Building first fightstick... need some advice

Hey everyone,

I’ve been up and down this forum lately, gathering research for my first fightstick build. Let me briefly give some backstory:

I played in a lot of arcades as a kid, and loved arcade sticks. I even had the trashy NES Advantage as a kid. Then a long drought went by when I stopped playing games for a while, did a lot of other things. Eventually I bought a PS2, and got very, very good at Virtua Fighter 4/Evo. Last year I bought a PS3, and got pretty decent at VF5. After playing a LOT of non-fighting games, in February I excitedly bought Marvel v Capcom 3.

A problem presented itself: while I was able to muddle through VF4/5 on the PS2 and PS3 controllers (I don’t know how), I was unable to do more than the very basics in MVC3. Simple mode was not for me - I like getting really into a character, all moves, framerates, etc. - something I inherited from the VF universe.

So after a LOT of research here, I bought the limited-edition MVC3 fightstick from Mad Catz. And I love it to death, I prize it, it’s fantastic, I drape it with a silk pillowcase when I’m not using it (true). I’m now a big fan of Senwa parts.

A new problem presents itself: I only have one. When a friend comes over, they have to muddle through on the PS3 controller. As anyone who has ever used the crap controller at a party knows, the guy with the fightstick gets nothing but dirty glares. And of course you can rotate/set up time limits/etc., but the bottom line is that one fightstick isn’t enough when you want company.

A second consideration: I love electronics, and I love woodworking. I used to build guitars, which utilize both these skills heavily.

So here is my current situation: I want to build my own fightstick rather than just buy another. I want to recapture the joy of making something with my own two hands, and using it. I also want to impress my girlfriend a little (bonus).

As a guitar builder, I know I’ll probably end up spending more on the custom build than just buying one, but I really don’t care. I’m planning on coming into some birthday funds I’m setting aside for the project.

I also live in an urban apartment now (Washington DC), rather than the rural house I lived in while guitar-building. This means I can’t make a ton of noise (lots of drilling, hammering, etc.), and I also don’t have access to a lot of my old tools (still at the mom’s house). I also don’t have ideal ventilation, although I can do some work on the apt. balcony.

As far as I understand, I need:
A cabinet with a template for drilling button and joystick holes;
the buttons themselves (screw type?);
the joystick;
a wiring harness, if available, or enough individual wiring;
some kind of board to interface - either a PS3 controller’s innards, or an independent board;
hardware, like screws/solder/etc.;
probably other things.

Can someone/anyone/everyone give me some advice as to the first steps I need to take? What tools, exactly, will I need? Can this be done in a 1-bedroom apartment with minimal tooling? Is there a step-by-step guide somewhere I can consult? And, of course, where is/are the cheapest place(s) to buy components?

In other words: advice!!

Thanks in advance!

Slagcoin is your best friend.

If you’re familiar with the parts, you can skip straight to section 7.

Well if you dont have the tools at your disposal i would honestly suggest getting a case from one of the many excellent builders on our forums. However if you are able to build the frame somehow you could look into getting one of my steel DIY control panels which would take out the need to route for correct joystick placement and button routing.
However everything depends on how your neighbors are. I remember first getting into building controllers in my Fiancee and my first apt, I didnt have the proper tools and the tools i did have disturbed my neighbors too much for me to be able to use them outside. I have seen people actually build in their apartments by locking themselves in the bathroom, however i dont recommend doing so because building in a small confined space like that could be dangerous.

Getting a case/custom is quite expensive though (it can go up to $200 and beyond), if you don’t think you can afford it, then you’re better off looking for another TE or similar (HRAP, etc.).

I say nay to building sticks in an apartment. You don’t want those wood particles floating around the house making you and everybody you live with sick. Buy a case from somebody in the trading outlet.

Thanks for the advice. It looks like either I’m going to have to journey back to Maryland to use the old basement workshop (not very likely), or buy a cabinet. Perhaps not the most satisfying solution, but a smart one. Thanks for all the info!!

i did my first stick build with of of art’s tek cases, and it was really easy, looks badass and is highly customizable. i used a ps360 pcb and sanwa parts, and it really only cost about 200 bucks for the whole setup, which is a damn good deal since you end up with a dual format stick. that and the only mess is your wire clippings and shipping boxes.

Great!! Thanks!!

On my 2nd stick that I plan on modding. I got a ps2 Tekken 5 stick, and just gutted all the parts and just use that case. it might be a good option for you as well if you can find one cheap and don’t want to make your own box.