to adjust to the responsiveness of the Flux. For arcade players, the flat profile of the Flux also requires some re-training. The second part of this answer is to make sure you adjust the controller options for DDR appropriately. Excellent instructions for doing this are provided in Mit Man's Timing Issues sticky. The third part of this answer is that you may just need to adjust the panels of the Flux itself. bsphil has an excellent post covering that topic. And now the fourth thing - you could just need to adjust the song timings in DDR. See XERO's post for more info on the differences between home and arcade timings and how to adjust DDR appropriately.

Q: I did all that and I swear this thing is off. What now?

A: If you suspect an issue with your control box, contact support@cobaltflux.com. They'll help you diagnose the problem and determine the proper resolution. Give the forums a quick search, as well. They've covered a lot of control box issues in here.

Q: Should I wear shoes when using the Flux?
A: Opinion on this is mixed. Some people prefer to play in socks because they can move their feet faster and are able to take advantage of sliding. However, the screw heads that are present on the surface of the Flux can snag a sock and tear a hole in it. Also, some sock players have found that without proper cushioning and support, their feet start to hurt after an extended period of play. Those who prefer shoes do so to counter the negatives I just said about socks. If you do go with shoes, many Flux owners would recommend that you find as light a pair as possible so that your timing isn't thrown off by, say, having to lug a pair of combat boots through a string of 1/32nd arrows.

Q: Can I use my Flux with DDR sims like StepMania?
A: Absolutely. All you'll need is a converter that allows you to use a PS2 controller with a PC. The one most recommended in the CF forums is the EMS USB adapter from LevelSix.com. However, stickman has some further info on the EMS adapter that details which versions of the adapter work best. Various parallel and serial converters also exist, but some serial converters have been known to fry the Flux control box (if you go this route, be sure to disable Dual Shock effects on the converter).

Q: Can I use my Flux with DDR Ultramix on the Xbox?
A: Yep. Again, you'll need a converter. The Gemini Game Elements converter works well with the Flux and is available at chains like Wal-Mart for $13. However, and this is important, there is no way to disable the corner panels of your Flux within the Ultramix 1 game options (unlike the PS2 DDR controller on/off option) - this could lead to perceived missteps during play. The corner buttons on a native Xbox compatible dance pad are disabled automatically when Ultramix detects that a pad is present, but using the converter makes your pad look like a standard Xbox controller. The only way this issue can be avoided is to make your own control box using the circuit board from an Xbox soft pad or by adding a cable to a soft pad controller for passthrough to your Flux. Ultramix 2, however, does have the option to disable the corners, so UM2 players will do just fine with a standard converter.

Q: Does Cobalt Flux plan to release an Xbox compatible control box?
A: They had said we might see an Xbox control box by the end of August '04, but that statement had been revised to the ambiguous "aiming for a couple of months from now" and then revised again to "Q1 2005". Until that control box is released, it would be safest to assume that you'll need to provide your own solution in regards to Xbox play.

Q: If I want to make my own control box, where do I get pin-out info?
A: A graphic of the pin-out of the V2 pad can be found here at the 'Pad'.

Q: Is it true that I can use my Flux to play Pump It Up?
A: Yep, it's true. The center panel (the CF logo) on the V2 Flux is another switch. It is disabled by default when shipped, but if you want to use it to play PIU, just unscrew the panel and remove the cardboard insert that lies between the two sheet metal layers. And then, of course, put the panel back on and screw it back down. PIU Exceed, however, has changed the control scheme a bit, making the CF useless for that release. If you want to use your CF with Exceed, you'll need to make your own control box that maps the corners to L1/L2/R1/R2 and maps the center to X.

Maintaining and Troubleshooting a Flux

Q: How often should I clean my Flux?
A: When it suddenly drops in responsiveness and nothing else seems to fix it, it usually just needs cleaned. You can certainly clean it on a regular schedule if you like, but most people wait until something goes wrong.

Q: What should I use to clean the Lexan?
A: Avoid ammonia based cleaners (like Windex) as they can react with the Lexan to cause 'haze'. Instead, try using something along the lines of dish washing liquid with cold water - using hot water can also cause the Lexan to 'haze'. A wipedown once a week is sufficient, unless you've been sweating all over it for a few hours straight. Be advised that it will definitely lose some luster over time. We all love it when it arrives and it's beautifully shiny, but expect that shine to dull a bit after a few weeks of use. Sock players actually get a benefit here as their socks polish the Lexan with every play.

Q: How should I clean underneath the panels?
A: You'll have to partially disassemble the pad to really get under there to clean. For light cleaning jobs, you can loosen the screws of the dirty panel and clean it out using a ruler and a paper towel - just like the manual says. For any kind of heavier buildup, you may need to remove the top half of the panel altogether. Just keep track of your screws and be very careful when lifting the top layer of sheet metal - there's a wire attached to it. If that wire breaks, the panel will be shot (unless you can repair it yourself).

Q: When I'm playing, I occasionally hear a crunching noise. Cleaning it didn't help. What's wrong with my pad?
A: Nothing. The crunching you hear is just the compression of the Velcro circles that are at each corner of each panel. Just keep playing. They should quiet down eventually.

Q: My [insert sibling type] spilled [insert liquid] on my Flux. After I kill my [insert sibling], what should I do with my Flux?
A: If the spill was just water, you can turn the Flux up on its side and let it dry out for a few hours. That should be sufficient. If the liquid was anything sticky or corrosive (because kids often drink corrosive things?), you're going to want to disassemble the pad as you would to clean it and give it a good wipedown. Do not pour more liquid on it in an attempt to clean it, though. Just use a damp towel to wipe away any remaining sticky liquid.

Q: My arrows are too sensitive/not sensitive enough. How can I fix this?
Q: The sensitivity of the arrows can be adjusted by slightly tightening or loosening the screws for each arrow until you achieve the desired response. See bsphil's post for more details.

Q: Why is the timing off?
A: See the first question in the Using a Flux section.

Q: How do I turn off corners?
A: This is an Options setting in DDR Max and Max2 for PS2, DDR Ultramix 2 for Xbox. See Mit Man's post for more details.

Q: How do I turn off corners in Ultramix?
A: In Ultramix 1, you can't. In Ultramix 2, you'll find the "Turn off ABXY" switch in the Controller options.

Q: How can I fix a dead arrow?
A: If the control box is not to blame, then chances are good you have a severed wire somewhere. Disassemble the panel to see if the associated wire is either severed or is simply disconnected from the sheet metal. If it is simply disconnected, you can use some electrical tape to reattach it. If the cause of the problem is not apparent, contact support@cobaltflux.com for more assistance.

Q: When I stand in the center, my [insert direction] arrow triggers. How do I stop that?
A: There are two conditions under which this normally happens. The first - you have big feet. Make sure that your heels and toes are not accidentally tripping nearby arrows. The second - pressure from the center panel has resulted in a small hole in the wire insulation for one of your arrows. You'll need to remove the center panel to find the worn wire and wrap some electrical tape around the hole. See this thread for more information, including a step-by-step fix by Mit Man.

Q: I can't hold a freeze arrow. I'm keeping my foot in place, but it's flickering on and off. How do I fix that?
A: Adjust the sensitivity for that panel. In the case of not being able to hold down a freeze, the panel screws are likely too tight. This causes the panel to bow upwards, which fights against your desire to press and hold it downwards. Turning the screws a half turn counterclockwise will flatten the panel a bit and make it less resistant to downward pressure.

Q: After a long time of use, including multiple cleanings, the screwholes on my pad base are stripped. How do I make it so the base holds the screws again?
A: First, if you can avoid using a drill when doing maintenance on your Flux, that will help keep your holes from getting stripped. However, if they're stripped already, your best bet is to fill the hole with wood glue and toothpicks, wait for everything to dry, and then re-drill the hole. This will serve as a temporary solution and may need to be redone at some point in the future, but it will get you back up and playing. More information on various remedies to this problem can be found in this thread.

Q: My Flux isn't staying in place when I play on [insert surface-type here]. What can I do to keep it from moving?
A: My favorite solution is to lay one of these underneath the Flux. Be sure to cut the rug pad so it is at least as big as the bottom of the Flux. This rug pad will keep your Flux from moving on nearly any surface that isn't mud. And if you put your Flux on mud, you should have it taken away from you and given to someone who will love it properly.