(almost done): Gekko's Easy Custom Stick Guide/Journal for total n00bs (lots of pics)


#1

COME ONE COME ALL, WELCOME TO MY EASY JOURNAL/GUIDE FOR CUSTOM STICK BUILDING FOR N00BS!

This guide will cover all the steps, from nothing to working stick, needed to build your very own custom arcade stick

Important notes:
-This guide is written for n00bs, by a n00b
-most steps are written to “you” but specifically relate to exactly what I used/did (meaning some should only be followed if you have the exact same hardware I do)
-I have had absolutely zero wood working, hole drilling, glass cutting, image printing, soldering, electrical work, etc. before I started this project
-This project was taken on by me and 2 other friends because we really wanted our own individual sticks without paying someone else to customize them (we wanted to feel like we accomplished it)
-Please do not critique the way I did things if you know its wrong (because I guarantee some of my techniques are way off); my stick works perfectly and I am happy with the way I did things
-I will cover each set of tasks I did as its own chapter in my guide so you all may navigate easier
-each chapter will have my journal entry, final notes, and a Q&A section that will be populated by YOUR questions!
-finally I want to throw all my thanks to SlagCoin (http://slagcoin.com/joystick.html) for its in depth description of just about everything needed to complete my stick! it has been the best guide I used hands down


CHAPTER 1:
Buying Materials
n00b challenge: 4/10

Journal
So day 1, I got together with my fellow builders, and together, we just brainstormed about what we needed to use right for our box shell. We broke down our list in two areas: 1) tools, and 2) materials. For our first trip to the hardware store, and through the help of the friendly employees at the store, we came up with the following lists:

Tools:
-a saw (duh)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3403/3560536119_b35d75cd47.jpg?v=0

-an electric drill
-hole drillers of various sizes (not just size in pic)
*note: for the hole sizes of buttons, see SlagCoin (link above)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3606/3560574443_bbaf4ba461.jpg?v=0

-drill bits and screwdriver bits
-long wood screws (looked about 2 inches)
-wood glue (I never ended up using this but better to be safe)
-wood stain
-heavy duty sander for drill
-acrylic glass cutter

Materials:
-pre-cut 1"x4"x(we got 6 feet but you can get it shorter) pine wood
*this is for the sides
-pre-cut 1"x3"x(we got 6 feet again) pine wood
*this is for the inside top panel support
all pine wood:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3392/3560535077_fe2cb82a12.jpg?v=0

-a slab of 1" thick poplar wood (big enough to cut 2 or more sizable top panel out of)
*this is for the top panel

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3627/3560547619_fb4b205bc1.jpg?v=0

-2 (or more) sheets of acrylic glass (large enough to cut top panel size sheets)
*this is for image protection on top panel

End Notes:
-bought too much materials! I had enough to build 2 full boxes, and still had wood left over, but I say better safe than sorry, especially if this is your first time with these tools like it was for me

Q&A:
Q: Did you buy your buttons/stick yet?
A: Nope, we did not even plan which we actually were going to use yet.
Q: "how thick is the plexi your using?"
A: Honestly no clue, all of it looked the same thickness at the store so I just bought the cheapest they had… I assume a couple of mm’s at least.


CHAPTER 2:
Building The Box
n00b challenge: 5.5/10 = trial/error required

Journal
We got back from our hardware trip and did a bit more planning before cutting. Our planning was kept simple: how big to we want our top panel? Being a noob and wanting things easy, I suggested 8.5"x11", the size of a normal piece of paper, to make the image easy, and measuring easy. This plan worked great!

We grabbed a piece of paper and went outside to cut the wood. Amazingly enough, we never once used a ruler/measuring tape besides our own piece of paper and our cut wood. Here is a breakdown of our work:

STEP 1:
line paper up width wise with the 1"x4"x_" pine wood and mark a line at the end of paper with a pencil; cut slowly across this line with your saw… you have now cut 1 left/right side piece

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3589/3561355084_cb5d75dae4.jpg?v=0

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2484/3561356404_2f7112c2ff.jpg?v=0

STEP 2:
use the left/right side piece you just cut to measure your 2nd left/right side piece on top of the same pine wood; cut along line; and bam, there is your 2nd left/right side piece!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2472/3561359612_a8fd452c40.jpg?v=0

STEP 3:
using the same 1"x4"x_" pine wood; stack both left/right side pieces on top of each other then line them up with paper (length wise) to measure and mark your upper/lower side piece… cut along line and there is your piece

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3370/3560543613_9c6000f60c.jpg?v=0

STEP 4:
like step 2, use this new piece to measure and mark your final piece of this wood; then cut it (duh)… you now have your shell done! time for the support

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3320/3560544635_08ffea1eac.jpg?v=0

STEP 5:
take one of your left/right side pieces and measure and mark a piece of the 1"x3"x_" wood to the same length… cut this, and now you have half your support!
STEP 6:
repeat step 5 for your 2nd and last support piece
STEP 7:
line up your pieces and make sure they all fit together!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3414/3560545827_0cac1ab7c2.jpg?v=0

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2464/3560546725_a77e15e541.jpg?v=0

STEP 8:
to cut your top panel, simple take your paper and take your poplar wood; line up the paper on a corner of your poplar wood; and mark the edges… now cut that sucker! bam; top piece done!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3595/3561365232_3234aef386.jpg?v=0

STEP 9:
now for the acrylic glass… take your top panel piece and place it on your acrylic glass from the corner and kneel on top of it to keep it sturdy… now use the glass cutter you bought to “scar” the glass along the edges of your top panel… this mean to scrap the glass continuously, starting light, then pressing harder… when you have a good “scar”, take your acrylic glass to some table/stair/things with an edge, and place the part your want to break off over the edge… kneel and/or place your hands next to the scar and softly bend the piece you want to break off up and down continuously until it snaps off! repeat for the 2nd scar

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3319/3561367790_971290e781.jpg?v=0

STEP 10:
Place everything together to make sure it fits; if anything it slightly off, use that good heavy duty sander and sand it down until it fits!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2454/3560549575_800047a6ab.jpg?v=0

STEP 11:
drill the top, left, and right, sides (as well as supports) together!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2432/3561371480_7a9ba1916d.jpg?v=0

End Notes:
-the pre-cut pine wood makes this a breeze
-safety first!
-be patient and gentle when scarring your acrylic glass… it is tedious
-do not remove the covering on your acrylic glass!!!
-do not srew all 4 sides together yet

Q&A
ask away guys!


CHAPTER 3:
Order Buttons
n00b challenge: 2/10

Journal
I bought my stuff from http://www.lizardlick.com/ and I HIGHLY recommend it. I also bought 10 seimitsu buttons (6 face, 3 navigation, and 1 spare one) and an LS-32 seimitsu joystick. Then I waited a few weeks until my pieces came in.

End Notes:
-do research before ordering! SlagCoin has an incredible amount of detail in their part descriptions so check it out

Q&A
ask away guys!


CHAPTER 4:
Design Evaluation and Back to the Store
n00b challenge: 4/10

Journal
I got my buttons. but before the final work began, I needed to collect the final materials and tools for the rest of my work. I made a design decision as well after seeing my arcade parts in person. I decided to add a thin layer between my top panel poplar wood and my acrylic glass to simplify the joystick installation. Here was my layering design decision:

http://slagcoin.com/joystick/mounting_layering/layers.png

http://slagcoin.com/joystick/mounting_layering/top_triple_sawed.png

thanks to SlagCoin for the pictures

I also planned my electric needs and accessories. I decided to use small, but not tiny wires, and to wire each chord through a “gate” to allow for easier maintenance in case a stick or button broke later on. To cut to the chase, here is my shopping list:

List:
-thin piece of wood (im assuming anytype will work) no thicker than your acrylic glass, but big enough to cut 2 top panels out of
-soldering iron (we bought a cheap one and it worked but it was hard)
-roll of solder
-electric precision saw for cutting openings in wood (i think thats what its called… we already had one we were borrowing and I dont exactly know its real name)
-hot glue gun with glue sticks
-a 90ft roll of 22gauge (if I remember correctly)
-wire cutter/stripper
-2 x 12-pin wire gates
-a New MadCats Xbox360 Controller (made sure it worked on windows also)
-an exacto knife (or something similar for image cutting)
-sandpaper sheets
-some small scredrivers, flathead and phillips (we had some laying around and didnt buy them)

End Notes:
-none as of now

Q&A
Q: "how thick is the wood for the middle panel? you just said ‘thin wood’."
A: No clue on the exact thickness, it was exactly (or almost) the same thickness as my glass.
Q: "you said to buy 2 pieces, are there 2 pieces put together to make up the middle panel?"
A: Sorry if I was unclear above, I said to buy a piece big enough for 2 pieces to leave room for mistakes/experimenting.


CHAPTER 5:
Image Creation
n00b challenge: 5/10 = fun but can be tedious and time consuming

Journal
This was a fun part! First off… get Paint.NET, it is an incredible free program that will allow you to make pro images. When you open it up and create a new image, set the size to 8.5"x11" at 96 ppi (pixels per inch). This will ensure that when you have it printed it will fit perfectly on your top panel. I visited deviantART and ran a search for vega pictures. Once I found one I like, I saved it and opened it in Paint.NET. Make sure when you paste it into your 8.5"x11" picture to KEEP CURRENT CANVAS SIZE. Now play with the image: change the hue/colors, add effects, overlap images, add text; but BE SURE TO USE LAYERS! I taught myself Paint.NET as I went along and it was fairly easy with a few google searches. Once I had finished my picture, I took it to a local printing place on a USB drive and had them print it out on a large piece of that thicker paper. I got two copies to be safe.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2457/3560570723_8cf4c1a5ea.jpg?v=0

End Notes:
-Paint.NET Paint.NET Paint.NET
-take your time with your image, it is what you will be looking at all the time!

Q&A
Q: Will you send us your pic?
A: unfortunately no, I feel it would be unfair to redistribute the work of someone at deviantART, especially since I can’t take full credit for the entire pic since I used someone else’s art as a basis.
Q: "Is that paint.net program just like a shitty photoshop?"
A: I am no pro at photoshop (or even Paint.NET for that reason), but I found it very nice with the right amount of complexity… also there are plug-ins for way more complex effects available.


CHAPTER 6:
Hole Drilling and Precision Cutting
n00b challenge: 8/10 = precise cuts/drills or it fails

Journal
This day was actually my final day, but I broke it into two chapters since I did so much. This will just cover the hole drilling and precision cutting. Before you start, be sure to have a designated button layout (found on SlagCoin) that you wish to use. I used the 96 dpi version of this layout:

and printed it to scale. Here are the steps I followed for all our drilling and precision cutting:

STEP 1:
place the picture under your acrylic glass and mark the center of your buttons and stick holes on your glass.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3417/3561370304_6440a533ed.jpg?v=0

STEP 2:
Use whatever hole drill bit is barely under 30mm (I used the 1 1/8") for the holes. Place your glass over some scrap wood for support and begin to drill our your holes… KEY NOTE!!! Drill extremely fast, but lower the drill extremely slow… you DO NOT WANT THE MAIN PART TO HIT THE GLASS. What you want to do here is “scar” circles in the glass using the outside teeth of those drill bits. Once you have scared all 6 buttons on one side, flip the glass over and drill on the same spot from the back… if you scared deep enough on both sides, the hole should fall out naturally with only the middle and outside teeth of the drill making contact.
STEP 3:
Use a smaller drill bit (im pretty sure i used a 3/4") to drill out your joystick hole the same way as mentioned above. Once this is done your piece should look like this:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3323/3561390880_543c16133c.jpg?v=0

STEP 4:
I know it will kill you, but dont try to fit your buttons in yet, because they wont fit! Instead, take regular sandpaper, tear off a long but short piece, wrap it around your finger, and then sand the inside of your holes. Sand them in an in/out motion while going around the hole in a circle. Stop every 30seconds to 1minute and test your button. You are done with your button slides into your hole with force. I had to push some of my buttons pretty hard to get them in, but better snug then loose.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3332/3561391434_b4ddf7c3c9.jpg?v=0

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3309/3561391824_38aa29ebe4.jpg?v=0

STEP 5:
Now for that middle layer. Using the thin wood your bought on your second shopping trip, place the finished acrylic glass on top of it lined up at the corners. Mark off the edges and holes (using centered dots for the holes). Now repeat steps 2 and 3 but on your thin wood exactly as your glass, except this time, you may drill all the way through one side and not worry about “scarring”; thus making this easier.
STEP 6:
Place the middle layer wood under your acrylic glass layer, and using the same technique in step 4, sand the holes in your middle layer through the holes in your glass layer until they are the same size. Your finished middle layer should look as follows:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3376/3560575275_51f9d9c6fc.jpg?v=0

STEP 7:
Grab your poplar top panel and place the glass layer on top of it… mark the circles for your buttons an stick as on your glass… once this is done, drill out the joystick hole accurately, and just drill out another hole somewhere in the button area so your precision saw will fit in and let you clear it all out. Now use your precision saw to clear out a nice squarish area where all your buttons will fall, using your marked circles as an estimate.
STEP 8:
Once this is done, remove the mounting plate on your LS-32 stick by unscrewing the 4 screws on top. Flip your top panel upside down and insert the stick into your joystick hole from the bottom. Mark off the area needed to fit the gate and electrical part of your stick (basically, you need everything below the mounting plate to fit into the poplar panel) and then whip out that precision saw and clear it out. Once steps 7 and 8 are done your poplar should look like this:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3388/3561392772_e0a5457e73.jpg?v=0

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2421/3561393170_7a9b11c57b.jpg?v=0

STEP 9:
Before re-attaching your LS-32 mounting plate, use your plate to trace out a nice hole on your thin wood middle layer and cut this out using the precision saw as well. You want your mounting plate to fit through your middle thin wood layer.
STEP 10:
Go ahead and reattach your joystick and drop it down into your poplar wood. Push your buttons into your glass and middle layers and then lower your middle layer down onto your poplar layer to get an idea of of this will look (I printed a simple picture of my art and poked holes in it to get an idea of how it would look)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3638/3561393778_d6f2fb089f.jpg?v=0

End Notes:
-PRACTICE GLASS HOLE CUTTING ON SCRAP PIECES, you will shatter your first few pieces if your a noob like me, so practice until you can do it, then use your main piece
-always precision cut too small at first… it is easier to sand/cut off wood then to add wood back on
-if any descriptions are confusing about the layers, refer to the layer design in Chapter 4
-dont screw any hardware into the wood yet! you need to finish the box with paint/stain/etc before this happens

Q&A
Q: "you traced the buttons holes onto the wood using the plexi top as a stencil?"
A: yes, just trace the circles from the glass onto the wood
Q: "how did make dots in the exact center?"
A: my eyes ;-)… chances are if the center is off it is barely noticeable and easily fixed while sanding the holes wider


both CHAPTER 7: SOLDERING and CHAPTER 8: FINISHING TOUCHES
are both located in a later post, please scroll down


CHAPTER 9:
THE FINISHED BOX

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3557/3561376182_49394bd2da.jpg?v=0

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3372/3560563331_cb3b43c291.jpg?v=0

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2477/3561384074_b092c0faa1.jpg?v=0


CHAPTER 10:
Final Thoughts

End Notes:
-over all this was easier than I though it would be, but a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be
-no I will not build you a custom stick lol, but maybe in the future I will
-MORE TO COME

Q&A
Q: “your 1” panel pieces are actually 3/4" right?“
A: yes, I am assuming that there is some measuring standard, so my “1 inch” thick boards (pine and poplar) physically measured to 3/4” despite saying 1"

[RIGHT]latest update:
added chapter 7 and 8 (see post below)[/RIGHT]


#2

Nice guide and final stick. Is that paint.net program just like a shitty photoshop? If so I might have to fiddle around with it


#3

its actually a really good program haha, definitely no photoshop but definitely not “shitty” :stuck_out_tongue:


#4

paint.net is a very good knockoff to PS. Another good app is Gimp which also allows you to open, edit and save as PSD files. But the keyboard shortcuts on Gimp are different from PS. paint.net tries to keep it as close as possible.


#5

for step 5 you traced the buttons holes onto the wood using the plexi top as a stencil? how did make dots in the exact center? great guide! this is explained a lot better than slagcoin for a beginner like me.

edit: also your 1" panel pieces are actually 3/4" right?


#6

great questions

yes, i used the plexi glass as a stencil, and as for the center, I just put a dot right where I thought the middle was… the beauty of this is that since the holes are initially too small, when you sand them out, if your middle was a tiny bit off, just sand the hole bigger on the side away from the other buttons to make sure they all fit :slight_smile:

and yes, the 1" width physically measured to 3/4" (im guessing it is a standard of some sort but I have no idea)

updated guide with new questions


#7

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one stupid enough to attempt this without any previous knowledge/skill. Great guide!

My stick is 4 months in the making… got it finally assembled yesterday and twisted off the screw heads when attaching the bottom panel… come to find out during final assembly I broke a solder joint so “Up” doesn’t work… well at least I think that’s the issue. I dunno for sure 'cuz I can’t get the bottom off! Boy does it look good though!


#8

haha yeah man, I ran into a few complications myself… one thing coming in the next major update is how my entire top is not attached at all… since i screwed in my bottom, i decided that my top will just rest right in its place in case I need to do maintenance… my buddy screwed it all in, then decided to redo his buttons… needless to say after numerous screw ins/outs, wood is not as durable as youd think lol


#9

for no experience whatsoever, you did a really good job. :tup: i’m in the process of making my first case too. some points to help your next case be even better.

chapter 6 - first off i rand into the same problem with hole saws. i bought this style http://ec-images.acehardwareoutlet.com/raw/products/2114825.jpg size 7/8 & 1-1/8 from my local ace hardware. the larger saw is perfect for anyone using happ buttons. sanding the holes to widen for sanwas was annoying. :rofl: so i went on ebay and ordered the correct size of 15/16 (24mm) & 1-3/16 (30mm).

in response to nismo’s question. i recommend taping down the template to your middle piece of wood, and the placing it in your case with the acrylic. now taking the smallest bit you have, drill through the center dots on the template. you can go through all they way, if not, just enough to mark the wood. now you can take your hole saw and have perfectly lined up holes without eyeing it.

for maintenance, it’s typical to have the top secured and the bottoms is removable via the 4 screws holding your feet in.


#10

nice guide, cool of you to take the time to do this. looking forward to the soldering guide!


#11

Very nice guide! Thanks for taking the time to document your effort!


#12

thanks for the responses guys! and soarer, did that drill bit work well with the plexi glass? I considered it but it just looked too… errr… scary… haha…


#13

i noticed the edges where the wood was cut http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3372/3560563331_cb3b43c291.jpg?v=0. thanks to Digital717 thread,http://forums.shoryuken.com/showthread.php?t=191692, i know to seal that part up before primer and paint.


#14

good find soarer; that would have made it look far better :frowning:

…perhaps for my next one!


#15

Nice guide there, the reason the 1" thick wood is actually 3/4" is just how wood gets measured… the 1" is the rough thickness while the 3/4" is the thickness after being milled/planed and whatnot. And I used hole saws on the lexan and MDF/Pine I had used rather than a spade bit. >.>

I’ve only had a little more experience with wood (1 year of woodshop in high school back in the day) and a couple projects with acrylic/polycarbonate (window mods for computer cases and such). So my cases might have some technically more complex designs… but… they end up looking about the same as yours on the outside, haha. Wasted effort on my part I suppose :sad:

Just might want to work on the outside polish – sand the wood first, prime it sand a little… prime some more…maybe sand again… or just paint over it a couple layers and then seal it with some polyurethane for that gloss/protective layer.

Anyway.
Keep up the good work mang.


#16

more questions that weren’t explained in your guide.

how thick is the plexi your using?

how thick is the wood for the middle panel? you just said “thin wood”. also you said to buy 2 pieces, are there 2 pieces put together to make up the middle panel?

and the bottom piece of wood for the control panel is 1" right?


#17

good questions nismo! sorry for not being clear…

to answer, I do not know how thick my acrylic glass was because they all looked the same thickness at home depot lol… i am assuming a couple of mm…

the middle piece of wood was the same thickness as the glass (or so it looked) and I bought 2 pieces to have one for practice/experimenting with

im assuming you mean the poplar piece, which in that case was 1" as i though i stated…

I will add these to the proper Q&A’s thanks for taking time to read my guide!

note: I will be adding the soldering guide asap


#18

Looking forward to it. Awesome guide so far :tup:


#19

I have not used the new bits from ebay yet, i think they can handle metal and wood. but for the first set, i think we went too fast (drill trigger all the way down) because the cutout kinda melted in the hole saw lol. so we had to pry to pry it out.

judging from your pictures, your plexi looks 1/8.


#20

Chapter 7 and 8


CHAPTER 7:
Soldering… duh duh duh
n00b challenge: 9/10 = steady hands, patience/time, and 2 people required (read below)

Journal
Ok guys, let me start by saying one thing. This is not that difficult. Do not let yourself get intimidated by this part… if you are holding off on making a stick because of this then do not fear! I rated this a 9/10 noob challenge only because it takes 2 people, lots of time, steady hands, AND IT IS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING (for me and probably you if your new to this). This part requires the wire cutter/stripper, solder, soldering iron, Mad Catz xbox360 controller (2009 model… a.k.a. buy it new in stores), hot glue gun + glue, wire, the 2 12-pin wire gates, your buttons/stick (used later), and a nice table you wouldnt mind getting molten metal all over. I think I will stray from the “step” system in this chapter and just show you a lovely picture and then explain how/what I did; because of this, read this entire section before soldering as it is all crucial and must be understood prior to soldering (unlike previous step by step sections)…

really basic noob stuff: for those who don’t know what solder is (like myself), its basically a roll of wirelike material that melts to a molten metal state and is used to essentially glue a wire to another wire or contact switch… also make sure your wires around about 6-8 inches long (better longer than too short) and make sure your wire ends are stripped a couple of millimeters on both ends

—=== SOLDERING TO THE MAD CATZ PCB (circuit board) ===—

NOTE: THE MAD CATZ 2009 CONTROLLER IS NOT THE SAME EXTERNALLY (not a Gamestop one) AS THE ONE PICTURED BELOW, BUT IT IS THE SAME PCB
This image right here is your map! Study it hard because it has everything you need to know about this part. Most everything below will refer to this picture.

http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/4827/madcatz2008sp4.jpg

(bare in mind I know next to nothing about this, so this is how it makes sense to me and what I learned as I went along)
BASIC ELECTRONICS EXPLANATION
Ok, so here is a basic electronics explanation… probably wrong, but it makes sense to me and hopefully will to other noobs. Each button/direction input on your controller has TWO, wires or signals. There is your normal wire, and your ground wire. In order to activate a button, both of these wires/signals have to be activated at the same time. Take a look at the D-pad UP circuit on the picture above… it has a blue circle and a red circle. The blue is the normal and the red is the ground, and when your finger pressed down the UP button, those two circuits come together and activate the UP command.

Common grounds are EXTREMELY critical when using this controller and here is what they are. Take a look at the D-pad in the picture above; you can see that each direction has both a ground and a normal signal, but only the UP ground is circled. This is because the LEFT, DOWN, and RIGHT share the same ground wire as the UP, and thus all of your ground wires from your joystick need only to connect to your UP circuit to work! This makes things easier!
HERE ARE COMMON GROUNDS YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW!!!
There are 2 main common grounds I will refer to:

  1. the D-pad common ground
    the D-pad common ground, found at the UP circuit, is the ground for UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, and the XBOX MENU

  2. the button common ground (a.k.a. A, B, X, Y)
    the button common ground, found at the Y button, is the ground for A, X, Y, B, and RB
    BASIC MAD CATZ PCB SOLDERING “HOW-TO”:
    So here is my attempt at a very friendly and simple description of how to solder to this circuit board. Take another look at the picture above and notice, on the D-pad, that ONLY the small tiny circles are circled, and not those lovely large half circles… these small tiny circles are the contact switches and are where the wire needs to be connected to. KEY NOTE: is is OK if the solder/wire is touching other things besides just its contact switch, BUT IT IS NOT OK IF THE SOLDER/WIRE IS TOUCHING THE OTHER SIGNAL OF THAT INPUT (a.k.a. the normal can not touch the ground and visa vera). This means you must be very careful about trying to use as little solder as possible and trying your hardest to connect to only the contact switch.

As far as the actual soldering: here is the best way to do it… have a friend hold the circuit board with one hand (keeping it steady on the table) and hold to wire against the designated contact point. Now it is up to you to take the (already hot) soldering iron in one hand and the roll of solder in your other hand. The first thing you do it touch the soldering iron to the wire and contact switch that your buddy is already at… make sure the wire and solder and against each other on the contact switch and then GENTLY and QUICKLY touch the solder to the already hot wire, soldering iron, and contact point; then remove the iron and solder and ideally some of the solder will have melted off and barely covered the wire and contact switch. Solder dries almost immediately but I still like to blow on it haha… to see if the wire is connected, ask you buddy to give it a GENTLE GENTLE TUG… if the wire pulls on the circuit board without coming off, job complete… otherwise, repeat this process…

If there are any major mistakes, namely, tons of spilled solder all over the contact switch (as I did many times), simply either scrape it off using your iron, or heat it with the iron and go buy a Solder Sucker to suck it off when its hot.
WHAT I DID:

First off I took the circuit board out… I did not include this above because it is really easy, granted you have ever unscrewed anything before… simply unscrew all the screws from the back, and slowly pull the controller apart… for the record (and unlike the picture above) I left my analog sticks on my circuit bored from fear of breaking it by trying to take them off so I cannot help with removing them. I DID however remove the triggers… which was kind of easy: just unscrew the 3 screws from the top side and then gently wiggle the triggers off from the bottom side (key word: “gently”, i broke one of my triggers… not that it matters). Oh, and be sure to keep your main connection wire connected, I couldnt imagine anyone just ripping it off or anything, but just throwing it out there haha.

I chose to make my arcade buttons X, Y, LB, A, B, RB (so it would easily work with my PC), and added 3 other buttons on my box for XBOX MENU, BACK, and START (see chapter 8 for where I added these).

Buttons with no common grounds (or at least I could not find them): BACK, START, and LB.

Before I did anything, I cut ALL the wires for the mad catz pcb soldering…
6 wires for MENU and D-pad (4 directions, 1 menu, and 1 common ground)
5 wires for buttons and RB (4 buttons, 1 RB, 1 common ground)
4 wires for START and BACK (normal and ground for each)
2 wires for LB (normal and ground)

I started on the D-pad since the normal and ground parts were clearly separated so more solder could be used for practice… For this part I was solo and it was hard. The method I used was to take my iron, heat some solder up and get the solder to rest on my iron… then place my iron on the designated contact switch and after a few seconds of heating, try to dump/wipe the solder onto the contact switch. This was a but messy but worked… Once this was done, I again heated and solder and then put it on the wire tip. Once both the wire and contact switch had solder on it, I touched them together and gently touched them with the iron the fuse all the solder together. This worked about half the time and was definitely good practice for the harder buttons later on.

Whenever I was sure that a wire was attached, I then put a little hot glue over the wire to hold it in place and secure the connection… KEY NOTE: on the common ground buttons, do not put the glue on until you have done both the normal and ground contact switches or it would be difficult (I made this mistake, keep reading)

Once I was done with the D-pad, I moved to the buttons on the right side. I started with the A button and simply repeated the process above. KEY NOTE: this is critical… the normal/ground circuits are different for all other buttons now, and they have some weird interlocking pattern between the contact switches for each button… THIS MEANS I HAD TO BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL (as if I wasnt before) TO ONLY HIT THE CONTACT SWITCH AS BEST I COULD. To do this better, I held the wire against the outermost point of the contact switch so if the solder spread it was less likely to join the normal and ground circuits together. Going on… I spend almost 40minutes on the X button (after I did my A button), and ended up spilling solder all over the circuit and had to spend a super long time scraping/sucking it off… so if you start getting frustrated… STOP… cool down, go do something else, the come back to it.

After I got pissed and thought I ruined the X button (which in all honesty it takes a LOT more than you’d imagine to break/ruin these contact switches, I even ripped one off, keep reading) I called a friend to help. Together, using the “correct” way mentioned above, we were able to get the X, Y, A, B, START, BACK, MENU wires all soldered on fine.

Now for the LB and RB… as seen in the above picture, these must be soldered to the bottom side of the circuit board… I removed my triggers to make this part easier, but it is not mandatory if you dont want to… this soldering is actually the easiest of them all, since the contact switch looks more like a tiny nut and sticks off the board a little… WE HAD TO SOLDER THE GROUND FOR THE LB (since we couldnt find the common ground… maybe it doesnt have one?).

Once all the wires are soldered and secured with the hot glue… it is time to screw them into the wire gate… this is ridiculously easy… first off, I used a Sharpee to write which connections were going where on the gate itself to keep thing organized… then I simply stuck in all the wires from my mad catz pcb to the designated holes in the gate and screwed the camp down… took a few minutes at most. (for those who dont exactly know how the gate works, it simply connects two wires from either end… so be sure to connect all these wires on one side of the gate only)… here is a picture of my gates/pcb when I was done with this:

apologies for using all red wire… I was cheap and bought only one color haha

—=== SOLDERING TO THE BUTTONS AND STICK ===—
COMING SOON

End Notes:
-do NOT let this part prevent you from making your stick, its not THAT bad
Q&A
COMING SOON


CHAPTER 8:
finishing touches!
n00b challenge: 3/10

Journal
COMING SOON
End Notes:
COMING SOON
Q&A
COMING SOON