Concerning Heavy, Tactile Mods for Arcade Sticks: Cross-Handed or Inverted layout/Extension/Springs


*This post is targeted towards those with larger hands wanting information about joystick modifications, as well as for those that feel cross-handed playing could be beneficial. The focus lies on changes in functionality concerning tactile elements and not system or aesthetic modifications. *

This was written to provide information about modding a fight stick to a level that is generally left alone, at least from what I have found. The first two chapters are to provide background and logic for the creation of this post. They can be inconsequentially skipped if you only want to read about the mods themselves. All of the information compiled makes this post somewhat long and there may only be a small part of it you wish to read, therefore, I ventured to make the titles as clear as possible. After attempting to find information about certain modifications and failing I decided to purchase multiple parts and experiment myself. I now have information on springs, tops, joystick shaft extensions, and best of all, inverted (cross-handed/left handed?) layouts.

This post is the one I spent quite a bit of time looking for and I hope that it works for others who are interested. This data remains highly subjective as it comes from only my perception, but I’ve worded everything as carefully as I could to make a ‘general’ recommendation given stated qualifiers. In the end, there is obviously no godlike solution. There is the information that I attempted to find when I curiously searched to see if someone else had tried something and what they had thought about it.

Chapter 1 - Concerning Modification Stigma

[details=Spoiler]Recently, I decided that the default layout was something I wanted to replace. So I set out to read reviews and scour forums to find what I could change around; I quickly became disappointed. Although modding is prevalent and highly encouraged, it seems that the FGC has a few limits on what should be modded and an obvious stigma about going too far. I really hope that doesn’t sound like an attack. From my perspective, in regard to what I tried to find, I imagine a temporary barricade in an area of potential. With as many ways to find slightly related information as I could think of I ran across multiple sites and noticed two themes - ‘What if something bad happens’ and ‘It’s preference’.

1.1 Concerning Something Bad
Running across questions and reviews about a certain mod consistently had responses concerning a failed stick and having to borrow a friends. The caveat being that your friend most likely rocks a standard stick and you will not be used to it, therefore, you fail. Games have reached professional heights, so as an expanding example I’m going to use racing. The core of the sport involves one human and a dependency on a machine. Imagine yourself a professional driver, SallyBilly-ina with a fully customized, sponsored ride. You are minutes away from a world renowned race, and the engine in your vehicle just freaking explodes. Now your friend, Fredrickrino, comes by and alerts you to the fact that that he’s learned that he is about to go to prison for scalping girl scout cookies and can’t race. You offer your condolences, feeling a tinge of guilt and fear as you were a regular patron (the convenience was worth the price hike). You then mention your problem and he offers you his vehicle. You drive it and notice how it responds differently and simply do not do as well as you could have in your own vehicle.

This logic is solid. It is also obscure, unhelpful and unlikely. The real issue with this response goes a little deeper. When searching for different mods, from gates to tops to joystick extensions, somebody would have a question and somebody would offer a cautionary word against this. I found the question that the OP asked because I asked the google gods a similar question. The answer received was a well-intended, but worthless, ‘Don’t do it’. I don’t wish to spite the Timid Timmys that think this is helpful. I’d like to question the prominence of this response. It didn’t help either of us. Speculating a slight amount, I think it discourages both of us as I rarely find a, ‘tried it anyway, babe’ response. All the while I still don’t have an answer. Contingency plans should be recommended above this. Having an unconventional controller makes it harder to replace. So you, as SallyBilly-ina, now always have a team carrying a spare engine around.

1.2 Concerning Preference
This is nearly a troll response. But I don’t wish to spite the Ambiguous Alphonsos. I think that the majority of the time it is the questioners fault that this response comes up. Frequently, ‘which is best, ya soggy jerks!!!’ comes up. There wasn’t even a question mark in that… horrifying. The magic word here is ‘qualifiers’. They set up parameters for an opinion to make sense. These come in frequently as well, but, again, growth concerning admitting one’s own personal state and preference along with a question allows advice to flow more freely. This is some ‘perfect world’ crap, but I mention it as it is a cornerstone in my motivation for writing this post the way I did.

Delving in further, “Sup, schmuckys. I’ve got really, super-duper small hands, what canz I use!!!”
Yep, that’s wrong. Don’t do that. :tdown:
How about, “Sup, Schmuckys. I’ve got small hands. For REFERENCE, the mittens or small-size latex gloves are even a bit loose on my hands. Is there a way to lower the stick, or are there smaller joystick tops that I can wipe my genitalia sweat all over???”
Way freaking better! :tup:

Backtracking after the delve - of course it’s preference. Offering up your own reference in response to a question is the really common solution and seems to be the only, and luckily best, option. You know, if a real answer is desired, or whatever. There’s good advice and crap advice everywhere, but for this specific aspect in the FGC I was unable to find much of anything meaningful, and that is why I desired to cover this. Maybe my attempt to cover these mods won’t cut it. Oh, freaking well. =)[/details]

Chapter 2 - Concerning Larger Hands

[details=Spoiler]I have hands that are between large and extra large going off boxing gloves or latex gloves. Large is a bit tight and x-large is a bit loose. Using latex gloves as a standard isn’t the most pragmatic method, but I think that it’s infinitely more effective than stating, “I got biggish hands… ya goober.” :hang_loose:

The standard balltop on a JLF is too small for my hands given that my pointer finger is easily the most dexterous digit aside from my thumb. There’s different ways to grab the stick to compensate and I’m afraid it is still too small for me to get a comfortable grip, or, perhaps, it’s a limiting, innate dexterity. Holding it like a wine glass just has my knuckles pressed against the top panel of the controller, immobilizing most of my attempts. Curling the pinky and ring finger and grabbing the ball with the middle, pointer and thumb still leaves my pointer finger in a nearly worthless spot without some contortion that I can’t keep consistently during play. I will now proceed to go through eighty-seven more grips and explain why they don’t work for me.

Switching to a battop provides a noticeable amount of extra room. This isn’t ‘I’m used to battops, so battops’ crap. This is clearly a ‘Dude, you know those genetic thingy mobobs? Umm. Hereditary traits, like hand sizes and muscle fibers? Ya that’s it. I need something different - cuz science’. To be clear - You could have bigger hands than me and love the standard JLF setup. Your twitch fibers, flexibility, and sense of touch are different than mine. Considering qualia is the best! That’s why I’m going into as much detail as I can about what I’m dealing with so you can easily create a standard for comparison. Also, because… you… and I… might just be the… same. :heart:

What about more room? What about ample room? What about having a solid, long shaft to wrap your hand around? That’s where the shaft extension comes in. Adding about a whole fingers width onto everything you’re packing.


Chapter 3 - Concerning the Gate of the Joystick

[details=Spoiler]If you’re reading this in order you may have thought the next, natural chapter would be about the shaft extension. And you’re right, but I feel like typing about gates right now. The gate is the easiest part of the joystick to explain; my logic being that there are basically three types and the differences in feel are much more obvious than other joystick parts. Slagcoin has the seemingly best overview and I recommend googling it if you’re unsure of the differences between circle, square and octagon gates. I quickly want to cover my take on it so that this post is somewhat more comprehensive of a modification post.

I’m going to start with the argument that modding everything is good and to just buy back-up parts if you’re worried about reliability in a tournament setting (logic covered previously). The standard being the square gate makes it a legit choice. But the octagon has advantages if you ride the gate of a square gate and get caught in the corners. That part is less influential to me now as I get more control over my inputs but something amazingly beneficial is going from a crouching block to a mid block to block on an impending over head. In a square gate, I frequently, accidently jump due to an overreaction in moving the stick upwards. Back to the square advantages: finding the corners for a down-block in the square gate is much easier compared to an octagon. The circle gate is a furtherly extreme version of an octagon and seems to be slowly dismissed as a viable alternative. KOWAL has a relatively newer gate which hosts an octagonal gate with soft edges. This also making brand combination slightly easier for previously incompatible sticks.

These parts are cheap and the installation is quick and easy as long as you have compatible parts. I won’t go into how, as there are better tutorials than I could write right here. These tutorials are also invariably easy to find, unless you’re REALLY DUMB. JK, I miss you, babe. :wink:

3.1 Concerning Recommendations
All of these parts a fairly cheap to experiment with. I recommend switching the gate if you can tell that you don’t like your current build. My example being the overheads. If you don’t notice any personal problems with your default square gate the default is most likely too legit to quit. For you, anyways. [/details]

Chapter 4 - Concerning the Shaft of the Joystick

[details=Spoiler]I’m writing this in English on SRK, so I think it’s safe for me to assume that the ‘majority’ (holy crap, please know what that word means) of the people reading this will be rocking Sanwa-JLF sticks or already know about stick shafts because they probably already customized their stick with something different.

4.1 Concerning Where to Purchase
I’m aware of two current resources for extending the joystick shaft: Ebay, ArcadeWorldUK. And a third resource is possible if it comes back in stock. I’ll mention it in a second.

I purchased my shaft extension from Arcade World UK. Shipping costs so high for such a tiny piece seems silly. Deal with it, I’m the one that bought it ->

I’ll post it as well even though they are currently out of stock ->

Going to Ebay and searching ‘Joystick Shaft Extender’ leads you straight to extensions for both Sanwa and Seimitsu. Google Shopping gives similar results but may help streamline your search.

For a hopeful third option, Paradise Arcade Shop has their JLF twist shaft that is out of stock. ->

It basically comes with three lengths, one being longer than the standard length. I wish to try this and if that opportunity arises I will post a review. Searching through different forums and sites I have found other potential options for extenders, but they all seem to be permanently out of stock. My idea is to use the shorter stick that comes with the set and add the extension on top of that. This is hopeful, speculation. I hope that the result lies between the standard shaft and the standard JLF with the added extension.

4.2 Concerning Change
Extending the shaft on a stock JLF (with stock balltop/spring) makes a huge difference in GRIPABILITY; it’s instantly more comfortable. There is, however, an immediate and drastic shift in the leverage of the stick. I knew that I would have to swing it farther before I tried it to compensate for the height. Once I felt how much extra distance was needed, I realized that gentle motions were nearly impractical for me to accomplish under pressure. On the contrary, riding the gate was far easier to accomplish using this stick. Again, the cost being more controlled movement coming out slower.

Placing this thing on the shaft and removing it continuously for my trials proved to be tedious. I had to grip it tight with pliers in order to get it tight enough and then to remove it. It’s a little dinged up now. Cushioning it can be done, but the time required was not worth it to me.

4.3 Concerning Cosmetics
With that staff extended you pretty much now have to take off the standard shaft cover. Or you buy another shaft cover and cut it down. I placed the smaller cut section inside the stick and put the original on top giving me a smooth surface. This worked perfectly and allowed my to keep the added circumference and feel of the cover.

4.4 Concerning Recommendations
Surprisingly to me, simply extending the stick required more ‘full-hand movement’ than I hoped for - especially considering how much more comfortable it was. Despite this, the extension remains a viable option for some. If you are a heavy-handed player, generally rough with your inputs and/or have big hands and worry about comfort this shaft extender certainly helps. I will go into further detail in the combinations chapter.[/details]

Chapter 5 - Concerning the Spring of the Joystick


Springs come in a few different sizes and stock quantity seems to bounce around enough to justify not including immediate links. But that’s OK, I don’t feel bad about it. Springs add resistance to the shaft. Increasing the effort needed to reach the actuator, and, given there’s not too much weight on the stick, increases the speed returning to neutral. For this modding session I used the stock JLF spring, Sanwa 2lb, 4lb and a stretched 2lb to emulate a 3lb spring. I can attest to the added resistance mod of stretching a spring. It gave more resistance than 2 and less than 4. This mod, however, will not be consistent with your own standard if you were to adopt this. I think for experimentation it is perfect. Continuing on, I found the more of my hand/arm I used the better a 2lb and 3lb spring felt.

For example, putting a 2lb spring into the stock setup (no extension/plastic balltop) I found that controlled movement with mostly fingers and some slight wrist movement slowed me down. Using my hand and forearm though, the added resistance made the stick more responsive. Personally, I hated it, but I typed that out in case you like the grip that the default layout provides but wish for more feedback in the stick.

5.1 Concerning the 4lb Spring
When using this thing, regardless of the combination, it nearly moved my arcade stick. When using my forearm and wrist to play the weight was quite manageable, but to get the motion takes enough weight to move my solidly built stick. Even slowly moving the shaft, the spring will take everything else with it.

5.2 Concerning Recommendations
I will go into further detail in the combinations chapter, but my basic conclusion is that heavier springs help with aluminum tops and extended shafts considering you use your arm to play. Slight, quick movements with the fingers I found to be better handled with less resistance by the spring and shaft.

In regard to the 4lb spring, this sucker is tough. I recommend it to those that have a really heavy sticks only. A light stick, probably one that isn’t attached to a table or cabinet, will shake around. If you have an extended shaft, aluminum top and this spring on a cabinet it might be freaking ideal for your massive hands banging out combos. [/details]

Chapter 6 - Concerning the Top of the Joystick

[details=Spoiler]Joystick handle tops, currently, come in four basic types for Sanwa/Seimitsu/Hori sticks. Aluminum balltop/battops and Plastic balltops/battops. There are custom ball and bat tops made out of other materials, such as a wood battop or a hollowed balltop for LEDs. I’m going to work under the standard ball/battop weights and logic for ease. If you have a custom top, then consider the weight distribution as that will be the most important aspect as to how the shaft behaves with the spring.

Battops are slightly longer than balltops giving slightly more room to spread out the fingers. There is a catch to this: the balltop’s increased diameter allow the fingers a smaller travel distance to push the stick into the actuator. Personally, the added room for my most adroit finger makes battops the sexiest option. I’d like to say, “Under the assumption that one is playing heavy-handed, the battop’s length will most likely compliment the grip used to swing the stick around.” But I don’t think that it’s a fair statement. This applies to the way I grip the battop when played with my hand and a little forearm. Simply preferring a different grip will derail this idea. What I can do is recommend that you think about if you would like more room on the stick, more resistance, or both. Those are your only options - leaving it alone isn’t aloud as you’re reading a post about modding.

Aluminum tops have a very different tactile feel than plastic; I prefer it. These tops however come with a substantial addition in weight. 2lb spring with either style of aluminum is almost necessary as the stock spring is slightly too weak to bring the shaft back to neutral quickly.

From my current knowledge, battops require an adapter for the shaft. The tapered edge at the bottom of the top is still larger than the shaft in order to slide onto it, and the threading typically used is too wide as well because of this. Many tops come with an adapter and they are easy to find if yours does not. This adapter can be somewhat of a pain however to get on and off. I use a rubber band to accomplish the tightening and removal. Tutorials on how to change tops are easy to come by, but this adapter is something you must be careful with as to not damage the threading. The rubber band allows me to grip it with my finger tightly, or with pliers gently. Wrapping the threading in a paper towel can also protect the threading, but I prefer to use finger strength rather than pliers as it’s been more than enough to place and remove the adapter.

Chapter 7 - Concerning Joystick Part Combinations

[details=Spoiler]This chapter will summarize my experiment where I nearly went through each possible combination with the shaft variation, spring strength and top type that I have mentioned previously.

7.1 Concerning Plastic Balltops

The default is amazing, and I’ve already addressed my issue with the height. Adding any spring aside from the default makes gentle movements difficult. With the stick’s short height, wrapping my hand around it with a 2lb spring and up proved to be difficult as well. With a smaller hand or different grip/dexterity this may not pose an issue. Although, the added resistance of a 2lb spring might help with heavy-handed commands. The only combination that worked for me aside from the default was just adding the extension. It worked really well. I can recommend it as a middle ground worth trying for a higher stick. The added travel distance and execution time was enough to deter me however. Recapitulating the conclusions from earlier: I perceive the length of the extensions I found to only be practical for using a little forearm.

7.2 Concerning Plastic Battops

The default layout with a plastic bat instead of the default Sanwa balltop is what I decided on. Again, the 2lb spring provides just a bit too much resistance for gentle movements not heavily relying on the gate. But given an extended shaft everything fell apart. The weight distribution and leverage of this layout moved poorly. From where I would grab the stick combined with what was previously mentioned there was too much spring resistance or not enough weight in the shaft. Those sound like they would be the same, but in comparison to the other tops this combination fell through. Of course, exclude the option I actually selected as my favorite.

7.3 Concerning Aluminum Balltops

Freaking hated this one, nothing good to say about it. Everything was too loose or took too much effort. It’s not that I want to malign this top, but with my grip it had a catch at every spring and shaft change that an alternative combination handled better. My current conjecture is that battops are easier to grasp for larger hands.

7.4 Concerning Aluminum Battops

Freaking loved this bat with a 2lb spring. At some point I plan on switching back to this just to make sure I made the right choice with my plastic bat and default spring. The reason I went the other route was because of the slightly harder resistance. This top handled the springs the 2lb and ~3lb spring the best. Effort needed to move it was noticeable, but it felt comparatively more responsive. The 2lb spring could handle the shaft extension, but neutral was a bit slow.

7.4 Concerning Recommendations
The most prominent aspect of balltops I found was that jumping was easier because of the larger circumference. Battops work well for fixing uncomfortable grips. Aluminum balltops seem to be a bit too slow because of the weight distribution. And slightly heavier springs work well with the differently distributed aluminum battops. [/details]

Chapter 8 - Concerning Cross-Handed or Inverted Play

[details=Spoiler]8.1 Concerning Freaking Why?
Modding is a pleasantly, ubiquitous hobby in the FGC, and this is my attempt to help it a bit further. I started playing fighting games years ago, and I can still remember the first time I played with a personal arcade stick. I felt like it was backwards. I wanted the stick in the other hand and the buttons on the right. This wasn’t a practical wish though. After voicing my thought, my friend recommended a cross-handed attempt.

At this point I’ve seen a few people play cross-handed and there’s something I’ve noticed, their hands were smaller than mine. Typical Cross-handed play in no way works for me, I would need a stick furtherly spread apart than is typically purchasable. Could cross-handed work for you even with larger hands than mine? Of course, different flexibility in the wrists and slightly different coordination in the fingers could kick some butt. But that’s stupid easy to figure out for yourself, so back off.

I wanted to play cross-handed because… I don’t know… It’s kind of hard to explai— oh wait… I just remembered… I’m not THAT freaking stupid. It’s stupid easy to explain. From (also for) typing on a keyboard, I already knew that my left hand fingers were way more coordinated than my right-handed fingers. My pinky on the right hand is for some reason noticeably worse than all my other fingers as well (useless info for the WIN). With the logic for the button hand out, let’s move on. Holding the stick in either hand gave off some obviously different sensations. When holding the stick in my right hand I have slightly more coordinated movements in my wrist, and, assuming it’s not some asinine placebo effect, I am more sensitive to the feeling of the actuators being clicked.
Here’s a kicker, I’m left handed. I write with my left hand and the logic of holding a stick like a pencil did not work for me at all. I know the advice is for controlled movement and not to literally hold it like a pencil. But stick controlled movement for me is different than pencil movement. When I typed ‘literally’ a second ago I used the old-school definition. Just wanted to clarify. =)

I finally switched my MadCatz Fightstick Pro around. Absolutely frustrated with my five+ years of playing with nothing to show for it. A week later I achieved more control than I had ever felt. I’m not done changing things yet, but let’s get to the freaking point. I was apprehensive about trying to permanently mangle my expensive stick just to experiment. Sure, you can hold the stick upside down to try it out, which I did. Unless it’s symmetrically shaped you’ll then have buttons and bevels under your wrists. This form of long term playing will not leave the best impression. And there’s prominent stigma and some good logic surrounding not being able to play on a friend’s controller. Butt screw it. Conforming wasn’t exactly pragmatic for me, so now I’m a motherfreaking heretic. And it’s great. I have an ‘ungodly, subversively-inverted’ layout. I’d like to warn you, if you even attempt this, it is guaranteed that you will go to every hell of every religion that has died out, currently exists and will be created. All at the same time.

8.2 Concerning Freaking How?
Actually switching a stick around requires a symmetrical top panel that could easily be popped off and reattached. Luckily, my arcade stick fit those requirements. FYI, this kills the warranty. Ideally, you could flip it 180 degrees. But in my stick there is a support for the joystick that is attached to the panel, so I have to rotate it 180 degrees instead of flipping it. Still functional, but the viewlix, button offset goes the opposite handed direction. Don’t know what that means? Don’t worry about it. =)

After rotating the panel around and going to reattach it, I noticed that the plastic support that held the pcb was in the new spot for the joystick support. So I took a drill and knocked off some plastic from the frame. At this point the stick is mangled, yet still functional. If using a different stick there might be multiple points in the stick’s frame that run into the top panel. If you attempt this I recommend being really gentle with everything up to this point. I could see some sticks being nearly impossible to invert in such a way, so naturally you would try to reset the layout.

If you can’t invert your stick or you would like to just get an inverted stick, It is possible to request inverted layouts of top panels (I’ve checked). In the worst case, downloading a typical panel layout and flipping it on its access and then sending that to a custom plexi cutter or modder will work. We are delving into some likely custom, woodwork in a lot of cases. I’ve asked Tek-Innovations if this service is offered and it is, so I’m planning on using that for my next stick. If you know of other, specific ways to get inverted layouts I’d appreciate if you posted them in a reply. I’d like to create a comprehensive article for people looking for this information. Obviously, I’d need help. Regardless of whether or not you’re a helpful person, I hope you have a spectacular day. Yay![/details]

Chapter 10 - Concerning a Conclusion - About How Consistently Titled Chapters are Sexy and How Good I am at Counting

[details=Spoiler]The anti-heavy modification stigma discouraged me from attempting what I thought would be intuitive. I hope I do not come across as bitter and whining. I’m a big boy, responsible for my own stick. I’m just trying to humbly convey how much of a fearful, poopy baby I was. The logic of practicing on something incompatible with the norm is valid. But for those interested, there was nothing I could find about switching around everything in the stick to get a truly customized fit. Not only was there relatively little information concerning heavy, tactile mods there was a lot of discouraging or vague responses attached to the attempt. But I finally, freaking did it anyway! And it was worth it!!

Ironically, in the end, I have only grown a distaste for the shaft extension. I’m OK with that result. I can offer information to those that are also interested. I also think that it validates my experiment somewhat, “I tried something new! Nah, changed my mind, they had it right.” Effectively, I wasted a little money, but in return I now have the article that I was looking for. I’m confident that a shaft extension is still quite a viable option for some other people: from my review, heavy-handed players or gate-riders. I would have kept the shaft extension as I was a gate-rider, but I’m currently practicing more controlled movement as my gate-riding gets sloppy under pressure.

What works best for me is a battop and an inverted layout. The added height gives my fingers enough room to functionally articulate the stick; unlike the extended shaft, the weight still moves quickly without much resistance. Ideally, I would like a slightly taller stick (a third of the size of the joystick extension I bought) with a 1.5-1.7 pound spring. That would be freaking amazing. Maybe somebody reading this is a greedy machinist that wants my money… or my body. :wink:

Aluminum tops work well with slightly heavier springs. In regard to bat or balltops, the choice is between distance to actuator activation and room for your fingers. Or you’ve figured out a cool grip and don’t have to worry about this crap. I’m super jelly.

Thanks for reading my post. I hope that the information was what you were looking for - I mean: ‘Kay! That’s It! Love you, Bye! Bitch!!! :expressionless: [/details]


Attempting to expand on the Cross handed or inverted or left handed Layout


Regarding the Madcatz TE2+ and TES+, I just finished watching some modification videos on them. Obviously, they weren’t for permanently disfiguring the stick, but I was able to view the internal layout. It seems that it could be incredibly practical to switch around a TE2+. Again, flipping it (which would adapt the viewlix layout to the other hand) will not work as the bottom of the top panel has a permanently attached joystick support. This makes rotating it the only option. I found two caveats. The joystick wire harness itself would need to reach to the farther location; the buttons will be closer making the point inconsequential. If this were to fail, longer connections can be found. For the second, potential issue, imagine looking at the stick as if you were about to play it and opening it. In the back right corner there is a plastic support/case. This might be sticking out just enough to run into the joystick support attached to the top panel. Other parts can be removed and if that is still the case, this seems like an incredibly easy stick to screw with.

Does anybody with a TE2+ think that the wire harness to the joystick is long enough and if that support in the back is a potential problem? Not asking for you to experiment with your stick; after all, this is just some wishful speculation on my part anyway.

Unfortunately, on the TES+, the PCB for the player controls, Start/pause and extra face buttons are attached to the panel. Its very similar to my Fightstick Pro, but if you were to rotate this, you’d have face buttons under your wrist. Or you’d have to remove a less important, but still crucial, part from the top panel.