Vanilla Forums has been nominated for a second time in the CMS Critic "Critic's Choice" awards, and we need your vote! Read more here, and then do the thing (please).
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Building an arcade stick: And So Can You!

245678

Posts

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I generally advise to paint first and then assemble. Your lines on the joining pieces are usually much cleaner looking.
    That is of course if your project allows you to do this.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Just got all the pieces cut. good god it's nice to have access to a table saw.

    Also don't try to cut through 1/8" acrylic with a table saw, even with the blade backwards you get horribleness. Spend the $4 and get a special cutting tool for it.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    And when cutting plexi, make as many cuts as possible. You want to snap as little of it off as possible.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah, I basically cut almost all the way through the 1/8" piece I got, then snapped it off clean.

    I should drill some holes. I think I might try to drill the holes in the acrylic smaller than needed, then widen them out to the right dimensions with a dremel, just to play it safe.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Drill at a slow speed and with the plexi well clamped. That shit can shake like theres no tomorrow.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Drill at a slow speed and with the plexi well clamped. That shit can shake like theres no tomorrow.

    I took my time and it came out perfectly. It was more nerve-wracking than actually difficult. The hardest part was the 1 1/8" hole cutter. The guide bit kept biting into the plastic when it was about to break through the bottom and pulling it up against the clamps. It was a bit tricky to find the correct combination of pressure and bit speed to keep that from happening, but I found that if you are about to break through, putting the drill in reverse works pretty well.

    Also, I am going for an interesting design, so there were lots of small holes to drill near the edge of the plastic. They came out great. I'll post pictures once I am further along.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Arcade controls top panel complete!

    07dfd6cf88904b429973cc40480e8525.jpg

    e2d0b0431b6a4a8daf7a6cbbec06534a.jpg

    I was going for "victorian/steampunk" but ended up "music stand." Oh well.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    That looks huge.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    That looks huge.

    For you maybe.

    0e43e129e1324f23894236d3866bc61f.jpg

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Did you paint underneath the acrylic, or is that painted wood?

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Did you paint underneath the acrylic, or is that painted wood?

    I wrapped the top in adhesive black vinyl, then painted the design on that. I wish I'd come up with a cooler design, but I'm no artist. The vinyl worked REALLY well, though. If you look close, you can see that I just cut Xs into where the control stick and buttons need to go.

  • shadydentistshadydentist Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Eh, music stand is way classier anyways.

    Those are very classy painted f-holes on your top panel.

    Steam & GT
    Spoiler:
  • MoSiAcMoSiAc Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Looks real nice Doc.

    Monster Hunter Tri US: MoSiAc - U46FJF - Katrice | RipTen - Gaming News | Los Comics
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Classy. Very classy.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Just today I finally decided to strip the vinyl and repaint. I am not 100% happy with how it came out.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    I think I might just leave it flat black.

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Hey, the temperature managed to go above freezing again today, so I decided to get this thing finally painted. Armed with a can of black spray paint from Wal-Mart (the 98 cent special!) and a tiny can of red Rustoleum spray paint I found lying around somewhere, I took my primed box out from the corner where it had been sitting all this time.

    First I applied a whole bunch of thin coats of the black paint. It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but after a bit I was applying nice, even coats, a new one right after the old one dried.

    20090225130920.jpg

    Pictured here is the bottom panel after several coats of paint.

    By the way, I had sort of assumed that the paint would help to smooth out any minor imperfections in the material, since the primer sort of did that. (Anyone with any experience painting is already laughing here.) Any, and I mean any slight imperfections will show up even more than before after spraying the thing with black enamel. The seams between boards, the mark from that one time you bumped it against the railing when you were carrying it down the stairs, the one spot where you only used coarse sandpaper without remembering to finish it up with some extra fine sandpaper, etc. etc., will all be brilliantly clear, especially when it's painted black and in direct sunlight.

    Anyway, I decided that I didn't want the thing to just be flat black all over, and since I completely lack creativity, I decided to paint on the kanji on the back of Akuma's gi to the top panel. I made a stencil using a spare sheet of cardboard and an exactoknife, and I placed it on there once the black paint was dry and got out my red spraypaint.

    The results were far, far shittier than I ever imagined they could be. The black paint wasn't 100% perfectly dry, and so the black paint partially mixed with the red. Also, a lot of paint ran under the stencil. It really didn't come out very well and I really wish I just left it all flat black.

    20090225130910.jpg

    So now I've got three options:
    1) I can leave it as is, as a testament to never making something more complicated than it needs to be, and also because I am lazy. Hey, maybe it'll grow on me.

    2) I can sand it all out and re-paint it. This will almost certainly require a Wal*Mart run for more paint, and it's going to get cold again real soon.

    3) I can put on a plexiglass top layer and some print-out artwork and just hide it.

    I think I'm going to go with option 1, but I might do plexi later. Right now I just want to finally have this thing working. Every day I play Street Fighter IV with the Xbox pad my hands die a little.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Redo it and wait for the paint to dry. Use a stronger stencil too. You may want to just grab artsy brush and do it yourself. That could potentially look awesome.

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I vote for print out artwork. There's some cool shit out there that you could use.

    Awesome job so far. Can't wait to see how this turns out.

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah, I'm gonna do the printout artwork, but I'll get the stick working first, because I'm seriously getting impatient to get to the part that I actually know how to do right.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    When you get the plexi (if they won't cut it to exact dimensions for you) get your own plexi cutter and do it yourself. Its very easy, just be sure to use a lot of pressure, go all the way through, and use a nice strong fence/guide.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    A couple of other tips for plexi/acrylic:

    -when drilling the holes for the buttons, put the acrylic on top of another board that's at least a couple of inches thick and use at least two clamps, as close to the hole as possible. I found that the hole cutter part was no problem, but the guide bit for it was the real pain in the ass. Just go slow and it will be fine.

    -don't forget that you will need mounting screws to attach it, so drill those holes in the plastic. Also, drill guide holes in the surface of your board, slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw. If you don't do this, you are likely to get quite a few little bits of wood/sawdust between the plexi and the wood, and it won't look very good.

    -Don't try to saw lengths of plastic. The hardware store should sell the exact tool you need to cut it, it looks something like this:
    Spoiler:

    -Don't remove the protective plastic until you are about to mount it.

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    So, I noticed this morning that in addition to all the smudgy crap on the edges of the red paint, there were a bunch of bubbles in the middle. I tried to smooth them out with some fine sandpaper, and ended up exposing the primer a bit. So I said to myself, "fuck it", and sanded off all the red paint.

    20090226085843.jpg

    Then I used up the last of my black paint covering it over. It didn't come out nearly as smoothly or evenly as the bottom panel did, and I'm sort of kicking myself for doing something this stupid. But oh well, it's pretty much fine now and I'll probably cover it with plexi later.

    20090226125252.jpg

    You can sort of see the parts where I accidentally sanded through the primer, unfortunately.

    Also, I put a couple layers of clearcoat on the bottom panel. I hope I get a chance to do a couple coats on the main box but we'll see; it's supposed to get cold again soon.

    edit: I clearcoated the box now, too. It's got this nice shiny layer now which my camera is too shitty to properly convey. It doesn't exactly have that mirrorlike piano black finish that I was looking for, but it's still looking pretty good for my first time painting anything like this.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2009
    Also, what's with the four holes around the joystick hole? You should be able to bottom-mount a happ control stick no problem. Are you going to be putting bolts all the way through the board?

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Doc wrote: »
    Also, what's with the four holes around the joystick hole? You should be able to bottom-mount a happ control stick no problem. Are you going to be putting bolts all the way through the board?

    I am indeed putting 1/4" machine screws all the way through the board, with the shiny chrome machine screw heads visible on the top panel. I intended this from the start (although I did consider using countersunk flat-head machine screws, inserted and puttied over before painting, but in the end I decided I wanted the mounting hardware visible instead). I dunno, I think it looks better that way.

    Actually, I'm using the wrong verb tense there, because I mounted all the arcade hardware like five minutes ago, when the clearcoat seemed dry (or at least dry enough, and I was impatient). Pics!

    20090226200314.jpg
    20090226200332.jpg
    20090226200411.jpg

    (Sorry for the terrible picture quality; it's all I've got.)

    Oh, and to anyone planning this in the future: buy the pushbutton wrench. Seriously, it was only two dollars and it made everything so much easier.

    Next up is the part where I actually kinda know what the fuck I'm doing!

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Pushbutton wrench? Like one of those electronic adjustables?

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Pushbutton wrench? Like one of those electronic adjustables?

    No, I mean this thing:
    happ_pb_wrench.jpg

    a handheld tool specifically designed to tighten those black nuts that hold in the pushbuttons. Yeah, it's a single-use tool that you'll probably never use again if this is your only stick but god damn it made this so much easier.

    edit: Oh, by the way, 1/4" is about a half size too large for the machine screws holding in the joystick, so don't do what I did. I managed to kinda force it anyway, though.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • GR_ZombieGR_Zombie Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Man I'm seriously catching the bug for DiY arcade sticks. Are there any good tutorials out there for making one for the 360?

    fp4hy8vbapia.jpeg
  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    That's just a little plastic nut driver. I have a big set of metal ones with handles. They're definitely not one-use if you repair appliances.

    ghost-robot.jpg
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    GR_Zombie wrote: »
    Man I'm seriously catching the bug for DiY arcade sticks. Are there any good tutorials out there for making one for the 360?

    Really, the part where you figure out what system you're using it for, soldering wires to a PCB, etc. is the least important and least time-consuming step. At least, as far as I can tell.

    I didn't have any time to work this weekend, but I got part of the wiring done this morning. I'll post about it after I get my pictures in order.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    GR_Zombie wrote: »
    Man I'm seriously catching the bug for DiY arcade sticks. Are there any good tutorials out there for making one for the 360?

    I've been looking into it too, and building the cabinet seems to take 90%+ of the time and effort. I'm thinking about just drilling/modifying an old speaker cabinet as I saw on a site somewhere. If you want to look more into building your own stick, check out the forums at http://shoryuken.com, http://www.slagcoin.com, and http://www.joystickvault.com/ for pics of other peoples builds.

    I've been looking into modding a cheap arcade stick, such as this Elecom/Mayflash one (http://www.play-asia.com/paOS-13-71-zl-49-en-70-2byy.html), but it's a pretty involved process too as you may need to widen the holes to accommodate larger buttons and add reinforcement to handle a different joystick.

    Edit: Ah, u said 360, ignore that last part.

  • FightTestFightTest Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I've been strongly considering this also.

    Only problem is the initial investment in tools makes the would-be-cheaper final product far more expensive than a really nice factory stick.

    On a whim I went out and blew $50 on soldering gear (iron, wire, solder, terminal strip, stripper/crimper, some small screwdrivers) yesterday after I took apart an old controller I had lying around to mess with. So that's $50 for the electrical start.

    Then it's about another $60 for all the stick parts. Then it's about $30 for raw materials. Then it's $10-$30 for a controller to cannibalize. And then you have to consider all the other hardware store type tools and mats you need. I have a table & chop saw, electric drill, bits, etc.. but I would still at the least want a router, in an ideal world a drill press and a band saw would be nice also.

    Basically if I had a woodworking setup already I'd be all over it, but it's hard justifying the purchase of some tools I really only want for one project that would then collect dust. The TE stick is going to be rereleased in a few weeks and that's $150 and you're done. So it comes down to if you want to spend money to have a fun project or if you just want a stick.

    MOBA DOTA.
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    FightTest wrote: »
    I've been strongly considering this also.

    Only problem is the initial investment in tools makes the would-be-cheaper final product far more expensive than a really nice factory stick.

    On a whim I went out and blew $50 on soldering gear (iron, wire, solder, terminal strip, stripper/crimper, some small screwdrivers) yesterday after I took apart an old controller I had lying around to mess with. So that's $50 for the electrical start.

    Then it's about another $60 for all the stick parts. Then it's about $30 for raw materials. Then it's $10-$30 for a controller to cannibalize. And then you have to consider all the other hardware store type tools and mats you need. I have a table & chop saw, electric drill, bits, etc.. but I would still at the least want a router, in an ideal world a drill press and a band saw would be nice also.

    Basically if I had a woodworking setup already I'd be all over it, but it's hard justifying the purchase of some tools I really only want for one project that would then collect dust. The TE stick is going to be rereleased in a few weeks and that's $150 and you're done. So it comes down to if you want to spend money to have a fun project or if you just want a stick.

    Well, if you don't count the tools (that will almost certainly later be used on some later project as well) and the, erm, "educational expenses" (read: materials accidentally destroyed, or materials purchased that were not actually needed or used), my stick definitely comes out cheaper than the average high-end arcade stick from Hori or (ha!) Madcatz or whomever, and even counting that stuff I seriously doubt it breaks $150. But yes, it's definitely more about the project than about the finished product, I guess. I mean, I could never justify spending $150 on a video game controller, but on a project that will occupy me for months, where the bulk of the expense is reusable tools, well, sure. But then, I already had all the soldering crap and could borrow a drill, although I did end up buying a circular saw. (A router and a rotary tool are optional, as I've learned, but I can think of a few times when they would have been very nice to have.)

    Of course, if you're going to build more than one stick, the economics of the idea shift drastically, since the materials used are far less expensive than the tools.

    sidenote: Also, I've noticed as I was drilling this project box that's gonna hold my 360 controller PCB: polycarbonate dust smells exactly like movie theater popcorn. Or is it the other way around?
    Spoiler:

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • wdejongwdejong Registered User
    edited March 2009
    It's cool to see someone doing what I've been thinking of doing. I actually found this thread while researching.

    I'm looking at building a box not unlike yours, but I do intend to use Sanwa parts, so I'll have an acrylic overlay. I'll keep you all updated as I go along!

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Now we get to the part where I know what I'm doing.

    Today, I finished the bulk of the wiring. This is a part I can explain a little better than the other parts, because it's not my first time with this sort of thing.

    Each pushbutton has a microswitch, and the joystick has four microswitches. Microswitches are the heart of how this hardware works; the pushbuttons and joystick are essentially just extra housing for them to make them more comfortable to press. Happ buttons and joysticks all use the same kind of standard microswitch (except for their very expensive Perfect360 joystick that uses photoelectric sensors instead, but I didn't pay the premium for that one so whatever). Here's a diagram:

    e21_cutaway_2x.gif

    Each microswitch has three contacts: Common, NC (Normally Closed), and NO (Normally Open). In my case, I wanted to wire all the Common pins together as the common ground, and wire all the signal lines to the NO pins individually, so that whenever a button was pressed, the switch would connect that NO pin to ground.

    Additionally, the plan was to not mount the controller PCB inside the stick itself, but rather in an external box, so the stick can be used on multiple systems. The boxes containing PCBs would be connected with DA-15 cable, because it had enough wires for what I needed.

    First, I mounted a barrier block in my stick. This serves as a place to anchor all the connections to. Then, I wired up each of the microswitches' NO pins to a different position on the barrier block. Finally, I daisy-chained all the Common pins together and wired them to another position on the barrier block. This looks far more complicated than it actually was.

    I used crimped connectors: .187" Quick Disconnects for the microswitch terminal ends, and #6 spade connectors for the barrier block terminal ends. I didn't have a crimping tool on hand, so I used a pair of pliers. Don't do that yourself; the crimps don't come out quite as good and, more importantly, your hands will hurt afterwards. Also, the #6 spade connectors were slightly too large for the 24 AWG wire I was using, but whatever; they were what I had on hand and they worked.

    For the wire, I bought a length of unteriminated 15-wire cable off of a big spool and just pulled the individual wires out of the casing. It was cheaper that way, and I could color-code things. Each button could have a different color wire, and occasionally it would even match the color of the button.

    20090302132431.jpg

    Then, I soldered together a wiring harness to attach to the other side of the barrier block. This was pretty simple; just solder one wire to each pin of a DA-15 connector, then terminate the other end with a spade terminal. I attached the wires to the barrier block, and (and this is important!) I remembered to write down which pins on the DA-15 connector went to which buttons. Pins on the connector are numbered 1 to 8 in the top row and 9 to 15 in the bottom row, left to right (when the soldering end of the connector is facing you). If you look really closely you can even see the numbers stamped in there on the plastic. The wires were connected as follows:

    pin 1 - +5V - red wire
    pin 2 - Ground - black wire
    pin 3 - Up - green w/white stripe
    pin 4 - Right - red w/black stripe
    pin 5 - Left - blue w/white stripe
    pin 6 - Down - green w/black stripe
    pin 7 - Select - white w/black stripe
    pin 8 - Start - white
    pin 9 - Hard Kick (Purple button) - blue w/black stripe
    pin 10 - Medium Kick (Red button) - red w/white stripe
    pin 11 - Light Kick (Green button) - green
    pin 12 - Light Punch (Blue button) - blue
    pin 13 - Medium Punch (Yellow button) - orange w/black stripe
    pin 14 - Hard Punch (Orange button) - orange
    pin 15 - unused and unwired, "floating"

    Remember when soldering, you want the solder to bond with the surfaces you're soldering together, and that means you need to really heat both of those surfaces. If you just glob molten solder on there, it will break, and generally it will do so at the most inopportune time.

    20090302132400.jpg

    Anyway. With that done, it was time to work on the controller. Previously, I bought a Gamestop-branded Mad Catz-built X360 controller for $25, largely because I couldn't find anything cheaper. As a gaming controller, the Mad Catz thing was unforgivably terrible, reinforcing my idea that nothing from that company can ever be any good. The ergonomics of the grips were awful, the cheap plastic actually scratched my hands, it was fragile as hell, etc. etc.

    However, despite its utter failure as a gaming controller, it was the perfect controller to use as a sacrificial pad. Most importantly, all the buttons used a common ground, which was not just nice to have, but in my case was absolutely necessary because of my DA-15 project box scheme. Also, the D-pad connectors were on some kind of easily-removed daughterboard, and all of the button contacts were bare copper rather than coated in conductive enamel. This means that they would have quickly corroded under normal gamepad use from hand sweat dripping into the controller (while saving Mad Catz fractions of cents per unit on manufacturing costs!) but it also meant that they were extremely easy to solder wires to.

    Anyway. Since I last posted about the controller, I've cleaned up the circuit board a bit. I removed both analog triggers (one accidentally, as it's held on by three surface-mount solder points and that's it so one good shove and snap) last time, and since then I removed the miniature microswitches they used for the shoulder buttons (easily done with some desoldering braid) and then I removed the analog sticks.

    20090304100003.jpg

    Guys, if you're following along at home, don't bother removing the analog sticks unless you really have to. Or if you really want to, I suppose.

    First off, they're held on there by eight solder points, so desoldering them is hard. I tried that and then gave up and just ripped them off with pliers and a cutter.

    Anyway, the reason you might want to avoid taking these off is that the system will then assume that the joystick is held down and to the left. I had sort of assumed that the analog sticks would act like Nintendo's analog sticks: where the position the stick is in when the controller is connected is automatically calibrated as the center. Haha, nope! X360 pads use variable resistors (aka potentiometers) to make the joysticks work.

    pre-tl;dr: I'll explain how this works next; if you don't care and just want to fix the problem, skip this paragraph. There's a variable resistor for each trigger and each joystick axis. There are three pins: a high voltage pin (on this controller, +5v), a low voltage pin (on this controller, ground) and the wiper (or sensor) pin in the middle. The wiper varies in voltage between the amount on the high voltage pin and the amount on the low voltage pin based on the position of the potentiometer (i.e. the position of the joystick or trigger). If the wiper is "floating" (i.e. not connected to anything), it will usually read a low voltage, but will sometimes act erratically because it's not actually anchored to a ground. (You can use some software like Xpadder to see the exact values of the analog controls, and you can watch them vary wildly as you rub your hands on them and get some small charge from static electricity on there. It's actually kinda trippy.) For the triggers, low voltage is what we want, but for the joystick axes we want something exactly between the low and the high voltage lines, (so it thinks that the joysticks are centered.)

    Anyway. we want to anchor the joysticks to a midway voltage, so the thing to do is wire a fixed resistor from the high voltage line to the wiper and a fixed resistor from the low voltage line to the wiper. I used some 10 kOhm resistors I had lying around. Now, since there are two joysticks, there are four potentiometers, which means you'd need eight resistors. I didn't have eight resistors; I had two resistors. So I centered one axis with the resistors, then ran some wire from the wiper pin on that axis to the wiper pins on each of the other three axes, under the assumption that the voltage for "center" on one wiper was the same for the rest of them.

    For the analog triggers, I wanted to anchor them to ground so that the floating wiper wouldn't randomly decide to register a trigger pull. I didn't care about using them as pushbutton inputs, because when you plug a 360 controller into a PC, the way it handles the analog triggers is fucking retarded; I'll just use the digital shoulder buttons for Hard Punch and Hard Kick. I probably could have just wired the wiper directly to ground, but to be on the safe side I used a 1 kOhm resistor on each one between the wiper and ground (I had a bunch of those lying around).

    20090304114450.jpg

    Then I tested the controller on my PC and the joysticks all read (near-)perfectly centered. So far, so good. I've got a working PCB, and it doesn't have any crap sticking out of it except the USB cable and the headset jack.

    I made a second wiring harness with the same pinout as the first one and soldered each wire to the appropriate place on the PCB. Many of the connections (all except for A, B, X, Y, Start, and Select, in fact) ended up as really easy through-hole connections after I had the board all cleaned up. I removed the daughterboard that had those D-pad connections and soldered wires straight to the points that used to hold the daughterboard there. Since I only needed to solder the common ground wire in one place, I decided to use the pin on the D-pad board harness. (This explains those five wires right next to eachother in the lower left there.) The shoulder buttons were likewise very easy. The face buttons were the only tricky part, but with some flux they went on pretty smooth.

    Oh, yes, flux. Flux is a sort of miracle chemical that makes soldering infinitely easier. You see, copper corrodes quickly at soldering temperatures, and solder doesn't bond to corroded copper. Flux cleans off the corrosion and helps the solder adhere to the metal surfaces. Flux also is sticky, which helps hold components in place when you're soldering. Oh, and it's not electrically conductive. Use lots of flux; it makes your job a lot easier. You can always clean off any sticky, dried flux later using rubbing alcohol or something.

    Oh, and also, when soldering, you will probably burn yourself at least once. It comes with the territory; you'll live.

    20090304194439.jpg

    Anyway, I got the board all soldered up. Then I carefully tested it for short circuits with a multimeter. You need to make absolutely sure that the ground and the main power aren't ever touching, ever. If they are, you have a short circuit. I don't know if the Xbox 360 has protection on its USB ports against them being shorted, and I don't intend to find out the hard way. I do know that some computers do, and some computers don't.

    After verifying that there were no shorts, I grabbed my DA-15 cable and ran it from the arcade stick to the connector now attached to the PCB, and then plugged the PCB into my Xbox 360 and tested out my joystick for the first time in some Street Fighter. The thing worked beautifully. I just need to tidy this thing up now: put the PCB in a project box, attach the bottom panel to the arcade stick; solder up PCBs for my PS2 and Dreamcast and maybe Wii as well, etc.

    edit: Oh, and in retrospect, that inner frame made out of 2"x3"s was hilariously excessive. It's a good thing I'm doing a project box-based setup, because the controller PCB wouldn't have even fit inside the actual stick.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • 1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I like that you've made it external and usable on different systems - but why not just internalize all that and have the different ports directly available on the outside of the joystick? You could use extender cables to connect it when needed?

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    1ddqd wrote: »
    I like that you've made it external and usable on different systems - but why not just internalize all that and have the different ports directly available on the outside of the joystick? You could use extender cables to connect it when needed?

    Because there's a finite amount of space on the inside to place PCBs. I didn't want to make the thing too humongous.

    vvvvvv-dithw.png
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    My first stick is complete, I'm working on a second now, since I got a second controller in case I screwed up the first. I wanted to wire up the triggers of this one, but it's kind of complicated on the madkatz one that I have. I have no problem building that circuit, but I may have fucked up my board. I did one side perfectly, and it works great. When soldering the wiper/center point of the other side, the blob of solder came off the board. I tried to put it back, but failed. Now there is a greasy substance (flux?) covering the point, and I can't get anything to stick to it, even after wiping it off. Done I fucked up? I may just leave it disconnected, as it doesn't seem to be interfering with the rest of the controller. I really wanted those buttons, though. :(

    I am considering just going out and getting another used madkatz controller, since a friend now wants me to build him one, as well. I can use this one for that purpose. :D

  • Duncan345Duncan345 Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Daedalus, you have single-handedly inspired me to register to these forums. I found your thread when I was in the early stages of custom joystick research. Let me just say that it is great to see your true progress and not an edited version. Too many of these "how to" threads ignore the mistakes that normal DIYers make. Thank you for being cool enough to show us your mistakes and not just your successes. Also, your writing style actually makes it entertaining to read what could easily be a dry, technical article.

    I'm still in the planning stages but this thread has helped me identify a few mistakes that I would have made. Thanks again and I'll make sure to create a thread like this as I build my stick.

Sign In or Register to comment.