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Joysticks! (and Retro controllers in general)

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Thought it might be worth having a general thread for input devices, as they're either a doddle to fix and replace, or conversely a complete and total nightmare.


As mentioned elsewhere I'm dabbling in building/repairing sticks and pads, latest project being destroying Nathan Wind's PS1 Namco stick! Well, I told him I was putting in a Neo Geo connector but, y'know...


Anyways, I need a joystick tester so decided to utilise an XSOURCE Zero Delay board. These take bog standard stick/button inputs and turn them into USB. The board with loads of wires and a USB cable is about £7.99 which is a bargain in itself. yesterday, though, I got the £16.99 version with all that plus a stick and 10 buttons for about £13.99 as Amazon had a sale on!




The stick feels surprisingly good, and the gate is Sanwa branded, which may mean the whole stick is? That'd be a huge coup cos they tend to be around £20 on their own. Sadly they are out of stock on that offer now, which is not surprising. 


I'm not sure what the stick parts will be used for yet, but the tester i'm planning to build will have  Neo Geo and PC Engine sockets. I'll probably also stick a DB9 on there for the Megadrive.


I'm also looking to build a PC Engine PCB from scratch. The pad has a bizarre thing where it doubles-up functions (Up is also the I button etc.) so i've bought some chips to see if I can replicate that. Then put it all together into a stick and voila: profit.







For anyone interested, this is what the guts of a Namco Playstation stick look like:





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3 hours ago, Treble said:

The stick feels surprisingly good, and the gate is Sanwa branded, which may mean the whole stick is? That'd be a huge coup cos they tend to be around £20 on their own. Sadly they are out of stock on that offer now, which is not surprising. 


Probably, and if the stick looks exactly like the one in the picture, then that looks identical to the Sanwa stick in front of me.

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3 hours ago, Nathan Wind said:

I'll kill you!


Also, I was expecting much more of a tangle of wires inside it.  It's very neat.


Tagging the buttons to the PCB makes things very neat and saves space. Makes them a bugger to swap out, but hey-ho, not a worry on this mod! 


2 hours ago, Soi said:


Probably, and if the stick looks exactly like the one in the picture, then that looks identical to the Sanwa stick in front of me.


Yeah, looking at my one it's suspiciously similar. This could mean serious savings from now on, grabbing the XSOURCE kits and getting a load of extras into the bargain each time. 


To allay Nate's fears a little, here's progress so far, with the stick's microswitches tapped into the terminal connector, and a start (and select) made on start and select!DSC_1087_1509132185450.thumb.jpg.ccdc7131db5b9d81bc14858ef5587368.jpg

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@Nathan Wind's stick is now fully wired-up, with the cable popping out of the existing chassis gap. The controller still works perfectly with the PSone, so phew. Still have to check whether the Neo hookup works. So next project: building a controller tester. Anyways....




Next up: adding some prettily-coloured Sanwa buttons, then testing fully.

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Nice.  I love that Namco stick and have one too.


I had a retro night recently, dug out a load of N64 pads for Goldeneye, but found two of them practically unuseable due to the analog sticks being worn out.  Poking around online, it seems I can either:

Replace the analog sticks with a GameCube-style thirdparty replacement

Perform a 'fix' which involves putting some tape around some part of the stick


Neither of these seem satisfactory.  The GC sticks apparently don't work too well in N64 pads as the dead zones are all wrong.  The sellotape fix sounds like something that will last for five minutes.


Anyone had any experience fixing knackered N64 pads?


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Did you look at these?


Also there's a tutorial for a fix using glue then greasing it up with silicone grease. I've not watched it all though (as it's 27 mins long!) but at a glimpse, looks solid enough. 


There are loads of fixes out there, so I'm guessing none of them are perfect. You might want to look at buying a Gamecube to N64 converter providing the games you like can save to the memory pak in controller 2?  GC pads are far more robust.

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First link is a bit confusing but I'll have a proper look later.  Seems expensive.  The GC adaptors look great and would be an option I'm interested in but they are also massively expensive.  I've actually got 4 pads that are working well enough, but thought I should try saving the other two pads with knackered sticks rather than just chuck them.  I don't want to throw a lot of money or time at the issue tbh.  I'll have a look at that glue fix later.  Thanks for the useful info.

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Jesus, I remember those. They were well rank.  Spongey buttons and terribly unresponsive stick. Other than that, they were great! 


I have so many sticks, I actually forgot one. Bought for fiddling with and getting some PS4 shooters. Then promptly forgot it existed. 



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  • 7 months later...

Does anyone know if stick microswitches contain/require lubricant?


I have a few Japanese Sega Arcade Power Sticks which, unlike the UK/US ones, have microswitched sticks. I've cleaned up and regreased the sticks and they're pretty good, but some of the stick switches occasionally fail to register, and I suspect they need an internal clean.


The microswitches are old matsushita ones which are a non-standard, humpy-backed shape and fit into moulded plastic, so I don't think replacing them is an option, which means restoring the existing ones. I saw one restoration video online where a guy soaked the switches in WD40, but generally speaking 99% IPA is better for electronic cleaning, as WD40 is about 25% mineral oil.


However,  if microswitches need some kind of internal lubricant, then I'm worried that soaking them in an IPA bath will strip this and make things worse, so maybe WD40 would be good. I've seen pages where people disassemble microswitches (not possible in this case, without drilling out the screw) and clean them out with just IPA or DeOxit with no mention of lubricant, so perhaps they don't need it?

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5 minutes ago, Lorfarius said:

Often the screws are hidden under the suckers.


I’m talking about opening the microswitches themselves, not the joystick. Already done that!




They pop out of the black tray, but it’s moulded for those humpy shoulders, while modern switches all seem to be rectangular. 

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  • 2 years later...

Not really sure whether this counts as retro or not, but it didn’t seem to warrant its own thread and is in keeping with the general theme of this one, so I’ll post my modded controller in here.


When my son built a gaming PC, I switched over from the Xbox, but was still using the One’s controller. Seemed like I wasn’t really getting the best out of the experience not using the mouse, so I tried mouse & keyboard controls, but found the keyboard utterly awful to use. The mouse was a revelation though, so I thought, wouldn’t it be great if you could use the mouse for aiming, but still have an analog stick for movement! Well, it turns out, many games do support this - you just need a way of implementing it. One way of doing so, is to take a gaming keypad, and mod an analog stick into it. Belkin used to make such gaming keypads, which had dpads under the thumb, and are ideal for such a mod. The best one to go for is an N52te, but being a cheapskate, I found a non-functional N50, which is the granddaddy of them all, for buttons on eBay.


Took me long enough to round up all the parts, do lots of dremel work and solder everything up to a Teensy LC microcontroller, and program it all, but eventually I ended up with this:



Looks a bit weird, takes some getting used to (still got to get the hang of it to be honest), but wow it’sa great way of getting to use the mouse without having to struggle with keyboard!

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On 16/05/2021 at 13:35, phresh said:

Ultimarc make a spinner that comes with a usb board (https://www.arcadeworlduk.com/products/SpinTrak-Arcade-Spinner.html), you just need to buy a knob and fly weight as well. It’s not cheap, and you’d need to drill a hole in a box to hold it, but it’s the best all round option. You can even throw a wheel on it for some pole position or off road.


I have one of these stuck in a homemade box, its really nice but it is very expensive


13 hours ago, Klatrymadon said:

Been umming and ahhing about one of these for ages. They seem perfect. 




Not sure I will resist buying one of these!

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